Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba (1962)

Jazz Samba is a bossa nova album by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd released by Verve Records in 1962. Jazz Samba signaled the beginning of the bossa nova craze in America. Stan Getz was the featured soloist and the tracks were arranged by Charlie Byrd, who had first heard bossa nova during a tour of Brazil in 1961.

Getz and Byrd were accompanied by two bassists: Keter Betts and Joe Byrd, Charlie Byrd’s brother who also played guitar. They were joined by two drummers: Buddy Deppenschmidt and Bill Reichenbach. The album was recorded at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C. on February 13, 1962 and released in April of that year.

Two songs, “Desafinado” (Off Key or Out of Tune) and “Samba de Uma Nota Só” (One Note Samba) were composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim and were released as singles in the U.S. and Europe. Charlie Byrd wrote one song, “Samba Dees Days”, while the rest were by Brazilian composers.

Stan Getz won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance of 1963 for “Desafinado”.

Track Listing:

Side one
“Desafinado” (Antônio Carlos Jobim, Newton Mendonça) — 5:51
“Samba Dees Days” (Charlie Byrd) — 3:34
“O Pato” (Jayme Silva, Neuza Teixeira) — 2:31
“Samba Triste” (Baden Powell, Billy Blanco) — 4:47

Side two
“Samba de Uma Nota Só” (Antônio Carlos Jobim, Newton Mendonça) — 6:11
“É Luxo Só” (Ary Barroso) — 3:40
“Bahia” (aka ‘Baia’) (Ary Barroso) — 6:38

Review: Partly because of its Brazilian collaborators and partly because of “The Girl From Ipanema,” Getz/Gilberto is nearly always acknowledged as the Stan Getz bossa nova LP. But Jazz Samba is just as crucial and groundbreaking; after all, it came first, and in fact was the first full-fledged bossa nova album ever recorded by American jazz musicians. And it was just as commercially successful, topping the LP charts and producing its own pop chart hit single in “Desafinado.” It was the true beginning of the bossa nova craze, and introduced several standards of the genre (including Ary Barroso’s “Bahia” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Desafinado” and “Samba de Uma Nota Só” [aka “One Note Samba”]). But above all, Jazz Samba stands on its own artistic merit as a shimmering, graceful collection that’s as subtly advanced — in harmony and rhythm — as it is beautiful. Getz and his co-billed partner, guitarist Charlie Byrd — who was actually responsible for bringing bossa nova records to the U.S. and introducing Getz to the style — have the perfect touch for bossa nova’s delicate, airy texture. For his part, Byrd was one of the first American musicians to master bossa nova’s difficult, bubbling syncopations, and his solos are light and lilting. Meanwhile, Getz’s playing is superb, simultaneously offering a warm, full tone and a cool control of dynamics; plus, Byrd’s gently off-kilter harmonies seem to stimulate Getz’s melodic inventiveness even more than usual. But beyond technique, Getz intuitively understands the romanticism and the undercurrent of melancholy inherent in the music, and that’s what really made Jazz Samba such a revelatory classic. Absolutely essential for any jazz collection. — Steve Huey

Schill Score: 9.75/10

Listen to Album on Spotify

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