Nothing beats the Summer heat like a sizzling playlist that keeps your hips in motion. If you’re new to bossa nova, get ready for a treat with roots embedded in samba and jazz. Our favorite artists are sure to keep your mood at its peak and your feet on the move.
Bossa Nova Beginnings
The term “bossa” is old-fashioned slang meaning “trendy” or “new wave”. (See why we like it already?) bossa nova is a style of Brazilian music that became popular in the 50s and 60s. The most common instruments used are the nylon-string classical guitar, drums, and percussion. The rhythm of the music is based on samba and vocals are more folk-like.
If you loved our favorite female jazz artists, add a Brazilian beauty to your playlist. Astrud Gilberto is our #1 favorite bossa nova singer. Her most widely known song is “Girl from Ipanema” for which she and Stan Getz won a grammy. Her music exposed the world to the sensual nature of Brazilian music and we literally recommend all of her albums.
Here’s a nice cover of Astrud Gilberto’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon” (hear the original in my fav Down With Love movie)
Astrud had many connections in the Brazilian music world. Her husband João Gilberto was known as the “father of bossa nova”. João was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who pioneered the music genre in the late 1950s. Try his compilation album, “Quando você recordar” for beautiful music that will inspire tropical dreams.
Next up is a tenor jazz saxophonist with an impressive resume of his own. Playing with greats such as Dizzie Gilespie, Oscar Peterson, and Herb Ellis, Stan Getz transitioned from cool jazz to bossa nova in the early 60s. We love the “Getz/Gilberto” album with songs “Corcovado” and “Doralice” for their beautiful vocals and jazz influences. Getz’s love affair with Astrud eventually led to his musical partnership with her and her husband. His stamp on bossa nova, however, remains.
For upbeat rhythms and beautiful, romantic Portuguese language, look to this next native from Brazil. Oscar-winner Sérgio Mendes plays bossa nova infused with jazz and funk. His single, “Mas Que Nada” also features collaboration with the Black Eyed Peas. It’s the perfect tune to instantly liven up any party.
If you have a child that is shy, take a cue from our next artist and hand them a guitar. Nara Leão began playing guitar at age 12 and helped with the birth of bossa nova in her parent’s home in Cococabana, Brazil. After collaborating with the likes of João Gilberto and touring with Stan Getz, her music took more of a political turn. We love her song “Diz Que Fun por Ai” for the classic guitar and her lovely voice.
The music genre began with themes of love, longing and nature in the early 50s. As political developments in Brazil began to arise, bossa nova slowly became eclipsed by more emotionally charged genres. We prefer the peaceful, dreamy sounds of Brazilian music that promotes love and simple living. Add a slew of these artists and songs to your soundtrack and watch them go on repeat for the rest of the Summer.