João Gilberto, 1931-2019

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João Gilberto, 1931-2019

Postby SirMustapha » Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:54 pm

I neglected to post this the previous days, because I just wasn't in the right mindset. So I guess I'll post this now.

Even if you never listened to João Gilberto, you've certainly heard him before. Even if you never knew his name, you're aware of him. If you've ever heard some kind of gentle Brazilian beat with a soft, hushed, nasal voice on top, it's either him or someone imitating him. He showcased Brazil to the world in a way we were never seen; when our music was almost always loud, frenzied, extroverted, grandiloquent and imposing, his tone was so quiet and cosy that you had to make an effort to even hear him. He redefined the language of our music, he transformed the meaning of Brazilian music, and in this country, even those who aren't his fans or admirers are directly influenced by him. He's often called "the father of bossa nova", but I honestly feel like this name is pretty antiquated for him; I'd rather say he's the inventor of ambient samba. Of course he was primordial in this "genre" that eventually became the staple of bourgeois "good taste", the combination of lowly samba with the "sophisticated" American jazz, but Gilberto is more than that. He distilled our most fundamental rhythm, our most seminal form of music, to its absolute minimum, its bare bones, and displayed them in an unique light. It's impossible to imagine what our music would be like today if it weren't for him.

And I say all this without even being a huge admirer. His music never fully "clicked" in me, and even as I made honest, wholehearted attempts to feel his music, I was always left with the impression that I'm not ready for it. But even then, even if I dared to say I "dislike" him, his music is a massive part of my cultural heritage. I carry his music in my blood. In every note I play, he's there, somewhere, lurking, sitting alone with his guitar, picking those crazy chords and whispering about love and solitude. That's that ubiquitous. And, unfortunately, in these last couple of years, he had stopped making music and had become none more than an unknown recluse, an eccentric living in an expensive hotel room, talking to almost nobody, not giving interviews or making public appearances. And even then--even being the perfect image of a recluse weirdo--the newspapers didn't ridicule him. People couldn't stop respecting him, or at least his artistic legacy. He was a giant in his day, he was a giant in his passing, and he will remain a giant as long as he's remembered.

As hard as I try, I can't make him justice. All I can do is recognise my smallness before him and share this gem with you. And, if you're feeling extra adventurous, look for his self-titled 1973 album. It's too dense even for me.

Vai em paz, Mestre.
"Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles"

-- Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"
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Re: João Gilberto, 1931-2019

Postby gkscotty » Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:55 pm

Not familiar with him but had a listen and that was a great album. RIP.

It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was Us, what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do bad things. - Jingo, Terry Pratchett

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