Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto
This album is truly manna from heaven. In 1964 saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist Joao Gilberto recorded Getz/Gilberto, the Grammy award winning session that spawned the Bossa Nova craze, as well as giving the rest of the world their first introduction to a talent that is, in my mind, every bit the equal of Jimi Hendrix or Charlie Parker, Joao Gilberto. This album, with it’s hugely popular “The Girl From Ipanema” by Jobim, was the first jazz album to win “Album of the Year” at the Grammys. Although no longer in the mainstream, for the ’60s, Bossa Nova and Samba were “it”, and it’s in large part due to the gentle majesty of Gilberto’s nylon-string guitar and his distinctive Portuguese vocals.
This “new” recording, Getz/Gilberto ’76, which documents a show from the famed San Francisco’s Keystone Korner, is nearly the equal of its predecessor, although without “Girl”. It is Gilberto front and center, with selections from his 1973 self-titled album such as “Aguas de Marco” and “E Preciso Perdor”, as well as “Rosa Morena” and “Doralice”. Getz’s saxophone delivers some lovely interludes, and the band- Joanne Brackeen on piano, Billy Hart, drums and bassist Clint Houston- are able backers to Gilberto’s soft songs of romance. Gilberto’s for the most part invented Bossa Nova guitar, a variation of samba, and in his skillful hands the guitar sounds more like an orchestra. There is something soothing to it- his voice finds a home in between the minor chords, his style is never flashy, but inventive and fresh, even years later.
Joao Gilberto is still with us, although at 84, he hasn’t recorded much in years (Getz died in 1991), but the magic that he graced us with on Getz/Gilberto still holds its sway, and ’76 is a welcome, if unexpected treat. There is something so powerful in the way Gilberto coaxes images and textures from his guitar and voice, a quiet revolution. We should be thankful that another testament to his genius has been found.