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Dhum dhum dhum

June 5, 2012

For the same reasons that you wouldn’t put a set together without including a Blues, you need some latin vibe to mix genres. I don’t mean a hydrid tune who goes from latin to swing (“Speak low”, “You stepped out of a dream”, “Nica’s dream” or “Love for sale” for example), nor something based on a caribbean rhythm (“My little suede shoes”, “St Thomas” or “Song for my father”). I mean Bossa Nova. The gentle Brazilian rhythm that has invaded the Jazz universe since the mid 50’s. Now I bet you hear Joao Gilberto humming…

I remember reading that Ryuchi Sakamoto had purchased Jobim's piano after he died. It had the mark of the cigars on the side!

Nothing beats a Bossa Nova for its delicacy and softness. Just as a proof of it’s embedded character, you’d always find the trumpet player reaching for the Flügelhorn as you call for a bossa. The mellow tone of the Flüg matches perfectly the ambiance set by the Bossa. Gil Evans and Jobim fan’s, this is your post.

I love Bossa Novas. Not just Jobim’s music or any tune written as a bossa. I used to play “Misty” as a bossa. Even “Giant steps” as a mid tempo bossa is stunning, let alone a lot easier to play 🙂

I always include a bossa or two in my sets. And often in 3rd position as a contrast to the opening swing numbers.

So which one to go for? “Girl from Ipanema”, “Corcovado”, “Desafinado” and “Wave” are probably the most visited bossa tunes. Maybe “Summer samba” or “Little boat”. Or a conversion of a non-latin tune! Ballads like “Misty” mentionned earlier sound great played as a bossa.

However, in order to not cross over the line, let’s keep it to the plan and feature a purpose-written bossa and my choice is Jobim’s “Dindi”.

This is a gem of a tune. The often discarded intro offers a lovely rubato moment for a piano player, before counting the band in to the Head. The chords are flowing so easily, specially when replacing the Abm7 in bar 7 by it’s tritone equivalent (Db7#11). And yet, the bridge provide two identical progressions going down a tone that keeps any soloist on its toes. A bit like the bridge of “One note samba” but you have to deal with Im7 into bVIm instead of a II-V-I.

The melody is gorgeous. The chords of the A section modulate from Eb to Ab in the same way “Misty” does but what really works for me in this tune is the first 2 bars of the head (Eb into Db). Such a nice platform to vamp on at the end, regardless of the instrument you’re using. It doesn’t get better than this.

“Dindi” is my pick. “How insensitive”,  “Gentle rain” and “Black orpheus” are not far behind for the mid tempo tunes. I like “Ipanema” fairly fast too.

Any candidates for a bossa in the set? Have I missed one? Have you got one of yours to submit? Tell me.


From → Without a Song

  1. J,
    Nice blog – thoughtful.
    One I like as a Bossa is Crazy Rhythm. Check it out sometime.
    Your old trumpet-owning friend….

  2. No Joke! Crazy Rhythm really? I’ll give it a try. However, I have great memories from Benny Carter’s version in
    Have to dig it out someday.

  3. Hi James,
    Long time no hear!! My current contender for a tune played as a bossa which I’ve been playing recently on flute is A Time For Love around 110. Fab!
    I’ve been running an Open Mic every thursday at The Orange Tree Richmond for the last nine months. If you fancy sitting in do come down from 8.30pm. We’re on tomorrow as usual and thro till the end of June. Re-starting mid September.


    Jonathan ( Whines)

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