Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: November 2009

Sometimes the title says it all…
A lush sounding LP, 12 Bossa Nova classics from the maestro.
A Garota De Ipanema
Amor Em Paz
Agua De Beber
Vivo Sonhando
O Morro Não Tem Vez
Samba De Uma Nota So
So Danco Samba
Chega De Saudade


Everywhere has its irremediable national catastrophe, something like a Hiroshima. Our catastrophe, our Hiroshima, was the defeat by Uruguay in 1950. Nelson Rodrigues.

In 1950 there was no World Cup
The championship was decided on a round robin basis, so the winners could have been crowned before the hosts Brazil met Uruguay at Estádio do Maracanã on 16 July. As it was Brazil needed just one point to secure the Jules Rimet Trophy as it was now known.
Their defeat at the hands of neighbours Uruguay in what became known as the Final Fatídica left a scar on the national psyche, and ironically in a country with a rich football heritage and an unparalleled 5 World Cup successes, it is this defeat which is remembered as their most significant game, even giving a new word to the vocabulary, Maracanazo.
The newspapers proclaiming a Brazil victory had been printed, songs had been written and medals had been struck. Brazil were 1/10 on favourites to win and stood to collect mammoth bonuses of around £10,000 if they lifted the trophy. Jules Rimet had prepared a speech in Portuguese for when he inevitably presented the trophy to Augusto da Costa.

Having had to seek him out unaided by his stunned hosts, M. Rimet presents Varela with the trophy in the midst of 200,000 silent Brazilians.

England came out of World Cup isolation and were promptly humiliated by the USA .Ill prepared probably in the belief that English football was football, and that a combination of muscular , direct football and dribbling and crossing to a big centre forward would be enough to affirm their primacy in the game they invented- but this was a world of which they knew nothing, and the fifties were to be a succession of wake up calls which they were very slow to heed.
India missed out on all this- refusing to go because FIFA would not allow the team to play barefoot.

Let’s take a break from Bossa Nova…
Here is the soundtrack album for Alfie , a 1966 British film directed by Lewis Gilbert, starring Michael Caine. It is an adaptation by Bill Naughton of his own novel and play of the same name
Michael Caine is one of Joao Kartoshka’s all time favourite actors, but Alfie is one of his least favourite characters- the smug mysoginism and psychopathy galls – even in those days? Was it really endearingly laddish, or clever? He’s a bully and a coward who deserves much worse than he gets.
He cries only for himself…
What’s it all about, eh?
Caine’s undoubted genius, of course.
The soundtrack is a cracking piece of jazz from another undoubted genius- US tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins who by the age of 36 was a figure shrouded in mystique.

• Sonny Rollins, Robert Ashton – tenor saxophone
• J.J. Johnson – trombone (tracks 1 & 2)
• Jimmy Cleveland – trombone (tracks 3-6)
• Phil Woods – alto saxophone
• Danny Bank – baritone saxophone
• Roger Kellaway – piano
• Kenny Burrell – guitar
• Walter Booker – bass
• Frankie Dunlop – drums
• Oliver Nelson – arranger, conductor
Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 26, 1966

Helô 1967

…the paradigm of the young Carioca: a golden teenage girl, a mixture of flower and mermaid, full of light and grace, the sight of whom is also sad, in that she carries with her, on her route to the sea, the feeling of youth that fades, of the beauty that is not ours alone — it is a gift of life in its beautiful and melancholic constant ebb and flow.- Vinicius de Moraes

Ask people to name one Bossa Nova song and the chances are that it will be A Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema), composed in 1962 by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes.
First recorded by Pery Ribeiro (1962) the song was made internationally famous by Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto and Stan Getz ( featured on the Getz/Gilberto LP of 1964, Garota won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965). It has since been covered by a vast number of artists.
Despite the fact that the song, originally titled Menina que Passa (The Girl Who Passes By) was composed for a musical comedy titled Dirigível , the composers happily played along with the popular myth that it was inspired by Moraes and Jobim watching local girl Helô Pinto walk past the Veloso bar in Ipanema. They later went so far as to agree that they had actually written the song about Helô.
Consequently Helô Pinheiro (as she now is) is The Girl From Ipanema. This worked in her favour in 2001 when the families of Moraes and Jobim sued her over her use of the name for her business venture, a chain of boutiques in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro . She won the case.

Born in 1943, Helô appeared in Brazilian Playboy in 1987 and once again in 2003, showing that at age 60 she still had what it took to turn the heads of any budding composers who might be sitting at Veloso’s bar…

Here is Helô’s website:

Here is Pery Ribeiro’s original version of the song:

I was thinking the other day- what does Bossa Nova actually mean to people these days? What image does it conjure up in their minds? We already know that Mattinho dismisses it as cruise ship music- and I found out from a quick survey of people around the neighbourhood of Kartoshka Towers that most people think it’s something to do with ballroom dancing, or Latin music played on a combo organ.
I’ve put together this compilation as a quick sampler for those who might not have had the opportunity to listen to Bossa Nova and who might as a consequence dismiss it as kitsch, easy listening, lounge or elevator music.
Most of the songs here are well known and may be available elsewhere on this blog.
It’s not an exhaustive or definitive compilation, just 40 minutes of good listening featuring some of the main figures in the Bossa Nova genre.

I hope that aficionados will indulge me over the choice of records and also over this necessarily brief potted history:
Bossa Nova evolved in Brazil in the latter part of the 1950’s, and Bim-Bom (1956) by João Gilberto is considered to be the first Bossa Nova song. Gilberto- along with Jobim , Luiz Bonfa and the poet lyricist Vinícius de Moraes created many standards of the genre.
Being more complex and less percussive than the Samba from which it derives- Bossa Nova also had a more refined and upmarket image.
In Brazil itself Bossa Nova was made popular by Elizete Cardoso’s interpretation of Chega de Saudade by Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes on her LP Canção do Amor Demais. Joao Gilberto also scored a hit with this number. The 1959 film Orfeu Negro brought the style wider exposure, and American Jazz musicians began collaborating with Brazilian artistes , creating a Bossa Nova boom in the States.
This in turn led to Brazilian artists migrating to the USA, where Bossa Nova was crucial in the development of the cool jazz style.
Brazilian composers (most notably Jobim) continued to produce lushly orchestrated works awash with strings whilst still employing the rhythmic staples and intimate understated styles of Bossa Nova.
This is not a perfect synopsis and not all key figures are mentioned- but it’s a place to start if you are not familiar with the story of this seductive and engaging musical style.
Further information here:

Heres the Link:

Bim Bom– Joao Gilberto
Chega De Saudade– Elizete Cardoso
Manha De Carnaval– Luiz Bonfa /Maria Toledo
Samba De Orfeu– Maria Toledo
The Girl From Ipanema– Joao Gilberto/ Stan Getz/ Astrud Gilberto
Samba De Uma Nota So– Sylvia Teles
Agua De Beber– Antonio Carlos Jobim
Wave– Antonio Carlos Jobim
Mas Que Nada– Sergio Mendes
Aguas De Marco– Elis Regina/ Antonio Carlos Jobim
Coracao Vagabundo– Gal Costa /Caetano Veloso
Carta o Tom– Vinicius e Toquinho

As you can see from the photograph above, a man who can play the guitar is invariably very popular.
Unsurprisingly, then, as a young boy, I longed for a guitar. With Xmas approaching I cut out the page below from a magazine ( it was called something like Guitar Planet).

Pa Kartoshka was always very contemptuous of musicians. All his records were compilations of movie music. Orchestras seemed ok to him, but he was wary of individual artisites. He thought that playing the guitar was ‘kinky’.
I summoned up all my courage and showed the picture to Pa.
‘Can you get me one of these for Xmas?’
He looked at the photograph seriously.
‘I’ll see what I can do…’ he said.
I wasn’t expecting miracles. Money was tight.

On Xmas day he nodded gloomily towards the hall.
‘Your present is out there…’
His morose voice followed me as I eagerly raced out to the hall.
‘I don’t know why the hell you wanted it though, seems a strange choice to me…’
Sure enough, there it was, hanging in the hall.
A black tuxedo, complete with a pleat fronted shirt and velvet bow tie.
Just one of those misunderstandings that passes between fathers and sons.
‘It’s not exactly like the one you showed me’ he called after me, ‘but it was the best that I could do…’
I didn’t have the heart to tell him.

It would take more than a blog posting on a modest site like Kartoshka 167 to even begin to discuss the diverse talents and fascinating musical career of the great Mr Quincy Jones…
trumpeter, conductor, record producer, musical arranger, film composer …

This is Big Band Bossa Nova , Jones’ 1962 contribution to the bossa nova boom. This LP predates the other Brazilian influenced American recordings that we have looked at, and the Brazilian tunes featured are reworked in the context of Big Band swing.
Some noteworthy names in the line up:
Quincy Jones – Conductor
Phil Woods – Alto saxophone
Paul Gonsalves – Tenor saxophone
Clark Terry – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Roland Kirk – Flute, Alto Flute
Jerome Richardson – Flute, Alto Flute, Woodwinds
Lalo Schifrin – Piano
Jim Hall – Guitar
Chris White – Bass
Rudy Collins – Drums
Jack Del Rio – Percussion
Carlos Gomez – Percussion
Jose Paula – Percussion


By 1938 the shadow of global conflict loomed over the World Cup.
Spain withdrew because of the Civil War, and Austria (a strong team who had been fancied to win the 1934 tournament) didn’t appear because they had been ‘absorbed’ by Germany in the Anschluss of March 1938. Many Austrian players were ‘seconded’ to the German team. The notion of the Ubermensch took a blow when Switzerland defeated Germany in a first round replay.
Uruguay and Argentina boycotted the tournament in protest at it being held in Europe twice in succession.
Dutch East Indies (the country now known as Indonesia) qualified due to the withdrawal of Japan (engaged in a war with China) This proved to entail a journey of over 7,000 miles for one match , as the tournament was still organised on a knockout basis (the last time that this occured),Dutch East Indies were elimimated losing 6-0 to Hungary in Reims.

Spare a thought for Poland’s Ernest Wilimowski, who scored four goals in his only appearance but still ended up on the losing side, Brazil winning 6-5 after extra time.

Italy succesfully defended their title, beating Hungary in the final.
During the 1939-45 war the trophy was removed from a bank in Rome by FIFA Vice-President, Dr. Ottorino Barassi, who hid it in a shoe-box under his bed throughout the hostilities…

The Dutch East Indies

In 1993 Mattinho and I were just settling down to watch Batman Returns on VCR when he nervously asked me ‘will Catwoman be scary?’
I told him that it depended on how old you were. Potentially, yes, she was scary…
But of course, Tim Burton’s vision of all things Gotham was fundamentally different from that which my generation had been used to. The Batman TV series (and movie spinoff) in the 1960’s was essentially pantomime knockabout stuff.
Catwoman has had many guises. She made her first appearance in Batman # 1 in 1940- when she was known as The Cat, and showed no sign of the trademark catsuit of later years.
Creator Bob Kane wanted to provide sex appeal,a love interest for Batman and a character with whom female readers could identify.
He based the Cat on Jean Harlow.
In Batman #62 she was said to be an amnesiac flight attendant.

In the live-action TV series of 1966-67 Catwoman was played by Julie Newmar (b 1933) in season 1 and 2 and by Eartha Kitt (1927-2008) in season 3.
For the 1966 movie the role of the “purrfect” villainess went to former Miss America Lee Meriwether (b 1935).
The 1992 incarnation of Catwoman that Mattinho was so anxious aboutwas of course Michelle Pfeiffer (b 1958).