First recorded in 1966, this has become one of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s most famous songs (of which there are so many!). This heartbreakingly beautiful live version, recorded by Jobim in 1981, is one of our favorites.

We are big fans of Nara Leão‘s, and especially of her repertoire choices. Her debut album, “Nara,” ends with a little musical treat: a rendition of Moacir Santos’ Nanã (originally Coisa No. 5). This memorable tune, which is given a bolero-like treatment sans chordal instruments on “Nara,” has been recorded by everyone from Flora Purim to Sergio Mendes. But we love this simple horn arrangement with sultry vocalise.

 

Here’s another beautiful song. Written by Durval Ferreira, Mauricio Einhorn and Bebeto, it’s been recorded by Wanda Sá (interesting piece on the singer), Nara Leão, Sergio Mendes, and Joyce, among others. Jobim recorded an instrumental version that references the trumpet outro in Sá’s rendition. One interesting thing about this tune is that in almost every version we’ve listened to, the intro is in a different key, so it’s kind of surprising when the actual tune begins. The memorable melody begins with wide intervals.

Sá, whose voice now reminds us somewhat of Betty Carter’s, sang with a breathy, girlish tone back in the bossa nova era. We are enchanted by the way she sings this song about nostalgia for a lost love.

The great vocalist Elis Regina recorded a vivacious version of this song on her 1965 album Samba Eu Canto Assim. But the song’s composer, Théo de Barros, released a pretty swinging version 15 years later on his album Primeiro Disco. The composer both played guitar and sang. Both the lyrics and the changes are slightly different from Elis’s version. (Joyce also does a really nice version on her tribute album to Elis.)

The tune is about an impoverished young boy who must sell oranges in the street to help support his single mother. It’s amazing how de Barros transforms such a sobering topic  into such beautiful music.

 

This is one of the most beautiful songs we’ve ever heard. While you may be familiar with the Bebel Gilberto version, the song’s composer, Chico Buarque, recorded it several times (in both Portuguese and Italian). The harmony includes a lot of dominant seventh chords voiced with the seventh in the bass; the chords create a suspended, dreamlike setting for the melody.

In the late 1960s, Buarque recorded a multi-volume anthology of original music. This version of Samba e Amor, which features a jazzy trumpet, comes from the fourth record. The song is written from the perspective of a sleepy person who observes the buzz of the city after spending the night in a haze of samba and love.