Chapter 1

[1] Legend has it that, in 1958, a Brazilian percussionist named Guarany Nogueira invented a rhythm that musicians now colloquially call the “bossa nova clave.” Born in the southern city of Curitiba, Guarany (Brazilians occasionally refer to each other by their first name) moved to Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950s and began to establish himself in the local scene. He played in all the local bars (gafeiras) and made important appearances at Beco das Garrafas, a venue in the neighborhood of Copacabana where Brazil’s most famous jazz, samba, and bossa nova performers played during the 1950s and 1960s. He also networked well during that time. He shared the stage with guitarist João Gilberto, who had recently moved to Rio de Janeiro, and also came into contact with musician and arranger Waltel Branco. These connections ultimately aided Guarany’s career. Gilberto was developing a new style of music, later called bossa nova, and on July 10, 1958, he entered the studio to record one of the first albums to document his musical innovations, Chega de saudade. Branco was helping supply the albums arrangements and thanks to Guarany’s relationship with both Gilberto and Branco, Gilberto handpicked Guarany to play percussion on his session. The percussionist was also accompanied by another drummer chosen by Gilberto, Juquinha Stockler, the alleged “king of the brushes.” Together, Guarany and Juquinha formed Gilberto’s ideal rhythm section. Sometime after the recording session ended, Guarany spoke to fellow musicians Tião Cruz and Gebran Sabbag about his experience in the studio. According to Guarany, he was messing around on the caixeta (a kind of woodblock), playing some rhythms to accompany Juquinha’s brush work. In the process he played something that caught Gilberto’s attention. Gilberto turned to Guarany and said “that’s it! That’s it! If you play that, then any foreigner will be able to play samba!” (Bossa nova as a marketing term had not been devised yet.) In the 1980s, musician Robertinho Silva confirmed Guarany’s accounts in a conversation with Juquinha. Silva asked the drummer, “who invented the drum pattern to bossa nova music?” Juquinha responded: “it was Guarany.” According to Silva, Juquinha may have provided the album’s brush work, but Guarany provided the music’s flavor (sautaque).

[2] Together, Juquinha’s brush work – which primarily sounded a constant stream of eighth notes – and Guarany’s rhythm combined to create what I call a “bossa nova pattern.” Sources never specifically explained what Guarany played that caught Gilberto’s attention; however, listening to the first measures of the first track of Chega de saudade offers a clue. Right when Gilberto begins to sing “vai minha tristeza,” the opening lines to the eponymous song “Chega de saudade,” Juquinha enters with brushes on the snare drum and Guarany plays his famous rhythm – what American musicians now typically call the bossa nova clave (figure 0.1). Gilberto’s prophecy came true as well: in time, most Americans did learn how to play “samba.” Guarany turned out to be the Brazilian equivalent to Gregory Coleman, the drummer for the funk and soul band from the 1960s, The Winstons, who recorded a famous seven-second break on “Amen, Brother” in 1969. Just like Coleman, who received no credit for his drumming during his lifetime, Guarany, who died in 1980, has mostly been forgotten. And just like Coleman’s “Amen Break” found its way into over two thousand songs, in time, American drummers during the 1960s began to incorporate Guarany’s rhythm into the sound of American popular music as well.

[3] Like most origin stories, Guarany’s claim that he invented the bossa nova clave contains some seeds of doubt. Composer and musician Antônio Carlos Jobim allegedly told drummer Eduardo “Duduka” da Fonseca that he invented this bossa nova clave; Duduka then later relayed the same story to drummer and bandleader Bobby Sanabria. Contrast this uncertainty with discussions of who invented the jequibau, a 5/4 adaptation of the bossa nova, during the mid-1960s (figure 0.2). The American press offered an indisputable explanation: in 1965, Brazilian pianist Mario Albanese, along with orchestra leader Cyro Pereira, debuted their rhythm on the aptly titled LP, Jequibau. The story of the bossa nova clave is far less tidy in comparison.


[4] And like other untidy histories, Guarany’s story requires some initial definitions of words and terms; the first word: clave. The rhythm – and concept – of the clave originated in sub-Saharan African music traditions where it made its way to the New World over the course of the slave trade. Numerous claves exist, but as ethnomusicologists Christopher Washburne and Alexander Stewart both note, the Cuban son clave had found its way into the patterns of American drummers since at least the early twentieth century and is one of the more popular. To confuse matters even more, the son clave and the bossa nova clave share several attributes in common: both can be heard as five-stroke patterns that last two measures long (figure 0.3); the rhythm in the first measure, which contains three strokes, is the same in both claves; the rhythm in the second measure, which contains two strokes, is almost identical except the last stroke of the bossa nova clave comes half a beat later than the last stroke in the son clave; musicians can play both claves by beginning with either measure; if they begin with the measure that contains three strokes (the “3” side, also known as a tresillo rhythm), it is called a 3-2 son clave or 3-2 bossa nova clave; if they begin with the measure that contains two strokes (the “2” side), it is called a 2-3 son clave or 2-3 bossa nova clave. For these reasons, the rhythm of the son clave and bossa nova clave are almost indistinguishable. The only difference is that the final stroke of the bossa nova clave comes a half beat later than the last stroke of the son clave.

[5] A second phrase, “bossa nova clave,” also merits definition. Admittedly, this term does not mean much to either Brazilians or performers of Cuban music. In 1988, Brazilian drummer Portinho noted how “people think that bossa nova needs a clave, like a 3-2 clave [referring to the son clave]. To me, that is not true.” Similarly, in a conversation I had with Brazilian drummer Duduka Da Fonsesca, Duduka reminded me that “in Brazilian music we do not [his emphasis] have a clave, like in Afro-Cuban music.” Both drummers are correct: the Cuban clave does not simply refer to a five-stroke rhythm but also to an organizing principle that governs a song. Somewhat similar to playing within a certain “key center” or “key signature,” once a bandleader, pianist, bassist, percussionist, composer, or musician establishes a song as being “in 3-2 son clave” or “in 2-3 son clave,” everybody plays accordingly and accents certain beats that correspond to the clave; and although songs can switch between 3-2 and 2-3 clave, every musician understands their role within – and their relationship to – this overarching organizational principle. In contrast, as Portinho and Duduka both note, Brazilian music does not revolve around playing “in-clave.” Bossa nova composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, for instance, never wrote a song “in” a specific clave (bossa nova, son, 2-3, 3-2, or otherwise) and never expected musicians playing his music to play accordingly. For this reason, although several American musicians regularly and colloquially use the term “bossa nova clave,” other musicians and music theorists such as Bobby Sanabria and David Penalosa prefer to call the bossa nova clave a bossa nova “guide pattern” or “rhythmic motif” instead. Their more nuanced approach preserves the term clave as a word that explains and describes musical moments where musicians are thinking “in” clave. Forgive me, though: I do not follow Sanabria’s or Penalosa’s nomenclature for the purposes of this project. Since my comparisons between the bossa nova clave and son clave focus entirely on rhythm and do not consider the clave’s role as an organizational principle, I prefer to use the term clave in its narrowest definition: as a term describing a particular Latin-based rhythm. Most drummers colloquially refer to the “bossa nova guide pattern” as a “bossa nova clave” anyways and rhetorically it makes more sense to me to compare two different types of claves instead of comparing one clave to one “guide pattern” or “rhythmic motif.”

[6] But whatever you want to call it, in 1962, American musicians began to play Guarany’s rhythm and record bossa nova music; however, several American musicians and commentators at the time did not think bossa nova offered anything new to the sounds of popular music, largely thanks to the rhythmic similarities between the son clave and bossa nova clave. In 1967, pianist Clare Fischer, for instance, accused drummers that incorporated the bossa nova clave into their patterns of “taking some two-bar phrase they heard Count Basie comp and then playing that same comping pattern throughout the whole piece.” I have not heard the bossa nova clave in a cursory review of Basie’s albums (such as his famous 1958 release, E=MC2), but Fischer’s claims are certainly conceivable; Christopher Washburne shows how the son clave appeared in the comping patterns and horn backgrounds of jazz music from the 1920s until the 1960s.. Like Fischer, Ray Charles (yes, that Ray Charles) did not find the bossa nova clave particularly new or innovative either. When asked about the new style by critic Leonard Feather in 1963, Charles responded by admitting “I don’t see what everybody is so excited about. The only difference is you take the last beat of that old Latin figure [talking about the son clave] and play it a half-beat later. That’s all there is to it.” At least rhythmically, very little separated the bossa nova clave from its more popular Cuban son counterpart.

[7] However, despite his dismissiveness, Ray Charles’ comment conceded that the bossa nova and son claves, even with their similarities, sound different; that the final stroke arrives a “half-beat later” in the bossa nova clave cannot be overlooked. More importantly, this final beat helps define the clave’s character. Although both claves begin similarly and share the same rhythm in their “3” side, the rhythm in the “2” side of the son clave creates a hard stop. When musicians place the son clave’s last stroke firmly on beat 3, the pattern’s momentum almost seems to end until beat 1 of the next measure when the pattern begins over again. The musician playing the son clave almost functions as a calligrapher, creating elaborate characters on paper but pausing every so often to lift their pen off the page to connect the lines. In contrast, musicians playing the bossa nova clave function like calligraphers who connect the letters of their words while always keeping their pen to paper. The bossa nova clave’s delayed last beat creates a sense that the rhythm continuously trips over itself – “floating” to use Quincy Jones’ description of the rhythm – largely because the “2” side spotlights the rhythmic hemiola implied in the clave’s “3” side. The “3” side contains groupings of two pairs of strokes that are three eighth notes apart. However, the clave (son or bossa nova) is almost always played in contexts where the rest of the band divides the beats into groups of two or four eighth notes. By creating another pair of strokes three eighth notes apart, the “2” side of the bossa nova clave continues to imply this 3:2 or 3:4 hemiola which gives the bossa nova clave a different sense of rhythmic motion compared to its son counterpart. To continue the analogy further: musicians playing the bossa nova clave did not function only as calligraphers who drew uninterrupted lines but also as calligraphers whose words often did not fit entirely on the page and had to be split up via hyphenation onto the next line.

[8] Ray Charles (no, the other Ray Charles) recognized the momentous drive created by the rhythm of the bossa nova clave and defined the effect it had on the listener. “The bossa nova,” the vocal conductor and arranger wrote in 1965, “gives us a beat that lets you sing a ballad with real propulsion underneath it.” Brazilian literary scholar David Treece hears a similar type of propulsion, just not embedded in the rhythm but instead in the harmony of several bossa nova standards. Songs like “Chega de saudade” or “Samba de uma nota só” – both composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim – contain basslines that seem to endlessly descend and then loop back onto themselves, creating what Treece calls the feeling of “suspended animation.” According to Treece, “suspended animation” is the “unfolding presence of musical time” that “gathers and sets into mutual interaction two temporalities – the ritual-cyclical-repetitive and the chronological-progressive-historical – but allows primacy to neither of them.” Treece finds that bossa nova music defined the mood of middle-class white Brazilians living in Rio de Janeiro during the 1950s because it invited them to “stay cool, to resist the compulsion to join the headlong rush of progress” (i.e., endorse the ritual-cyclical-repetitive) at a moment when postwar Brazilian industrialization seemed to “quite literally accelerate historical time” (i.e., when the society was embracing the chronological-progressive-historical). At least when played by Brazilian drummers, the rhythm of the bossa nova clave also encapsulated this particular moment: it was a rhythm that was, on the one hand, often repeated and looped; but on the other hand, compared to the son clave, it surged forward.

[9] While Guarany and bossa nova music injected a new rhythm into American popular music, drummers playing the bossa nova clave also orchestrated this clave on the drum set in a way that differed from how drummers typically orchestrated the son clave previously. While drummers influenced by the son clave relied on their tom drums to imitate a conga pattern (called a tumbao) found in Cuban music, drummers influenced by bossa nova drumming relied primarily on the snare drum to articulate the bossa nova clave. As a result of this orchestration, the technique these drummers used – how they physically played their instrument – differed. For example, when drummers playing rhythm and blues and rock and roll during the 1940s and 1950s wanted to recreate the rhythm of the son clave (not just imitate the tumbao pattern), they frequently sounded the five-stroke rhythm by playing eighth notes, alternating between both hands and accenting the beats of the son clave. In contrast, drummers playing bossa nova, rock, soul, and funk during the 1960s often sounded the bossa nova clave by playing eighth notes in one hand and sounding the clave in the other, creating what drummers now call a bossa nova pattern. This pattern appeared everywhere during the 1960s; and if they did not hear it, drummers certainly saw it. Pedagogues and sheet music companies often printed this pattern in musical notation, a reproduction that both testified to the pattern’s existence and helped disseminate it to aspiring drummers. In 1962, Leeds Music Corp. put out a full-page advertisement in Cash Box and Billboard magazine, for instance, that printed the bossa nova pattern in music notation (figure 0.4). The bossa nova pattern, whether disseminated aurally or visually, proved influential to the sound of American popular music. Throughout the decade, several commentators like Don Page, Carlton Brown, and Leonard Feather disparaged rock and roll and suggested Americans listen to “good music” such as bossa nova instead. However, if they had “listened in detail” (to use a phrase coined by performance studies scholar Alexandra T. Vazquez), they may have realized that the music they were lambasting contained elements of the music they were extolling. While Vazquez – whose phrase encourages scholars to “open up,” as opposed to “pin down” experiences of Cuban music – offers a fine methodology to follow in broadening understandings of rock and funk, Alexander Stewart offers a more pertinent model. In his article, “'Funky Drummer': New Orleans, James Brown and the Rhythmic Transformation of American Popular Music,” Stewart points out, among other musical elements from New Orleans, the presence of the Cuban clave in the grooves of James Brown’s drummers. Why not make a similar argument, then? Without discounting the role that the Cuban son clave, or other influences like the New Orleans second line drumming had on funk drumming, I argue that the music of James Brown contains bossa nova influences as well. In another article, Stewart alludes to the importance of this argument. He relies on his understanding of funk drumming to demonstrate how Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti “paradoxically adopted and assimilated American funk grooves and musical practices in his quest to further Africanize his music.” Although she does not write about Kuti, literary scholar Tsitsi Ella Jaji would call this process of assimilation “stereomodernism,” a phenomenon that confronts Paul Gilroy’s assessment of the Black Atlantic. While Gilroy sees transnational cultural flows across the Black Atlantic as one-way route that originates in Africa and culminates in the New World, Jaji challenges such depictions; instead, she writes about Africa not as a source of diasporic traditions but instead as a node that continually develops and recycles the cultural flows of the black diaspora. A study of bossa nova drumming styles and the presence of these styles in the music of James Brown helps shed light on the transnational flows of the black diaspora. From Africa to Brazil, from Brazil to the United States, and from the United States back to Africa, following bossa nova drumming styles helps illuminate the geographic expanse of Jaji’s “stereomodernism.”

Rafael Rodrigues Costa, “O Toque de Guarany,” Gazeta Do Povo, July 26, 2013,

Journalist Ruy Castro, likewise, offers information that questions Guarany’s claim. First, Castro does not write about Branco’s presence at the Chega de saudade sessions. Instead, he notes that Antônio Carlos Jobim supplied most of the arrangements. Additionally, Castro cites the presence of Guarany and Juquinha at the July 10 session of “Chega de saudade,” but also notes that two other percussionists, Milton Banana and Rubens Bassini, were present as well. Additionally, he writes that Banana, not Juquinha, played drums, that Juquinha instead played triangle, and that Guarany and Bassini played caixeta and bongos, respectively. However, I do not hear any triangle or bongos in “Chega de saudade.” Instead, it appears that Castro is talking about the instrumentation to “Bim-bom,” the other song recorded that day. Ruy Castro, Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the World (Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2012), 133.

David Penalosa, The Clave Matrix: Afro-Cuban Rhythm: Its Principles and African Origins (Redway, CA: Bembe Books, 2009), 244–45; “Next Big Brazilian Sound: Is It The Jequibau?,” Cash Box, December 4, 1965, 7; “A New Brazilian Beat Wave, ‘Jequibau,’ Heads for States,” Billboard, December 4, 1965, 8

Christopher Washburne, Latin Jazz: The Other Jazz (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2020); Alexander Stewart, “‘Funky Drummer’: New Orleans, James Brown and the Rhythmic Transformation of American Popular Music.,” Popular Music 19, no. 3 (October 2000): 293–318

Portinho quoted in Carl Stormer, “Portinho,” Modern Drummer, January 1988, 71; Duduka da Fonseca to Rami Stucky, “Bossa Nova Drumming Question,” E-Mail Correspondence, September 16, 2019; Christopher Washburne, “The Clave of Jazz: A Caribbean Contribution to the Rhythmic Foundation of an African-American Music,” Black Music Research Journal 17, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 66–67

Fischer quoted in Leonard Feather, “Clare Fischer: Blindfold Test; Quartette Tres Bien – The Shadow Of Your Smile,” Down Beat, December 28, 1967, 38; Washburne, Latin Jazz: The Other Jazz; Charles quoted in Leonard Feather, “Free Flow: A Conversation with Ray Charles,” Down Beat, September 12, 1963, 19

Jones quoted in Charles A. Robertson, “Jazz and All That; Quincy Jones: Bossa Nova; Stan Getz-Gary McFarland: Big Band Bossa Nova,” Audio, February 1963, 56

Charles quoted in “New, Exciting Rhythms...,” High Fidelity Magazine, October 1965, 116; David Treece, “Suspended Animation: Movement and Time in Bossa Nova,” Journal of Romance Studies 7, no. 2 (Summer 2007): 86, 95

Don Page, “A Battle for Teens,” Los Angeles Times, October 18, 1964, W35; Carlton Brown, “The Revolt Against Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Redbook, October 1966, R-4; Leonard Feather, “Getz: The Man From Ipanema: Stan Getz: Man From Ipanema,” Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1966, B1; Alexandra T. Vazquez, Listening in Detail: Performances of Cuban Music (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013); “The New Rhythm Bossa Nova,” Cash Box, September 22, 1962, 35; “One Note Samba,” Billboard, September 15, 1962, 19; Stewart, “‘Funky Drummer’: New Orleans, James Brown and the Rhythmic Transformation of American Popular Music.”; Alexander Stewart, “Make It Funky: Fela Kuti, James Brown and the Invention of Afrobeat,” American Studies 52, no. 4 (2013): 100; Tsitsi Ella Jaji, Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014).

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"Bring it Up": Brazil, James Brown, and Orchestrating the Clave in American Popular Music

[10] Prior to the 1960s, drummers who played a clave typically orchestrated the rhythms and sounds of Afro-Cuban percussion onto the drum set, focusing primarily on the low tones found in the tumbao pattern, the rhythm of the son clave, and the cáscara found in the timbale pattern. Scholars of Latin music in the United States like John Storm Roberts provide an extensive list of Latin music that American musicians would have heard and emulated throughout the twentieth century. Bandleader Perez Prado’s “Mambo No. 5,” from 1950, is not only one of those popular songs but also spotlights some of the sounds drummers translated onto the drum set (figure 0.5). In “Mambo No. 5,” the conguero plays a specific pattern on the conga, called a tumbao pattern, that contains two prominent characteristics. In one aspect of the pattern, the conguero alternates between a series of muted, palmed, and fingertipped tones. These tones are then interspersed with a slap tone, usually on beat 2. The second aspect of the pattern contains open low tones on beat 4 and the “and” of 4.  (Flip the beats if you’re playing a 2-3 son clave.) Tito Rodriguez’s “Mama Guela,” from the early 1950s, also demonstrates the sound of the tumbao pattern on the congas (figure 0.6). Missing, in this example, are the series of muted and slapped tones, but clearly audible is the 3-2 son clave played on the claves (the instrument) and, more notably, the open low tones on beat 4. “Mama Guela” also contains some other elements that drummers incorporated onto the drum set, specifically the pattern played by the timbalero on the timbales. In Rodriguez’s song, the timbalero plays a syncopated rhythm, called the cáscara, either on the side of their timbales (a part of the drum also called the cáscara), or on a cowbell mounted atop the timbales. Either instrument emanates a high-pitched metallic sound that allows the cáscara pattern to stick out of the audio mix. A final example also highlights the sound of the cáscara: in Tito Puente’s 1958 recording, “Baila Como Es,” the conga pattern gets lost in the mix, but the cáscara rhythm stands out (figure 0.7). It begins on the “2” side of the pattern (thus establishing that the song is “in” 2-3 clave), but it otherwise resembles the cáscara heard in “Mama Guela.” These three songs all demonstrate the three elements that American drummers would later incorporate into their drum patterns: the low tones of the tumbao, the rhythm of the son clave, and the rhythm of the cáscara.


[11] With some notable exceptions, the rhythm of the son clave was never played by drummers; instead, drummers during the 1940s and 1950s influenced by Cuban and Latin music typically took the low tones of the tumbao conga pattern and the syncopated piercing rhythms of the cáscara and reorchestrated them onto the drum set. The words and music of jazz drummer Max Roach makes this evident. In 1984, he commented how drummers “mimick[ed] the interlocking parts of the conga drums, timbales, and bongo drums.” His drumming on “George’s Dilemma” from 1955 demonstrates this principle and shows how the congas and timbales found their way into jazz (figure 0.8). In “George’s Dilemma,” Roach took the cáscara and played it on his cymbal with his right hand. He then took the low tones of the tumbao and played them on his tom drums with his left hand. His left hand also accented beat 2 by playing a cross stick on the snare, imitating the rhythm and timbre of the slaps prevalent in the tumbao pattern. Drummers playing in rhythm and blues and rock styles adopted this technique as well. Ray Charles’ (yes, that one again) “What’d I Say” from 1959 (figure 0.9) and “Unchain My Heart” from 1961 (figure 0.10) both offer examples of drummers incorporating the tumbao pattern into their drumming. Neither example contains the cáscara, but both contain the low tones on the toms. The former even mimics Roach’s approach and duplicates the tumbao slap on beat 2 by playing a cross stick on the snare drum there. As the drumming in “George’s Dilemma,” “What’d I Say,” and “Unchain My Heart” all show, drummers influenced by Latin music typically incorporated the sounds and timbres of the tumbao and cáscara and translated them to the drum set: very rarely did they articulate the rhythm of the son clave.


[12] The most notable exception to this rule is found in Clifton James’ drumming on Bo Diddley’s self-titled record, “Bo Diddley;” in this example, the drummer clearly articulates the son clave rhythm (figure 0.11). In fact, this song contains the son clave everywhere: Diddley articulates it in his strumming pattern, which colloquially received the name “the Bo Diddley beat,” and James articulates it on his tom drums. A live performance from the Ed Sullivan Show in November 1955 demonstrates exactly the technique James used to play this son clave. In the live performance, James played constant eighth notes, alternating strokes between his left and right hand. But he also sounded the son clave by accenting beats 1, the “and” of 2, 4 – and in the next measure, beats 2 and 3. In addition to accenting these beats, he also placed those important beats on his high tom drum, letting the other unaccented notes lie mostly on a snare drum. (He turned the snares off to make it sound like another tom drum.) This technique of alternating right and left hands on the snare drum stems from second line drumming techniques prevalent in New Orleans and rhythm and blues drummers like James were influenced as much by the music of second line parades as they were by Latin rhythms. James displays this influence in “Bo Diddley” and demonstrates the primary techniques that drummers – in the off chance they did – used to articulate and sound the clave prior to the 1960s.

[13] The rhythm “invented” by Guarany, as well as the way drummers incorporated the timbre of his caixeta onto the drum set, signaled a break with these previous examples: unlike the drumming of Max Roach or of Ray Charles, drummers influenced by bossa nova always articulated the bossa nova clave rhythm; additionally, the way drummers in the 1960s performed and orchestrated the clave differed from how drummers such as Clifton James typically played a clave previously. American drummers throughout the 1960s developed several different types of orchestrations of the bossa nova pattern: some played with a brush in one hand and a stick in the other; some played on the high-hat; other played on the ride, some played with two sticks; some played with two brushes. However, by the end of the 1960s, rock and funk drummers generally settled on a specific orchestration and performance technique: sticks in both hands, steady eighth notes in the right, bossa nova clave in the left on the snare drum. Their adaptation did not signal some sort of “end point” in the development of bossa nova style drumming. During the late 1960s, for instance, bands still hired percussionists to play the bossa nova pattern in almost the exact same way that Juquinha and Guarany had played it ten years prior. But a series of case studies helps document how a bossa nova pattern, originally played by two percussionists – one playing with brushes on the snare drum and the other playing on a woodblock – ended up being played in rock and funk contexts by one drummer using sticks.

Case Study 1: Two or More Percussionists

[14] Given the multiple percussionists present during the Chega de saudade sessions, some of the earliest bossa nova patterns recorded in the United States were also played by two or more percussionists. Some sessions hired multiple percussionists and relied less on the drum set and more on other percussion instruments such as the triangle, cabasa (a type of shaker), tamborim (a small, high pitched Brazilian hand drum), shaker, or pandeiro (a Brazilian tambourine). Two of Zoot Sims’ LPs, New Beat Bossa Nova Means the Samba Swings Vols. I (figure 1.1) and II (figure 1.2), from 1962, showcase this approach. Any number of percussionists at the session typically assumed the role of Guarany and played the bossa nova clave on a high-pitched instrument such as a tamborim or even as a cross stick on the snare drum. (However, these drummers did not seem to play anything else at the same time.) Meanwhile two or three other percussionists assumed the role of Juquinha; however, they did not play Juquinha’s eighth notes on the snare drum, but usually on a different percussive instrument. More typical in American recording sessions, however, was the Guarany and Juquinha instrumentation: one drummer and one (or more) percussionists. Buddy Deppenschdmit and Bill Reichenbach, both recording on Stan Getz’s Jazz Samba in February 1962, demonstrate one way percussionists performed a bossa nova pattern. In “Desafinado,” either Deppenschdmit or Reichenbach played the snare with brushes, exactly imitating Juquinha’s approach (figure 1.3). However, in an interesting change in technique, the drummer held the brush to the snare drum and scraped it back and forth in eighth notes, almost replicating the sound of a shaker. Meanwhile, the other percussionist (in this instance another drummer), played a repeating ostinato on the bass drum and high hats with their feet and the bossa nova clave with their hand on a cowbell. More common was the technique adopted in Art Farmer’s “The Sweetest Sounds,” recorded in August 1962 (figure 1.4). In “The Sweetest Sounds,” one drummer functions as Guarany and plays the bossa nova clave as a cross stick on a snare drum. The other drummer functions as Juquinha and plays eighth notes on the snare drum with brushes. However, instead of adopting Deppenschmidt and Reichenbach’s approach – the approach that scrapes the brush alongside the head of the drum – the drummer on “The Sweetest Sounds” plays the snare drum in a more typical manner: by lifting the brush off the head and striking the drum to articulate every stroke. Together, these three examples showcase percussionists and drummers who adopt a performance technique that most closely resembles the one adopted by Juquinha and Guarany in 1958: one percussionist plays the clave, the other (or multiple others) plays continuous eighth notes. What all these examples have in common is that the multiple percussionists divided the roles and played separate parts of the bossa nova pattern.

Case Study 2: One Drummer Playing with Two Brushes


[15] While multiple percussionists could divvy up the roles of the bossa nova pattern, not every band had – or could hire – multiple percussionists; thus the role of multiple percussionists fell to drummers like John Rae. They were admittedly tasked with a difficult job. Rae, who recorded on Stan Getz’s Big Band Bossa Nova in August 1962, attests to the difficulty drummers faced trying to play a bossa nova pattern just by themselves. “At that point in time,” Rae recollected in 1985, “bossa nova was so new there weren’t too many American [drummers] who understood the style.” Fortunately for drummers like Rae, they could look to their American predecessors like Max Roach and Clifton James who inventively recreated the sounds and rhythms typically played by multiple Afro-Cuban percussionists. In time, drummers playing bossa nova demonstrated a similar level of


[16] In addition to following in the footsteps of orchestrators like Roach and James, drummers like Rae could also follow in the footsteps of Brazilian guitarists. It has become a bit of a truism that guitarist João Gilberto’s picking pattern, known as the batida in Portuguese, distilled the rhythms and timbres of the samba drumline and reorchestrated them to the guitar. Samba emerged in the morros (hills) of Rio de Janeiro, notably around Praça Onze, in the early twentieth century as a type of Afro-Brazilian music that mixed Angolese and Congolese batuques with other national, African-derived, and European-derived music like maxixes, lundus, choros, and marchas. Arguably, a sambista named Donga recorded the first samba, titled “Pelo telefone,” in 1916; but vocalist Linda Batista’s 1945 recording of “Coitado do Edgar” provides an equally good study for explaining samba’s percussive elements since the recording contains many audible elements typically found in the bateria (rhythm section) of samba ensembles (figure 2.1). Prevalent in “Coitado do Edgar” are the pandeiro, which plays a steady stream of sixteenth notes, the tamborim, and the surdo (a bass drum). The last two particularly play important roles in the batida of João Gilberto. In “Coitado do Edgar,” you can hear the tamborim faintly play a syncopated rhythm, known in Portuguese as a telecoteco rhythm. Meanwhile, the surdista plays a foundational role, accenting beats 2 and 4 with low tones by playing the drumhead with a felted mallet in the right hand; they also sound higher notes on beats 1 and 3 by striking the drumhead with the palm of the left hand. Gilberto’s batida takes the roles and rhythms of the tamborim and surdo and reorchestrates them to his guitar. The fingers in his right hand mimicked the rhythms of the tamborim. But instead of sounding the high-pitched smack of the tamborim, Gilberto sounded syncopated chordal accompaniments that emanated from the guitar’s upper strings. The thumb in his right hand, similarly, worked like a surdo. But instead of sounding the low-pitched boom of a bass drum, Gilberto’s thumbs struck all four beats of the lower guitar strings while giving special emphasis to beats 2 and 4. Music theorists and ethnomusicologists such as Irna Priore, Suzel Ana Reily, and Gerard Béhague have all documented Gilberto’s indebtedness to the sambas of Dorival Caymmi, Carmen Miranda, and Orlando Silva that he heard growing up in Juazeiro, Bahia during the 1940s. In 1958, he famously put his batida to use, demonstrating his novel orchestration in songs like “Chega de saudade.” Priore, Reiley, and Béhague have all notated similar versions of his batida, taking the aggregate of Gilberto’s picking patterns over the years and distilling them into a short and digestible rhythmic idea (figure 2.2). Despite these differences in notation, the basic idea remains: Gilberto took his batida from the rhythms and roles of the surdo and tamborim and adapted them to the guitar. The novelty in Gilberto’s approach was not necessarily that he derived new rhythms; anybody who heard “Coitado do Edar” would have recognized those rhythms in his batida. Instead, his novelty was in orchestrating those rhythms and placing them in new contexts and articulating them with new timbres.

[17] American drummers like Rae could equally look to Brazilian drummers, who, like Gilberto, also orchestrated the multiple percussion instruments of samba onto the drum set. Beginning as early as the 1920s, drummers like Luciano Perrone, Valfrido Silva, Benedito Pinto, and Sût (João Batista dos Chegas Pereiera) became some of the first drummers to take the modern drum set and recreate the sounds and rhythms of the samba bateria. Admittedly, this was conceptually a far easier task than Gilberto’s. Drummers can recreate the sound of the surdo for instance, on their bass drum and floor toms. Typically the tamborim’s telecoteco, or other rhythms played by repenique (a tenor drum) or caixa (snare drum), get moved to the drum set’s snare drum as well. In his study of Brazilian drummers, percussionist Andy Smith demonstrates how drummers like Peronne and Silva played the drum set on samba recordings such as Radamés Gnattali’s arrangement of Ary Barroso’s song, “Aquerela do Brasil” from 1939, and pianist Gadé’s 1956 recording, “O feitoço virou.” In 1957, Edison Machado began to play samba nos pratos (samba on the cymbals) and helped inspire a whole host of drummers in the 1960s such as Milton Banana, Wilson das Neves, Dom Um Romão and Hélcio Milito. Drummers like Dom Um Romão and Jayme Storino demonstrate how Brazilians typically played bossa nova patterns. Unlike several of their American counterparts, these drummers did not necessarily strictly abide to playing the bossa nova clave. Instead, drumming on songs like Cannonball Adderley’s “Clouds,” from December 1962 (figure 2.3), or João Meirelles’ “Batucada,” also from that year (figure 2.4), demonstrate how Romão and Storino modified the clave rhythm. In “Clouds,” Romão plays eighth notes on the snare drum with a brush and plays a cross stick on the snare drum with his left hand. But the rhythm he plays on the cross stick resembles more the telecoteco rhythm of the tamborim than the clave Guarany played. Storino adopts a similar approach in “Batucada.” He plays eighth notes on the ride cymbal with a stick and in his left hand plays a more syncopated rhythm than typically played by American drummers. In several ways, then, the path marched on by American drummers in the 1960s was already blazed by Brazilian drummers years before. However, American drummers tended to simplify what their Brazilian counterparts were playing, creating a style of drumming that pianist Sergio Mendes called in 1967, a “standard American bossa nova pattern.”

[18] One of the simplest ways drummers took the pattern played by Guarany and Juquinha and orchestrated it on the drum set was by playing the snare drum while holding brushes in both hands. The least common version of this technique was employed by drummers Chuck Lampkin and Ed Shaughnessy. On Eddie Harris’ 1962 recording, “Whispering Bossa Nova,” Lampkin played the bossa nova clave similarly to how Clifton James played the son clave in “Bo Diddley:” Lampkin played constant eighth notes while accenting beats 1, the “and” of 2, 4 ­– and in the next measure, beats 3 and the “and” of 4 (figure 2.5). Shaughnessy took the exact same approach on Don Goldie’s “I Hear a Rhapsody” in a recording from October of that year (figure 2.6). More commonly, however, drummers playing bossa nova articulated the clave not by displacing it over both hands but by playing it entirely on one hand; Bill Reichenbach demonstrates this common technique on Charlie Byrd’s “Um abraco do Bonfá” from 1962 (figure 2.7). As the sole drummer at the session, he adopted a technique he heard during the Jazz Samba sessions earlier that year. He played the snare drum with the scraping technique in the right hand and kept the brush always on the snare drum while moving it back and forth. Meanwhile, in the left hand he played the bossa nova clave. He orchestrated this rhythm on the snare drum as well; however, in contrast to his right hand, his left hand articulated every stroke of the clave by lifting the brush off the snare and striking the drumhead. In time, this technique of playing eighth notes in the right hand and a clave in the left would become the predominant way drummers played a bossa nova pattern.

[19] The benefit of the approach taken by drummers like Lampkin, Shaughnessy, Reichenbach – and several of the drummers discussed in the following section – is that their orchestration and technique removed the need for extra percussionists. To be clear, percussionists certainly played alongside these drummers. Songs like “Whispering Bossa Nova” and “I Hear a Rhapsody” feature the sounds of the pandeiro, shaker, and cabasa. However, the drummers already “took care” of the bossa nova pattern. While the sounds of extra percussion give each song rhythmic and timbral intrigue and variation, at least seen from the perspective of a drummer playing a bossa nova pattern, their presence is, dare I say, superfluous. Surprisingly, the percussion in many of these songs contains the conga, played by famous congueiros like Ray Baretto and Carlos “Patato” Valdés. As a result, many of these recordings contain both the Afro-Cuban tumbao pattern and the Brazilian-inspired bossa nova pattern. This mixture of techniques from the Cuban-inspired conga and Brazilian-inspired drum set creates a metaphorical audible salad bowl: a combination of cultures that do not exactly melt but instead retain their separate identities.

Case Study 3: One Drummer Playing with a Stick in One Hand and a Brush in the Other

[20] A consequence of playing with brushes in both hands is that drummers struggled to recreate the sound of Guarany’s caixeta on the drum set; substituting a brush for a stick and using it to play a cross stick on the snare drum helped solve that problem. In fact, playing a cross stick on the snare drum would become one of the more identifiable timbres within bossa nova. Of course, drummers adopted several variations of this orchestration and technique. In Shirley Horn’s “Wild is Love,” recorded in September 1962, Osie Johnson takes Reichenbach’s approach to scraping eighth notes with the right hand, but instead of playing the bossa nova clave in his left hand with a brush, plays it with a cross stick on the snare (figure 3.1). Mel Lewis offers a visual example: during an August 11 televised recording of Shorty Rodger’s “Martin Bossa Nova” on the program Frankly Jazz in 1962, the camera briefly pans in on Lewis scraping the snare drum with a brush in his right hand while playing a cross stick in his left. More often, drummers avoided this scraping technique and instead played constant, articulated eighth notes with their right hand instead. Ben Riley demonstrates this technique and orchestration in action on his April 1962 recording of Sonny Rollins’ “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” (figure 3.2). With a brush in his right hand, he plays eighth notes on the snare drum; in his left hand he holds a stick and uses it to play a cross stick on the snare drum. Billy Higgins would play like this on Dexter Gordon’s “Love for Sale” (figure 3.3); Dave Bailey played like this on Gerry Mulligan’s “Capricious” (figure 3.4); and Don Michaels played like this on Lionel Hampton’s “Bossa Nova New York” (figure 3.5). The list goes on. Some drummers took this technique and simply reorchestrated their right hand. For instance, in a 1962 performance on Frankly Jazz with Paul Horn, drummer Milton Turner plays a bossa nova pattern on “On Green Dolphin Street.” He plays the bossa nova clave with a cross stick on his snare; meanwhile, instead of playing eighth notes on the snare drum with a brush in his right hand, he plays eighth notes on the ride cymbal instead. Whatever the orchestration, drummers were beginning to standardize a specific way to perform a bossa nova pattern: eighth notes in the right hand and using the left hand to articulate a bossa nova clave on a high-pitched drum.

[21] An analysis of two different versions of Freddie Hubbard’s song, “Crisis,” demonstrates not only this novel orchestration and technique in action but also how it differed from ways drummers incorporated Afro-Cuban elements previously. On August 21, 1961, Freddie Hubbard wrote and recorded “Crisis,” a song full of Afro-Cuban rhythms. Drummer Elvin Jones, for instance, played a drum pattern that closely resembles what Max Roach played on “George’s Dilemma.” Jones played a cáscara rhythm on the ride cymbal with his right hand. In his left hand, he imitated the slap of the tumbao pattern on beat 2 and played the open tones on his toms on beat 4 (figure 3.6). A little more than one year later, drummer Willie Bobo recorded a version on his album Bobo’s Beat. Several Cuban elements were still present in Bobo’s version: the song features a 2-3 tumbao pattern on the congas, for instance. However, on the drum set, Bobo played eighth notes on the snare drum with a brush in his right hand and articulated a clave in his left hand as a cross stick (figure 3.7). Both versions by Hubbard and Bobo are indebted to Afro-Cuban music and both Jones and Bobo incorporated elements of the clave into their drumming. But the patterns both drummers played are not at all similar.

[22] Several examples of music notation from the 1960s also document how drummers typically played the bossa nova. As cultural historian David Suisman notes, between 1890 and 1930, the commercial music business developed a thriving sheet music industry that commodified music, much like other industrial products. This practice continued into the post-war years as well, as various Latin bandleaders and pedagogues began to publish pedagogical books that capitalized on the American infatuation with several dance crazes like the rhumba and tango. One of the first was a book by bandleader Xavier Cugat, published in 1941, written specifically for pianists, accordionists, and arrangers. Cugat would not write the only book addressing this topic; between the 1940s and 1960s, arrangers and composers could also purchase books such as Arranging Latin Music Authentically and How to Arrange Latin American Instruments. More often, publishers released pedagogical method books specifically for percussionists. Students could learn from books like Latin American Rhythm Instruments and How to Play Them, Basic Bongo Beats, Ethel Smith’s Latin American Rhythms, How to Play Maracas, and How to Play Bongos, Congo Drums, Timbales, and Maracas. Unsurprisingly, although several of these books discussed a broad range of styles – from West Indian calypsos to Martinican beguines – most focused on Cuban styles like the guaracha, son montuno, rhumba, and mambo. However, Chico Arnez, a London-based bandleader broke from this mold and published a book that focused primarily on Brazilian music in 1960. Despite its name, Latin Instruments & Rhythms mostly contained explanations of Brazilian percussion instruments like the cuíca and reco-reco, as well as descriptions of rhythms like the maxixe and frevo. In time, musicians and pedagogues supplemented such books with specific explanations of how to play bossa nova on the drum set.


[23] In 1962, a Brazilian percussionist named Jucato followed up on Arnez’s book and published Bossa Nova and Other Latin-American Rhythms. Jucato’s book offered one of the first pedagogical instructions for how to play bossa nova on the drums. Itinstructed drummers to play the bossa nova by taking a stick in their left hand (“always a stick,” he wrote) and “placing the thinnest part of the stick on the skin of the instrument and executing the beats on the rim of the drum.” The “beats” he mentions are Gurany’s bossa nova clave. In the right hand, Jucato acknowledged the multiple variations played by drummers: “the rhythm on the upper part of the staff,” he writes (referencing continuous eighth notes), “can be played with the stick or the brush on the drum, or on the cymbal.” A few years later, a Brazilian drummer named Paulinho published Rhythms and Instruments of Brazil and included a notational description of the bossa nova pattern. Like Jucato, Paulinho focused on ensuring that the drummer used their left hand to play the bossa nova clave with a specific timbre. Paulinho recommended playing a cross stick on the snare (or on a woodblock, just like Guarany did) and also offered a number of timbral possibilities for playing with the right hand: sticks or brushes in the right hand on the snare drum, high hat, or ride cymbal. A reproduction from Paulinho’s book encapsulates the multiple techniques available to drummers playing the bossa nova (figure 3.8).

Case Study 4: One Drummer Playing with Sticks in Both Hands

[24] Similarly to how playing with a brush in the left hand would not bring out the rhythm of the bossa nova clave, playing with a brush in the right hand might not be suitable for occasions when drummers wanted to play in a harder style and create a louder timbre; the technique of playing a bossa nova pattern with sticks in both hands solved that problem. In time, it became the technique that most rock and funk drummers adopted. With this technique drummers still played eighth notes with their right hand and a bossa nova clave with their left; however, they tended to play eighth notes on instruments other than the snare drum. As Milton Turner alluded to in his performance with Paul Horn, drummers also began to play eighth notes on the ride cymbal. Dave Bailey adopts this orchestration in Curtis Fuller’s “Samba de uma nota só” in an early bossa nova recording from August 1961 (figure 4.1); Grady Tate plays it on Jerome Richardson’s “No Problem” from 1962 (figure 4.2); and Harold Jones plays eighth notes on the ride cymbal and a cross stick on the snare drum in Paul Winter’s “Journey to Recife,” also from 1962 (figure 4.3). Once again, the list goes on. Two television recordings visually document this approach. During an August 4th performance on Frankly Jazz, drummer Larry Bunker takes a stick in his right hand, plays eighth notes on the ride cymbal (and later his high hat) on Bud Shank’s version of “Misty.” Meanwhile, in his left hand he held a stick and played the bossa nova clave as a cross stick on the snare drum. Similarly, on Oscar Brown, Jr.’s television program Jazz Scene U.S.A. from 1962, Louis Hayes played his right hand on the ride cymbal and a left hand on the snare drum during Cannonball Adderley’s “Jive Samba.” In time, this approach has become standardized and normalized; any beginning drummer that is learning to play a bossa nova pattern would probably learn this orchestration and technique first.

[25] While drummers typically used two sticks to play their right hand on the ride cymbal and keep their left hand on the snare drum as a cross stick, drummers adopted several variations as well. On a 1963 recording of Jon Hendrick’s “O pato,” Jimmie Smith played eighth notes on the high hat with his right hand and a with his left hand plays the bossa nova clave also on the high hat (figure 4.4)! (The fact that you can hear Smith occasionally “flam,” or play both his hands at slightly different times, confirms that he’s playing on the high hat with two hands as opposed to one.) On another Hendricks recording, “Outra vez,” Smith played eighth notes on the ride cymbal but played the bossa nova clave on the rim of the snare drum as opposed to as a cross stick (figure 4.5). Instead of eighth notes on the ride cymbal, Oliver Jackson played quarter notes during Gene Ammons’ recording of “Moito Mato Grosso” from September 1962 (figure 4.6). And instead of a ride cymbal, Rudy Collins played continuous eighth notes on a tambourine on Lalo Schifrin’s 1962 recording, “An Evening in São Paulo” (figure 4.7). But in all these examples, the same basic technique applies: simple time in the right hand, clave in the left.

[26] A final visual example summarizes the multiple ways that drummers orchestrated the Guarany’s clave and played a bossa nova pattern. During an October 15, 1962 performance of Luiz Bonfa’s “Manhã de Carnaval” on Jazz Scene U.S.A., John Rae played eighth notes on the snare drum, adopting a technique and orchestration that resembles an approach to playing the clave demonstrated by Clifton James, Chuck Lampkin, and Ed Shaughnessy. The song also featured Bill Fitch who played percussion. In Fitch’s right hand, he held a shaker and played continuous eighth notes. In his left hand, he held a stick and played the bossa nova clave on a cowbell that he placed on top of a conga drum. Both Rae and Fitch summarize the different ways of playing in a bossa nova context. Given the similarities between Rae’s approach and approaches taken by his predecessors like James, Rae’s approach proved far less influential. In contrast, Fitch encapsulated the technique and orchestration that would ultimately be adopted by rock and funk drummers throughout the 1960s.

[27] Of course, several variations of the bossa nova clave emerged as well. Bill Reichenbach, for instance, took the 3:2 or 3:4 hemiola implied in the bossa nova clave and used it as a rhythmic motif. Instead of articulating the bossa nova clave with his left hand, he instead played a series of dotted quarter notes (i.e. groups of 3). These strokes alluded to the defining characteristic of the bossa nova clave but created an even more lopsided feel as his pattern went over the bar line, just like the calligrapher whose words spill over onto the next line. A version of “O pato,” recorded by Charlie Byrd in April 1962, demonstrates Reichenbach’s approach in action. His left hand played this hemiola as a cross stick while a brush in his right hand played constant eighth notes on the snare drum (figure 4.8). Other variations existed as well. In a prime example of how the bossa nova clave did not mimic the son clave’s role as an organizing principle, several bossa nova drummers casually switched between 2-3 and 3-2 bossa nova claves. Jimmie Smith took advantage of such liberty (or commits such an error!) in a recording of “Jive Samba” with Jon Hendricks (figure 4.9). Several drummers also swung the eighth notes in their bossa nova patterns, creating what commentators called a “bossa nova shuffle rhythm,” a “shuffle-rock bossa nova,” a “swingin’ bossa nova,” or a “boogaloo bossa nova.” Billy Higgins offered the most prominent example  during his recording of Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder” in December 1963. In his right hand he played swung eighth notes on the ride cymbal with sticks and in his left hand he played a 2-3 bossa nova clave on the snare drum head (figure 4.10). Whatever variation employed, the same basic principle applied: the right hand kept steady time, the left hand played the clave.

Case Study 5: Bossa Nova in Rock and Funk Drumming of the 1960s

[28] In time, the innovations of these drummers playing bossa nova music found themselves in all sorts of music of the 1960s; John Densmore’s drumming on The Door’s “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” from 1967 offers one historically misunderstood example. Historian Ned Sublette attributes the groove’s influence to Cuban mambo origins, but musical evidence suggests otherwise. Densmore’s groove does not recall how drummers like Max Roach typically played Cuban mambos or how musicians like Ray Charles incorporated Latin-influenced grooves into their music. Instead, in the song’s opening pattern, Densmore plays eighth notes on the ride cymbal and a bossa nova clave on the snare with a cross stick, essentially mimicking verbatim the patterns played by drummers such as Louis Hayes or Grady Tate (figure 5.1). In addition, Densmore’s own words confirm his indebtedness to bossa nova. According to an article in Modern Drummer, as well as the biography on his own website, Densmore notes that he modeled the song’s opening groove after having heard the canonical bossa nova song, “A garota de Ipanema,” sometime in the mid-1960s. Little doubt exists about the pattern’s origins.

[29] Densmore was not the only American drummer to incorporate bossa nova patterns into rock of the decade; several rock and roll artists recording in late 1962 and early 1963 offer numerous examples. According to Jack Maher of Billboard, Bellino’s 1962 single, “Boss Bossa Nova/Bossa Nova Rock” was one of the first to incorporate bossa nova rhythms and drumming into a rock and roll context. On the track, “Boss Bossa Nova,” the drummer takes two sticks and plays on the snare drum, alternating both hands just like Clifton James did on Bo Diddley’s self-titled track. However, instead of playing the son clave, Bellino’s drummer articulates the bossa nova clave instead (figure 5.2). The song thus merges established New Orleans second line and rock and roll drumming with the rhythms of Brazil. Alan Brenamen, the drummer for the instrumental rock and roll group The Piltdown Men, adopted the “case study 4” approach in the band's 1962 release, “Tequila Bossa Nova.” In this cover of the The Champs’ famous 1958 hit, “Tequila,” Brenamen took two sticks and played eighth notes with their right hand and a bossa nova clave with their left (figure 5.3). Thanks to this approach, The Piltdown Men took a song originally conceived by Chicano rock and roll artists living in Los Angeles during the 1950s and recorded a version indebted to the rhythms of Brazilian bossa nova. Chubby Checker also adopted bossa nova early on. His 1962 release, “The Bossa Nova,” featured a drummer adopting the technique from “case study 3,” playing eighth notes with a brush in one hand and a stick playing a bossa nova clave with a cross stick in the left hand (figure 5.4). Writing about the state of the music industry in 1963, Billboard columnist Nick Biro noted that “more rock and roll-oriented hits are finding their way into the pop market.” He gave a rather expansive definition of the genre: “we include the broad category of rock and roll, which covers the twist and even forms of the bossa nova.” Given the prevalence of songs such as “Boss Bossa Nova,” “Tequila Bossa Nova,” and “The Bossa Nova,” it was easy to see why Biro found “rock and roll” to encompass bossa nova.

[30] Bossa nova drumming patterns found themselves in the music of rock and roll during the mid-1960s as well. Instrumental rock and roll group Santo & Johnny, for instance, also recorded bossa nova. In their 1965 single, “Brazilian Summer,” their drummer adopted the techniques from “case study 2.” He played the snare drum with the scraping technique in the right hand and kept the brush always on the snare drum while moving it back and forth. Meanwhile, in the left hand he played the bossa nova clave (figure 5.5). This orchestration helped create the song’s mellow sound, which served as a contrast to the record’s more raucous A-side, “Mucho Tempo.” Jack Nitzche, who later went on to collaborate with producer Phil Spector, also incorporated bossa nova rhythms in his music. In his 1965 instrumental, “Senorita from Detroit,” Nitzche alternates between two sections: one full of riffs, harmonica, hard-hitting backbeats and the other with a calmer bossa nova approach. In the softer sections, Nitzche’s drummer plays with sticks, playing eighth notes with their right hand on the high-hat and a bossa nova clave with their left hand on the snare as a cross-stick (figure 5.6).

[31] While examples from The Doors, Bellino, The Piltdown Men, Chubby Checker, Santo & Johnny, and Jack Nitzche attest to bossa nova’s influence on rock and roll music and artists, interviews with some of James Brown’s former drummers illuminate how the rhythms of bossa nova found their way into Brown’s music. Don Juan “Tiger” Martin, a lesser-known drummer for Brown during the early 1970s, recalls learning the bossa nova pattern from his uncle while growing up in Cincinnati. “My uncle’s name was John Green,” Martin recalled to author and drummer Jim Payne, “…and he would try to teach me. He played with John Wright’s big band from Cincinnati. I would go to the Cabana Lounge with him and watch him play. That’s where I learned the bossa nova stuff and a little jazz.” Evidence of this Brazilian inspiration in Martin’s playing with Brown, however, does not exist in audio recordings. Similary, Clayton Fillyau, who played with Brown during the early 1960s, also remembered incorporating bossa nova into his drumming. His reminiscence to Payne merits reprinting in full: 

I came up from reading, from learning how to hear, how to feel. I’ll give you a good example. Remember the bossa nova, “I Remember April?” (sings tune). The drum part went like this – (sings drum part). They told me I was playing wrong. I said, ‘don’t worry about what I’m playing – I’ll meet you at the crossroads. I’ll betcha when you get to the other section, I’ll be there too.’ 

[32] Unfortunately, Payne’s book does not contain any audio replication of what Fillyau sang. But analysis of some recordings from the 1960s of “I’ll Remember April” help clarify his point. Written originally in the early 1940s, “I’ll Remember April” had received several different musical treatments by the late 1960s: Eddie Cano recorded a version that alternated between straight-ahead jazz and Afro-Cuban grooves in 1962 while Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfá recorded an unaccompanied guitar rendition in 1958. Fillyau was not referring to either of those examples, though. Instead, he was likely recollecting the bossa nova treatments recorded by pianist Jack La Forge in 1962, arranger Hugo Winterhalter in 1963, or vocalist Joanie Summers from 1964. In all these examples, the drummer played constant eighth notes with a brush in their right hand while playing a cross stick on the snare drum with their left. Fillyau played with Brown on the bandleader’s famous “I’ve Got Money” session where Fillyau debuted one of the first ersatz funk patterns. He also played at the Live at the Apollo performance. Both were recorded in 1962. However, neither “I’ve Got Money” nor any of the tracks that appear on Live at the Apollo seem indebted to bossa nova rhythms or drumming styles. Nevertheless, the recollections of Fillyau and Martin suggest that funk drummers were encountering and taking inspiration from bossa nova music.

[33] The career of Bernard “Pretty” Purdie offers additional evidence that Brown’s drummers were familiar with bossa nova drumming patterns. In 1967, Purdie recorded “Soul Bossa Nova,” a track on his debut album, Soul Drums. The recording features Purdie playing an updated version of the bossa nova pattern. On his bass drum, he plays a syncopated pattern that no drummer playing bossa nova really played before. Yet, with his hands, he plays the familiar continuous eighth notes on his ride cymbal and the bossa nova clave with a cross stick on the snare (figure 5.7). Around the same time that he recorded Soul Drums, he was playing on James Brown’s Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud recording sessions. However, in a story that resembles Martin and Filyau’s, none of the drumming on Say It Loud appear indebted to bossa nova. Nevertheless, Purdie’s career places him alongside other famous session musicians who have played in bossa nova contexts and then went on to record with a host of soul, rock, r&b, and funk artists. Earl Palmer offers one example. Palmer began his career in the 1950s playing with Fats Domino and Little Richard and then during 1960s he played on several bossa nova sessions. His playing on Howard Roberts’ “Dirty Old Bossa Nova” from 1963 offers one of several examples of Palmer’s approach to bossa nova. In his right hand he plays continuous eighth notes on the shaker (and then later on the ride cymbal) while playing a bossa nova clave in his left with a cross stick on the snare (figure 5.8). Then for the rest of the 1960s he went on to play with artists as diverse as Sonny & Cher, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Neil Young, The Monkees, and The Beach Boys. Further investigation into the musical career of Palmer might illuminate how bossa nova patterns found itself in the drumming of an illustrious session drummer.

[34] While the words and recordings of drummers such as Martin, Fillyau, and Purdie offer tenuous evidence of bossa nova’s influence on the music of James Brown, Brown’s own recordings do not; three recordings specifically all contain the bossa nova pattern. An unidentified drummer plays it on "Bring It Up,” released on the live recording Live at the Apollo, Volume II from June 1967. They play eighth notes (or quarter notes) with the right hand on the high hat and in their left hand they play a 2-3 bossa nova clave on the snare drum head (figure 5.9). Two other songs from the early 1970s testify to the presence of a bossa nova pattern, although demonstrate how it appeared in a novel way. As Alexander Stewart notes, drummers like Fillyau recording songs such as “I’ve Got Money” introduced the idea of drummers playing sixteenth note subdivisions. So while most of the previous examples have presented the bossa nova pattern as a two-measure groove, it makes sense to think of the next two examples as occurring twice as fast and occurring in the space of one measure. In the first example, John “Jabo” Starks sounds a sixteenth note bossa nova pattern on “Hot Pants” by playing sixteenth notes on the high hat and the bossa nova clave on the snare drum head. In an additional change, Starks does not play beat one of the bossa nova clave on the snare drum but rather transfers it to the bass drum (figure 5.10). In the second example, on the song “There It Is,” an unidentified drummer copied Starks’ approach: the right hand plays continual eighth notes while the left hand plays a sixteenth note bossa nova clave on the snare drum; and like Starks did in “Hot Pants,” the drummer transfers the first beat to the bass drum (figure 5.11). In all three of these funk songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s, the drum groove incorporated the bossa nova pattern first developed in the early 1960s.

[35] Two other examples by Brown also offer additional – but more conjectural – ways to think about bossa nova’s influence on American funk drumming; the first example encourages listeners to focus less on the presence of the bossa nova clave in drum grooves and more on how that clave has been historically orchestrated: played as a cross stick on the snare. Drummer Jim Payne, for instance, calls Jabo Starks’ pattern on “Lickin’ Stick” a “subtle pseudo-bossa nova.” Listening to “Lickin’ Stick,” however, one might question what Payne is talking about: Starks does not articulate a bossa nova clave like he does on “Hot Pants,” for instance (figure 5.12). But Payne hears a “pseudo-bossa nova” not because he identifies a specific rhythm but instead as a result of hearing the “[cross stick] on the snare.” Drummers had, of course, played cross sticks on the snare before 1962. Just recall Max Roach playing a cross stick on “George’s Dilemma” from 1955 in order to mimic the sound of a conga slap. Similarly, seven years later, Clayton Fillyau played a cross stick on Brown’s “Lost Someone,” a slow triplet-based shuffle. But Payne is alluding Starks’ use of the cross stick to sound a more syncopated rhythm. Starks is not playing the bossa nova clave, but he also is not imitating a conga slap on beat 2 or playing a cross stick on a triplet-based ballad. Payne may be suggesting, with merit, that the use of the cross stick to sound a syncopated rhythm alludes more to the innovations of bossa nova drummers than to any other source. (Recall the importance of Guarany’s caixeta and the extent to which drummers recreated that sound on the drum set.) Consequently, Payne is inviting listeners to think about the innovations of bossa nova less as a rhythmic innovation and more as a timbral and orchestral innovation.

[36] The second example focuses less on the importance of orchestration and timbre but instead on the rhythm of bossa nova’s clave, notably the delay of the last beat by an eighth note compared to the son clave. In the live version of “Bring It Up” from June 1967, the drummer at the Apollo plays the entire 3-2 bossa nova clave on the snare drum (figure 5.9 again); however in the studio version, recorded a year earlier, the drummer only plays the “2” side, repeating that rhythm every measure on the snare drum (figure 5.13). Anybody who listened to the live version of “Bring It Up,” therefore, might understand the studio version as a groove that takes its rhythms from the bossa nova clave, but just takes less. As a consequence, a listener does not need to hear the entire bossa nova clave to argue that the drum groove is inspired by bossa nova music. Instead, they could focus on the presence of the rhythms from its “3” side or its “2” side in funk drumming patterns. Of course, the more one breaks the bossa nova clave down and isolates its rhythms, the less specific to bossa nova they sound: on its own, the “2” side of the bossa nova clave could either be derived from the bossa nova clave or taken from an entirely unrelated source. As a result, it would be hard to trace the lineage of such a small rhythmic cell to one place or the other. Nevertheless, the similarities between the drum grooves on the live and studio versions of “Bring It Up” certainly encourage listeners and scholars to think about how funk, rock, soul, and r&b drummers may have taken the bossa nova clave, broke it up into smaller rhythmic fragments, and orchestrated it onto the drum set.


[38] A final non-James Brown recording encapsulates how drummers may have alluded to the bossa nova pattern without necessarily playing it. At the beginning of Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream” from 1968, the drummer plays very short rendition of the bossa nova pattern. In their right hand, they play eighth notes with sticks on the ride cymbal; in their left, they play a bossa nova clave on the snare drum as a cross stick (figure 5.14). However, they only play the pattern once. Immediately after, they play an entirely different rhythm in their left hand while keeping eighth notes on the ride. Although for most of the song, the drumming does not resemble a bossa nova pattern, the drummer certainly alluded to it. By playing the bossa nova pattern first and then deviating from it, the drummer established a type of theme and variations, commenting on the bossa nova pattern in the way that ethnomusicologist Ingrid Monson hears jazz musicians allude to previous works. Franklin’s drummer essentially said silently, but stated musically, that “everything that I’m about to play can be traced to this initial pattern.” Particularly because of how they play – specifically using the timbre of the cross stick on the snare which alludes strongly to bossa nova music – the drummer’s argument is rather convincing: we can think of the influences of bossa nova way beyond requiring the literal presence of a specific clave.

[39] In his review of a track off of “Brother” Jack McDuff’s album, A Change is Gonna Come, music critic Harvey Siders reserves some choice words for the album’s drummer, Joe Dukes; during the drum solo to the song “Minha saudade,” Siders notes, “the drummer has a hard time distinguishing between jazz samba [i.e., bossa nova] and a rock-and-roll rhythm.” Siders was not necessarily wrong. For most of the song, Dukes plays a bossa nova pattern that resembles the pattern played by so many of his colleagues. He plays eighth notes in the right hand with a stick; in his left hand, he plays a bossa nova clave on the snare drum with a cross stick. However, after an organ solo by McDuff, Dukes takes a solo and alternates this pattern (and variations of it) with some heavy back beats on beats 2 and 4, played on the snare drum head and not as a cross stick. These backbeats are what Siders hears as a “rock-and-roll rhythm.” The critic meant his comment to disparage the drummer and paint them as someone who flailed, struggled, and mixed musical idioms unknowingly and unconvincingly. However, a more sympathetic analysis of Siders’s comment might interpret his sentence as one that perfectly encapsulates this chapter’s argument. By 1966, when Siders wrote his review, bossa nova had found itself in the music of rock and roll artists like Bellino, The Piltdown Men, Chubby Checker, Santo & Johnny, and Jack Nitzsche. Just a few years later, John Densmore and drummers in James Brown’s band would incorporate it as well. Siders’ review, then, offers compelling last words: maybe bossa nova and rock and roll – to say nothing of funk – are not so indistinguishable after all.

John Storm Roberts, The Latin Tinge: The Impact of Latin American Music on the United States (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Max Roach, “Master Class” (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1984), quoted in Washburne, “The Clave of Jazz: A Caribbean Contribution to the Rhythmic Foundation of an African-American Music,” 78.

Ray quoted in Charles M. Bernstein, “John Rae,” Modern Drummer, March 1985, 25.

Several English books address the origins of samba, however looking through book reviews, scholars generally agree that none offer a comprehensive survey of the topic. The following three books all discuss samba’s commercialism, Afro-Brazilian origins, role as national music, and lyrical content in various depths. Lisa Shaw, The Social History of Brazilian Samba (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 1999); Hermano Vianna, The Mystery of Samba: Popular Music and National Identity in Brazil (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999); Marc A. Hertzman, A New History of Race and Music in Brazil (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013); For a succinct English overview of João Gilberto’s biography, see Castro, Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the World; Zuza Homem de Mello, ed., João Gilberto (São Paulo, Brazil: Publifolha, 2001) provides a Brazilian biography of Gilberto; Walter Garcia is an academic and guitarist who has written and edited a number of works on Gilberto as well as his musical style. See Walter Garcia, Bim Bom: A Contradição Sem Conflitos de João Gilberto (São Paulo, Brazil: Paz e Terra, 1999); Walter Garcia, ed., João Gilberto (São Paulo, Brazil: Cosac Naify, 2012) is a monstrous book containing articles on Gilberto written by journalists, musicians, and scholars. But Gilberto did not like how he was portrayed in the book, so it is more or less out of print. This video with news station TV Folha shows Garcia demonstrating Gilberto’s picking pattern TV Folha, João Gilberto: Entenda a Escola de Samba Do Seu Violão (YouTube, 2019),; Irna Priore, “Authenticity and Performance Practice: Bossa Nova and João Gilberto,” Song and Popular Culture 53 (2008): 119; Suzel Ana Reily, “Tom Jobim and the Bossa Nova Era,” Popular Music 15, no. 1 (January 1996): 5; Gerard Béhague, Bossa Nova (Oxford University Press, 2001),

Andy Smith, “O Baterista: Contemporary Brazilian Drum-Set: Afro-Brazilian Roots & Current Trends in Contemporary Samba-Jazz Practice” (PhD Dissertation, Bloomington, IN, University of Indiana, 2014); Mendes quoted in Leonard Feather, “Sergio Mendes: Blindfold Test; Vince Guaraldi – El Matador; Eddie Davis – Lock, The Fox; Stan Getz – Stan Getz with Laurindo Almeida; Oscar Peterson – Blues Etude; Sonny Stitt – The Matador Meets The Bull,” Down Beat, February 23, 1967, 36

“Frankly Jazz” (Los Angeles, CA: KTLA-TV, August 11, 1962)

David Suisman, Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009); Harry Smolin, ed., Xavier Cugat’s Latin-American Rhythms: For Pianists, Accordionists, Arrangers (New York, NY: Robbins Music Corporation, 1941); Carlos Diamante, Arranging Latin-American Music Authentically (New York, NY: King Brand Publications, 1949); Dr. M Deutsch, How to Arrange Latin-American Instruments, ed. Chas Colin (New York, NY: New Sounds In Modern Music, 1961); F. Henri Klickman, ed., Humberto Morales’ Latin-American Rhythm Instruments and How to Play Them (New York, NY: San Juan Publishing Co., 1949); Henry Adler, 45 Basic Bongo Beats (New York, NY: G. Schirmer, 1957); Ethel Smith, Ethel Smith’s Latin American Rhythms (New York, NY: Ethel Smith Music Corp., 1951); Dr. M Deutsch and Chas Colin, How to Play Maracas (New York, NY: New Sounds In Modern Music, 1956); How to Play Bongos, Congo Drums, Timbales, Maracas (New York, NY: New Sounds In Modern Music, 1956); Hank Edmonds, ed., Chico Arnez: Latin Instruments & Rhythms Self-Taught (New York, NY: New Sounds In Modern Music, 1960).

Jucato, Bossa Nova and Other Latin-American Rhythms by Jucato (New York, NY: Mills Music, 1957), 3–4; Paulinho, Rhythms and Instruments of Brazil, ed. Roy Harte (Hollywood, CA: D.C. Publishing Company, 1965), 12.

“Frankly Jazz” (Los Angeles: KTLA-TV, August 4, 1962); Steve Binder, “Jazz Scene U.S.A.” (Hollywood, CA: CBS, 1962).

Steve Binder, “Jazz Scene U.S.A.” (Hollywood, CA: CBS, 1962).

John S. Wilson, “Jazz; Phil Bodner: Quiet Nights,” High Fidelity Magazine, December 1965, 133; “Pick of the Week: Gene McDaniels - The Old Country/Anyone Else,” Cash Box, October 19, 1963, 12; “Pop: Ray Charles - Baby, Don’t You Cry/My Heart Cries for You,” Billboard, February 15, 1964, 4; Mark Griffith, “The Top 50 Most Influential Drum Grooves: Billy Higgins – ‘The Sidewinder,’” Modern Drummer, January 2000, 116.

Jack Maher, “It’s A Great Big Bossa-Filled World We Live In, Says Almost Everybody: Herbie Mann - Right Now; Paul Winter - Jazz Meets the Bossa Nova; Coleman Hawkins - Desafinado; Vi Velasco - Cantando Bossa Nova; June Christy - Desafinado; Bellino - Bossa Nova Rock; Mavis Rivers - Desafinado,” Billboard, October 27, 1962, 6; Nick Biro, “Rock ‘n’ Roll -Very Lively Corpse,” Billboard, March 16, 1963, 82.

Robyn Flans, “Where Are They Now? John Densmore,” Modern Drummer, January 2001, 129; John Densmore, “Biography,” John Densmore of The Doors (blog), accessed March 22, 2021,

Fillyau quoted in Jim Payne, The Great of Drummers R&B Funk & Soul (Pacific, MO: Mel Bay, 2010), 76, 40.

Payne, 40.

In a conversation I had with Latin percussionist Michael Spiro regarding the role of bossa nova in the drumming of James Brown’s music, Spiro brought up the idea of focusing less on the entire clave and more on certain rhythmic cells. As a result, he thought about Clyde Stubblefield’s drum groove to “Cold Sweat,” a groove that, compared to typical drum grooves that stress the backbeats, delays the last snare note by an extra eighth note (i.e. Stubblefield places it on the “and” of beat 4 as opposed to squarely on beat 4). It is a unique groove and Spiro was wondering “where did Stubblefield get that idea?” He then pointed out that bossa nova clave does something similar: compared to the son clave, the bossa nova clave delays its last beat by an extra eighth note. Although we both agreed that we cannot hear the bossa nova clave in “Cold Sweat,” Spiro’s speculation offers an example of the type of thinking an analysis of “Bring It Up” encourages: what kind of ideas and rhythmic cells are present in the bossa nova clave that drummers may have picked up and applied to their grooves?

Ingrid Monson, “Doubleness’ and Jazz Improvisation: Irony, Parody and Ethnomusicology,” Critical Inquiry 20, no. 2 (1994): 283–313.

Harvey Siders, “Jack McDuff – A Change Is Gonna Come,” Down Beat, October 6, 1966, 30.

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