R.I.P. João Gilberto, Brazilian bossa nova pioneer, dead at 88

The Father of Bossa Nova, João Gilberto, has died at the age of 88, according to SPIN.

Hailing from Bahia, Brazil, Gilberto is credited with pioneering the genre of music known as bossa nova, which combined the upbeat sounds of Brazilian samba with the harmony and melody of American jazz. Getz/Gilberto, his 1964 album with saxophonist Stan Getz and pianist and composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and ranks among the best-selling jazz releases of all time.

That album’s definitive track, “The Girl from Ipanema”, won the Grammy for Record of the Year and would go on to become one of the most covered songs in the history of music — behind only The Beatles’ “Yesterday”. Over the years, the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, The Supremes, and Diana Krall all put their own spin on “The Girl from Ipanema”.

Gilberto continued to record music throughout the 1960s and 1970s, splitting his time between the US and Mexico. In the 1980s, he moved back to Brazil and largely shied away from public life, limiting his output to a series of live records. However, in 2000, Gilberto made something of a comeback with the release of João Voz e Violão, an album which went on to win the 2001 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.

Gilberto was also known for his high performance standards. There are numerous stories of him asking venues to turn off their air conditioners or walking out of shows early due to poor acoustics. Such perfectionism followed him into the studio as well; during a recording session of the song “Rosa Morena”, he insisted on 28 takes in order to get the pronunciation of the o in “Rosa” just right.

Revisit some of Gilberto’s notable works below:

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