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“Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” was written in 1960 by Antonio Carlos Jobim with Portuguese lyrics. Two years later Gene Lees wrote English lyrics for the song using the title “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”, in which form Andy Williams recorded the song. The samba was based on African rhythmic patterns and tones. Composer Carlos Lyra, comparing bossa nova to jazz, said the samba sways side to side, while jazz moves front to back. João Gilberto’s soft flowing vocal tone greatly influenced bossa nova.
Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) came from a prominent family in Rio de Janeiro. In the 1950s Jobim, with poet Vinicius de Maraes and vocalist/guitarist Joaō Gilberto, created the style we now know as bossa nova. Jobim scored the movie “Black Orpheus” which won the 1959 Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film and the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or for director Marcel Camus. In 1962 the recording of Jobim’s “Desafinado” by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd became a hit in America. Jobim’s 1965 album “Getz/Gilberto” was the first jazz album to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. He preferred the studio over touring and in the 1970s focused on Brazilian film and television scores. When bossa nova made a comeback in the mid-1980s he started touring again, and was in New York City when he died of congestive heart failure.
Gene Lees (1928-2010) began writing in his home town of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He became music editor for the Louisville Kentucky “Times” in 1955 and went on to edit “Down Beat” magazine from 1959 to 1962, becoming a prominent critic and spokesman for jazz. In addition to writing liner notes he studied composition, piano and guitar and wrote English lyrics for several of Jobim’s songs, translated the poems of Pope John Paul II and wrote several books. He returned to Canada in the early 1970s where he had a monthly journal “Jazzletter”, which continued after he moved to California, where he died of a stroke in 2010.