The bossa nova was ultimately defined by the guitar playing and singing style of João Gilberto. His unique interpretation contrasted with the predominating nostalgic, romantic, and often dramatic ballads, boleros and samba-canções of the late 50s. His nearly vibrato-free vocals, syncopated samba rhythms, and smooth voicings on guitar created an immediate impact on many of the young musicians of his time.
But it was the music of another young composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, that would infuse the bossa nova movement with sophisticated harmonies, melodies, and form. Together with poet Vinícius de Moraes, Jobim would write the most famous tunes that soon would be performed and recorded around the world. The movement would attract a new wave of young musicians and composers, including Carlos Lyra, Billy Blanco, Baden Powell, Sylvia Telles, Nara Leão, Newton Mendonça, Toquinho, Marcos Valle, Roberto Menescal, and many others.
Oscar Castro-Neves, then only 16 years old, was among these musicians, and his first recorded song, "Chora Tua Tristeza," became a national hit in Brazil and generated more than 50 cover versions. Along with Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto, and others, he emerged in the early 1960s as one of the founding figures of Bossa Nova. He helped lead the bossa nova invasion in the U.S., playing a central role as a performer and accompanist for other noted Brazilian musicians at the historic presentation of Brazil's new music at Carnegie Hall.
Living in the U.S. since 1971, Mr. Castro-Neves has a distinguished career as a composer, arranger and producer, and he has collaborated with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Elis Regina, Flora Purim, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Henderson, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Stan Getz, Eliane Elias, João Gilberto, Lee Ritenour, Airto Moreira, Edu Lobo, Toots Thielemans, Paul Winter, Diane Schuur, Herbie Hancock, Ella Fitzgerald, Ottmar Liebert, Lisa Ono and countless other Brazilian, jazz, and pop music stars.
Read more about Berklee's celebration of the bossa nova's 50th anniversary.