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
4.78 | 6 ratings
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STAN GETZ Jazz Samba (with Charlie Byrd) Album Cover Jazz Samba (with Charlie Byrd)
4.79 | 5 ratings
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STAN GETZ Getz/Gilberto Album Cover Getz/Gilberto
4.45 | 12 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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JOÃO GILBERTO Chega de saudade Album Cover Chega de saudade
4.33 | 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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SONNY ROLLINS What's New? (aka Pure Gold Jazz) Album Cover What's New? (aka Pure Gold Jazz)
3.90 | 8 ratings
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bossa nova Music Reviews

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.


SONNY ROLLINS What's New? (aka Pure Gold Jazz)

Album · 1962 · Bossa Nova
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What's new with Sonny Rollins? Apparently bossa nova. It was certainly the new thing back in '62, and Rollins decided to have a shot at it.

This album is a unique find. Being possibly Sonny Rollins' only bossa nova album in its entirety, here he experiments with new sounds and colors. You can tell when listening that Sonny Rollins does everything except approach the bossa nova style carefully. At times his improvisations become playfully outlandish, especially on tracks like "Jungoso" or "Bluesongo" when the space is very free and open. In other moments, he even disregards the feel and swings his eighth notes.

The album begins with a 12 minute bossa nova jam titled "If Ever I Would Leave You". Establishing a clear bossa nova feel, this track is one of the more "down-to-earth" tracks on this album where Rollins solos with melodic licks and doesn't make sounds as strange as the tracks that follow.

"Jungoso" begins with a percussionist playing on a drum with his hands. Rollins freely and tonally improvises over this, even by putting growl into his sound and bending notes. He continues this when the bass player comes in with a repetitive, modal groove that establishes the background. The effect sounds pretty good, but can be slightly unsettling when he gets a little too carried away with his growl sounds.

The next track, "Bluesongo" is similar to the previous track but has a walking bass line that gives it a touch of blues and swung eighths.

"The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" is similar to the first track of the album, in which the guitar and drum set establish a bossa nova feel and Rollins avoids growling.

The last track, "Brown Skin Gal", actually features a group of people singing the melody. The feel made by the percussion creates more of a calypso or caribbean feel.

In its entirety, this album isn't completely bossa nova, despite what it says on the cover. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th tracks seem to lend themselves slightly more to other South American sub-genres rather than bossa nova. Of the tracks that are bossa nova, Sonny Rollins doesn't have a tone that meshes well with the cool, laid-back feel. Instead, his tone comes across more as fat and aggressive here than is necessary.

Despite this, this album creates a sound of its own that is worth looking into for either Sonny Rollins or latin/bossa nova listeners. For that I give it 7/10.

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.

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