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As a smooth jazz journalist, I sincerely support the smooth jazz genre, as I adore the sound and recognize the diligence and hard work artists and musicians place into their craft.

  sheila e ross

As an educator, I enjoy working with youth as an English teacher of eight years and see daily the strong embrace students have for music as well.

For this reason, I expose them further to the artistry.  Some students share sincere interests in musical careers so we dive deeper into the life and times of both current and late artists. Like literature, music is personal and shared from the human condition, so there is much to acquire.

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Artist : Stan Getz & João Gilberto

Album : Getz / Gilberto

Year : 1964

Label : Verve

getz gilberto

: Stan Getz : Sax | João Gilberto : Guitar and Vocals

Although saxman Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto were the main protagonists in this album it introduced the young and very inexperienced Astrud Gilberto on to the scene and one must look at the album's credits to read the myriad of talent who were playing and writing the content behind the scenes including Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, Ary Barroso and Dori Caymmi.

Recorded in 1963, but released by Verve in 1964 this album was to introduce a ' Bossa Mania ' to the USA which was to last for several years and it started a plethora of other American and Brazilian artists on a journey to record the music from the land of sun, sea and bossa nova which has lasted to this very day.

The importance of this album cannot be underestimated as it brought bossa nova, the poetry and a musical movement that revolutionised Brazilian music at the end of the 50's to a ' world stage '. Up until then Brazilians had been more at home dancing to samba, fado and the MPB songs of the day, but bossa nova changed that forever.

Getz / Gilberto would go on to become one of the 'best selling' jazz albums of all time alongside Miles' 'Kind Of Blue'.  It was included in Rolling Stone's and Vibe's lists of best albums of all time. 

It was widely acclaimed by music critics who praised Gilberto's vocals and the album's bossa nova groove and minimalism. The album received Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group and Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical, it also became the first non-American album to win one for Album of the Year in 1965.

A meeting in Brazil in the late 50's between João Gilberto, Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes established what would become known as The Holy Trinity of Bossa Nova, in just a few years their own collaborations and working with others led to tracks such as 'The Girl From Ipanema', 'Desafinado', 'One Note Samba' and 'Corcovado' three of which are featured on this Getz / Gilberto set .

Bossa Nova was identified with Gilberto's voice and especially the way he played the guitar which was characterised by sophisticated harmonisations and continually shifting accents which established a unique poly-rhythmic tension between the backing and the melody.

Stan Getz was born into a Ukranian family in 1927 and he emerged at the end of the 40's with his sax style which became synonymous with Woody Herman and his orchestra. Getz suffered with drug abuse and went to live in Denmark until the early 60s when he returned to the USA in search of something new which would enable him to relaunch his own career. That something would be ' Bossa Nova '.

What makes Getz / Gilberto stand out in the crowd compared with the countless jazz - samba records that followed in its wake is the ' perfect mix' of all of the elements on it. Realising what was on the line, Stan Getz manages to immerse himself in to the language of Bossa Nova, so much so that in the collective imagination his sound is idelibly linked now to that style.

Jobim, Gilberto and their fellow Brazilian musicians provide one of the most complete and convincing demonstrations of the new style everyone was recording on vinyl. Astrud Gilberto was coaxed to sing on the album and her voice sounds, simple, naive and slightly out of tune on occassions, but her vocals are strengthened by the rest of the ensemble. The album represents such a perfect fusion and there is no discontinuity.

The opening track on the album would also be released as a single and to this day Astrud Gilberto remains 'My Girl From Ipanema' just because of this song, (she wasn't the original girl who Tom Jobim saw during his afternoon café exploits in Ipanema when he was inspired to write the song, she was Helo Pinhero, a 17-year-old fixture on the Rio beaches at that time - see Katie Derham's BBC documentary on YouTube about 'The Girl From Ipanema')

The eight songs on this album are probably the most covered songs of all Brazilian bossa tracks and also include 'Doralice', 'Para Machucar Meu Coração', 'Desafinado', 'Corcovado', 'Só Danço Samba', 'O Grande Amor' and 'Vivo Sonhando'.

Joining Getz and the two Gilbertos on the album are Tom Jobim on piano, Sebastião Neto on bass and Milton Banana on drums and pandeiro.

This is a 'must have' album for any fan of jazz, bossa nova or adult contemporary music and it always transcends my day to a natural high and of my own personal recollections of visits to the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana when I can imagine any of the girls walking by in the sunshine are 'The Girl From Ipanema', just as Tom Jobim did all those years ago, in fact, some of them are !  ^

Review by Wes George
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