Acclaimed Albums – Getz/Gilberto by Stan Getz and João Gilberto

Like I mentioned with the switch over to the Top 1000 list, there are a number of older albums that I listened to as part of a previous blog. This was back in 2009 … and I think my views on music have changed somewhat. Or maybe not, but hey it’s good to keep crossing these off so for these three weeks will be playing a game of catch-up.

List item: Listen to the 1000 Most Acclaimed Albums
Progress: 306/1000
Title: The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady
Artist: Charles Mingus
Year: 1963

Stan Getz is back once again and has this time teamed up with guitarist João Gilberto to produce Getz/Gilberto, which incidentally is the first of many Grammy Award winning albums to be featured on this list. So, what has changed in the year between Jazz Samba and Getz/Gilberto. The addition of vocals is the major difference here with there also being a change in the line-up. Still, no matter how many line-up changes the big noticeable difference is that suddenly the saxophone has taken up it’s proper position in bossa nova as accompaniment and allows João Gilberto to sing these songs as they were meant to be sung.

Also deserving of mention are the vocals of João’s then wife Astrud who, having only appeared twice, really stolen the show. Her vocals may not be accomplished or polished in any way but her breathy and accented singing in ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ act as the albums true highlight. Another major improvement are that the tracks feel less improvised. While jazz connoisseurs may not appreciate this it is far more preferable from where I am sitting.

True these tracks may feel far more restrained than on Getz/Gilberto but for me this is a definite improvement. In the end this more traditional approach is far more suited to the bossa nova style with the delicate arrangements and simple vocals flowing with a smooth rhythm. This aids to accentuate the heartfelt elements far more than any saxophone solos ever could. So what is the downside of this album? While the music is beautiful and the vocals are perfectly matched it feels a little bit too laid back for it’s own good.

Getz/Gilberto is one of those albums that makes for brilliant background music while you are doing something else but not particularly for the sake of listening to it. There are plenty of other albums that I would end up choosing ahead of Getz/Gilberto if I was bored and in the mood for music. That is, in the end, a deal-breaker. (The exception to this is ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ which I would happily listen to at any point, not just if I was in the mood for a bossa nova backdrop as I make dinner).

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