Jobim himself preferred the recording studios to touring, making several lovely albums of his music as a pianist, guitarist and singer for Verve, Warner Bros., Discovery, A&M, CTI and MCA in the '60s and '70s, and Verve again in the last decade of his life. Early on, he started collaborating with arranger/conductor Claus Ogerman, whose subtle, caressing, occasionally moody charts gave his records a haunting ambiance. When Brazilian music was in its American eclipse after the '60s, a victim of overexposure and the burgeoning rock revolution, Jobim retreated more into the background, concentrating much energy upon film and TV scores in Brazil. But by 1985, as the idea of world music and a second Brazilian wave gathered steam, Jobim started touring again with a group containing his second wife Ana Lontra, his son Paulo, daughter Elizabeth and various musician friends. At the time of his final concerts in Brazil in September 1993 and at Carnegie Hall in April 1994 (both available on Verve), Jobim at last was receiving the universal recognition he deserved, and a plethora of tribute albums and concerts followed in the wake of his sudden death in New York City of heart failure. Jobim's reputation as one of the great songwriters of the century is now secure, nowhere more so than on the jazz scene where every other set seems to contain at least one bossa nova.
Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim was born in 1927 in the Tijuca section of Rio de Janeiro. His family moved to the Ipanema district, one of the new boroughs in expanding Rio. Jobim grew up surrounded by lush forests which stretched down to the warm waters of the Atlantic. "I believe I learned my songs from the birds of the Brazilian forest," he once said.
Jobim was a beach boy in the 1930s. His father, a diplomat and poet, died when Jobim was eight. His family ran a private school, the Brasiliero de Almeida, and it was that Jobim first encountered the piano. His step-father oversaw Jobim’s musical education and he began study with Hans Joachim Koellreutter at the age of fourteen. Soon Jobim added guitar and harmonica to the list of instruments he had mastered.
Jobim grew up listening to samba and other native sounds which he heard in the streets and clubs of Ipanema. Samba was a style of music originating in the Afro-Brazilian favelas, or shanty towns, of Rio and other cities. In the thirties, radio play and records made this music became popular among all classes. Sambistas, aficionados of the music, would follow their favorite bands from bar to bar, until the sun came up. Later Jobim would come under the influence of the French Impressionists, Debussey and Ravel, as well as the cool jazz of American artists like Miles Davis and Gil Evans. These influences would cometogether in Jobim’s own compositions.
Jobim is one of the most important songwriters of the 20th century. Many of Jobim's songs are jazz standards. American jazz singers Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra prominently featured Jobim's songs on their albums Ella Abraça Jobim (1981), and Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967), respectively. The 1996 CD Wave: The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook included performances of Jobim tunes by Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Toots Thielemans. Jobim was an innovator in the use of sophisticated harmonic structures in popular song. Some of his melodic twists, like the melody insisting on the major seventh of the chord, became common use in Jazz and easy listening music after him. The Brazilian collaborators and interpreters of Jobim's music include Vinícius de Moraes, João Gilberto (often credited as a co-creator of bossa nova), Chico Buarque, Gal Costa, Elis Regina, Sérgio Mendes, Astrud Gilberto, and Flora Purim. Eumir Deodato and the conductor/composer Claus Ogerman arranged many recordings of Jobim tunes. He won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 54th Grammy Awards. As a posthumous homage, on January 5, 1999 the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro changed the name of Rio's Galeão International Airport, located on Governador Island, to bear the composer's name. Galeão Airport is explicitly mentioned in his composition "Samba do Avião."