The Music of João Gilberto
Postado 05 novembro 2007 - 11:15
João Gilberto is a very controversial artist. While he's considered a true genius by many other artists, who will quickly say that's he's THE major musical influence in their lives, his detractors will not save any derogatory terms when referring to him or will simply say that he's got lucky, is overrated and cannot even be considered a guitarist.
Since the beginning of his career, he showed a very eccentric behavior and a difficulty to fit in the music business. He would complain of sound problems that no one else was able to hear, get late at the appointments and sometimes simply disappear.
In 1958 he played the guitar accompanying singer Elizeth Cardoso and in the next year he would release his first solo LP, Chega de Saudade. Both albums became milestones and shook the music scene at the time. People went crazy about the way he would sing and play the guitar and he immediately had a legion of followers that would include future major Brazilian artists like Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Chico Buarque.
The video below shows some of Gilberto's main qualities. An endless creativity as a harmonizer, the ability to make flawless chord changes, no noise, the voice seeming to be somehow independent from the accompaniment and the capability of singing the same melody with different rhythmic and harmonic variations. The song below is "Pra que Discutir com Madade" (something like "Why bother the Socialite?")
When we talk about João Gilberto, we think it's mandatory to mention Jobim's music, which was the foundation of João's career. We thought nothing could be more appropriate than to show one of their rare moments together on the same stage. Here they play Desafinado.
The songs below will focus in a repertoire that a lot of people may not know.
Undiú - It's a baião and it shows what is, in fact, one of João Gilberto's main influences and explains a lot about the unique way he plays the guitar, especially the basses.
Na Baixa do Sapateiro - A famous song written by Ary Barroso, here played with guitar and drums by Sonny Carr. Again, notice how João Gilberto uses the basses.
Valsa - One of the rare moments where João Gilberto plays a waltz. Again, the basses are played in a baião-like style.
Um Abraço no Bonfá - A instrumental piece that Gilberto wrote in homage to his dear friend Luiz Bonfá.
Postado 19 novembro 2007 - 12:22
- Chega de Saudade (1959)
- O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor (1960)
- João Gilberto (1961)
- Getz/Gilberto (1964)
- Getz/Gilberto #2 (1965)
- João Gilberto en México / Ela é Carioca (1970)
- João Gilberto (1973)
- The Best of Two Worlds (1976)
- Amoroso (1977)
- João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira - ao vivo (1980)
- Brasil (1981)
- Live at the 19th Montreux Jazz Festival - ao vivo (1986)
- João (1991)
- Eu Sei que Vou Te Amar - live (1994)
- Live at Umbria Jazz (1996)
- João Voz e Violão (2000)
- In Tokyo - live (2004)
Postado 25 fevereiro 2008 - 06:12
Postado 21 março 2008 - 04:34
Postado 26 outubro 2008 - 01:15
A point though.
If one consider what a musician is ( or more specifically a guitar player), one find out that it's basically a combination of two essential qualities: one visible and the other in-visible. That is, the fingers work and the ear awareness. Almost anybody can evaluate the first one ( technique, speed, complexity, etc..) while the second is much more elusive and mysterious. How can you know if someone has a very subtle ear? It doesn't show. Unless you have it equally, yourself, isn't it?
So from that perspective, it doesn't come as a surprise that guitar players ( and singers too) are divided about JG. He is definitely not a finger-hard work-virtuoso player, neither singer. (Not a Pavarotti approach)
But if you have ears, you might well listen to his violão and voice for years and years, and still discover more and more subtlety to his playing. Then you may vaguely realize the immensity of his listening, of his ear awareness. Then it will become obvious why so many people with little ears and shallow listening, impressed mostly by flying fingers, found his requirements and complaints about microphones and attentive audience, inappropriate to say the least.
Personally, if I may come into this, i would feel it's rather sad to see how a show of such a most subtle musician ( yes, Musician) can be partially spoilt by (some)people around , not "tuned" or at least aware of this level of sensitivity. Is not the best technology made to enhance man's best performances? So why not make sure that the best microphones and sound equipment are ready to welcome the artistry of such a unique being? What is the point to keep the best technology to go to the moon or wars, if we are not able to use it for priceless gems of sound-music?
But it's the way it is.
And it is about this thing called Bossa Nova, not the American or techno version, but the João Gilberto way, which bring us to what we are, instead of escaping in loud noise.
Anyway, hope you get the point.
This said a good balance between fingers and ear ( the other way around, if you like) does a lot of good, it seems, to Music.
But sometimes one perceive that fingers and lot of notes and effects are just a clever way to mask a not so subtle ear awareness and taste. Let's not get fooled by these tricks...
Rather ask for the real thing. Educate your ear.
The ear will inspire the fingers dance...
Postado 28 outubro 2008 - 03:58
Others will argue that João didn't invent anything, they'll say that bossa-nova was already being cooked up way before João Gilberto and that his guitar style is just a derivation of some of his fellow musicians at that time.
There's even a third group who'll argue that he's just a lucky guy, he's a nice musician and thinks about details, etc, but that's it, nothing special about him.
Last, but not least, it's unnecessary to say that a lot of positive books, theses and articles were written about João Gilberto, his place in history and his musicianship.
Postado 29 outubro 2008 - 12:00
But they say, and he plays (or stop to play)...
And then there are the one who listen, like us.
Quite controversial indeed, the man versus his music...
Anyway, time will tell, I guess.