CWA panel discusses history of influential Brazilian musician
Have you ever been standing in an elevator and heard the infamous elevator song “The Girl From Ipanema?” You’ve heard it. The original version, sans the cheesy elevator one-note jingle, is a solid gold classic in the world of Brazilian Bossa Nova music.
Wednesday’s Conference on World Affairs panel “Brazilian Music: 80 Years of Jobim” was met by a packed crowd. CU alumni Dave and Don Grusin were paired with Grammy Award-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat to discuss the history of Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of the most influential musicians in the Brazilian music scene of the late ’50s and the ’60s.
The panel was held in a classroom in the Imig Music building, which was a mistake. The room was packed with every single area of the room taken up by a body. Many people stood in aisles as others sat on the floor. The door had to be shut, sending hordes of people away from the CWA event. The panel might have worked better if it was held in the Grusin Music Hall in the Imig Music building, named after the Grusin brothers.
The crowd that managed to wedge themselves in before the doors were shut witnessed the Grusin brothers talk about their experiences with Jobim in Brazil.
“He was born in a time in Brazil when a lot of new things were going on in the arts,” Dave Grusin said.
The popular music at the time was called samba, which was a faster dance music. Jobim, along with fellow Bossa Nova creators Joao Gilberto and Vinicius de Moraes, took the style of samba and slowed it down, making a softer, sultrier, more complex beat.
“He used simple melodies that were mellow, but it was something never heard before,” Dave said.
It was 15 minutes into the panel discussion, and there was still a crowd of people outside hoping to get in. People shouting to make more room for others waiting outside interrupted the discussion. There just wasn’t any more room.
After the commotion died down, Dave recalled Jobim’s relationship with de Moraes. It consisted of meeting every afternoon on the beach to drink coffee, beer and write music.
“What’s better inspiration than that?” Dave said.
The Grusin brothers played a duet on the piano as Bisharat accompanied them on violin.
Don spoke about Jobim’s love for the English language. Jobim was making Brazilian jazz but had never heard of American favorites at the time, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. It wasn’t until the late ’60s that Jobim learned about the two musicians.
Jobim also had a fascination with the birds of North and South America. Don said Turkey Buzzards were Jobim’s favorite at the time.
Dave described Gilberto as the other half of Jobim.
“He was the voice,” Dave said.
He also spoke about Gilberto as a character. Dave said Gilberto was so problematic and paranoid that after a concert at Carnegie Hall, he was too paranoid to get back on a plane and lived in New York for three years because of it.
The trio continued playing Jobim’s songs, which had the crowd swaying along and shouting out requests. The panel ended with questions. One person asked why the music that came out of Brazil after Bossa Nova didn’t make it. With that, Dave, a Bossa Nova traditionalist, answered:
“A lot of it just wasn’t very good.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Jenny Bergen at Jennifer.email@example.com.