Monday, July 26, 2010

Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto: Only Trust Your Heart

If Astrud Gilberto sounds like an amateur singing along with a Stan Getz record, well, that's pretty much what she was in 1964. This was only her second recording session, the first when she was  recruited  to warble "The Girl From Ipanema" because she happened to be in the studio with then husband João & could speak English.

I must admit that I'd never heard this Benny Carter song (lyrics by Sammy Cahn) or Getz Au Go Go LP. I've always been a scattershot jazz listener & only began taking a closer look at the Sixties bossa nova pop-jazz thing & Brazilian music in general over the past year.  Oh, I  had a warm spot for Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66, & lwas a fan of Brazilian organist Walter Wanderley.*  But I  appreciate art that seems artless;  stripped of ornament, pared down to what essentially makes it art.

Astrud, it turned out, was an intelligent musician. She quickly took what she had & worked with it, refined it, tried & discarded certain kinds of songs  - like American pop standards  associated with  & mastered by more versatile singers. Within her limitations she managed to tap a range of  expression.

* Because I hear music  more as  a variety of flavors, definitions of genre & matters of authenticity rarely concern me except where I'm looking for a stronger more unadulterated taste of the flavor. My conversations with music "experts" tend to peter out once I've gotten a few facts & suggestions from them.  Like, "thank you, but I'm not very interested in where you place your borders, walls,  fences." When I worked in a great record store as a teenager, Harmony House, one regular customer refused to listen to any classical music following early Beethoven. He was clearly nuts. But the guy found me some terrific  budget label records of music he did like. More recently, my west coast friend Carrie, who is also mostly a flavor type - she seems to like something of everything -  happened to know  really real Hawaiian music, not the tourist or exotica  stuff (which I also enjoy) with great virtuoso ukulele players, & gave me a few names I could hardly pronounce.


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