GETZ/GILBERTO: ALBUM REVIEW
You have to start listening to bossa nova. Let me talk you into it.
I first ventured into the world of bossa nova during one of my jazz rap phases, listening to The Pharcyde’s 1994 album Labcabincalifornia. I was incredibly impressed by producer J Dilla’s production on several of the album’s tracks, namely “Runnin.” Using the lovely website WhoSampled, I found that the song’s catchy, smooth jazz sample came from Stan Getz, Luiz Bonfá, and Maria Toledo’s recording of “Saudade Vem Correndo.” Absolute heat. This was lo-fi hip-hop before lo-fi hip-hop (i.e. perfect study music), minus the MIDI instruments and exchanging precise, damp drums for a lively, slightly swaying backbeat more reminiscent of jazz. It was impossible to resist moving with the beat, and the irresistible saxophone and guitar leads played on loop in my head for hours. I was entranced and jumped straight down into a bossa nova rabbit hole.
Bossa nova, which approximately translates to “new wave,” is a Brazilian genre originating from samba and jazz, characterized by its 2/4 time signature, an understated but dynamic drum beat, finger-picked guitars, and soft, romantic vocals. Getz/Gilberto, a collaboration between legendary saxophonist Stan Getz and singer Joao Gilberto, “the father of bossa nova,” is without a doubt one of my favorite bossa nova albums. Let’s get into it. This album is the epitome of a musical stellar collision--in addition to Getz and Gilberto, you’ll hear renowned composer Antonio Carlos Jobim on piano, as well as singer Astrud Gilberto, whose vocal style set the bar for female bossa nova vocalists of the time. These names probably mean nothing to you right now, but I promise they’ll sing and play their way into your heart.
This album will pull you in with its first track and only single, the iconic “The Girl From Ipanema,” and it’ll hold your attention through its duration. I found its second track “Doralice” to be a high point on the record--Joao Gilberto’s playful, soft vocals are an absolute joy, particularly in contrast to the more melancholy vibe of the album overall. I also loved the track “Só Danço Samba,” another upbeat song in which you’ll hear a stark contrast between Gilberto’s subdued vocal style and Getz’s sharper, heavier performance on the saxophone. While I personally enjoyed that variance in style, it actually caused quite the rift during the album’s recording, and even led to the duo performing tracks for separate record sides on the follow-up Getz/Gilberto #2, but I digress. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a critical analysis on the depth of this album’s lyrics--though I might have to study Portugese in school just for that purpose. But, take my word for it--it’s absolute gold, and it’ll be perfect for your long nights at the library or next home dinner date. So throw this on during your next study session or perhaps a late-night drive in the rain--I hope it does for you what it does for me.