From Rio’s beaches to the world: The man who invented bossa nova
João Gilberto pioneered bossa nova’s cool rhythms, reflecting his country’s optimism at the end of the 1950s
João Gilberto, the Brazilian vocalist and guitar virtuoso who has died aged 88, was a strange and wonderful artist who effectively invented bossa nova.
With its insouciant swinging rhythm and languid jazz tones, bossa nova, the “new thing”, woke the imagination of Brazil and the wider world to a dance beat of hushed emotional intensity and singular beauty.
During his heyday from 1958 to 1964 Gilberto was supremely impressive on stage partly because he managed to keep perfectly still. The slightest raising of an arm in time to the music or tapping of a foot was enough to make him more seductive and cool than any Brazilian singer before or since...