Berklee Celebrates Bossa Nova's 50th Anniversary

Mitzi Dorbu
September 11, 2008
Cesar Camargo Mariano
Oscar Castro-Neves
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist

For half a century, music lovers the world over have taken the words of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Vou Te Contar" ("Wave" in English) to heart, getting swept up in their love for bossa nova ("new trend" in English). Now, fifty years after the trio of Jobim, João Gilberto, and Vinicius de Moraes popularized this new trend, Berklee pays homage to the genre with performances by two highly acclaimed and greatly sought-after artists from Brazil—Oscar Castro-Neves and Cesar Camargo Mariano.

Castro-Neves comes to Boston after hosting, directing, arranging, and performing in a star-studded tribute at the Hollywood Bowl in September for a 50-year celebration of bossa nova. Berklee’s official commemoration began in May, when the Queen of Bossa Nova, Rosa Passos, was awarded an honorary doctorate during this year’s commencement ceremony. Anniversary festivities continue in October with the following concerts:

Berklee Celebrates 50 Years of the Bossa Nova with Cesar Camargo Mariano takes place October 1 and 3 at 8:00 p.m. at Berklee’s Cafe 939, 939 Boylston Street. Tickets are $10 and available at the Berklee Performance Center box office, through Ticketmaster at 617 931-2000, or at Mariano performs on campus in an innovative combination of concert performances and jam sessions that showcase his skills alongside dynamic Berklee professors Jamey Haddad and Fernando Huergo, provide a rare opportunity for students to trade licks with a master, and open a window into the artist's creative process for members of the audience.

La Casa de la Cultura/Center for Latino Arts, IBA and Berklee College of Music also present Cesar Camargo Mariano in a full concert of his music on October 2 at the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center, Boston's South End. For ticket information, go to or call 617 927-1707 or 617 927-1739.

Mariano is a pianist, arranger, composer, producer, and one of Brazil's most celebrated musicians. His ensembles the Sambalanço Trio and Som Tres, and his album Samambaia—one of his thirty-plus instrumental recordings—are regarded as high points in Brazilian jazz.

His collaborations with many of Brazil's most important singers, notably Wilson Simonal and Elis Regina, have brought him worldwide acclaim. The historic 1973 album Elis and Tom, made with Antonio Carlos Jobim, features him as arranger, pianist, and musical director. Since then, Mariano has worked with an array of musical giants around the world, from Yo -Yo Ma to Blossom Dearie, and has composed a wealth of soundtrack music for film and TV. He has also won numerous Sharp and Clio awards and eight Latin Grammys, including the 2007 Latin Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Berklee Celebrates 50 years of the Bossa Nova with Oscar Castro Neves takes place October 21, 8:15 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue. Tickets are $10; call 617 747-2261 for more information.

Castro-Neves is a renowned composer and arranger, known for his sophisticated harmonic concepts and the exquisite texture and color of his orchestrations. He is equally well known for his distinctive guitar style as he is for being an accomplished record producer. Castro-Neves has worked with dozens of major artists, including Elis Regina, Flora Purim, Joe Henderson, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Lee Ritenour, Airto Moreira, Edu Lobo, Toots Thielemans, Paul Winter, Diane Schuur, Herbie Hancock, Ella Fitzgerald, Lisa Ono, and countless others in the jazz, popular, Brazilian, and classical realms.

As Jobim's lyrics advise, lovers (of this music) should not fight the "the wave" of performances scheduled by faculty Leonardo Blanco and Fernando Brandão, who produced these concerts, respectively.