Another Rolling Stone 500 list travesty. This album, released on Verve in 1963, is basically one of the top five greatest jazz albums of all time; the definitive expression of bossa nova; the album that made "The Girl From Ipanema" a worldwide hit and jazz standard, and Astrud Gilberto an international singing star; one of the most artistically and commercially successful jazz albums of all time . . . and it's only the 454th best album ever? Bullcrap. I guess that's what happens when you let rock industry dopers decide the 'greatest music ever'.
It's a pity, because not only is this album great, it is BEYOND essential, one of those truly "you must have this in your collection, or you're a nitwit" sort of albums. I'm not a big jazz guy myself, but this was one of the first albums I ever purchased.
Hearing the effortless collaboration between Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto and the unheralded but truly important third member, pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim, always reminds me of sunny Sunday spring and summer afternoons in Virginia when I was a little boy. My parents would get us up fairly early on those mornings to get us dressed for church before getting dressed in their Sunday finest themselves. We couldn't go outside to play while we waited, for fear of getting dirty. So we all sat downstairs in the den, watching 'Davey & Goliath' and hoping we could get to the end of the show before my folks came down and loaded us into the VW van. We'd spend the rest of the morning at St. Mary's Catholic Church downtown, and maybe afterwards we would head over to my grandmother's or aunt's homes along Virginia Beach Boulevard for a short visit before heading for home.
There, we could finally take off those itchy, uncomfortable church clothes and jump into something more comfortable. My brother and I would then head out the front door to find our friends, like Ricky, Craig & Paul, Warren & Wendell, etc. We usually ran past my dad, who had already settled into his big chair in the corner of the living room with the Sunday Virginian-Pilot close at hand, and his huge vintage maple Telefunken stereo (acquired in Germany during his travels in the Navy) filling the room with soft jazz or easy listening music - stuff that he liked, including this album, which was what he played more often than not.
Even when I was that young age, the atmosphere created by days like that made a distinct impression on me. I still recall the little things about those days: the midday sun coming in through the half-lowered venetian blinds, throwing lines of light on the white shag carpet in the living room; the sound of a prop airplane flying overhead, its steady buzz barely discernible over the quiet music; parts of the newspaper on the floor by the chair, signifying that my dad had finished reading those sections.
For me, Getz/Gilberto is the music of memories, of faraway times like those I knew as a boy, times that will never again come to pass.
Then again, I don't know - maybe I'm just a sentimental cat. Either way, get this album, and listen to it - you will not be disappointed.
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