Stan Getz: Stan Getz: The Bossa Nova Albums

Chris May By

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Stan plays the melody of a tune," observed Gary Burton, "and it sounds like he wrote it just then...When he solos, the melodies he makes up sound richer than the written melody.
Stan Getz

Stan Getz: The Bossa Nova Albums



Bossa nova was jazz's final moment in the hit parade sunshine before The Beatles swept across the world in the mid-1960s and changed everything. A blend of chilled-out Brazilian samba and cool jazz created by an emergent generation of Brazilian songwriters led by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto, bossa nova (meaning "new flair" or "new trend" in Portugese) burned brightly in Europe and the US between 1962/64. Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz was its most commercially successful and musically substantial American practitioner.

Verve's box set, Stan Getz: The Bossa Nova Albums, isn't a complete archive of Getz's work in the genre—the omissions include a couple of wonderful and only fitfully available live recordings—but it brings together five of his most important studio albums. These are Jazz Samba (Verve, 1962), Big Band Bossa Nova (Verve, 1962), Jazz Samba Encore! (Verve, 1963), Getz/Gilberto (Verve, 1964) and Getz/Almeida (Verve, 1966).

The collection presents the albums as they were originally released, with no alternate takes or additional tracks, and with the original sleeve notes (there's no special booklet). Jazz Samba and Getz/Gilberto produced bossa nova's two biggest chart singles—"Desafinado" and "The Girl From Ipanema"—but the 45-rpm hit versions, included in Verve's 1997 Master Editions of the albums, are not included.

There had been samba/jazz fusions in the US before Jazz Samba—guitarist Laurindo Almeida and saxophonist Bud Shank had explored the interface as early as 1953—but the album, and the edited version of "Desafinado" used as a single, were the start of bossa nova as it was generally understood by US listeners. Jazz Samba was co-credited to Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd, and without Byrd's serendipitous tour of Brazil in 1961, when he fell in love with the music, the bossa nova craze might never have happened. Returning to the US, Byrd sought out Getz, played him the discs he'd brought back from Brazil, and suggested they get together and record their own album in the style.

Getz took little persuading, recognizing the music on the Brazilian discs as perfect settings for his intensely lyrical improvising style and gorgeously burnished saxophone sound. (In a little known tribute, saxophonist John Coltrane once said, "Of course, we'd all love to sound like Stan.") Getz and bossa nova were made for each other. Vibraphonist Gary Burton, who joined Getz's band in 1964, nailed the connection during an interview for Down Beat the following year. "Stan plays the melody of a tune," observed Burton, "and it sounds like he wrote it just then...When he solos, the melodies he makes up sound richer than the written melody."

Sadly, Getz and Byrd fell out once "Desafinado" became a hit. Byrd—whose solo was cut from the 2:01 single version, and who was refused a share of royalties by Getz and Verve—sued and in an out of court settlement in 1967 received $50,000 and a share in future royalties. But there's much more to Jazz Samba than "Desafinado." Amongst the album's other tunes—all but one, Byrd's "Samba Dees Days," written by Brazilian composers—was Jobim and Newton Mendonca's "Samba de Uma Nota So (One Note Samba)," another bossa nova evergreen (revisited on Big Band Bossa Nova and spawning Luiz Bonfa's "Samba De Duas Notas" on Jazz Samba Encore!).

With hindsight, Big Band Bossa Nova, the follow-up to Jazz Samba, seems like a mistake, or at best a diversion. "Desafinado" had yet to go clear and Getz and Creed Taylor—who produced all five albums in this box set—must have been wondering where to go next with the music. A big band, arranged and conducted by 28-year old wunderkind Gary McFarland, seemed like a good idea. But though McFarland's arrangements, and the four originals he brought to the session—which also included Bonfa's "Manha de Carnival," Gilberto's "Bim Bom" and Jobim's "Chega de Saudade" and "Samba de Uma Nota So"—are fresh and intriguing, a big band, however sensitively scored, seems at odds with bossa nova's gossamer-light and delicate nature. There are some fine moments though, including Getz's dialogue with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer on "Chega de Saudade," which recalls the duo's heavenly twin-improvisations on At The Shrine (Verve, 1955).

The final trilogy of albums—Jazz Samba Encore!, Getz/Gilberto and Getz/Almeida—are uniformly superb. Recorded within about three weeks of each other in early 1963, they owe much to Jobim, who played on all them, contributed ten tunes, and helped Taylor recruit the line-ups and organize the sessions. Returning to the small group format of Jazz Samba but with a greater degree of involvement by Brazilian musicians, the idea was to pair Getz with three leading bossa nova guitarists: Bonfa on Jazz Samba Encore!, Gilberto on Getz/Gilberto and Almeida on Getz/Almeida.

The first two discs include guest vocalists—Maria Toledo on Jazz Samba Encore! and Astrud Gilberto on Getz/Gilberto. Neither singer is central to the music, but their contributions have to some degree come to define the albums, with Toledo's earthy warmth contrasting with Gilberto's poise and cool. In the US to be with her husband Joao while Getz/Gilberto was made, Astrud had never sung in public before, but Getz heard her singing between takes in the studio, and Joao and Jobim were persuaded to let her participate. Her vocal partnerships with Joao on "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Corcovado" are with some justification the most celebrated tracks on the album, which also includes a captivating vocal version of "Desafinado."

Along with the Gilbertos, drummer Milton Banana is key to the success of Getz/Gilberto. Jobim, who wrote six of the album's eight songs and played piano, brought Banana over from Brazil specially for the sessions and his gently propulsive playing is a delight throughout.

Getz/Almeida was recorded just two days after Getz/Gilberto, but to Getz's annoyance was not released until 1966, when bossa nova was long past its commercial zenith. Banana is replaced by other drummers, augmented by Luiz Parga and Jose Paulo on percussion, on a purely instrumental set. With most tracks at least around the five minute mark (Jobim's "Once Again" lasts almost seven), and Almeida happier as a songwriter and accompanist than as a soloist, Getz gets more room to stretch out. Jobim contributes two vibrant (and uncredited) piano solos, on the opening "Minina Moca" and closing "Maracatu-Too." The pace is brisk going on fast—the only slow tune is Almeida and Portia Nelson's "Winter Moon"—and with Jazz Samba Encore!, the ambiance is more consistently "hot" than on the other three albums. Getz/Almeida is the least known of the final trilogy of albums in this box set, but it's another masterpiece, with its own distinct character.

Tracks and Personnel

Jazz Samba

Tracks: Desafinado; Samba Dees Days; O Pato; Samba Triste; Samba De Uma Nota So; E Luxo So; Baia.

Personnel: Stan Getz: tenor saxophone; Charlie Byrd: guitar; Keter Betts: bass; Gene Byrd: bass and guitar; Buddy Deppenschmidt: drums; Bill Reichenbach: drums.

Big Band Bossa Nova

Tracks: Manha De Carnival; Balanco No Samba; Melancolico; Entre Amigos; Chega De Saudade; Noite Triste; Samba De Uma Nota So; Bim Bom.

Personnel: Stan Getz: tenor saxophone; Doc Severinsen: trumpet; Bernie Glow: trumpet; Joe Ferrante: trumpet; Clark Terry: trumpet; Nick Travis: trumpet; Ray Alonge: French horn; Tony Studd: trombone; Bob Brookmeyer: trombone; Willis Dennis: trombone; Gerald Safino: flute; Ray Beckenstein: flute; Eddie Caine: alto flute; Ray Beckenstein: clarinet; Babe Clark: clarinet; Walt Levinsky: clarinet; Romeo Penque: bass clarinet; Jim Hall: guitar; Hank Jones: piano; Tommy Williams: bass; Johnny Rae: drums; Jose Paulo: tambourine; Carmen Costa: cabassa.

Jazz Samba Encore!

Tracks: Sambalero; So Danco Samba; Insensatez; O Morro Nao Tem Vez; Samba De Duas Notas; Menina Flor; Mania De Maria; Saudade Vem Correndo; Um Abraco No Getz; Ebony Samba.

Personnel: Stan Getz: tenor saxophone; Luiz Bonfa: guitar; Antonio Carlos Jobim: guitar (1-4, 9), piano (3); George Duvivier: bass (1-4, 9); Tommy Williams: bass (1-4, 9); Don Payne: bass (5-7, 8, 10); Tommy Williams: bass (1-4, 9); Jose Carlos: drums (1-4, 9); Paulo Ferreira: drums (5-7, 8, 10); Dave Bailey: drums (8, 10).


Tracks: The Girl From Ipanema; Doralice; P'ra Machucar Meu Coracao; Desafinado; Corcovado; So Danco Samba; O Grande Amor; Vivo Sohando.

Personnel: Stan Getz: tenor saxophone; Joao Gilberto: guitar, vocal; Antonio Carlos Jobim: piano; Astrud Gilberto: vocal; Tommy Williams: bass; Milton Banana: drums.


Tracks: Minina Moca; Once Again; Winter Moon; Do What You Do Do; Samba Da Sahra; Maracatu-Too.

Personnel: Stan Getz: tenor saxophone; Laurindo Almeida: guitar; George Duvivier: bass; Edison Machado, Jose Soorez: drums; Dave Bailey: drums; Luiz Parga, Jose Paulo: percussion.

Title: Stan Getz: The Bossa Nova Albums | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Verve Music Group



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