Getz/Gilberto, featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim – Verve/First Impression Music 100K/24-bit mastering LIM K2HD 036, 38.8 min. *****:

(Stan Getz, tenor sax; Joao Gilberto, vocals & guitar; Antonio Carlos Jobim, piano; Tommy William, bass; Milton Banana, drums; Astrud Gilberto, vocals (on 4 tracks))

I couldn’t believe I was unable to find my vinyl copy of this classic bossa nova album, but I did find the even better-known Getz/Charlie Byrd Jazz Samba – the only jazz album in history to make it to the pop charts. This second Getz bossa nova effort ended up in the sales charts for 96 weeks and won four Grammies. In fact Getz had to fight with Verve to make the second album with Gilberto and Jobim because they were reluctant to dilute the sales success of Jazz Samba.  The sonics of that one don’t come close to this superb remastering from FIM.

The cool, hip Getz sound just fit in perfectly with the relaxed delivery of Gilberto – straightforward, vibratoless, but the lyrics sometimes coming before and sometimes after the beat. Having his wife Astrud do the vocals on four of the tracks was a last-minute off-the-cuff decision; this was her first time in front of the professional mike.  She served as his interpreter and had a good command of English, but not at all a trained voice; that’s obvious but somehow she’s very appealing in spite of that.  What is problematic is that she was clearly recording in a separate chamber from the other musicians, and sounds like it. As part of their stringent remastering process, the engineers at JVC’s Flair Studios in Tokyo worked to minimize that acoustic distraction, and also to reduce the nasality of the voices.  They even did the complete remastering twice to get it just right, and the results are excellent.  In addition to the eight tracks of the original album, there was a 45 rpm Verve single release with The Girl from Ipanema on one side and Corcovado on the other – both about half the length of the original tracks.  I guess the original tapes for these mixes were not available, because the JVC engineers took the signals directly off an actual 45, as they had done with the unusual Fukumachi direct-disc reissued earlier by FIM on K2HD format.  The quality is different from the rest of the album, more muffled and rolled off. The Girl from Ipanema is only Astrud, without Joao‘s vocal. There are in the bound note booklet original liner notes by both Getz and Gilberto plus essays by Doug Ramsey and Gene Lees. (The original close relationship of Getz and Gilberto – even though they spoke different languages – was strained to the breaking point later on when Getz had a relationship with Astrud.)

The cozy little ensemble weaves a wonderful Brazilian mood, and one can hear every breath from Getz as well as the realism of the close-miked informal-sounding voice of Joao Gilberto. Jobim’s piano stays somewhat in the background but is beautifully rendered, and the low-end impact of the bass and drums is most pleasing. The alternation of the vocals between the two Gilbertos adds interest and variety.  Even if you already have this album in your collection, you may find the enhanced transparency of the K2HD reissue renews your love of this classic bossa nova outing.

TrackList: The Girl from Ipanema, Doralice, Para Machuchar Meu Coracao, Desafinado (Off Key), Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars), O Danco Samba (Jazz Samba), O Grande Amor, Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer), The Girl from Ipanema (45 rpm), Corcovado (45)

 – John Sunier