Passarim: In a Bossa Nova Mood
Hello. This is Passarim - one of the bands on the swoony Starbucks compilation In A Bossa Nova Mood—and we’re here to answer a few questions:
What is it about bossa nova?
“Esta música vai incendiar o mundo.” This music will set the world on fire. ~Herbie Mann
I started playing bossa nova because of its soft and subtle beauty, its understatement, the gorgeous harmonies and lyricism. Jobim took complex songwriting theory and extended harmonies and applied it to Brazilian samba, creating a beautiful and often delicate hybrid—a blend of jazz and classical lines with Brazilian aesthetic, coupled with an obsession for moving melody. It’s very fun to play.
“Why don’t they write sambas that we can whisper to our girlfriends?” ~Dick Farney, crooner and forerunner of bossa nova
Its intimacy is what lured me. I remember hearing Getz/Gilberto for the first time and thinking What is this magic? Pure seduction. The feeling of languid breezy afternoons, the round sound of Brazilian Portuguese, velvet vocals playing with phrasing and rhythm and storytelling… but it was the whisper, vocally and musically. There’s so much art in the restraint.
“Do not injure the silence, for it is sacred.” ~João Gilberto
At all of our shows, there’s that point in the set where the crowd shifts from listening to the music, to absorbing the feelings created inside themselves through the music—even if they don’t understand a word of Portuguese. And that speaks to the enduring hold and timeless appeal of this quiet, unassuming style of music created more than 50 years ago in the corner bars, beaches, and living rooms of Rio de Janeiro. What we’re doing is a love poem; play the music the way it was intended, and people will feel it.
We regret that Brian was too buried to comment, because when he talks about music, he converts souls. So in lieu of well-spoken insight, we’ll take this opportunity to mention that his fingers are eight inches long, each. He can palm a palm tree.
But what really draws us bossa nova?
It’s the sexiest music on the planet.
There you have it. Thank you, Starbucks!
(And thank you Jobim, João, Menescal, Getz, Elis, Astrud, Frankie, all our heroes—we’re among giants.)
(photo taken by Chi Duong)