The Astrud Gilberto Album (VLP 9087) (1965)

“Astrud Gilberto is no longer just The Girl From Ipanema.”  Or so say Jack Maher’s notes on Gilberto’s solo début Lp from the following year. He’s not fooling anybody and goes on to allude to the world-beating hit a further six times. Gilberto is not a technically great vocalist, but producer Creed Taylor has the measure of her abilities and, though surrounded by heavyweights (husband João, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bud Shank, João Donato, arranger Marty Paich, etc.), provides a pillow-light musical support, some gentle, insistent swing and the wistful melodies (all but two by Jobim) that don’t overwhelm Astrud’s artless, muted trumpet soto voce singing. Her phrasing is far more interesting and lively on the four Portuguese-sung numbers, English exposing a vulnerability verging on tentativeness.

A few years ago, a Gilberto compilation CD on Verve (part of the budget series with the generic ugly tan covers) provided the background to a dinner party I attended in Streatham–I was impressed then how good it was and so snapped up the present pop Bossa album for a pound in Hythe without much ado.

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Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 10:06 am  Comments (3)  
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Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba (1962) (Verve SVLP 9013)

Probably the album that really kick started the 60s American fascination with musics Brasilia, Stan Getz makes his third Thrifty Vinyl appearance with the original 1962 UK stereo issue of the mellow instrumental Jazz Samba Lp, which sashays through some highlights of the Samba and Bossa Nova songbooks (Jobim’s “Desafinado”, “Samba Triste” by Baden Powel [no, not that one], a pair by Ary Barroso) in understated, smokey fashion.

Published in: on June 19, 2011 at 9:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim (Reprise Mono RLP 1021)



Not a big fan of “Ol’ Blue Eyes” (or “Ol’ Denture Breath,” as my mother waggishly refers to him), but this is a really tender record where the conversational tic of Frank’s singing finds a less oppressive way of expressing itself. The sophistication of the melodies, the urbanity of the lyrics (mostly by Jobim) and the gentle swing of this late strike (1967) in the Bossa Nova sweepstakes suits Sinatra’s pretensions without succumbing to them as so much of the bully-boy Capitol stuff does.

Like I say, not a big fan.

But this I like, even when it goes a bit creepy as the inevitable Ipanema girl passes seaward, not seeing, as we do, the bald-pated mafioso grunting “ahhhh!” as he greedily eyes her swaying posterior.

Note the early entry in the vanity label race.

Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 8:06 pm  Comments (6)  
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Joe Loss – Non-Stop Big Band Bossa

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Having been beaten to the post by my colleague with the Pepe Jaramillo record, I thought I’d better get this one blogged before he finds it too!

Charity shops around here are typically littered with Joe Loss records, but this is the first time I’ve come across this one, another in MFP’s ‘Non-Stop’ series, and another typical David Wharin sleeve design. The model looks a little like a seventies floosy version of Carol Vorderman.

I had long-assumed that the market for budget bossa records (established back in the early ’60s) had peaked and finally died in 1973, but this one came out in ’75 – a final, desperate throw of the dice for a dying genre?

Published in: on June 24, 2010 at 9:09 am  Comments (1)  
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The Latin Sound Of Henry Mancini

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Well I wouldn’t want anyone thinking I was only listening to ‘serious’ latin jazz all of a sudden.

Published in: on May 11, 2010 at 11:21 am  Comments (2)  
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Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77 – Night And Day

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Fabulous bossa vibes from the great Sergio Mendes and his group, produced by Herb Alpert on A&M. Don’t be misled by the ’77’ in the group title, this is prime late-sixties material, vinyl in perfect condition – mine for a measly quid at the local branch of Scope. I get my bossa freak on, and someone, somewhere, with cerebral palsy, will reap the benefits of my purchase. Now that’s the sort of economics I can get with.

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Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Edmundo Ros – Phase 4 Stereo ‘Spectaculars’

And so, after the giddy heights of Beatles mispress rarities, we return to the kind of bread ‘n butter nonsense on which this blog was founded – namely a trio of sixties latin albums from Edmundo Ros and his Orchestra on Decca’s Phase 4 Stereo series…

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If you’re wondering what “+ i.m.20 c.r.” means, it stands for ‘individually monitored twenty channel recording”. This record from 1962 is the best of the bunch, I reckon, featuring such gems as, ahem, “I Came I Saw, I Conga’d”, described in the notes as “kicking every fourth beat like an angry, stir-crazy mule”.

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And what exactly does ‘phase 4 stereo’ mean, anyway? Unusually, one of these records has a 12″ card insert, that describes the process in depth, with a nifty graphic (as always, click to enlarge….)

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So now you know!

Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fly Me To The Moon And The Bossa Nova Pops

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So you thought ‘New Beat’ was a term invented by Belgians in the late ’80s? Check this extract from the sleeve notes:

“The Bossa Nova began in 1958, in the cafes of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gradually, word of this “New Beat” filtered across to this continent, first by musicians, and then into a broader stream of fans. As of this writing, the stream referred to might more accurately be called a torrent. Bossa Nova is the child of the samba, with jazz overtones and a subtler rhythm than the samba. It’s hypnotic percussion, slightly off-beat, may puzzle at first, until the listener discovers that this is an integral part of the New Beat, along with it’s freedom of form.”

The label on this album by Joe Harnell states ‘first published in 1962′, only four years on from the birth of the bossa, so one might infer that this is one of the earlier examples of the styles’ appropriation by the White Man, recorded for Kapp Records in New York. There is a discernably higher energy level compared to the more languid form of easy listening that bossa would become as the decade wore on, though there is a tendency to swamp the arrangements with big string sections. I prefer the more stripped-back examples – just piano and rhythm section – with their smokey, intimate atmospheres. Blimey, it’s almost like proper jazz!

Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 9:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Back To Brazil

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Sticking with the latin sounds of ’73, here’s an unusual collection released on RCA. Unusual in the sense that all the tunes are original compositions by Pete Winslow and Jack Seymour, who were at that time in-demand composers/arrangers of music for TV, film and radio (Winslow was also the artist behind the BBC’s “Girl On The Testcard” album, which I simply must post here sometime).

Aside from the freshness of the original tunes, there’s a special flavour to this album, on account of the distinctive arrangements.  Something about the way Silvia King’s wordless vocal harmonies gel with Derek Warne’s vibraphone and Jack Emblow’s ‘Transichord’ organ, over Hadyn Jackson’s drums and Alf Bigdon’s latin percussion makes for a magical atmosphere that’s no doubt rooted in my subliminal childhood exposure to testcard muzak.

Plus, the sultry brunette on the sleeve is a total babe.

Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 10:14 am  Comments (3)  
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Summer Sambas

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And so as I stare out at this Winter Wonderland of snow and ice, confined to barracks once again, ostensibly ‘keeping an eye’ on the kids while they enjoy another day off school, what better soundtrack than some ‘summer sambas’ from 1973?

Duncan Lamont has featured on this blog before, when my colleague posted his first Latin collection for MFP here. And if you look closely you’ll notice they used the same girl on the sleeve, probably from the same photo shoot.

Nigel Hunter’s sleeve notes provide further insight into the influence of Latin music in British culture:

The bossa nova had its brief moment of hit parade glory in Britain at the beginning of [the sixties] in the shape of Antonio Jobim’s ‘Desafinado’,  but it’s influence has remained constant in popular music ever since. The softly subtle beat of Brazil’s modern samba can be heard every day on the radio airwaves as arrangers draw upon it for colour and contrast in their scores, and it has joined and largely superseded the beguine and the bolero in that respect.  It is a matter of regret that we seldom hear genuine Brazilian tunes over those same radio airwaves, but at least the bossa rhythm has firmly and permanently implanted itself on the map of international pop music.

But perhaps not as firm and permanent as Nigel would’ve liked. As you can probably imagine, I have quite a few albums like this, but absolutely none were released after 1973. It’s like the great cut-off point, as though the market for latin music simply collapsed from ’74 onwards (surely no coincidence that this was also when the first stirrings of disco began to materialize).  For the older, middle-class swingers, this was the point where the sixties finally ended. It was time to shake their polyester slacks and leisure suits to a different drum…

Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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