Getz Gilberto – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Verve Records / Acoustic Sounds 

by | Aug 12, 2020 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Getz Gilberto – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Verve Records V/8535 (1963)/Acoustic Sounds Series/Universal Music Group B0031690-01 (2020) 180-gram stereo vinyl, 33:46 *****:

(Stan Getz – tenor saxophone; Joao Gilberto – guitar, vocals; Antonio Carlos Jobim – piano; Sebastiao Neto – double bass; Milton Banana – drums, Pandeiro; Astrud Gilberto – vocals)

Stan Getz will forever be regarded as one of the most notable tenor saxophonists in jazz history. Influenced by Lester Young, Getz’s radiant tonality (prominently displayed on Johnny Smith’s 1952 album, Moonlight In Vermont) and muscular grace had an impact on the bebop and cool jazz scene. He played with fellow legends like Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson, Roy Haynes, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown and Max Roach to name just a few. But Getz became part of musical history in 1962.  With guitarist Charlie Byrd, he recorded Jazz Samba. This helped to integrate Brazilian music into American jazz and eventually mainstream popular music. The single “Desafinado” won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance Of 1963. Subsequent releases like Big Band Bossa Nova and Jazz Samba Encore! garnered acclaim. More importantly, this set the stage for the cultural touchstone Getz/Gilberto in 1963. Teaming up with Joao Gilberto and his wife Astrud, the album became the first jazz project  selected as Grammy’s Best Album Of The Year. Additionally, “The Girl From Ipanema” was awarded Record Of The Year. The unprecedented crossover success of Getz/Gilberto was historic and led to further collaborations with the Gilbertos. Getz eventually returned to the cool jazz venue and in a slight reprise of pop intermingling played on Huey Lewis’ “Small World (Part 2)”. 

Acoustic Sounds/Universal Music Group has released a vibrant 180-gram stereo vinyl of Getz/Gilberto. Engineered by George Marino (Sterling Sound) under the supervision of Acoustic Sounds founder Chad Kassem, this is a vibrant analog update of a jazz essential. Eight tracks of swaying bliss are faithfully executed by Getz (tenor saxophone), Joao Gilberto (guitar, vocals), Antonio Carlos Jobim (piano), Sebastiao Neto (double bass), Milton Banana (drums, percussion) and Astrud Gilberto (vocals). Side A begins with “The Girl from Ipanema”. The low-key syncopated guitar chords surrounding Gilberto’s whimsical vocal phrasing is infectious. Written by Jobim (who wrote or co-wrote seven songs), his understated piano enhances the relaxed atmosphere. On the second verse, Astrud Gilberto’s injects her sultry alto with subtle modulations that grabs the listener. Getz comes in with a fluid, vibrato-breathing fluidity that is hypnotic. He injects some emotional shading, but never strays from the core melodic structure. He and Ms. Gilberto exchange delicately before the track-closing fade. With a slight uptick in tempo, “Doralice” features Joao’s breezy vocals. Getz demonstrates an adroit understanding of group play and respect for musical vision. His mellifluous sax runs wash over the rhythm section. “P’ra Muchacar Meu Coração” exudes a lilting, romantic feel. Getz’s exquisite solo is graceful and the deeper vibrato technique is palpable. “Desafinado” may be the second most recognizable composition (Jobim) of bossa nova. It is organically jazzy with a dizzying array of minor/major/diminished 7ths and 9ths chords. Gilberto’s handles the pitch-challenging half-note slides with deftness. Somehow, Getz’s tenor runs get even better and create a glowing resonance.

Side B is equally accessible. “Corcovado” (another Jobim standard) brings Astrud Gilberto back. She handles the first verse in English as the ensemble creates a dreamy melancholy frame. Jobim’s wispy chords and notation are effective. When Getz climbs aboard (first on the chorus and then trades with Joao on the second verse), the song basks in the glow of his tenor acuity. Even with ethereal contexts, there is always a scaled-back, steady rhythm. Picking up the pace, “So Danco Samba” is as advertised. Getz’ command over the session is evident as he lays down several cool jazz licks including one deft lower-register note. Again, he always distills the melodic essence. On “O Grande Amor”, Getz shines with his intuitive grasp of this haunting song. Gilberto’s quirky voice and guitar expands the textured ambiance. The finale, “Vivo Sonhando” combines crisp guitar, tinkling piano and masterful saxophone (including trilling). In just under 34 minutes, a jazz masterpiece is created.

This is an auspicious recording for Acoustic Sounds Series. The overall mix of this re-mastered 180-gram vinyl is excellent. The stereo separation is precise, with double bass/percussion on one channel and guitar/piano on the other. Getz’ distinctive tenor is centered, as are the vocals. In particular, the winsome, reticent voice of Astrud Gilberto gets a significant boost. The packaging is top-notch with hi-gloss gatefold, reinforced plastic sleeve and the eye-popping cover painting by abstract expressionist Olga Albizu. The pressing is superior with no hisses or pops.    

Side A:
The Girl From Ipanema
P’ra Muchacar Meu Coracao

Side B:
So Danco Samba
O Grande Amor
Vivo Sonhando

—Robbie Gerson

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