Bossa Nova

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Although it had been developing throughout the 50s, Bossa Nova became popular in the early 60s as a more mellow alternative to the aggressive urban sounds of hard bop and the avant-garde. Bossa Nova was a Brazilian concoction that combined simplified and slowed down samba rhythms, relaxed cool jazz sensibilities and modern European impressionistic harmonies into a music that was pleasing, but hardly simplistic. The pulsing relaxed rhythm, marked with hypnotic accents, that defines Bossa Nova can be heard in the songs and guitar rhythms of Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

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SÉRGIO MENDES Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 Album Cover Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
4.79 | 7 ratings
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STAN GETZ Jazz Samba (with Charlie Byrd) Album Cover Jazz Samba (with Charlie Byrd)
4.80 | 6 ratings
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STAN GETZ Getz/Gilberto Album Cover Getz/Gilberto
4.38 | 15 ratings
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JOÃO GILBERTO Chega de saudade Album Cover Chega de saudade
4.50 | 4 ratings
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CAETANO VELOSO Caetano Veloso (A Little More Blue) Album Cover Caetano Veloso (A Little More Blue)
4.36 | 3 ratings
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ELIS REGINA Falso brilhante Album Cover Falso brilhante
4.17 | 3 ratings
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4.00 | 12 ratings
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BEBEL GILBERTO Tanto Tempo Album Cover Tanto Tempo
3.95 | 4 ratings
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JULES DAY Song for Rudy

Single · 2015 · Bossa Nova
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A lovely Bossa Nova tune that Jules wrote for her deceased dog "Rudy". She does a great job on the song as always with a beautiful, smooth voice. She's been one of my favorite voices in music since her self-titled debut album came out. I look forward to all her new releases and will continue to do so. I asked her on facebook who her favorite singers were and she told me that she doesn't really listen to a lot of singers, but if she had to pick it would probably be Julie London and Nat "King" Cole. I told her that isn't surprising because her style is a little similar to Julie London's. She took that as a great compliment, but actually, I like Jules Day's voice better than Julie London's. She may never become as famous as Julie London, but I personally prefer her voice over Julie London's. You can hear this song on Spotify or YouTube if you are interested. I wish the lyrics didn't mention Jack Kerouac, but other than that I enjoy the song.

STAN GETZ Getz/Gilberto

Album · 1964 · Bossa Nova
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Girl from Ipanema often defines this record for many due to the song's outrageous popularity; however, the seven other songs on this record aren't just filler to try and sell a single as an LP. This album is an excellent blend of jazz and pop.

To me, this is Getz's pinnacle. There are no other recordings where Getz is as sincere, sweet or warm. Joao Gilberto backs Getz wonderfully and takes the spotlight on many occasions, singing even at times. Both sides of the record start with a jazz/pop song featuring Astrud Gilberto whose enthralling voice irresistibly draws one into warm summer nights past.

There's nothing technically ground breaking or particularly imaginative about this album but if that's your qualm, you're missing the point. It's one of the most inviting and captivating records ever made. Put this on anywhere, anytime and drift away.

STAN GETZ Big Band Bossa Nova

Album · 1962 · Bossa Nova
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It appears that Stan Getz quickly followed his Jazz Samba album with Charlie Byrd with another bossa nova one later in the year of 1962. Being a collaboration between Stan Getz and Gary McFarland, this album features Stan Getz at the forefront of a big band that was arranged and conducted by Gary McFarland.

I approached this album with eager expectations of hearing Stan Getz's follow up to the Jazz Samba masterwork. But as I continued to return to this album expecting for it to grow on me, I became slowly more and more disappointed that it wasn't as much as I hoped. Instead, I was becoming bored with it.

Not to say the music is altogether bad. At times the arrangements sound pretty good, exploring different textures and featuring solos by the guitar player and the piano player at times. But if I were to compare this to other bossa nova albums, I'd say it lacks the cool authenticity that I've heard when listening to good bossa nova. If I were to compare this with other big band albums, I would say the arrangements lack ideas. In the end, I personally find it a little boring.


STAN GETZ Jazz Samba (with Charlie Byrd)

Live album · 1962 · Bossa Nova
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The bossa nova sensation that's sweeping the nation...

The year is 1962. The Beatles have not yet released their first album, hard bop and cool jazz are in full bloom, and Antonio Carlos Jobim has been composing bossa nova in Brazil since the late 50's.

This Brazilian genre would be introduced by Stan Getz to America through this album, in which Antonio Carlos Jobim's compositions "Desafinado" and "Samba de Uma Nota So" would become hits and end up in today's sixth edition of the Real Book. This album would then make it to no. 1 on the billboard charts in 1963 and Stan Getz would win a grammy for his performance on "Desafinado". More musicians would follow in the wake of this album to write their own bossa nova music.

Although I am not completely sure of this, I believe that the latin "tresillo" rhythm used in bossa nova during this era inspired rock and roll artists to start using it to the point where it has almost become a rhythmic cliche in modern rock as well as movie scores.

Enough of the history, is it a good album? Yes.

Not only is the cool bossa mood of the album relaxing and easy to hear for mainstream ears, but Stan Getz's solos are creative and full of soul. Since his tone is so soft the cool mood of the album is never disrupted by aggressive sixteenth note licks or loud, passionate high notes, which appear from time to time. Charlie Byrd's solos are creative as well. In his solos you will hear him utilizing bluesy licks, broken chords, and chord melodies in ways that may seem to have impressionistic inspiration.

Not only is the music good, but the album artwork looks cool as well.


Album · 2000 · Bossa Nova
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The best things in life are free. (Relative to the price of a Mercedes, anyway.) I’ve lived long enough to know that ancient statement’s not just an empty quip to spew out like cheap gum. One of the most rewarding things in my life has been found in exploring the innumerable caves and tunnels that line the walls inside the vast world of music. The advances made in sound delivery mechanisms via PCs in the last half century has made this activity easier than ever (as opposed to the “old days” when one had to go out of one’s way to visit a record store to browse through and procure ear-opening aural art, a practice that wasn’t without its own merits and particular charms). I love to hear stuff that’s new to me and there are few things as satisfying as finding an artist/band that sings to my soul in unexpected ways. And the genre of jazz, with all its fascinating nooks and crannies, offers more of those opportunities than most. That’s why sites such as this are so valuable in pursuing that hobby. Case in point: I read fellow reviewer Matt’s enthusiastic assessment of this album by Bebel Gilberto and it prompted me to look into her music even though I know very little about South American fare and even less about Bossa Nova in general. The risks involved in peeking into foreign styles are minimal if you respect the opinions of the essayist who steered you in that direction. If it turns out not to be your idea of a good time then at worst you’re out a dozen bucks and less than an hour of your life. The upside is massive, however, because often you’ll uncover something you most likely would’ve never found on your own. That was my experience with “Tanto Tempo.”

A more detailed look into the life journey of the lovely Bebel can be found in her JMA bio or in the aforementioned review but I’ll give you a thumbnail version just to acquaint you with her history. Born in New York City to a family of musicians and singers, she was raised in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil where she honed her craft from childhood and gained some notoriety as a budding star. But by the time she hit her mid-20s she realized there was a sprawling planet outside her country’s borders chock full of different influences and ideas just waiting to be integrated into her music so she first moved to the metropolis of her birth and then to London, where this disc was recorded. Therefore the mix of Portuguese and English lyrics as well as the blending of North American and European mindsets into the tracks makes for eleven songs that are anything but traditional or stuffy Latino fare. (FYI, the track order is slightly different on the CD I have than what's listed above.)

She begins her official debut with “August Day Song,” a number that has a strong, flowing groove distinguished by the smooth tightness between the acoustic guitar and the drums that pulls you right in. The first thing that struck me was the similarity of Gilberto’s voice to that of another favorite female singer of mine, Sade. While their motifs are continents apart, they both share the rare ability to conjure hypnotic spells with their vocals. The tune’s authentic and sometimes eerie Brazilian percussion adds mystery to the track. “Tanto Tempo” is next and its sultry Bossa Nova beat is as relaxing as a beach hammock swaying in a cool ocean breeze. There’s an interesting pause in the arrangement where Bebel carries the rhythm solely with her voice and it makes for a classy moment. "San Contencao" sports a perky bounce that invites you to taste Gilberto's rapid-fire phrasing. “Mais Feliz” follows with an extremely romantic atmosphere surrounding the number like a warm fog. Kudos go out to the engineering crew for capturing the essence of the varied instruments involved and the depth of Gilberto’s soft, expressive vocal. This record sounds fantastic. On "Alguem" some quasi-hip hop drums rumble along with imaginative percussion accents, throwing a curve into the established current of the album. A sexy pulse propels the love song “So Nice (Summer Samba)” effortlessly. While I find the tune to be a little too predictable I also acknowledge that it’s sometimes smart to not step too far out of character when dealing with this category of music so it’s not a deal-killer.

“Lonely” is the most eclectic number on the album. Peppy percussion, tinkling ivories and multi-layered voices make this a too-short but invigorating detour from the norm. “Bananaeira” possesses a touch of funk that drives this song aggressively and the full horn section that backs Bebel adds a delicious big band flavor to the proceedings. Here Gilberto adopts an edgier tone, proving she’s no one-trick pony. “Samba E Amor” is a pretty ballad featuring Bebel’s up-close and personal singing methodology with only some silky Spanish guitar for accompaniment. No amateur she, Gilberto handles the tune’s intricate and tricky vocal lines flawlessly. A disarming introduction for “Close Your Eyes” leads to a track with a dance-inducing, percussion-heavy undertow that’ll set your toes to tapping. Exciting horns punctuate the number’s festive aura, especially the rowdy coronet. She ends with “Samba da Bencao.” There’s a mesmerizing landscape stretching out to the horizon behind this engaging song, aided by a saxophone drenched in echo that drifts about, painting the tune in a dreamy hue.

I’m so glad I found this album and to that I’ll add that it’s about time. (It has sold well over a million units worldwide.) There are certain moods and situations that are perfect for this kind of sophisticated music to accentuate to the utmost. It can also gently take you off the crowded, beaten path when such a detour is necessary to maintain one’s sanity. If you find the offerings of Sade interesting and inspiring then you’ll be happy to know that Bebel Gilberto and her splendid musicians’ performances on “Tanto Tempo” are every bit as gratifying as what you enjoy hearing from that intoxicating lady and her ensemble.

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