I love bossa nova and that style had as more to do with me becoming a jazz pianist than anything else. I actually cried when Antonio Carlos Jobim (Tom) dies. I think he was the best composer/orchestrator since Beethoven! Of course I love "Wave" and "Desafinado" but my favorite Jobim composition is "Triste" (American lyrics- "Sad is to live in solitude...")-- one of the greatest songs ever written. Tom, himself, said his favorite of his compositions was "Samba Da Avio" (called Song of the Jet by some). It is also one of my most favorites. The words tell about Jobim's feelings as he approaches the Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janiero after being away for a time. The airport is now named after Jobim. Gilberto, Getz, and Astrud all made many recordings together using many of Jobim's compositions. AccuJazz.com free internet radio has a channel dedicated to Jobim compositions.
Luiz Bonfa is perhaps my second favorite composer. His "Manha de Carnaval" and equally evocative "Samba de Orpheus" from the movie BLACK ORPHEUS are so amazing. To me, "Samba de Orpheus" IS Brazil. My sister has been to Rio several times for carnival and says the city is just like the movie with the sounds of samba echoing through he hills! Another movie, BLAME IT ON RIO also captures well the musical aspect of Brazil. I made a cassette tape of the audio from this movie and it was one of my favorites for the car. The dialogue is very sparse -- almost all comedic set-ups and punch lines and most of the audio is carefree, wonderful, happy bossa nova music.
João Gilberto is known for his innovative guitar work and singing, but also composed a few songs. His wife, Astrud, had a hit with her first professional performance on "Girl from Ipanema" composed by Jobim. I have 3 albums by Astrud and I love her simplistic, unaffected and unassuming style. However Gal Costa, Flora Purim and the Grand Dame of Brazilian music Elis Regina are all better singers. Gilberto Gil was considered the best guitarist in Brazil at a time. Milton Nacimento and Chico Barque are two other excellent Brazilian musician/composers to look for.