RIP: Johnny Alf, “Father of Bossa Nova”

RIP: Johnny Alf, "Father of Bossa Nova"

From The New York Times:

Johnny Alf, an influential Brazilian songwriter, pianist and singer whose delicately swinging music was a precursor to the bossa nova, died on March 4 in Santo André, Brazil, just outside São Paulo. He was 80 and lived in São Paulo.

The cause was prostate cancer, said his manager, Nelson Valencia.

Though he was not widely known outside Brazil and enjoyed mass popularity only intermittently in his homeland, Mr. Alf, born Alfredo José da Silva, is highly regarded among Brazilian musicians and musicologists. The writer Ruy Castro, the author of several authoritative books on Brazilian popular music, has called him “the true father of the bossa nova.”

Mr. Alf was a contemporary of Antônio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto and others who would make the bossa nova a worldwide phenomenon, but he began his career earlier and spent the mid-1950s playing on what was known as Bottle Alley, a street in Copacabana full of bars and nightclubs. His younger admirers would sneak into those clubs to listen to him play and study his technique and improvisational style.

• Johnny Alf:

Most Read