Friday, July 20, 2012

Stan Getz & João Gilberto - Getz/Gilberto (1963)

Even if it wasn't the album that started the bossa nova craze, Getz/Gilberto was definitely one of its crowning achievements. As far as bossa nova is concerned, this was the album that brought Brazil and America together. While Jazz Samba was primarily American musicians playing Brazilian music, Getz/Gilberto was the album that brought both worlds together. It brought Brazil's greatest performer of bossa in João Gilberto and its greatest composer in Antônio Carlos Jobim. While the majority of the album is penned by Jobim and contains such well-known classics as "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Desafinado," the roots of bossa nova are celebrated as well in the track "Para Machucar Meu Coração," penned by Ary Barroso who most famously wrote "Brazil." The same could be said for the track "Doralice" penned by Laurindo Almeida, a Brazilian guitarist whose career began in the late 1940s with Stan Kenton. When many people talk about bossa nova, they often don't realize that it comes from this great Brazilian tradition that goes back to samba at Carnaval to classical composers like Villa-Lobos. While this album celebrates the roots of bossa nova, it also premieres some of its finest material. "Desafinado" is a personal favorite that which translates as "off-key" and speaks of a young man who can't please the ears of a woman he loves because his voice is often off key. "Desafinado" is one of Jobim's most well-known songs, but hands-down "The Girl from Ipanema" is the most well-known song of Jobim or bossa nova. "Vivo Sonhando" is a personal favorite for the way that it hops around chords while the melody repeats an F# and resolves to a D. If you analyze "Vivo Sonhando" or other bossa nova charts, you will realize that the harmony is very forward thinking. Gmaj7 to Ebmaj7 is a strange resolution when the song is in G. However, when you realize bossa nova is really chromatic and you factor in chromaticism to your chordal analysis it doesn't seem so strange. It's hard to say if this album is the best album of all the people involved, but it surely is at the highpoint of their careers and commercial success.