Joao Gilberto, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and a key figure in the creation and development of bossa nova, died in Rio de Janeiro, Saturday. No official cause of death was given. He was 88.
Born João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, he launched his career, and announced the arrival of a new genre, with his recording of “Chega de Saudade” (1958), an early classic by Antonio Carlos Jobim and poet Vinicius de Moraes.
An album of the same name followed the next year. It was the first of a trilogy of albums by Gilberto, completed in 1961, that included O amor, o sorriso e a flor (Love, A Smile and a Flower), and Joao Gilberto. They defined the sound of bossa nova.
“Bossa nova was scandalously subversive in Brazil,” singer and songwriter Caetano Veloso once told me. “And the fact that it inverted the relation “center-periphery” [in global culture] going from influenced to influencer of jazz and pop is a sign of its subversive dimension at a global level.”