Born in Ponte Nova in 1946, João Bosco cut his musical teeth in a family in which music was as important as eating and sleeping. His mother was an accomplished violinist, his father a singer of samba, his sister a concert pianist, and his brother a composer. While attending Ouro Preto University he became steeped in American jazz (Miles Davis in particular) and the bossa nova sound of João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim; and it was also at university that he met lyricist Vinicius de Moraes, who contributed with his elegant, poetic lyrics to Bosco’s music. It was not long after that before record companies began offering them their services. Later in the ’70s, Bosco became musically involved with Aldir Blanc, a psychiatrist who’d decided to give up his practice to become a lyricist. Witty, surreal, at times pretentious, but more often than not extremely clever, Blanc became the perfect foil for Bosco and the two would work together, quite successfully, until the mid-’80s.
Bosco’s career rise coincided roughly with Brazil’s military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985 and his work, even the most innocuous love song, was frequently censored. As he noted in an interview in the early ’90s, “anything you composed or sang was censored. And there were no guidelines as to what you could or couldn’t do. Every piece of music I wrote meant spending hours in the censorship bureau, debating with them, sometimes over one word.”
In 1977, Bosco wrote his most personal protest song, O Bebaido e a Equilibrista, which became the theme song of Amnesty International. In spite of his fame in Brazil, Bosco wasn’t known to Americans until he made a guest appearance with jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour in 1988. The spot wasn’t enough to make Bosco an international superstar, but he did begin attracting more attention in the USA. It wasn’t until the early ’90s that Bosco mounted a major tour of that country, but since then he has become increasingly popular internationally, regularly performing at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival.
Despite his growing popularity outside of his homeland, Bosco remained rooted in Brazil to the point of never leaving it for extended periods of time. So, while he remains somewhat obscure to foreign audiences, his music, based on Brazil’s classic samba and bossa nova traditions, combines rock & roll, jazz, and other ethnic styles in an eclectic brew that is as inventive and challenging as he is. His recordings continued to appear almost yearly, and almost all did well in Brazil. Ai Ai Ai de Mim in 1994 and Dá Licença Meu Senhor in 1996 were both acclaimed globally by critics and attained high ratings on hit charts in Spain and Latin America. In the 21st century, Bosco toured Japan and Europe, as well as Latin America, and Universal Discography began an intense reissue programme of his catalogue titles. His own output during those years, in particular Tristeza de Uma Embolada, Malabaristas Do Sinal Vermelho and Curtição, did well commercially and critically, as did the live Não Vou Pro Céu, Mas Já Não Vivo No Chão.
Bosco concentrated on studio and collaborative work for much of the second decade of the new century. He continued to tour in Brazil, but also played on recordings by daughter Julia, Josee Koning & Nils Landgren. He was one of the outstanding artists who featured in the Moacir Santos tribute concert and its recording Ouro Negro, and contributed to Eliane Elias’ album Dance of Time in 2017. Bosco received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Latin Recording Academy at the 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards the same year.
João Bosco: Guitar & vocals
Ricardo Rodrigues: Guitar
João Baptista: Bass
Leonardo de Castro: Drums