Soul Bossa Nova

Album: Big Band Bossa Nova (1962)
  • songfacts ®
  • Bossa nova music was trending in the early '60s, with many artists blending the style with their chosen genres; Ella Fitzgerald did "Stardust Bossa Nova," Lou Monte did "Bossa Nova Italiano," and Quincy Jones did an entire album called Big Band Bossa Nova. The first track was "Soul Bossa Nova," which despite the title, is more of a mashup of classical music than soul.
  • This is best known as the theme song for the Austin Powers movies, which star Mike Myers as a spy from the '60s who emerges in modern times. The trilogy of films (International Man of Mystery - 1997, The Spy Who Shagged Me - 1999, Goldmember - 2002) are spoofs on the James Bond movies, with "Soul Bossa Nova" standing in for the iconic orchestral theme by John Barry.

    The first James Bond movie was Dr. No in 1962, the same year "Soul Bossa Nova" was released. And just as Barry's theme became associated with the debonair James Bond, Jones' song instantly evokes the frolicsome Austin Powers and his many catch phrases.
  • Quincy Jones recalled in a 2010 interview with Billboard magazine: "I wrote that in 1962 in 20 minutes for the Big Band Bossa Nova album right after we left Brazil with Dizzy Gillespie, when the bossa nova first started. And it won't go away."
  • Even in 1962, Quincy Jones had access to many top-tier musicians. For "Soul Bossa Nova," he called in Roland Kirk for the flute solo and Lalo Schifrin for piano (Schifrin did the theme song for the 1966 Mission: Impossible TV series). Other musicians on the track are:

    Chris White - bass
    Rudy Collins - drums
    Jerome Richardson - flutes, woodwinds
    Carlos Gomez, Jack Del Rio, José Paula - percussion
  • Quincy Jones got his first soundtrack gig two years later when he was hired by director Sidney Lumet for the 1964 film The Pawnbroker, starring Rod Steiger. "Soul Bossa Nova" was included in that film, which set Jones up as a soundtrack superstar. He worked on about two dozen more movies, including The Italian Job (1969) and The Color Purple (1985).
  • Jones recorded this at Phil Ramone's A&R Studios in Manhattan, where "The Girl From Ipanema" was recorded the following year. Ramone served as engineer at these sessions; he went on to produce most of Billy Joel's albums.
  • This was used as the theme to a Canadian game show called Definition, which ran from 1974 to 1989.
  • This track has been sampled a number of times, including by The Dream Warriors for their 1991 track "My Definition Of a Boombastic Jazz Style," and by Ludacris for "Number One Spot" in 2004.
  • Jones recorded an updated version called "Soul Bossa Nostra" for his 2010 album Q Soul Bossa Nostra with the help of Ludacris, a capella group Naturally 7, and R&B singer-songwriter Rudy Currence.
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