David Cook


Remembering Tom Jobim’s One Note Samba



now a crimson note is sounding

petal falling through the breeze 


remembrance of a single plucked note -

other notes will swiftly follow


dancers touch and sway together

steady themselves against the one note -


passionate energetic couples

spinning in each other’s orbit


electric through the hours past midnight

caressing as the dawn approaches


leave the dance still slowly dancing

night and day poured into one note -


essence of the unending samba      

love distilled in just one note


The Mardi Gras Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is probably the world’s biggest party. An ocean of colour, noise and music, and held together by the unceasing and unceasingly changing rhythms of the samba.


Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova compositions, based on the samba, and popularised in the US by Stan Getz, Joao and Astrud Gilberto, still haunt the popular imagination. Their dreamy arrangements are very different from the flamboyance of the Carnival, but they too are interwoven with the samba beat. My personal favourite is One Note Samba. It uses the idea that one is not only the first number, but the undivided one that precedes all number. Repetition becomes sincerity becomes love. Wonderful! Here follows my own small tribute to the vitality of Brazil. Let us hope the full brilliance of the festival returns in 2022, after its cancellation in 2021.

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