Rio de Janeiro is one of the most striking destinations on the Atlantic Ocean. Its exotic landscapes are as easily recognizable as anywhere I can think of. Some of the images that come to mind are: sailboats, cigars, warm golden sunsets, the ocean, good wine, great seafood, gentle wind, clean air, relaxing nightlife, the ‘70s, and beautiful people. With that short list alone, it's easy to see how Brazil could be responsible for some of the most gorgeous music in the history of the modern world. Bossa Nova, specifically, is the most globally recognizable form of music to come out of Brazil, and is partially accountable for a lot of the smooth elements in today's jazz and easy listening genres.
Antonio Carlos Jobim is the artist primarily responsible for the Bossa Nova movement, and his album Wave is his unequivocal masterpiece. Outside of the famous Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz song, "Girl from Ipanema," no other song/album is as representative to the aesthetic of Bossa Nova music as Wave. Nothing else comes close to matching the heart-wrenching sophistication of the songs within this short 32-minute gem.
For the most part, it's damn near impossible to think negative thoughts under the influence of Wave. The approach of the album is utterly amazing and light-hearted, while concurrently upbeat and erotic. It contains three basic elements; guitar, piano, and orchestration. Jobim contributes the first two, while longtime collaborator/arranger/conductor Claus Ogerman (along with Deodato, Ron Carter, and others) provides the delicate background orchestrations that lift this album to immeasurable heights.
Wave is primarily an instrumental album, with the only exception of "Lamento," where we briefly hear Jobim sing with his raspy and sultry voice. Every song on the album is stylistically similar, but creates an overall mood that could, or should, last for much longer than it does here. Luckily, a few years after the release of Wave, Jobim released another album somewhat similar in style, called Tide. His first album, The Composer of Desafinado, Plays isn't too shabby of a recording either. Take any combination of these together and you'll have what could be one of the most peaceful music experiences ever. With Wave, in particular, you'll find repeated listening will become a must.
Since music (specifically pop and rock) is becoming stale these days, why not search for something a little more artistic and meditative on the soul? Bossa Nova, while gaining much respect and recognition over the past two decades, is still one of the most overlooked genres of music around; especially by our generation. But that's no fault of ours, because it's certainly not promoted in any way. Ultimately, Wave is an album you only need to hear once before it will spark an interest that will uncover an endless list of albums by some of the world's most forgotten artists. Wave is the quintessential Bossa Nova album, and, consequently, remains one of the best albums I've discovered in the recent years.
2. The Red Blouse
3. Look to the Sky