Jazz meets pop and blues with Jobim’s “If You Never Come To Me”

One of the great things about taking on a project like our Journey Through The Real Book is that we discover (or revisit) some real gems that aren’t as widely-known as that should be.

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s tune “If You Never Come To Me” is one such hidden gem!

Like all of Jobim’s bossa nova compositions, “If You Never Come To Me” features a gentle Brazilian straight-eighth note rhythm that has a lot in common with pop music. Listen to, say, Elton John’s pop hit “Daniel” and you’ll hear the similarities. It’s no coincidence that pop artists as wide ranging as Stevie Wonder and George Michael have performed bossa novas over the years.

Jazz musicians love bossas too, and in fact, one of my fondest memories of the time I was Gerry Mulligan’s assistant was when he told me about a phone conversation he had with Jobim the evening before. Gerry and Jobim spoke to each other about how much their music had influenced each other. Mulligan’s “cool jazz” influenced the rise of the bossa nova style and this in turn influenced jazz musicians again.


Bossa Nova features this gentle Brazilian rhythm that can absorb many facets of improvisation over it. We can play jazz lines, beautiful pop-like melodic lines, and even a touch of blues.

Jobim seems to have constructed his tune “If You Never Come To Me specifically to accommodate and even encourage all these facets of improvisation.

You can learn about the tune and watch/hear my performance of this wonderful tune here:

If You Never Come To Me: Journey Through The Real Book #174

As with all of our musical activities, the sky is the limit.

Enjoy the journey and “Let the music flow!”


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