PASSAGES: Joao Gilberto, father of Bossa Nova, dead at 88

Brazilian artist Joao Gilberto, who in the 1950s pioneered the new latin sound called bossa nova, has died at his home in Rio de Janeiro, he was 88 years old.

Gilberto has often been given primary credit from many music historians as writing the first song in a new style which would later be referred to as the bossa nova, or new beat. The pioneering sound drew on Brazil’s samba tradition but was typically performed at much lower volume, and eliminating the heavy beats of drums and other percussion typically found in samba music. According to some, the jazz guitarist reportedly developed the musical form after locking himself in a bathroom at his sister’s house, doing that so he could play using the bathroom tiles as acoustics, and so he didn’t disturb his sister and her family as they went on with their daily routine. The sound and style spread throughout Brazil within months, and later throughout South America, where it was frequently heard in clubs and dining establishments as entertainment.

In 1962, Gilberto became a worldwide star, teaming up with his then-wife Astrud, who had never sung professionally before, on vocals, and legendary jazz musician Stan Getz for the album Getz/Gilberto, which would take the Grammy for Album of the Year, and produced the first true worldwide smash for bossa nova, the instantly recognizable song “The Girl From Ipanema“, which has gone on to become one of the most recorded songs in music history.

His health had slipped in recent years, and his son announced his passing today on his Facebook page.

Without a doubt, Gilberto was one of the legends of 20th Century music, and his legacy is a collection of music that will remain timeless for all eternity. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends; the world will never be the same without him.

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