This is a recent compilation from Soul Jazz. As the title suggests, it is a collection of Bossa Nova music from Brazil in the early 1960s. It comes with a fascinating booklet contextualising the music and giving us some delightful photos of the players and of Brazil generally during this period. This was apparently a time of excitement and optimism in that country, with a sense being about that Brazil was making progress and going places. The jazz-influenced modernist sounds of Bossa Nova reflected this optimism and sense that a new Brazil was being created. Of course, it did not last – in 1964 the military overthrew the civilian government and instituted a rightwing dictatorship that lasted for the next 21 years. That saw the end of Bossa Nova as a force within Brazil, its naïve optimism abandoned by its performers as they moved to more politically forthright oppositional music or simply dropped out of cultural life in the face of the dictatorship's oppression.
Political context aside, this is great sunny music, capturing what must have been a great time in Brazil's history. Maybe there is something to be said for the idea of climatic determinism – music from Brazil always sounds bright and shiny, even when like the later Tropicalia it is attempting to communicate an oppositional political message.
Astute readers will have noticed the near complete lack of any discussion of the music on the record of the people who play on it. I will not rectify that to any great extent (what do you think I am, a music writer?), but I can tell you that it does feature superstars of Brazilian music that even I have heard of, including the likes of Sérgio Mendes & Gilberto Gil. There are also a whole host of people I had never previously heard of, who are all probably very well known to true aficionados of Brazilian music.
An inuit panda production