Possibly the most revered Brazilian musician alive, Bahian guitarist João Gilberto
changed the face of modern popular music when he unveiled the "bossa nova," or new wave, back in the late 1950s. As detailed in Ruy Castro's magnificent, recently translated book, Bossa Nova
, Gilberto was a notorious pothead and no-show performer who had been kicked out of several bands before meeting composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, whose subtle, modern compositions found their perfect match in the guitarist's gentle, incandescent, half-whispered style. Bossa nova stripped the samba down to its essence, with a delicate elegance and shimmering beauty that reinvigorated the Brazilian music scene. When Jobim and Gilberto joined forces with American jazzman Stan Getz in 1963, the bossa nova revolution hit its full stride, with songs such as "Girl From Ipanema" and "Desafinado" becoming global anthems that transformed the musical vocabulary of jazz and popular song. João Gilberto's nickname -- "O Mito," Portuguese for "The Myth" -- reflects his status as patron saint of both modern Brazilian pop and the rock-oriented tropicalia movement of the late '60s and early '70s, when younger artists such as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil frequently acknowledged their debt to the master musician.
Now 72 years old, Gilberto tours and records infrequently -- this week's concerts at the Masonic Auditorium will be a near-religious experience, a rare opportunity to see O Mito in person, with each performance sure to be packed with enraptured fans from the Bay Area"s irrepressibly enthusiastic Brazilian community.