Asrtrud Gilberto – The Shadow Of Your Smile – Verve Records (1965) V8-8829/Original Recordings Group ORG115 (2012) 2-180 gram audiophile 45 rpm vinyls, 30:50 ***1/2:
(Featuring the vocals of Astrud Gilberto; with arrangements by Don Sebesky, Joao Donato and Claus Ogerman; including Kai Winding – trombone; Bob Brookmeyer – trombone; Urbie Green – trombone; and many others)
Legend has it that an American A&R man “discovered” bossa nova on a vacation when he heard Tom Jobim and Jaoa Gilberto playing. Other theories attributed the genesis to jazz musicians jamming with local players. Regardless, the movement exploded onto the world culture in 1964 when Stan Getz recorded “The Girl From Ipanema” with Jobim (piano), Gilberto (guitar) and his wife Astrud Gilberto on vocals. [But Laurindo Almeida and Bud Shank did it first and were ignored…Ed.] With a sensual winsome voice, Astrud Gilberto propelled the song to iconic heights (selling more than a million copies). She would tour with Getz and record Brazilian and American standards for nearly forty years.
In 1965, Astrud Gilbert recorded an assortment of American and Brazilian songs, titled The Shadow Of Your Smile (Verve Records). Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder and Phil Ramone, Gilberto’s covers were arranged by Joao Donato, Claus Ogerman and Don Sebesky. Forty-seven years later ORG has re-mastered the album to two expensive 180 gram audiophile 45 rpm vinyls. Side A opens with the title cut, also known as the “Love Theme From The Sandpiper”. With a thin, smoky alto, Gilberto’s hushed intimate reading is adorned by lush orchestration. There is a string counterpoint that works against her tender vocals. “(Take Me To) Arunada” is up tempo and less melancholic. Veteran session player Bob Brookmeyer contributes a fluid trombone solo. However it is the Brazilian material that features the vocal artistry. The American songs seem to operate on a hit or miss basis. “Mahna de Carnaval” (from the movie Black Orpheus) has a quiet solitude. Brazilian musical context can be cinematic. Gilberto’s hush vocalese is subtle and effective.
There is an interesting duet with voice and trombone (Urbie Green), as delicate humming is weaved into the trombone part on a surprisingly breezy rendition of “Fly Me To The Moon”. “O Ganso” highlights the understated vocalese in an arrangement that features an appealing intermingling of flute, percussion and acoustic guitar. What doesn’t work is the tenuous adaptation of popular numbers like “Who Can I Turn To” (a song that begs for pretense) and “Day By Day” (which lacks pizzazz, but has a bit of syncopated rhythm). A highlight is the interpretation of “Tristeza” in Portuguese. On this track, all of the pieces (vocals, drums, guitar and trombone) merge effortlessly.
ORG’s 45 rpm technology is extraordinary. Every facet of Gilberto’s unique voice is captured with warm resonance and texture. [Although it’s clear hers is a totally untrained voice…Ed.] The strings are elegant and graceful, and maintain a precise clarity. Most of the songs are very brief (around two minutes). At times, the orchestration overshadows Gilberto’s voice. There is barely twenty-five minutes of music (Side D is a straight repeat of Side A, because they didn’t need a fourth side even at 45 rpm). It would have been intriguing to hear some additional songs.
Side A: Love Theme From “The Sandpiper” (The Shadow Of Your Smile); (Take Me To) Aruanda;
Mahna de Carnaval;
Side B: Fly Me To The Moon; The Gentle Rain; Non-stop To Brazil; O Ganso;
Side C: Who Can I Turn To; Day By Day; Tristeza; Funny World (Theme From “Malamondo”)
Side D: Repeat of Side A
This is a special upscale audiophile vinyl that is worth it!