David Chesky and "The Girl From Ipanema" by Antonio Carlos Jobim
I think the one song that is six degrees of separation for me would be "The Girl From Ipanema" by Antonio Carlos Jobim.
My mother used to play the song "The Girl From Ipanema" all the time when I was a kid growing up in Miami Beach in the 60s. Latin music and Bossa Nova was the rage when I was a child. I used to hear Latin music when we went to the beach clubs, they were playing by the pool with the local bands.
"The Girl From Ipanema" was something a little different. As well as having an intoxicating Brazilian rhythm, this music was very sophisticated in melody and harmony. This song was my first musical exposure to Brazilian rhythms and sophisticated harmonic writing. It's what got me interested in Brazilian music at an early age. Because of this one song, I started using Samba and Bossa Nova rhythms in my jazz groups when I was in my early twenty's.
When I started the label Chesky Records, I started recording great Brazilian artists such as Leny Andrade, Luiz Bonfa, Rosa Passos, and Ana Caram. And it was on the Ana Caram session that Antonio Carlos Jobim, or Tom as we called him, played two of his songs with us on Ana's album.
Later on I started writing Brazilian classical music for the piano called Chorinhos. I also use Brazilian and Latin rhythms in my orchestral music. I think these all stem from hearing that one song over and over again in my house as a child.
And finally I got to know Tom Jobim. I would spend hours with him at his home hearing him play the song, and other songs, and getting lectures about life and music. So the circle was complete, from a Miami Beach kid hearing this music at a pool played by some beach club trio, to sitting in New York with the master Brazilian composer playing it on the piano himself. Tom Jobim was someone that taught me about music, life. He was someone I looked up to and he inspired me to become a composer. I remember those days listening to him talk and play while he was smoking those cigars.
I will surely miss him, but at least I and the rest of us still have his music.