Album Reviews

Stan Getz and João Gilberto

Getz/Gilberto ‘76 and Moments in Time

Artist:     Stan Getz and João Gilberto

Album:     Getz/Gilberto ‘76 and Moments in Time

Label:     Resonance

Release Date:     02/19/2016

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Both of these terrific albums were unearthed from the vaults of San Francisco’s famed jazz venue, Keystone Korner, recordings that were captured during the week of May 11-16, 1976, and now released for the first time. As with other recent Resonance releases, they come with extensive liner notes, newly-rendered essays, interviews and unpublished photos. What a treat and a personal revelation!

Most of us are familiar with the American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto’s collaborations, which produced two of the top selling bossa nova records in history, 1964’s Getz/Gilberto and 1966’s Getz/Gilberto #2. Beyond those efforts, many of us, including this writer, were listening to the more adventurous tenor saxophonists of the era like Coltrane, Shepp, Sanders and Rollins. Here, however, we get the melodic, full-bodied sound of Getz’s sax, surrounded with an energetic rhythm section akin to that of the aforementioned players. Pianist Joanne Brackeen is equally adept at delicately rendering ballads and taking flight with pulsating solos on the straight-ahead tunes. She is brilliant as a soloist, especially on Moments In Time. Bassist Clint Houston and Billy Hart add their own adventurous touches. This is the only time this quartet played together, making these albums even more special.

Moments In Time features eight tracks that were staples for Getz at the time, including tunes penned by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver and Dizzy Gillespie. The group absolutely jells on Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss.” In her liner notes interview with producer Feldman, Brackeen says, “I think that it kind of really also displays the quartet at his best, which we rapidly became and stayed. And he had to be really daring to hire us. He already had his thing. He was already famous. He didn’t have to have this band. And this band was crazy! I mean, we would do anything and everything we possibly could. We weren’t just there as accompaniments… And then you hear how he played on it, it’s so lyrical. He doesn’t play one note that he doesn’t mean.”

Getz’s verbal introduction of Gilberto in Getz/Gilberto ’76 builds your anticipation immediately. He describes Gilberto as “the most individual singer of our time—a true originator” and goes on to say, “a performer, so gifted, one of the true greats in music should be so hesitant about public appearance, is just one of those mysteries. But he’s here this week.” Apparently this was Gilberto’s first appearance in four years. James Gavin’s liner notes description of Gilberto in performance reveals “Gilberto sat on a stool, head hunched over his guitar, drama-free except for his spacey, enigmatic presence. His music was wistful but cool; Gilberto was a man of secrets. That seeming detachment lent irony to the tortured songs he loved.” The rhythm section is much more restrained here, giving Gilberto’s evocative vocals and unique guitar stylings the spotlight. On “Rosa Morena,” Gilberto performs alone, while on “Joao Marcelo,” “Morena Boca de Ouro” and “Um Aabraco No Bonta” you hear only the subtle accompaniment of Houston and Hart. The enthusiastic audience responds to the familiar bossa nova tunes like “Aguas de Marco,” “Chega de Saudade” and “Doraclice” where the entire band participates.

Both albums clearly demonstrate the versatility of the quartet. While Moments of Time is vibrant and exciting, bossa nova is quietly seductive and romantic, offering different phrases, ideas and textures. Kudos to producer Zev Feldman, label head George Klabin, and the Keystone owner Todd Barkan for giving us these gifts.

– Jim Hynes

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