Joao Gilberto was born in Bahia a region in northeastern Brazil, but he later moved to Rio de Janeiro. Antonio Carlos Jobim created the melodies and Vinicius de Moraes crafted the lyrics, but it was Joao Gilberto’s new rhythmic style based on the rhythms of Samba that spawned the Bossa Nova movement that incubated in the Alley of Bottles in Rio. Joao Gilberto was the key innovator who defined the music style of Bossa Nova. Later, during a self-imposed exile from Brazil in the mid-50’s he spread the sound to New York and the world. Gilberto was influenced by U.S. jazz greats and recorded many songs in the United States where he lived for much of the 1960s and 1970.
The 1964 album Getz/Gilberto recorded with U.S. saxophonist Stan Getz sold millions of copies and helped popularize bossa nova. The album Getz/Gilberto spent 96 weeks in the US charts and ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ would become the world’s second most played song behind the Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’.
“It was Joao Gilberto, the greatest genius of Brazilian music, who was the definitive influence on my music,” singer Gal Costa wrote on social media. “He will be missed but his legacy is very important to Brazil and to the world.”
In 1961, Gilberto performed on a trilogy of albums, “Chega de Saudade,” ”El Amor, La Sonrisa y La Flor,” and “Joao Gilberto.” These albums helped create the bossa nova craze that spread around the globe and defined the sound of Bossa Nova for the world. Over his career, he won two Grammy awards and was nominated for six.
Visit the neighborhood named Alley of Bottles, this street is where the bossa nova movement in Rio took shape and flourished in Rio.