In the 1960s, the bossa nova emerged in Brazil. Its most important composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, combined relaxed samba rhythms with cool jazz. He found the perfect blend in tunes such as “Desafinado” and “One Note Samba,” which became pop hits in the United States.
In 1963, Joao Gilberto collaborated with Jobim and jazz saxophonist Stan Getz to record an album entitled
Latin pop is another hybrid that uses the electric bass. This style enjoys a wide fan base thanks to guitarist Carlos Santana and pop singers Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Jon Secada, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Selena, Celia Cruz, and Julio and Enrique Iglesias. Meringue rhythms are commonly used in Latin pop. Like most Latin styles, the meringue goes all the way back to the slave trade. Its lively feel — marked by thumping quarter notes — has proven infectious in discotheques across the globe.
In Trinidad, the electric bass is used to accompany steel drum or steelpan groups. Some of these groups use singers; others are strictly instrumental. The colloquial music of Trinidad is written mostly in major keys, and it has a carefree, lilting feel to it. Trinidadian genres that use electric bass include calypso and soca. Interestingly, the most famous calypso artist, Harry Belafonte, is not Trinidadian. Rather, he's a New York City native with Jamaican ancestry.
Jamaica is known largely for reggae music. In this style, the electric bass is almost always used. The etymology of the word “reggae” is in dispute. Some say it was first used formally by Toots and the Maytals on a 1968 single called “Do the Reggae,” but others trace its origins back much further. The music itself is very old. Early versions of reggae date all the way back to a tribe called the Regga who lived in West Africa. The most famous reggae artist is the late, great Bob Marley. Marley claimed that the word
Reggae is a bouncy style of music that borrows from African rhythms, the blues, American pop, and, more recently, rap music. It stresses upbeats, or “ands,” and often uses a loose triplet feel.
American and British pop artists have long incorporated reggae elements in their music. For example, Paul Simon used a reggae feel for his 1972 hit “Mother and Child Reunion.” Also, Sting used a reggae groove on several songs, including “Walking on the Moon” and “Love is the Seventh Wave.” Further, Bobby McFerrin scored a big hit with his reggae-inspired tune “Don't Worry, Be Happy” in 1988. Additionally, Bonnie Raitt used a reggae feel on her 1989 single “Have a Heart.” These are but a few examples of reggae's huge crossover potential.
Ska music is reggae's most important precursor. Like reggae, ska has undergone many changes throughout the decades. Contemporary ska is marked by very fast, energetic performances. Like reggae, the afterbeat, or “and,” is stressed in this music. British bands such as the English Beat, the Specials, and Madness epitomized ska's so-called second wave. Ska's third wave combines elements of hardcore rock. The American group the Mighty Mighty Bosstones is probably the best example of this. Their music is often referred to as “ska-core,” and their bassist, Joe Gittleman, contributed greatly to their sound.