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Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars: Él Collects Vintage Gilberto, Jobim, Bonfá on CD

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Joao Gilberto - The LegendFewer images in music are more evocative than that of the tall and tan and young and lovely girl from Ipanema, walking like a samba and inspiring passersby to go, “Aaaah.”  Jazz musicians of every stripe and every instrument latched onto Brazil’s bossa nova sound after it exploded to popularity in the wake of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luis Bonfá, Vinicius de Moraes and João Gilberto’s soundtrack to the 1959 film Black Orpheus.  Though Black Orpheus was the breakthrough, it wasn’t the birth of bossa nova.  From the very beginning, though, was João Gilberto.  Él Records, an imprint of the Cherry Red Group, has just released two new collections that chronicle the early, heady days of bossa nova and the works of Gilberto: the 2-CD mini-box set João Gilberto: The Legend and the various-artists songbook collection The Hits of João Gilberto.

João Gilberto began recording in his native Brazil as early as 1951, but his earliest work was mere prelude to the seismic contributions he would make to world music later in the decade.  “Bim-Bom,” written by Gilberto in 1956 but not recorded until 1958, has been considered the first true bossa nova song.  The artist’s hushed, intimate style of voice-and-guitar epitomized the breezy yet sophisticated genre which refined the traditional sound of samba into something altogether more intimate.  Identified by gentle acoustic guitar and sometimes piano, and often adorned with subtle string or horn accents, bossa nova de-emphasized the more percussive aspects of samba.  Instead, an emphasis was placed on the inviting melodies and rich harmonies.  Gilberto’s 1959 album Chega de Saudade, named after a composition by his friends Jobim and de Moraes, was the first bossa nova LP, and ignited the genre.  It’s the first of three consecutive albums from Gilberto included on Disc One of The Legend.  This disc also includes 1960’s O Amor, O Sorriso e a Flor, and 1961’s self-titled João Gilberto.

Gilberto popularized many cornerstones of the bossa nova songbook on these three albums, many written by his compatriot Jobim, often referred to as “the Gershwin of Brazil.”  Chega de Saudade, with arrangements and productions from Jobim, features “Desafinado (Off-Key)” alongside Gilberto’s own “Bim-Bom” and songs from future bossa legends Dori Caymmi and Carlos Lyra.  O Amor, also produced and arranged by Jobim, included yet more standards-to-be such as “Samba de Uma Nota So (One Note Samba),” “Meditação (Meditation)” and “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars).”  Whereas Chega had also updated samba classics in the new style, O Amor widened its net to transform vintage American songs such as Mort Dixon and Harry Woods’ venerable “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.”   1961’s eponymous album found Gilberto teaming not just with Jobim but with organist Walter Wanderley.  Jobim and Wanderley split arrangement duties, and Gilberto tackled more compositions from Lyra and Caymmi as well as a handful of songs from Jobim including “Insensatez (How Insensitive).”

These three albums formed the roots of bossa nova, and by the release of the 1961 album, the genre was poised for its imminent international success.  The second disc of The Legend, however, turns the clock back for a collection of Antiques and Curios.  This odds-and-ends collection has embryonic bossa tracks from Gilberto dating to 1951 and 1952, but also draws from a number of recordings during and after the period chronicled on the first disc.  Hence, Antiques offers a sampling from Black Orpheus (including the much-covered “Manha de Carnaval”) alongside seven songs from vocalist Elizete Cardoso recorded with both Gilberto and Jobim in 1958 and four from singer Jonas Silva on which he is accompanied by Gilberto.  Also included are selections from the soundtrack of 1962’s Copacabana Palace film, which (like Black Orpheus) had the participation of Gilberto, Jobim and Bonfá.  The Legend is handsomely packaged in a slipcase containing a booklet of liner notes and both discs in individual mini-LP sleeves.

After the jump: what’s on The Hits of João Gilberto?  Plus: track listings and order links for both titles!

Joao Gilberto - HitsÉl picks up the story of bossa nova’s worldwide spread to fame on The Hits of João Gilberto.  Of course, despite writing “Bim Bom” and other songs, Gilberto was an innovative guitarist and an interpretive singer more so than he was a songwriter.  Rather than being a “songbook” collection, then, The Hits instead is a collection of songs popularized and/or introduced by Gilberto as performed by a host of artists in the crucial early years of the 1960s.  In fact, most songs on the 27-track CD were recorded in 1962, and most tracks are sung in their original Portuguese.

Many songs are heard multiple times, proving just how adaptable the romantic melodies of the genre were, and are.  “Desafinado” is heard no fewer than five times on The Hits.  It’s sultrily sung by Julie London, then rendered instrumentally by the duo of Stan Getz (tenor saxophone) and Charlie Byrd (guitar), big-band style by Quincy Jones, on guitar by Brazil’s own Laurindo Almeida, and by crooner Sacha Distel, who vocalizes the melody with a series of “La-la-das”.  Not far behind is another Jobim tune, “One Note Samba,” which is performed by flautist Herbie Mann, Brazilian group Tamba Trio, on piano by George Shearing, and in French (!) by Distel.  Many of the great bossa nova standards are represented here in wide-ranging renditions from artists including The Vince Guaraldi Trio, Johnny Dankworth and His Orchestra, Jon Hendricks, Bola Sete, Cal Tjader, Lalo Schifrin and João Donato.

Charlie Byrd’s role in popularizing the bossa nova is too often overlooked, so thankfully Byrd is represented on The Hits, both in collaboration with Getz and leading his own trio.  (Getz, of course, became synonymous with bossa nova with his seminal recording of “The Girl From Ipanema” also featuring João Gilberto and Gilberto’s wife Astrud.)    Verve producer Creed Taylor also had much to do with popularizing the bossa sound on American shores, and Taylor’s production of “Desafinado” from Byrd and Getz’s pivotal Jazz Samba LP is here, as well as his work with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and vibraphonist Tjader.

The Hits, housed in a traditional jewel case, includes liner notes filled with quotes from various musicians (among them Henry Mancini, Marcos Valle and Sergio Mendes) over the years attesting to the long-lasting influence of the bossa nova genre.  As class, sophistication and romance never go out of style, it’s still reflected today in the lounge music genre it spawned, not to mention in various strains of jazz.

Both releases from Él are available now, and can be ordered at the links below!

João Gilberto, The Legend / Antiques and Curios (Él ACMEM239CD, 2013)

CD 1

  1. Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)
  2. Lobo Bobo (Foolish Wolf)
  3. Brigas Nunca Mais (No More Fighting)
  4. Ho-Ba-La-La
  5. Saudade Fez um Samba (Saudade Made a Samba)
  6. Maria Ninguem (Maria Nobody)
  7. Desafinado (Off-Key)
  8. Rosa Morena (Brunette Rose)
  9. Morena Boca de Ouro (Brunette with a Mouth of Gold)
  10. Bim-Bom
  11. Aos Pes a Cruz (At the Foot of the Cross)
  12. E Luxo So (It’s Just a Luxury)
  13. Samba de Uma Nota So (One Note Samba)
  14. Doralice
  15. So Em Tues Bracos (Only in Your Arms)
  16. Trevo de Quatro Folhas (I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover)
  17. Se e Tarde Me Perdoa (Forgive Me If It’s Too Late)
  18. Um Abraco No Bonfa (A Hug for Bonfa)
  19. Meditacao (Meditation)
  20. O Pato (The Duck)
  21. Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)
  22. Discussao (Discussion)
  23. Amor Certinho (Certain Love)
  24. Outra Vez (One More Time)
  25. O Samba da Minha Terra (Samba of My Land)
  26. O Barquinho (The Little Boat)
  27. Bolinha de Papel (Little Paper Ball)
  28. Saudade da Bahia (Longing for Bahia)
  29. A Primeira Vez (The First Time)
  30. O Amor Em Paz (Love and Peace)
  31. Voce e Eu (You and I)
  32. Trenzinho – Trem de Ferro (Little Train of Iron)
  33. Coisa Mais Linda (Most Beautiful Thing)
  34. Presente de Natal (Christmas Present)
  35. Insensatez (How Insensitive)
  36. Este Seu Olhar (That Look You Wear)

CD 2

  1. Outra Vez (One More Time)
  2. A Felicidade (Happiness)
  3. Manha de Carnaval (Morning of the Carnival)
  4. O Nosso Amor (Our Love)
  5. Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)
  6. Caminho de Pedra (Stone Road)
  7. Luciana
  8. Eu Nao Existo Sem Voce (I Don’t Exist Without You)
  9. Outra Vez (One More Time)
  10. Medo de Amar (Four of Love)
  11. Vida Bela (Beautiful Life)
  12. Praca Sete
  13. Chega de Saudade
  14. Quando Voce Recordar (When You Remember)
  15. Amar e Bom (Loving is Good)
  16. Anjo Cruel (Cruel Angel)
  17. Sem Ela (Without Her)
  18. Quando Ela Sai (When She Leaves)
  19. Meia Luz (Half Light)
  20. Rosinha
  21. Complicacao (Complication)
  22. Rapaz de Bem
  23. A Felicidade
  24. Jazz ‘n’ Samba
  25. Tristeza (Sadness)
  26. Miguel Samba do Aviao (Song of the Jet)
  27. Musique Originale du Carnaval de Rio
  28. Song of the Jet
  29. Samboleiro
  30. Song of the Sea

CD 1, Tracks 1-12 from Chega de Saudade, Odeon, 1959
CD 1, Tracks 13-24 from O Amor, O Sorriso e a Flor, Odeon, 1960
CD 1, Tracks 25-36 from João Gilberto, Odeon, 1961
CD 2, Track 1 performed by João Gilberto and Milton Banana, from Bossa Nova at Carnegie Hall, 1962
CD 2, Tracks 2-4 performed by JG, from Orfeo de Carnival, 1959
CD 2, Tracks 5-11 performed by Elizete Cardoso with JG on guitar, Antonio Carlos Jobim on piano, from Cancao do Amor Demais, 1958
CD 2, Track 12 performed by Elizete Cardoso with JG on guitar, from Naturalmente, 1958
CD 2, Track 13 performed by Os Cariocas with JG on guitar, 1958
CD 2, Tracks 14-15 performed by Os Garotas da Lua, 1951
CD 2, Tracks 16-17 performed by JG, Acyr Bastos Mello, Milton Silva, Alvinho Sena, Toninho Botelho and As Tres Marias, 1951
CD 2, Tracks 18-19 performed by JG, 1952
CD 2, Tracks 20-23 performed by Jonas Silva with JG on guitar, 1959
CD 2, Tracks 24-27 from Copacabana Palace, 1962
CD 2, Track 28 performed by Jula de Palma and OS 4 x 4 de Nora Orlandi
CD 2, Track 29 performed by Luis Bonfa
CD 2, Track 30 performed by JG, Luis Bonfa, and Antonio Carlos Jobim

Various Artists, The Hits of João Gilberto (Él ACMEM240CD, 2013)

  1. Desafinado – Julie London
  2. Desafinado – Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd
  3. Foolish One (Insensatez) – The Paul Winter Sextet
  4. Minha Saudade – Herbie Mann
  5. One Note Samba – Herbie Mann
  6. A Felicidade – Bob Brookmeyer
  7. Desafinado – Quincy Jones and His Orchestra
  8. Pery Rebeiro – Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema)
  9. O Nosso Amor – The Vince Guaraldi Trio
  10. Meditation – Cal Tjader
  11. Maria Ninguem – Zoot Sims
  12. One Note Samba – Tamba Trio
  13. O Barquinho – Tamba Trio
  14. Desafinado – Laurindo Almeida and the Bossa Nova All-Stars
  15. Minha Saudade – Joao Donato e Su Trio
  16. Desafinado – Sacha Distel
  17. Chanson sue Une Seule Note (One Note Samba) – Sacha Distel
  18. O Pato – Johnny Dankworth and His Orchestra
  19. Altamiro Carrilho – Corcovado
  20. Chega de Saudade – Lalo Schifrin
  21. Un Abraco Du Bonfa – Charlie Byrd
  22. Bim-Bom – Charlie Byrd
  23. One Note Samba – George Shearing
  24. Rosa Morena – Jon Hendricks
  25. Little Paper Ball – Jon Hendricks
  26. Manha de Carnaval – Bola Sete
  27. Voce e Eu – Walter Wanderley

Written by Joe Marchese

January 31, 2013 at 10:09

3 Responses

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  1. Hi People of Second Disc! Are you sure this is a real release and not a bootleg? As far as I know, João Gilberto is processing EMI Odeon, the owner of all his tracks in these releases, and the label is not allowed to release or license anything from him. That’s why João Gilberto’s early work wasnt released on cd in its original form…. regards, eduardo


    February 1, 2013 at 15:31

    • Hi Eduardo! The El Records releases are not bootlegs; El is a completely above-board label and a part of the Cherry Red Group. However, these two releases ARE made possible by current U.K. law which has allowed recordings of 50+ years to fall into the public domain. (This law will soon be changing to 70 years.) At the moment, though, El (or any other label) can completely legally reissue recordings in the public domain without consent of the artist or original label. These two releases from Gilberto fall into that category. So while they are indeed “unauthorized,” both discs are of good quality and not illegal bootlegs. Hope this helps!

      Joe Marchese

      February 2, 2013 at 00:50

      • tks a lot.


        February 5, 2013 at 08:55

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