Say the words “Bossa Nova” and most of us with think ‘Brazil’, or even better, ‘Rio de Janeiro’, or better yet, ‘Ipanema’. But today, the best bossas aren’t being exported from Zona Sul. They’re coming to us wrapped in a fancy ribbon, with a card reading “From Italy To Bossa With Love’!
It was a simple question that brought an unexpected response, and it came at the end of dinner with a music label exec in Rio de Janeiro. As we capped off our meal with a few fingers of aged sipping cachaça I asked, “When it comes to the rest of the world, what do you think is Brazil’s most popular music?”
He replied without hesitation: “Samba. It’s always Samba.”
His answer surprised me, not only because of its immediate arrival but also because I had not even considered it against my own firmly held opinion: Bossa Nova.
My point is that Bossa Nova is a worldwide musical phenomenon – has been for decades. But now it’s time to tune in to Bossa’s future. The New Bossa. And it’s an interesting story.
Bossa Nova has largely stayed true to its musical roots while other song styles (like rock, jazz and country music) have ‘evolved’ to their current forms. But Bossa Nova has found itself in cultural transition: For the first time its best songs are coming not from the sandy shores of Copacabana, but from… Italy.
From Italy To Bossa With Love!
It’s true. Italy is a musical melting pot and for all the right reasons, the daughter of the girl from Ipanema has moved to Milan, having tired of the Brazilian Bonbons thrown at her from the ‘Little Boat’ crew in Rio. Today, she’s sleek, sexy and totally together. And she’s happy again, doing more than just covering pop hits and singing her mother’s old songs. She needed a change of scenery.
And just as Jobim, Mendes, Castro-Neves and Gilberto did decades earlier, other Brazilian musicians followed. They soaked up the local vibe: Smooth Jazz. Acid Jazz. Lounge and the club scene across Europe.
Latin Vibe? That’s Giacomo Bondi. Caibedo Island is Francesco Cainero and Cristiano Norbedo. And it was Nicola Conti who saved Bebel Gilberto’s ‘Tanto Tempo’ album at the 11th hour. Conti has also played a hand in the careers of New Bossa standouts Rosalia de Souza and Toco, too.
I love the New Bossa sound that characterizes ‘From Italy To Bossa With Love’. It’s playful, fresh, vibrant, creative and exciting. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It laughs with life. A lot like the original, before it grew up to do car commercials for golf players or to sell running shoes for Nike. Or become elevator music for Jake and Elwood.
So, this summer as we celebrate Bossa Nova’s 60th birthday on these pages and on our streaming station and music channels, take a moment, then say “Make mine Italian!”