Music

Those boss nova vibes

Growing up in Rio Grande, Jim Porto couldn’t afford a piano, and he decided to learn on his own at a neighbour’s.

Growing up in Rio Grande, Jim Porto couldn’t afford a piano, and he decided to learn on his own at a neighbour’s.   | Photo Credit: NARENDRA DANGIYA

Jim Porto will perform the sounds of Brazil for Mumbaikars this weekend

Growing up in a small town in Rio Grande, Brazil, Jim Porto was surrounded by music. His family couldn’t afford a piano, and he decided to learn on his own at a neighbour’s place. Bossa nova, meaning new wave, was the latest fad, blending traditional Brazilian samba sounds with American jazz.

Porto’s passion for bossa nova multiplied when he moved to Rio de Janeiro. He recalls, “The place breathed bossa nova. I decided that this would be my future.” He later moved to Rome, 40 years ago he got a month-long opportunity to play at the club Il Manuia. “That was a life-altering experience and my vision of music changed. I decided to settle there though I keep returning to Brazil to meet my family,” he says.

Desi connections

Now Mumbai is all set to get a taste of Porto’s sound when he performs in the city this weekend. While he will sing and play piano, his band will feature keyboards, trumpet, cello, drumkit and percussion. Porto has been visiting India often over the past two years. In 2018, he performed at the NCPA International Jazz Festival. He says, “On my first visit, I went to Goa. I was surprised by the way people there knew about and loved Brazilian music. Ditto with New Delhi.” Porto says that at his earlier show in Mumbai, he was happy to see the audience humming and clapping along. He adds, “Music is universal. Mumbai is very far from Brazil, but I feel the same vibe here. I had a similar experience when I first visited Rome. I sing in Portuguese but the Italians loved it.”

True to roots

His music, of course, stuck to the Brazilian style. His biggest influences included composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, and singers Joao Gilberto and Elis Regina. Later, he admired singer-guitarist Gilberto Gil, besides American jazz artistes Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, who used bossa nova flavours.

In the 1960s, the Tropicalia artistic movement was huge in Brazil, and that shaped several of Porto’s ideas and work. One of his career highlights was his collaboration with American jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. He recalls, “Chet was attending my gig in Rome. He offered to return the next day and he came with his trumpet and joined me.” The two later collaborated on the 1984 album Rio. Porto says, “Chet became a good friend and stayed with me for two months in Rome. I learnt a lot from him, in terms of composition and stage presentation.”

On this visit, Porto is keen to meet some Indian musicians. “If Rome was a new chapter for me in the late 1970s, India could be a new one now. My roots will remain Brazilian of course,” he asserts.

Jim Porto: My Brazilian Suingue, January 25 at 7 p.m. at Tata Theatre, NCPA; more details @bookmyshow.com

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 8:31:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/those-boss-nova-vibes/article30636186.ece

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