When Did Bossa Nova Really Take Off? Antonio Carlos Jobim Knew.
Sinatra, Jobim, and Bossa Nova. Here’s a story that was a full decade in the making.
By Scott Adams
When did Bossa Nova become a household name and part of America’s musical lexicon?
Maybe the moment came with Astrud Gilberto’s impossibly romantic voice singing ‘Corcovado’ or ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ two years later. Some even point to Eydie Gormé’s ‘Blame It On The Bossa Nova’ (1963) or Connie Francis’s ‘Bossa Nova Hand Jive’ (1966) as Bossa Nova change agents.
The Call That Changed It All
But what if you were to ask Antonio Carlos Jobim in December 1966 for his opinion? He was at his favorite table, enjoying the evening at Ipanema’s Veloso Bar when the phone rang. The waiter said that it was a call from the United States. Frank Sinatra wanted to talk with him.
He wanted to record with Jobim, in L.A., right after the Holidays. Jobim said “Yes”, and they agreed on the date.
Frankly speaking, Sinatra was looking for a new start. His marriage to Mia Farrow was on the rocks, and it had been a while since his last great album. Still, Sinatra was at the very top of music’s tallest peak, the most popular performer in the world.
Let’s put it another way: If Frank Sinatra was on stage, Taylor Swift would be in the Balcony, SRO. That’s how it was in 1966 and Tom Jobim knew exactly what the moment meant.
Jobim caught the next flight to America, only to find himself waiting for Sinatra to return from his ‘breakup’ island holiday in Barbados.
The Date: Sinatra, Jobim, and Bossa Nova
On January 30, 1967, recording for the legendary meeting between Sinatra, Jobim, and Bossa Nova began at United Western Recorders, Hollywood, Los Angeles.
Claus Ogerman was brought in by producer Sonny Burke to reunite with the six Jobim songs on the 28-minute album. And yes, it is true: Sinatra said he had never sung so quietly as he did during this recording.
So, What Happened Next?
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1968 Grammy Awards but was edged out by the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The album was released in late March, and no one had any idea of how important 1967 would be for Brazilian music. You may not know today.
That is why I wrote a story about it, called Brazilian Music’s Most Amazing Year. Imagine that.
It started with a call.
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Sinatra, Jobim, and Bossa Nova
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