All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Gary McFarland: The In Sound & Soft Samba

Rob Caldwell By

Sign in to view read count
Arranger, vibraphonist and singer Gary McFarland is regarded as one of the major purveyors of orchestral jazz—a type of jazz which had its heyday in the 1960s, but which is not heard as much anymore. A fine line separates orchestral jazz from the dreaded "easy listening" tag. A line so fine, they're often one and the same. McFarland, thankfully, managed to walk more on the jazz side, recording a series of albums for Verve and Impulse before his untimely death from poisoning in 1971. Two of McFarland's most well-regarded releases, Soft Samba from 1964 and The In Sound from 1965, are reissued by Ace Records in a one-CD pairing, coming a few years after his reappearance in the spotlight due to a documentary on his life, This is Gary McFarland.

McFarland surrounded himself with some of the best in the jazz world, and these two Bossa Nova and Latin influenced records (both recorded sans orchestra) were produced by Creed Taylor and engineered by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder, resulting in top-notch sound quality. The sessions were populated by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Kenny Burrell, Gabor Szabo, Sadao Watanabe, Grady Tate, Willie Bobo and other skilled accompanists.

The music is breezy and deceptively light with an undercurrent of wistfulness, the records sharing a propensity for covers of the pop hits of the day. These were some of the first records to merge youth-oriented pop with jazz, and the marriage was generally not well received by the critics. Regardless, many other artists followed suit soon after. Along with the requisite Burt Bacharach cover ("Here I Am" on The In Sound), there are a generous helping of The Beatles interpretations on Soft Samba. These primarily instrumental covers, when they do include McFarland's laid-back vocals, normally use lyric extracts or hummed wordless vocalizations of the melody line. By removing the words, the listener is redirected to focus on the melody itself, which has been buffed to remove any rough edges, presumably so as to better chill out to with your cocktail on the beach. This is not everybody's cup of tea (or cup of pina colada, as the case may be.) The Boy Scout magazine Boys Life (of all publications) reportedly wrote at the time, "You'd think that the artists in this album couldn't talk because all you hear is 'Ba-ba, baya-baya, byu-byu' and so on with little relief." They go on to say, however, that the effect is pleasing in the long run.

The most effective cut in this vein is McFarland's version of The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," which manages to find a mellow samba at the heart of the song. McFarland is so relaxed that all he can manage to say is "I can't get no..." and leave it at that. No ice for his drink? No new baubles for his girl from Ipanema?

Some competent versions of movie themes and a catchy novelty song called "Bloop Bleep" by Broadway composer Frank Loesser round things out on Soft Samba, while McFarland's originals on the overall more ambitious The In Sound make that record the more interesting of the two. His "Fried Bananas," with Latin trumpet and tasteful guitar on a bed of vibes and soft percussion, topped off with that trademark McFarland humming/singing, easily stands up with the more high-profile titles.

Here's hoping more reissues of Gary McFarland's discography will follow.

Track Listing: The Moment of Truth; Bloop Bleep; The Hills of Verdugo; Over Easy; Here I Am; Fried Bananas; The Sting of the Bee; Wine and Bread; I Concentrate On You; (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction; Ringo, Won't You Marry Me; From Russia With Love; She Loves You; A Hard Day's Night; The Good Life; More (Theme from the Film Mondo Cane); And I Love Her; (Theme from the Film) The Love Goddess; I Want to Hold Your Hand; Emily (Theme from the Film The Americanization of); California, Here I Come; La Vie En Rose.

Personnel: Gary McFarland: arranger, vibraphone, vocals; Jimmy Cleveland: trombone; Seldon Powell: flute; Spencer Sinatra: flute; Patty Bowen: piano; Antônio Carlos Jobim: guitar; Kenny Burrell: guitar; Richard Davis: double bass; Bob Brookmeyer: trombone; Sadao Watanabe: tenor saxophone, flute; Gábor Szabó: guitar; Joe Venuto: percussion; Willie Rodriguez: percussion; Bob Bushnell: double bass; Candido: bongos, congas; Grady Tate: drums; Sol Gubin: drums, percussion; Arnie Wise: percussion; Willie Bobo: percussion.

Title: The In Sound & Soft Samba | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Ace Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Latin Lounge

Double Moon Records
1998

buy
 

Butterscotch Rum

Double Moon Records
1971

buy
 

Today

Double Moon Records
1970

buy
 

America The Beautiful

Double Moon Records
1969

buy
 

Does The Sun Really...

Double Moon Records
1968

buy

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Freedom Of Speech" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom Of Speech
by Chris May
Published: April 27, 2018
Read "Yo Soy La Tradicion" CD/LP/Track Review Yo Soy La Tradicion
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 13, 2018
Read "Christmas With Champian" CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Uniting Beats (Ritmos Que Unen)" CD/LP/Track Review Uniting Beats (Ritmos Que Unen)
by Barry Witherden
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Mellophonium Memoirs" CD/LP/Track Review Mellophonium Memoirs
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "GRANITE" CD/LP/Track Review GRANITE
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 22, 2018