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SCOTT SIMON, host:

(Soundbite of song, "The girl from Ipanema")

SIMON: This is the song that put the bossa nova on the hit charts in the United States. 1964 is "The Girl From Ipanema," music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and that languid, lush sax by Stan Getz. Fast-forward a decade and a half or so, it's 1979, Stan Getz is playing in Madrid, a young Spanish singer who's smitten with bossa nova is in the audience - Carmen Cuesta. She falls in love with the music, and for that matter, with Getz's guitarist, Chuck Loeb. The two of them get married - in fact, Stan Getz is their best man, in all ways, I guess.

(Soundbite of song, "Triste")

Ms. CARMEN CUESTA (Singer): (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: Fast-forward now to 2011, Carmen Cuesta is still crazy about the bossa nova. She and her husband celebrated the music of Jobim with a 20-show U.S. tour of the East Coast, and they've released a CD tribute called "Mi Bossa Nova." Carmen Cuesta.

(Soundbite of song, "Triste")

Ms. CUESTA: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: Carmen Cuesta joins us from Madrid. Thanks so much for being with us.

Ms. CUESTA: Oh, thank you. Its a great pleasure.

SIMON: What keeps the bossa nova so appealing half a century after we first heard it?

Ms. CUESTA: I dont know what it is, but I dont even want to know it because I dont want to study it too much, I just love it, and to me it's like classical music. I will always love it. It just reach a string in my heart that nothing else does.

(Soundbite of music from CD, "Mi Bossa Nova")

Ms. CUESTA: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: Now I have read that you had originally planned to sing the songs in Spanish.

Ms. CUESTA: Yeah. My original idea was, well, why not to translate all these beautiful songs so people can also understand what they say. But I couldn't do it. The estate Jobim's estate was very firm about not letting anybody else ever again translate one more song of Jobim's.

SIMON: Hm. So you had to learn Portuguese?

Ms. CUESTA: I did. I learned Portuguese and since I kind of knew very well the Spanish version that I did, it was much easier and more profound.

SIMON: Now most of the songs on the CD are by Jobim, and as we know, they're sung in Portuguese. But you wrote a couple songs yourself, right?

Ms. CUESTA: Yes.

SIMON: Well, let's ask you about this one that you sing in Spanish, but it's called Jobim.

(Soundbite of song, Jobim)

Ms. CUESTA: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: What were you trying to say in this song about Jobim?

Ms. CUESTA: This song is explaining the dream that I am in every time I listen to his songs. I could almost touch the places where he was when he was writing these songs, and it's like a reunion of things that appeal to what Jobim means to me. Copacabana, in the early hours of the morning, where supposedly they went back home after a night of jamming and playing, this new thing that they discovered that everybody was playing that was the bossa nova in the 50s late 50s.

(Soundbite of song, Jobim)

Ms. CUESTA: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: You've got a line in here about something about Ipanema and the sand singing under your feet.

Ms. CUESTA: Yes. That is actually something that Jobim said and I saw it in a video. It was explaining how Ipanema Beach was so beautiful and the sand was so white and so clean and so pure, that walking on it, the sand squeak, it was like singing. That's what I tried to explain that I can feel that. I can feel. I can see exactly what he means.

(Soundbite of song, Jobim)

Ms. CUESTA: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: Who are those terrific flute players?

Ms. CUESTA: Ha. Well, actually, my two daughters played backgrounds on flute. My youngest daughter, Lizzy Loeb, my older daughter is Christina. They are 24 and 26.

SIMON: Oh, so you have to pay them to play on this album then, don't you?

Ms. CUESTA: Or maybe exchange with them for something else, yeah. But the main flutist was Dave Mann, which is an amazing saxophone and flutist.

(Soundbite of song, Jobim)

Ms. CUESTA: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: Youve lived in New York for some time, haven't you?

Ms. CUESTA: Yes. I've been there 31 years. I went to New York when I was 24, so I've lived in New York in America more time that I lived in Spain.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Ms. CUESTA: But when I got there I was so lucky because I was exposed to really good musicians all the time. And I actually had a group with great people like Andy Laverne, Mark Egan and Danny Gottlieb, which were like the people that played with Pat Metheny at that time. And I was just amazed of how much people accepted me. It was great.

(Soundbite of music from CD, "Mi Bossa Nova)

Ms. CUESTA: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: What do you hope people get out of hearing this CD?

Ms. CUESTA: I just hope they enjoy it when they listen to it as much as I enjoyed making it, because what I want with all my music, my other CDs too, is just give people a moment of relaxation and enjoying themselves and not to have to think too much, but yet feeling the emotion and hopefully, a good emotion just that.

SIMON: That's what the bossa nova is all about?

Ms. CUESTA: Yes. I think so.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Carmen Cuesta, her new CD, Mi Bossa Nova. She joined us from Madrid. Thanks so much.

Ms. CUESTA: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

(Soundbite of music from CD, "Mi Bossa Nova)

Ms. CUESTA: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon.

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