“That 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, he’s here, this week. Ladies and gentlemen, João Gilberto!”
That’s part of Stan Getz’s introduction at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco during his band’s and Gilberto’s dates there in the week 11-16 May 1976. It was some 12 years after Getz had revitalised his career and become a hit instrumentalist thanks to his embracing of Brazilian music. If João’s wife, Astrid, was to become the world famous singer in the family, it was only because she could sing in English and had done so on The Girl From Ipanema. And, of course, her husband’s reticence was always a drawback.
Here we hear the truly unique (another word Getz uses in his intro) João Gilberto in fine form singing gorgeous tunes by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, by Dorival Caymmi, by Gilberto Gil, by Ary Barroso. Accompanied by his own guitar playing, as lovely as his singing, and by Getz’s quartet with Joanne Brackeen on piano, Clint Houston on bass and Billy Hart on drums, his performance is impeccable. Getz is a little loud in the mix, especially as Gilberto is always so gentle in his delivery; it’s a bit like having somebody bellow for attention after having grown accustomed to a whisper in your ear. I’m sure it sounded balanced in the club at the time.
The Getz Quartet, on the partner release, is relaxed, stretching out on a Jobim tune as well ones by Ellington, Jimmy Rowles, Wayne Shorter and, interestingly, Kenny Wheeler (The Cry Of The Wild Goose).
The band plays well and Getz is exquisite for the most part. He does have a tendency to suddenly come on a little over-strong for no apparent reason: just listen to how he ends Gillespie’s Con Alma, and how overstretched is his tone compared to the gracefully articulated ballad playing on Prelude To A Kiss which follows it on the album (of course they might be from different nights).
But these are small quibbles – both albums are worth investigating, the Gilberto one being essential (although, to be frank, no João Gilberto is inessential in my opinion).
As with all Resonance releases the packaging and accompanying essays are excellent.
Categories: CD review