What a happy record! And what a delightful change from the usual 1960s Blue Note formula.
You know the drill. In the 1960s, Blue Note was the go-to label for two kinds of jazz: hard bop and soul-jazz. But Blue Note was never the reigning bossa nova label. When the Brazilian phenomenon swept the jazz world in the early 1960s, Verve was the capital of bossa nova, and Stan Getz
was its main disciple.
So it must have seemed a trifle disingenuousa little bit opportunisticfor Blue Note and Charlie Rouse
to make a bossa nova album in 1962.
Earlier that year, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd
practically created the category with their monster album Jazz Samba
on Verve. It was a quiet record, gentle and beguiling. It's impossible not to like Jazz Samba
. And so, as the bossa nova craze exploded across America, it was inevitable that other artists and labels would try to copy it.
Thus, Bossa Nova Bacchanal
was bornrecorded in November 1962, just eight months after Jazz Samba
It's true, Blue Note and Rouse were riding a wave that someone else created. But they also made it their own. Bossa Nova Baccahanal
is a cross between bossa nova, calypso and hard bop. Not exactly a giant leap from Jazz Samba
, but not a slavish copy either.
For starters, the title is misleading on two counts. First, there is no bacchanal in Bossa Nova Bacchanal
, at least in the sense of a wild, drunken orgy. This is a tame record, a little laid back, but definitely a partya warm, happy affair filled with joyful music. Second, Bossa Nova Bacchanal
isn't even pure bossa nova. It starts and ends with two Caribbean numbers: the opener "Back to the Tropics" and the ender "In Martinique." In between are five bouncy Latin-ish numbers, heavy with unusual rhythms, thanks to three guys on drums, conga and chekere.
Rouse is an odd choice to lead the band. From 1959 to 1970, he was a member of the Thelonious Monk
quartet, a band that played very serious, complex and interesting music. Here, Rouse plays lighter and more joyfully. Joining him are two guitarists, Kenny Burrell
and Chauncey "Lord" Westbrook, playing mostly acoustic, Spanish-style guitars. It works. It's fun. Bossa Nova Bacchanal
was a one-off. While Getz continued the bossa nova craze for years, Rouse and Blue Note moved on. Still, for any fan of happy, infectious, Latin-tinged jazz, Bossa Nova Bacchanal
is a must have.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Availability: Not rare, but not common either
Cost: $10 or $11 usedand a ridiculous $90 if you're looking for vinyl