It’s not enough to say that 1964’s Getz/Gilberto is, hands down, the most popular bossa nova record of all time. The meeting of American tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto remains a beacon of cross-continental collaboration: It helped propel not only Antônio Carlos Jobim’s iconic “The Girl From Ipanema” as a jazz standard, but also his “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” and “Desafinado.” And the album launched the career of 24-year-old singer Astrud Gilberto, whose hushed voice became synonymous with the genre. The “bossa nova craze” of the 1960s had everyone from The Beach Boys to Frank Sinatra doing versions of the breezy sound, and the eight songs on Getz/Gilberto— all minimal, all mellow—provided the era with an artistic peak. Recorded in just two days, Getz/Gilberto is marked not only by its lighthearted feel, but also by its incredibly intimate recording by producer Creed Taylor. The entire affair pulses with restraint: Gilberto’s guitar a gentle pluck, his voice a throaty murmur; Getz’s solos, meanwhile, are breathy and lyrical. Astrud Gilberto had never sung on a record before, but her English was much better than her husband’s, and she was quickly recruited for the English translation of “Ipanema” and “Corcovado.” Her whispery performance stole the spotlight from the headliners. She only made a session wage for her work, but ended up an international star—and a pivotal influence on artists like Sade. The great majority of the songs on Getz/Gilberto were written by Antônio Carlos Jobim, the architect of bossa nova. Jobim, who also contributes piano, popularized the leisurely, pastoral tweak on samba rhythms with his composition “Chega de Saudade,” first released on Elizete Cardoso’s 1958 album Canção do Amor Demais (and popularized when Gilberto released it as a single the following year). The cool jazz saxophonist Getz was entranced by the bucolic samba sound, and spent the early 1960s championing it for American audiences, eventually finding success with the genre on three albums: 1962’s chilled-out Jazz Samba with guitarist Charlie Byrd, the fuller Big Band Bossa Nova (also from 1962), and 1963’s gentle Jazz Samba Encore!, recorded with Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfá. However, it would be his spare team-up with Gilberto that helped define both musicians’ legacies. An immediate sensation, the album spent 96 weeks on the charts and garnered the pair an armload of Grammys. “The Girl From Ipanema” turned out to be remarkably durable, recorded by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Cher, Amy Winehouse, and more. It’s been turned into hard funk by The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, spun into a house banger by Crystal Waters, reinvented as ultra-cool neo-exotica by Pizzicato Five, and even turned into a futuristic Latin trap pop hit for Bad Bunny.
March 1, 1964 8 Songs, 33 minutes ℗ 2011 The Verve Music Group, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.