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26 Nov

Week 133: “One Note Samba” by Antonio Carlos Jobim

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I couldn’t let Southern Hemisphere Month go by without including a bossa nova track.

Bossa nova (which, I just found out, translates to something like “new wave”) is the southern hemisphere’s greatest contribution to the jazz genre. And although many versions of “One Note Samba” exist, this one stands as my favourite, and as the one that introduced bossa nova to the northern hemisphere as part of the Grammy-winning album “Jazz Samba” by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.

Antonio Carlos Jobim was the most famous Brazilian of the 1960s (other than, maybe, Pele), and his list of hits is staggering. He was so loved in Brazil that the international airport in Rio now bears his name; fitting for someone who exported Brazillian music to the world.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The percussion. The soft brushes, the clinking high-hat, the delicate rim hits…it is physically impossible to listen to this without moving your head back and forth like a pigeon.

2. The guitar. It’s from the guitar that we first hear the “one note” referred to in the title. But it’s not the one note that gives the song its charm; it’s the way that the bass line creeps down chromatically under the note, like someone sinking slowly into a deck chair by the pool.

3. The sax. Smooth and silky and perfect.

Recommended listening activity:

Relaxing underneath a ridiculously slow-moving ceiling fan.

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