BRAZIL, BOOKS + MUSIC | »Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s« by Gilles Peterson + Stuart Baker

Heloísa Pinheiro in 2008 aged 63

Architect Oscar Niemeyer and his patron, President Juscelino Kubitschek

Something extraordinary happened in the arts in Brazil during the mid-fifties through the mid-sixties.

In architecture, urban planning, landscape design, and music, Brazilian artists were the world’s avant-gardists, pushing the boundaries of what it meant to be ultramodern.

The soundtrack to this surge of tropical creativity was, of course, bossa nova (“new thing”).

Marcus Vínicius de Moraes and Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim (below) were the key musicians in the vanguard of the modernization of Brazilian rhythms.

They were the musical equivalents of architect Oscar Niemeyer. The three were pals and the duo, at the request of charismatic President Juscelino Kubitschek, wrote a symphony that was to have been played during the inauguration of Brasília, Niemeyer’s City of the Future. Alas, the Symphony of the Dawn was not played on 21 April 1960, but it survives in recorded form:

When João Gilberto, the third co-inventor of the genre, and his then-wife, Astrud (below) recorded with Stan Getz at A&R Recording Studios in New York on March 18/19 1965, musical magic happened and when Getz/Gilberto was released in ’64 it ignited the worldwide craze for bossa nova.

BELOW > Jobim/Getz/Gilberto

The album made a surprising and reluctant star of Astrud and turned João into a Brazilian national hero. “The Girl from Ipanema” won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1965 and the album won the Grammy Awards for Best Album of the Year, Best Jazz Instrumental Album – Individual or Group, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical (Phil Ramone).

1965 was the first time a jazz album received the Album of the Year award. Getz/Gilberto was also the last jazz album to win the award until Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters won Record of the Year in 2008, 43 years later.

Bossa nova musicians have been the soundtrack to a huge part of my life. From the moment I first heard “The Girl from Ipanema” as a child, I knew Brazil was a cool country. Learning about Oscar Niemeyer sealed the deal for me. But it was bossa nova that was my entrée into the world of Brazilians. It still has the power to mesmerize me.




It seems odd that the mid-century modern cover art of the bossa nova era has not had, until now, a visual treatment. (I’d have thought the Japanese, with their “keep it alive” penchant for classic jazz, might have done something along these lines by now but this compilation of covers is apparently a first.)

Leave it to musical tastemaster supreme Gilles Peterson and Soul Jazz Records founder Stuart Baker to put this art out into the world again.

Gilles Peterson

Stuart Baker

Their previous collaboration, Freedom: Rhythm and Sound, was a collection of cover artwork of revolutionary jazz music between 1964 and 1983:

Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s is a 200-page deluxe format album-sized compilation of album art, I presume, from these two gentlemen’s collections.

Bossa Nova … includes a history of the genre and biographies and essays on many of the artists involved in this musical movement that swept the cocktail lounges of the world whilst tanks were rolling in the street of Brazil.

1 April 1964 | Tanks on the streets of Rio the day after the coup




A 2-CD, 23-song companion compact disc of bossa nova songs is also being launched in North America on 1 February 2010. I can’t wait.


Gilles P and Stuart Baker were behind the acclaimed (and sold out!) Freedom Rhythm & Sound book of rare cover artwork of revolutionary jazz music between 1965-83 … and they enjoyed the process of piecing it together so much that they decided to do another one. Forthcoming from Soul Jazz Books:

Bossa Nova and the rise of Brazilian music in the 1960s – Original Cover Art compiled by Gilles Peterson & Stuart Baker

This is the first ever collection of bossa nova record cover artwork, featuring modernist and revolutionary designs that were a reflection of the radical and exciting idealism and optimism of Brazil at the start of the 1960s.

Bossa nova was created in Brazil at the end of the 1950s, at a time of great optimism for the country. An era of modernity and developmentalism was heralded by the building of Brasília, the new capital built deep in the country’s hinterland, designed by the radical modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Bossa nova was the joint creation of composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, poet and diplomat Vinicius de Moraes and singer João Gilberto and a small group of young singers and musicians in the Rio beach suburbs of Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon – all of whom would make bossa nova Brazil’s biggest musical export in the 1960s.

As Brazil developed into an urban society, with ‘apartment living’ and consumer goods, bossa nova record sleeves (like the music contained within) projected an image that was modern, sophisticated and cool. This period of optimism in the country lasted until 1964, when a coup d’état announced the arrival of a vicious military dictatorship that would change Brazilian society and its music forever.

This book is a unique collection of the cover art of Brazilian bossa nova music, containing hundreds of stunning record covers complete with a history of bossa nova, biographies and essays on many of the artists involved in the movement.

– Gilles Peterson’s Website

Soul Jazz Records | Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s

The Independent | The dark side of the boys and girls from Brazil PDF

Mail Online | Who’s that girl? Meet the muses who inspired some of our most iconic pop songs

The Guardian | Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s – review

Garota de Ipanema | Site Offical da Garota de Ipanema • Helô Pinheiro

Wikipedia | Gilles Peterson

Wikipedia | Marcus Vínicius de Moraes

Wikipedia | Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim | Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s

Bossa Nova Online | Album Art | The Girl from Ipanema (the real story)

designKULTUR | ARCHITECTS + MUSIC | 3 :: »The Samba of the Architect« ::: Niemeyer’s Sambódromo Makeover for Rio’s Olympics