1001 Albums: Getz/Gilberto




Artist: Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto

Album: Getz/Gilberto

Year: 1964

Length: 33:46

Genre: Bossa Nova


“Quiet nights of quiet stars
quiet chords from my guitar
floating on the silence that surrounds us
Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams
Quiet walks by quiet streams
and a window that looks out on Corcovado
Oh, how lovely”

I’m doing something a little different with this post. Instead of listening to the album and then gathering my thoughts, I will write this post as the album plays. As I write this the album is on the first song, playing loudly, yet softly, into my ear. Seeing as this was the second effort of Stan Get on the album, and so soon after his other album, I figured it’d be a great opportunity to try it this way. I’m also on my six-hour long ride back from Toronto, so it just feels more productive doing it this way.

I think part of me was also worried about not knowing what to say, it was another Jazz Bossa Nova album. Since I didn’t really have much to say on the last one and with fear of repeating myself, I figured this would be the best way to say something a little different. It will be raw as I puke out my initial thoughts and ramblings that come to my mind. It might end up being a little long because the album is 33 minutes in length, but maybe I’ll take a few breathers here and there… who knows, we’ll see where my ramblings take me.

Right off the bat, what makes this album a little different for me is that there’s actually singing in it. It’s one of the first instances where there’s actually singing on a jazz instrumentalists album. Unless the album was by a Jazz Vocalist (Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald) it was usually purely instrumental. It’s a nice little surprise, even if the singing is in spanish and I can’t understand a word that’s being said. It also starts with the famous Girl From Ipanema, which would widely be covered by many artists. I don’t know if this is the original recording, but the pianist on the album is credited as being one of the song writers, so it is a strong possibility it is, which is pretty exciting… unless it’s not then… whoops. It might not be…

I have to say, I think I’m liking this effort by Stan Getz much better than the first one. The other one came across as a straightforward Instrumental jazz album that had latin influences. This one cranks the latin influences way up, with the latin singer and the acoustic guitar plucking some latin ear flavours. it really gives off a whole different vibe which comes off as quite relaxing and peaceful. There’s a nice veranda vibe to it, meaning the kind of music you listen to while chilling out on the deck with a glass of sangria (I realise I’m playing on cliches here, but sometimes cliches bring your visual across much better). The acoustic guitar has a nice rhythm to it as it backs up the trumpet that very soothingly plays its way across each song. It’s never obnoxious or too blowy, it’s currently been rather soft and fluffy as a trumpet sound, which is always key to relaxing music.

I really wish I understood spanish. I know a few Italian words, but nothing that would help me in this situation. “Non cacare il cazzo” probably isn’t going to pop up in any way, shape or form, so I’m at a loss here. Which is a shame because his singing sounds very calming, as if he’s trying to lull you to sleep, or make love to your ears, either one works depending on how you’re feeling, or how old you are. I’d like to imagine he’s actually singing in a way that paints visuals of ebautiful landscapes and romances and cultural life. But for all I know he might be singing about somethign stupid like “I love grapes, grapes taste good, I like grapes, they are good food”. If not, I claim that song as my own.

WOAH! English singing! I actually understand what’s being said for a song (There was english singing in the first song too, but after a bunch of spanish songs this comes across as a tasty treat). I lied, he’s back to singing in spanish after three lines of english vocals. Oh well. I find that quite interesting actually, the blend of english vocals (sung by a woman, which I guess for the english listeners sounds easier and prettier on the ears) and spanish vocals (sung by a man, which honestly no matter who sang in spanish, to english listeners it always sounds pretty). I’m curious to know how they made that decision, but it could easily be the American Stan Getz infusing his style with the Bossa Nova style that heavily influenced this album. Because… why not? Right?

So, I decided to do some research on the album, as I have been with every album to help me out a bit, and found out it was a pretty hot-selling record. It seems it continued what his other album did and continued to boost up the Bossa Nova craze in the US (which makes sense, I guess). This album also has the distinction of being the first Jazz Album to win album of the year and would remain the only jazz album to do so until 2008, when Herbie Hancock would win as well. That’s fascinating. How is it that out of all the jazz albums coming out, this was the one that would end up winning Album of the year? With Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, who ahve all been widely critically acclaimed, with a few of them even having albums considered to be some of the greatest jazz, even just plain album, of all times, why is it that this one was the one to finally get recognized and get album of the year? This one doesn’t even appear that high on any top lists, so what gives? Was the Bossa Nova craze really that big in 1964? Was it that much bigger than the Jazz craze was? I mean this is a sub-genre of jazz, yes, but musically straight up Jazz had way more of a cultural impact than Bossa Nova did. Ask anyone and they all know what jazz is, but probably haven’t even heard of Bossa Nova. I’m guessing this was just a big fad in the early 60s, that died out once rock music started to take over as the next big thing. Maybe it was to the 60s what grunge was to the 90s. A cultural imprint in time that resonated with people for a limited duration. That makes sense, I’m willing to accept that as a logical answer.

The album is nearing the end, I can see the last song in sight (because I was looking at the playlist). As a whole it’s some really nice, tender, soft, sexy-hip-moving jazz. It’s not hip moving in the sense that I’m about to tear the dance floor up, but it definitely lends itself well to some pseudo-slow dancing with your gal pal, or boy pal… depending who you are. I can easily picture myself grabbing Sandra by the hand and trying to get her to dance with me if this started playing. I wouldn’t do it well and would probably start acting like a goof causing Sandra to laugh in disbelief as she usually does, but it would still be a fun time.

I’ve come to the end of the album feeling rather satisfied with it. It was a good album to sit back on a long trip and just write to. I don’t know if I’ll do this again (writing while listening), I probably will because it was a fun little experiment in writing for me and for the most part it made writing about a genre I don’t really know that much easier because I let my thoughts and feelings out instantly rather than trying my hardest to remember what it was (even though I write them down first, it doesn’t come out exactly how it was initially).

Oh well, until then, I hope I’m done with jazz albums for awhile. I realise I keep saying this and I keep encountering a new one a few albums later. I think I only have a few left before the musical genres start to really get diverse, so I’ll do my best to enjoy the remaining jazz albums instead of dreading them, because there’s a good chance I’ll miss them once they’re done.

Song of Choice: So Danco Samba







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