Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search
Discernment. Online

Pride of place on this album goes to Dizzy Gillespie 


The cream of Brazilian jazz

Brazilian jazzmen gave insufficient importance to solo improvisation, but Bossa Nova shows that they could still produce delightful jazz

Bossa Nova - Soothing Sounds of Brazil Vol 1
Universal Music
Rs 100

If asked to compare the two major styles in Latin jazz, I'd vote the laid-back bossa nova, developed in Brazil by combining samba and cool jazz, into second place behind the hot Afro-Cuban jazz that Dizzy Gillespie and a legion of Cuban greats invented. The most important reason is that the Brazilians laid what for me is insufficient emphasis on solo improvisation.

But since this lack was partly filled by American jazz musicians such as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd who enthusiastically took up the genre from the start, and since anyway Brazilian maestros such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud and Joao Gilberto and Luiz Bonfa gave bossa nova such a mellow and pleasant sound, even second place in this imaginary contest is quite honourable.

The nineteen tracks on this album are taken from the cream of Verve/ Universal's bossa nova catalogue. Getz figures extensively here, dominating several tracks with his mellow tenor saxophone sound and co-operating in establishing the mood with the sensuous sounds of Bonfa's and Joao Gilberto's guitars, Astrud and Joao Gilberto's singing, and Jobim's piano. Bonfa also dominates a couple of numbers on his guitar, as does another guitarist Baden Powell (Brazilian despite his unlikely name!).

Getz and Byrd (again, guitar) share the honours on one number, while Getz and the piano virtuoso Chick Corea, famous for mainstream jazz, jazz-rock and forays into Latin jazz, offer a rousing rendition of O Grande Amor with some noticeably good drum support. Other American jazzmen represented by brilliant examples of their dabbling in bossa nova are Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax) with Samba para Bean, Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass on guitar with Insensatez and El Gento respectively, and Gerry Mulligan, who brings his baritione saxophone virtuosity to Prelude in E Minor.

But pride of place on this cool album goes to that innovator of be-bop and Afro-Cuban jazz, Dizzy Gillespie, with One-Note Samba. His own trumpet solo is only the hottest and most exciting in a series that includes flute, piano, percussion and bass. For regular collectors the only arguable drawback to this anthology is that four or five tracks figured on an earlier Verve/Polygram anthology, Gitanes Jazz - Jazz Bossa Nova.


Published on 31 January 2003

Write to the editor