Bebel Gilberto was born in New York in 1966, two years after a jazz record titled Getz/Gilberto made a style of music called bossa nova wildly popular in America. At the Grammy Awards in 1965, the album took awards for Album of the Year, Best Jazz Instrumental, and Record of the Year for “Girl from Ipanema.” I’m listening to Getz/Gilberto as I write this, enthralled by the simplicity of Stan Getz’s tenor sax, the easygoing yet percussive guitar of João Gilberto, the muted piano of Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Astrud Gilberto’s icy-hotness. A sexy, lithe German, Astrud would become the face (and one of the most intoxicating voices) of bossa nova. But one also wonders how much of Getz/Gilberto served to document the drama that was going on behind the scenes.
By then, Astrud and the wildly eccentric João had split; she and Stan Getz were now the First Couple of Modern Jazz. Soon after, João Gilberto, considered by many to be the actual creator of bossa nova, married a singer named Heloísa Maria Buarque de Hollanda (her stage name is Miucha), and together they begat Isabel, nicknamed “Bebel.” And that pedigree resides in every note that Bebel sings.
- Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
$36 - $63
Astrud Gilberto is a hard act to follow. She had that little accent, and she was slightly off-pitch and off the beat; she’d never sung before marrying João. But Bebel was onstage at Carnegie Hall when she was nine. The benefit of growing up in a musical family has lent her a singing style that is playful, aloof, at times barely above a whisper. Her take on “So Nice (Summer Samba),” a song that has possibly been covered 7000 times, is stand-alone and effortless. Album sales reaching 2.5 million and 113,926 Facebook likes say two things: that Bebel owes nothing to her famous progenitors, and that bossa nova is not dead.