The Upshot: A boon to anyone wanting more of its principals’ famous collaboration, but possibly impenetrable to anyone not already acclimated to Bossa nova’s laidback vibe. Meanwhile, the Getz solo album finds the jazz saxman loosening up.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Founded in 1972, San Francisco’s Keystone Korner was a mainstay for jazz performers and listeners for over 10 years. Owner Todd Barkan tended to record the performances in his club, which has now teamed with Resonance Records to make some of those recordings available for the jazz hungry. The first pair feature best-selling saxophonist Stan Getz in the year of America’s bicentennial.
Getz/Gilberto ‘76 serves as a sequel to the bestselling duo LPs recorded in the mid-60s by Getz and Brazilian singer/guitarist João Gilberto and from which the standard “The Girl From Ipanema” comes. The pair’s cross-pollination of Bossa nova and jazz brought both styles into the mainstream, and the veteran pair work hard to make lightning strike thrice. And by work hard, we mean “make it look easy.” Despite some political lyrics, Bossa nova relies on relaxed rhythms that evoke lazy afternoons and romantic interludes, and any musician will tell you that’s a lot harder to convey than it seems. Gilberto was one of Bossa nova’s founding fathers, though, and Getz conquered the style when they worked together, so the pair, along with an all-star backing trio featuring drummer Billy Hart and pianist Joanne Brackeen, do indeed make it sound easy (listening). With the spotlight firmly on Gilberto (check out his guitar showcase “Um Abraço No Bonfá”), the band lay out a dozen bites of Bossa nova that, frankly, may blend into one another for anyone but folks already conversant in the style. Fans of the pair’s original collaborations, however, will love it.
Moments in Time removes Gilberto from the equation for performances recorded during the same week. Freed from the restrictions of Bossa nova rhythms (except for the Antonio Carlos Jobim piece “O Grande Amour”), Getz and company loosen up and really sound like they’re enjoying themselves. Kenny Wheeler’s “The Cry of the Wild Goose” goes for a melodic popwise groove that still allows plenty of room for Getz and Brackeen to solo. A gorgeous take on Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” dances divinely on a fine line between sensual and pastoral, really taking advantage of Getz’s ability to emulate the mellow tone of his hero Lester Young. Things get frisky on Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma,” Getz jabbing playfully at the melody as the band swings sprightly behind him. The Johnny Mercer/Jimmy Rowles tune “Morning Star” ends the program on a similarly jaunty note.
In summation: Getz/Gilberto ‘76 will be a boon to anyone wanting more of its principals’ famous collaboration, but may prove impenetrable to anyone not already acclimated to Bossa nova’s laidback vibe. Moments in Time is far more accessible and, dare it be said, fun.
DOWNLOAD: “Um Abraço No Bonfá,” “Infant Eyes,” “Con Alma”