OS CARIOCAS was formed in 1942, by sixteen year old Ismael Netto and 14 year old Severino Filho, on the veranda of their family home. It was at a time when Rio de Janeiro was dancing to the American big-band sounds of the likes of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey but Ismael Netto created something different and unique.
For the first time in recorded musical history, a falsetto voice was added to the mix, a daring and bold innovation that turned OS CARIOCAS into a modern vocal group and an overnight success. In 1946, OS CARIOCAS signed their first professional contract with Radio Nacional (the largest Brazilian media company at the time) and quickly rose to become the best ensemble in Brazil.
Soon afterwards, Ismael Netto started to compose, innovating and transforming the typically Brazilian musical style, Samba Canção. His work became so immensely successful that his songs were recorded not only by OS CARIOCAS, but by many other artists like Dolores Duran.The younger brother, Severino Filho, studied music under Hans-Joachim Koellreutter and graduated as a conductor in 1948. He founded two orchestras, "Severino Filho, Metais e Vozes", with a jazz repertoire, and "Pan American", playing sambas and frevos, both achieving great renown.
At that same time, OS CARIOCAS had its 2nd iteration: 5 voices consisting of Ismael Netto, (lead vocal and guitar), Severino Filho (2nd vocal and tan tan), Badeco (3rd vocal and tenor viola), Quartera 4th voice, plate and cajon), and Waldyr Viviane (5th vocal and soloist).
In 1954 the group recorded the “Symphony of Rio de Janeiro” at the invitation of the young Maestro Antonio Carlos “Tom” Jobim. From that experience, a strong bond formed between Ismael, Severino and Tom. Then Joao Gilberto, a guitarist and singer from Bahia, arrived in Rio de Janeiro and formed a friendship with Severino, sharing a strong musical affinity.In 1956 with music by Tom Jobim, arrangements by Ismael Netto and Severino Filho and the unique beat of the guitar of João Gilberto, OS CARIOCAS recorded “Chega de Saudade” and, with it, BOSSA NOVA was born.
It was the beginning of a new rhythm and a new musical revolution in Brazil.
That same year, 1956, Ismael Netto died at the age of 30 and the leadership of OS CARIOCAS fell to Severino Filho who soon incorporated his instrument, the piano, into the ensemble. With the wider range of the piano, compositions became more elaborate and arrangements even more sophisticated and rich. In this third version of OS CARIOCAS Netto and Filho’s sister, Hortênsia Jassè, joined the band. As a lyrical soprano, it was natural for Hortênsia to replace Ismael as lead vocal. She remained a group member until she got pregnant.
At that point OS CARIOCAS was reduced to only 4 vocals with Severino Filho taking over the falsetto lead.Later OS CARIOCAS incorporated a new member, soloist and bassist, Luiz Roberto, into the ensemble. It was the group’s 5th and longest-lasting formation. In the 5 golden years of Bossa Nova, they recorded 6 LPs and the group reached international acclaim, singing in South, Central and North America where they performed twice at the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
In New York they were introduced to Quincy Jones, who fell in love with the group and connected them to the American musical scene. Simultaneously in Brazil, a military coupe left Severino saddened and depressed to the point of breaking the ensemble up at what was to be the apex of the group’s success.Returning to Brazil, Severino made a living behind the scenes arranging and composing for television and cinema. He also helped launch the careers of new artists in the era of the popular Music Festivals. For 20 years Severino stayed away from the limelight and BOSSA NOVA was all but forgotten but in 1988, with the return of democracy to Brazil, Severino reassembled the group back together with same 5th-formation members. But terrible and ironic as it turned out to be, Luiz Roberto died during the group’s come-back performance.
OS CARIOCAS then went through 9 more member transformations. The only original member throughout it all was Severino Filho who died on March 1st, 2016, 74 years after the ensemble was first formed.
ME, MY FATHER AND OS CARIOCAS - 70 Years of Music in Brazil, is a documentary film that tells the rich history of popular Brazilian music before, during and after the golden age of BOSSA NOVA. It is directed by Lucia Veríssimo, actor and daughter of Severino Filho.