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TOP10 Bossa Nova Guitarists
Joao Gilberto is a co-founder of the bossa nova style and thus also the most important guitarist of the genre. The fascination of his guitar playing is not based on virtuosity and string magic. The incredible calmness that radiates from the interplay of his singing and the chord accompaniment has become style-defining for bossa nova and has influenced numerous guitarists after him. His chord vocabulary and his way of interpreting the samba rhythm on the guitar are also key components of his guitar style.
Baden Powell is in many ways the opposite of Joao Gilberto: fast solo runs, extensive improvisations and a wide variety of styles characterize his playing. He doesn’t belong exclusively to the bossa nova genre, but is one of the most important guitarists in Latin American music in general. He was also very active as a composer and has wrote many beautiful pieces for solo guitar.
“Manha de Carnaval” is a world hit and Luiz Bonfa owes much of his fame to the song. But Bonfa was much more than that. He wrote many more tunes that are still played by modern artists . He was also a virtuoso guitarist who made many great recordings. Above all I recommend to check out his live concert “Live in Rio 1959”.
Charlie Byrd was an American guitarist with a penchant for bossa nova. He made the famous 1962 recording “Jazz Samba” with Stan Getz, one of the first bossa nova releases outside of Brazil. In this television show from the same year, the moderator clearly has difficulties classifying the music.
Joao Pernambuco is one of the forefathers of Samba & Choro on guitar. He paved the way and wrote many beautiful compositions for the instrument, such as “Sons de Carrilhoes”.
Oscar Castro-Neves can be heard as a sideman on many famous recordings. Like Joao Gilberto, he was one of the first guitarists to play bossa nova on the guitar and subsequently worked with artists such as Eliane Elias, Sergio Mendes and Tom Jobim himself.
Toninho Horta writes incredibly beautiful harmonies and melodies. The often drawn-out melodies contrast with his pulsating chord sequences played in the samba rhythm. He is a legend in Brazil and has also collaborated with American jazz stars such as Pat Metheny and Kurt Rosenwinkel.
Like Toninho Horta, Joao Bosco is not a bossa nova guitarist, but a central figure of música popular Brasileira. He is also a gifted songwriter and his unique way of transferring the samba rhythm to the guitar is fascinating. Read more in the Partido Alto section.
Heitor Villa-Lobos is one of Brazil’s best-known composers. His preludes and etudes have become an integral part of the repertoire of classical guitar music. He was a guitarist himself and was strongly influenced by choro music and also established it on the classical guitar. Read more about his Choro No.1.
Yamandu Costa is one of Brazil’s young, up-and-coming guitarists. Stylistically, like Baden Powell, he feels at home in many genres. His grandiose technique and a great feeling for rhythm and phrasing characterize his playing.