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Gal Costa

Essentially the first lady of Brazilian music, Gal Costa was among the musical rebels who gathered under the Tropicalia banner in the late-1960s/early-'70s, espousing a countercultural aesthetic that advanced Brazilian pop beyond bossa nova and samba into challenging new territory. Her big, bold style found her belting out melodies diva-style one moment and indulging in psychedelic, avant garde freakouts the next. In the '80s, like many of her peers, Costa switched to a slick, commercial pop sound, but by the '90s she started getting back to her roots, managing to work with one of her heroes, Antonio Carlos Jobim, shortly before his death.

Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos, was born 1946 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Costa is the most illustrious female singer of the tropicália movement, a chameleonic performer who has been equal parts hippie, sex symbol, carnival participant and political activist. From the start of her musical career in the mid-60s, she had some pretty illustrious classmates: Caetano Veloso and Maria Bethânia, who, in turn, introduced her to Gilberto Gil. It was an explosive team, eager to share creative ideas and participate on each other's records. When Veloso and Gil chose European exile over Brazil's castrating dictatorship, Costa kept the flame alive by performing songs they sent to her. She also kept in touch with the young rockers of the late 60s, recording tunes by artists including Erasmo Carlos and Roberto Carlos. In 1973, the album cover of Costa's “India” was censored because the image of the singer in a red bikini was considered too daring. By the late 70s, however, she was a superstar, although on record her voice was often let down by the bland synth-pop backing tracks. In 1982, the double album “Fantasia” spawned the huge carnival hit "Festa Do Interior".

After an involvement in commercial music continuing during the 1980s, Gal has gone back to her roots in the last fifteen years, performing songs by famous Brazilian composers like Jobim.

Through the years, Gal Costa and Jobim shared the stage on various occasions. Just before Jobim's untimely death in 1994 the two of them made plans to join forces for a new record. With “Gal Costa Canta Tom Jobim,” the 55-year-old singer paid a wonderful tribute to her late friend, mentor, and musical partner.

With a little help from producer Marco Mazzola and José Possi Neto she selected for this double album 24 gems from the vast repertoire (about 60 songs) she presented on stage: songs from the pre-bossa era, lesser known tunes from the composer's later periods, and, of course, inevitable standards like "Garota De Ipanema," "Desafinado," "Chega De Saudade,” and "Corcovado." By that, “Gal Costa Canta Tom Jobim” turns out to be a Jobim songbook of lasting value, like those Ella Fitzgerald recorded of the great American songwriters Cole Porter and George Gershwin.

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Live Review

Gal Costa Live at The Blue Note

Read "Gal Costa Live at The Blue Note" reviewed by Ernest Barteldes

Gal Costa Blue Note Jazz Club New York City, New York December 7, 2006

On her second visit to the Blue Note Jazz club in New York, Gal Costa presented pretty much the same selections that she had played during her first visit in the spring of 2006 (the set list was almost in the same order as her CD Live At The Blue Note, released on the DRG label last September). ...

Album Review

Gal Costa: Live At The Blue Note

Read "Live At The Blue Note" reviewed by Ernest Barteldes

For the set list of her first-ever appearance at New York's Blue Note last May, Gal Costa chose to sing material that influenced her growing up. Aware that she had to be as minimalist as possible, she chose a simple backing quartet of guitar, bass, drums and saxophone. The disc, which was recorded over two of her five nights at the club, opens with three Jobim classics, “Fotografia ("Photo"), “Desafinado ("Off Key") and “Chega de Saudade ("No ...

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Gal Costa (1945-2022)

Gal Costa (1945-2022)

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Gal Costa, one of Brazil's most respected and beloved singers and recording artists admired as much for her courage as her performing charm, vocal range and vast knowledge of standards and obscure songs, died on November 9. She was 77. Costa's singing and guitar-playing career began in August of 1964, during a period of enormous musical celebration and political upheaval. At the time, Brazil's capital, Rio De Janeiro, was the center of a global music phenomenon known as the bossa ...

Video / DVD

Gal Costa: Soul of Brazil

Gal Costa: Soul of Brazil

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers




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