1001 Albums: Beach Samba

#76

Album_76_Original

Artist: Astrud Gilberto

Album: Beach Samba

Year: 1967

Length: 27:38

Genre: Bossa Nova

“You didn’t have to be so nice
I would have liked you anyway
If you had just looked once or twice
And gone upon your quiet way”

Taking the day to recuperate has been doing wonders for me. Didn’t realise how much I needed it until I actually took it. But I realise I do need to make other efforts in my life to make sure I stay healthy. Consuming lots of water is definitely one of them and I plan to remove coffee and soda out of my life (except for special occasions or suppers). Taking a good walk every day would be great as well. But what I really need to do is try my best to focus on what I want to do, be a little productive everyday and learn to be able to just relax and calm my mind. Sandra keeps suggesting I do yoga and meditation. Not sure if it’ll really work for me but I guess if she drags me one day it won’t hurt to try.

With my day to recuperate it seems I was able to get through another album on the list. Part of me wanted to play catch-up but at the same time music has always been therapeutic for me so it was a no-brainer. I was very fortunate that the next string of albums I happened to listen to were relaxing as all hell. Already with Wild is the Wind I felt lucky that it happened to be 50s style vocal jazz, but this one was another throwback to two albums I had listened to in the early 60s. I didn’t think I’d hear any Bossanova again, thinking it did it’s due enough with the two Stan Getz albums, but here it was leaking from my speakers and into my ears. If you recognized the voice of the singer (why would you? I listened to the album not you) then you’d remember her from the Stan Getz album singing on the incredibly famous song “Girl From Ipanema”, That’s right it’s the same one. Here she goes solo and takes her signature singing style and created an entire album of pure, sensual beach samba. Once again dealing with an album with a very straight-forward title… but hey whatever works.

There’s really no other way to describe this album other than sensual, smooth and cute. That’s really what it was. Astrud doesn’t have much of a range when it comes to singing to she uses her strengths to her best advantage. She sings with such sensuality that it’s hard not to fall in love with the voice you’re hearing. She sings every lyric with a calm and soothing tone, almost like a lullaby made specifically for adults. There’s no denying what she does she does very well and this essence of sensuality (yeah I’m using this word a lot) hits your ears as if she’s trying to seduce you in the most innocent way possible. There’s no doubt any man could become putty in her hands just from her speaking softly into his ear. It brings chills down your spine al the way to your privates and sends you into a state of peace and calm. If there was a perfect follow-up to Wild is the Wind for my day of relaxation, this was definitely it. The music really makes you feel like you’re chilling on the edge of a beach, sun in your face, napping away as the waves hit the shore. Pure Bliss.

To add to the cuteness, but let’s remove the sensuality for this one, Astrud’s son, Marcello, joins her on “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”. It’s an incredibly cute duet and her son seems to capture the soft spoken, claiming voice of his mother, not only supporting her but managing to impress on his own terms. The two come together harmoniously and beautifully creating one of the stronger songs off the album.

So this is where some might be a little turned off by it. The album doesn’t really provide with the listener with anything spectacular. It’s a lot of pop oriented music and doesn’t do anything different or inventive. If anything, it’s kind of an underwhelming album especially when comparing it to everything else that came out around that time. It doesn’t even seem to reinvent or introduce new ideas to the Bossanova genre, being almost exactly the same as the two Stan Getz albums. But that’t the thing. You don’t go into this album expecting a transcending masterpiece that will blow your mind, you go into it to get lost in the peaceful calm that is Beach Samba and the soothing and sensual voice of Astrud Gilberto. Nothing more and nothing less.

Song of Choice: Oba, Oba

-Bosco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Getz/Gilberto

#41

Album_41_original

 

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

-Bosco

 

 

 

 

1001 Albums: Jazz Samba

# 33

album_33_original

 

Artist: Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd

Album: Jazz Samba

Year: 1962

Length: 33:12

Genre: Bossa Nova

 

 

“Instrumental jazz type music”

So, I have some interesting news. Ok, it’s not really news but it’s not really a story either… interesting tidbit? Well the interesting tidbit sets up a little story… if that helps. No? Oh…

Either way. This Sunday is the Oscars and excitingly enough, the company I work for is nominated for one! That’s not my point, but because of it this whole week has been dedicated to the Oscars with a big, fancy type party thrown this evening. Nothing new with that since there’s a festivity every last Friday of the month anyway, but this particular one had a little more worth to it. Anyway, the week has been full of Oscar related activities, from a pub quiz to an Oscar statue sculpting contest. Being the good organizers they are, they saved the best one for last: Celebrity look alike competition.

Being the ever participating… participant I am, I wanted to enter into it! One problem: I had no idea who my celebrity look alike was. That’s a bit of an issue, you kind of have to look like someone to be able to contend. This became more a search to find who I looked like rather than actually being in the competition. My curiosity grew as I tried to figure out who it was, and it wouldn’t be satisfied until I do. I had to, I just had to.

Luckily, Thursday night, literally hours before the next day would start, it happened. The Discovery. There was a collective agreement from my co-workers, friends, parents and Sandra: I looked exactly like the guy (with minor differences, but overall the resemblance was pretty striking).

I’ll stop teasing. My celebrity look a like was Bret Mckenzie:

968full-bret-mckenzie

Spitting image.

I donned a white shirt and tie (but still wore jeans and dirty converse. Stayed fancy yet casual at the same time) and got my hair it’s usual curly self. I slammed my best dead-pan face (Only way to imitate the Flight of the Conchords guitarist) and showed everyone a photo of him (Because a lot of people had no idea who he was. He’s won on Oscar for christ’s sakes!). The reaction was the same: Holy shit you look exactly like him. I had this in the bag for sure. I was going to win, no way I could lose. Random employees I’ve never talked to stopped me in the halls and told me they hope I win, I looked exactly like him. Today was my day.

I didn’t win. But to be fair the girl that won totally deserved it. Her resemblance to Nicky Nichols from Orange is the New Black was as striking, if not a little more, as my resemblance to Bret. It was tight competition.

I’m glad this happened today otherwise I wouldn’t have had much to say today. Even now as I start to write about the album I find myself struggling to know where to start or how to begin. It’s not that the album was bad, not at all. Actually, I wish it was bad, it would be so easy to write about. I’d be able to just vent how horrible it was and how much I hated it. But I didn’t. I quite liked it. It was a solid album from start to finish, with no low points or dips in quality. Stan Getz plays one mean Tenor Saxophone and holds the music together with his skills. It’s great to finally hear the sax take the front stage after hearing so much trumpet playing. It really has a distinctive sound to it that brings a whole new feel and quality to the music, that I would debate is better than the trumpet (and I really love the trumpet). I always found the saxophone to be like the trumpet’s mature cousin, it was sexier and had a more adult vibe to it, while the trumpet blurted and farted. Miles Davis was cool, but Stan Getz was pretty damn sexy. See the difference? No? Well it makes sense in my head, so tough shit.

I’ll be honest, the reason I’m having so much difficulty here is because it’s just another instrumental album… and it’s jazzy. The beginning of this list seems to have an over-abundance of instrumental jazz music, it’s a jazz aficionados wet dream. I’ve learned through this challenge that I love Jazz with all my heart, but dear lord I need to separate myself from it for some time. Every new jazz album that appeared got me excited, but now I’m sort of dreading it because I have no idea what to say without reiterating myself. It’s the usual list of things:

-It’s great to relax to.

-It’s a great album to just play and let your mind enjoy it subconsciously.

-You get lost in it.

-It’s structured in a non-structured way that won’t make any of the songs stick in your head in a catchy way, but you still get immersed into the music and just let it seep over you like a warm blanket.

Ok that last part I never said (so maybe I do have new things), but it’s really just saying the same thing in different words. And the fact that it’s another instrumental one makes it so much harder. I’m not a musical expert, never claimed to be. I don’t know anything about musical theory, especially not with jazz, so I can never analyse why the music is good on a technical level (except for when my base knowledge comes in handy for certain things). I am merely a person who loves music so much he’s read a shit ton about different genres, bands and styles and wants to expand his knowledge of what’s out there. That being said, it gets hard to talk about instrumental jazz, especially when it’s like the tenth one I hear. By now, it all kind of sounds the same to me, even though I’m aware that it’s not.

I found this album underwhelming as a whole. I went in expecting to hear something different and got exactly what I was told: Jazz Samba. I find it funny how literal the title is. It’s basically telling you exactly what you’re going to get. It’s like if Miles Davis called his album “Cool Jazz” or The Beatles called their album “British Invasion” or if Led Zeppelin called theirs “Hard Rock” (Although to be honest that would have been fine, since they were too lazy to even name their fucking albums (Seriously three Self-titled albums then an Untitled one? Too hard to come up with an album name? Please)). I guess I can’t complain, they tell you what you’re in for, what you see is what you’ll get kind of deal.

I realise it sounds like I’m being negative towards it, but I really did enjoy it. I still found myself tapping my foot, shaking my booty and losing myself to it as I always do. I just want something new for now. Something different.

I will tell you this, there’s a very good reason this appeared on the list. It was more of a historically important album than a quality one. In 1961, Charlie Byrd visited Brazil while on a tour and discovered the jazz scene there, which is also known as Bossa Nova Jazz. Loving it so much, he took the influence it had on him and brought it over to the US where he wrote music for Stan Getz to play. This album would cement itself in music history as it’s impact would be enough to get the Bossa Nova craze started in the US. Yes, it was this album that did that.

I think that’s pretty neat.

Song of Choice: Samba Dees Days

-Bosco