STAN GETZ: The Bossa Nova Albums (Label: Verve)

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STAN GETZ: The Bossa Nova Albums

Now, well after forty years since their release, it’s hard to appreciate the impact that sax man Stan Getz’s forays into bossa nova music had on jazz in particular and popular music in general. At the start of the sixties Getz was already a jazz star. One of the few players with a totally distinctive sound, he was a consummate technician and no less a contemporary than Mile Davis once remarked that “Getz has so much patience, that where some people can’t get nothing out of a song, he sure can”. Then, in 1962 and 1963, on a series of five collaborative bossa nova albums, Getz’s remarkable talent was brought to a much wider audience. Of the five, the album that won most immediate acclaim was the 1963 set with guitarist Joao Gilberto. That LP, of course, spawned the world wide pop hit ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ and kick-started the career of Astrud Gilberto. However the album was actually the fourth of Getz’s interpretations of Brazilian bossa nova rhythms. He’d begun in ’62 when he worked on an album with guitarist Charlie Byrd – who really should get more credit for introducing the “new beats” into American music. Then there were albums with Gary McFarland’s Big Band and guitarist Luiz Bonfa before the seminal Gilberto set. The last LP of the quintet proper was a session with yet another acclaimed Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida and all five records have now been reissued in a presentation box set and though familiar, the music still refreshes, with each album offering up delightful nuances and shadings that you forgot were ever there. In essence, it’s all about the subtlety of rhythmic sound – a sound that owes most, maybe, to Antonio Carlos Jobim. His spirit pervades the collection while his songs are everywhere; he plays on both the Gilberto and Bonfa albums too. But listening through all five albums, it’s not about single stars and their virtuoso playing; there’s a beguiling teamwork at play creating a wonderful mood and atmosphere – it’s a mood that can be hauntingly fragile at times, but it’s an atmosphere that can’t be ignored. The box is, without doubt, one of the year’s best reissues and to complement it, Getz’s second collaboration with Gilberto has been re-released too as a single entity. That one’s a live concert from Carnegie Hall and offers 4 cuts with Getz playing in pre-bossa nova style and six with Gilberto in classic Brazilian mode.
(BB) 5/5