Copyright ©2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Back now with Day to Day. That great export from Brazil, Bossa Nova , is 50 years old this year. Listening 50 years ago and now, musician and Day to Day contributor David Was.

DAVID WAS: Bossa Nova loosely translated means new thing, which in this case, meant a harmonic sophistication borrowed from American Cool Jazz and the dumping of the old school accordion in favor of the nylon-string guitar.

Traditionalists frowned on this shocking development, just as American elders wished for the early demise of demonic rock 'n' roll records. Fat chance.

It's fitting, then, that Brazilian guitar virtuoso Toninho Horta's new album, "To Jobim With Love," comes on the golden anniversary of the opening of composer Antonio Carlos Jobim's landmark musical "Black Orpheus." The Oscar-winning film version was followed by Jobim's "Girl From Ipanema" in 1963, a collaboration with American tenor sax star Stan Getz, that made the Bossa Nova front-page news.

The high or low-water mark, depending on one's orientation, came with the release of Frank Sinatra's 1967 collaboration with Jobim.

(Soundbite of song "Meditation")

Mr. FRANK SINATRA (Singing): In my loneliness...

WAS: Sinatra's English-language reading of "Meditation" is echoed in Toninho Horta's whispery vocal and tender touch on the guitar.

Befitting the music's debt to American jazz of the 1950s, Horta makes use of some of this country's best instrumentalists, among them bass virtuoso Gary Peacock and tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer.

(Soundbite of Portuguese)

WAS: But it's when the human voice is sparely accompanied by acoustic guitar that the soul of the form comes to life. When singer Gal Costa intones the melancholic "Modinha," one forgets that Bossa Nova was ever a revolutionary movement, nor Jobim a musical maverick. 50 years later, the poignance and delicacy of the music continue to charm the ear and move the heart. Felice anniversario.

CHADWICK: The album is "To Jobim With Love," by Toninho Horta. Our reviewer, David Was.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.