Brilliant homage to master of bossa nova



Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto


5 stars

Brazilian musician Joao Gilberto died last Saturday at the age of 88. The singer-guitarist, along with composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and saxophonist Stan Getz, launched the bossa nova craze with their landmark 1964 album Getz/Gilberto.

While the original had just eight tracks, I recommend the expanded edition, reissued in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of the record.

In classic obsessive jazz fan fashion, the original tracks have been remastered and they are offered in both mono and stereo versions, with a couple of alternate takes thrown in for good measure.

It is easy to see why the album sold two million copies when it was first released. The crisply minimalist music-making, with Jobim’s clean piano contributions, Gilberto’s syncopated plucking and Getz’s fat saxophone lending a touch of luxe, sound as breezily fresh as if they were recorded yesterday.

Bossa nova has been degraded into cheap muzak coinage in the intervening years. But the genre, which emphasises lyricism and restraint, is more than mere aural wallpaper.

Gilberto’s playing distilled the polyrhythms of the traditional samba form and his nasal croon brought West Coast cool to a “hot” music genre. There is tradition and innovation in this music, and this landmark album distils it all in sunny melodic beauty.

There is no better way to pay homage to the late master than to put this on your playlist this week.