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Groove to Bossa Nova


-by Angelica Buan

Flashback to the 1950s: For jazz artists, music had no bounds so when an artist played or performed in a way that was off the typical, they would refer to it as Bossa Nova—a generic term for musical acts or compositions that was uncategorized. In 1958, João Gilberto developed a new musical category and called Bossa Nova, literally translated as “New Trend”. The beach culture that proliferated in the Southern zone of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil gave Bossanova its fun, flirtatious, and distinctly fresh identity. Bossa Nova is characterized by percussion and acoustic nylon-stringed guitars with hints of smooth Jazz and March tempo.

It is hard to pass up Bossa Nova without getting that urge to swing even if the lyrics are serious and metaphorical as Burt Bacharach’s Look of Love: ‘The look of love is in your eyes, a look your smile can’t disguise…”. The merit of Bossa Nova is it is devoid of the gloom and doom that often pervades today’s music.

Eileen Sison, lead vocals of Guarana band immersed herself into Jazz and Brazilian music. Her passion has taken her to as far as Brazil to learn Portuguese and croon Bossa Nova as an authentic Ipanema girl does.

Samba, another music genre that traces its roots way back in the1930s to the African slaves’ practice of invoking the spirits often becomes associated albeit interchangeably with Bossa Nova. Samba is said to be the predecessor of Bossa Nova although the former has a more upbeat and danceable ditty; while the latter has less predictable pace, and contains that walk-in the-clouds rhythm. Some local audience in music lounges and bars prefer to listen more of the danceable samba than the subdued Bossa Nova.

Too, the carnival and flamboyant aria of samba is more akin to the Filipinos’ flair for the fiesta ambiance. Sison observes this of her Filipino audience in out of town invitations for her band to perform to a crowd in weddings, fiesta, and private functions. She says that these crowds like fusion performances of Bossa Nova and Samba.

However, Bossa Nova holds its distinction for its smooth flowing harmony and vocals done off the original chords that give an unmistakable sensual strain. “Bossa Nova is a beautiful mixture of jazz and Latin and Brazilian music”, says Evelyn Juteau, the lead vocals of Aquarela band—a husband and wife team-up that performs strictly jazz, Latin and Brazilian music . Her husband and the band’s acoustic guitarist , Miguel Juteau agrees. “

Bossa Nova blends American Jazz with Brazilian traditional genres like Samba and Choro.”, he continues. The couple believes that this music genre is nicely inching its way to the Filipino culture with our affinity to sentimental music, and Bossa Nova can evoke “a bitter-sweet feeling of longing that is expressed musically’, describes Aquarela band.Nonetheless, it stirs the soul to celebrate joyfully. Here’s to the feel-good music.

(Edited Version is published in 08November issue of Mabuhay Magazine)


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