Thursday 4 October 2012


One of the seminal albums of Jazz history is also one of the best recorded.  Released in 1964, while the Beatles were busy invading America, it pretty much invented a whole new genre of Latin Jazz based on Bossa Nova rhythms.   It included the colossal international hit "The Girl from Ipanema" which just about anybody could hum to you today, some 50 years later.

The 24/96 version on HDTracks is well worth the download.   On the right system it exhibits an amazing presence.  Being essentially an acoustic Jazz album, there is almost no compression, and the result rivals the best bleeding-edge audiophile recordings made today.

Getz/Gilberto won several Grammys in 1965 including Best Album, and The Girl from Ipanema won the Award for Best Record. The female vocal on Ipanema is - if your system is up to it - a beautiful thing to behold.  Astrud Gilberto, who at the time was the wife of João Gilberto, had never received any vocal training, and in fact had never even sung in public.  She was only asked to sing because they wanted to record an English version, and she was the only one present in the studio who knew any English.  Her voice conveys an incredible natural innocence, yet also nuance and emotion, with none of the techniques or vocal mannerisms of a trained - or even experienced - singer. She would go on to become an international star, but would never again quite capture that innocent quality.

"The Girl From Ipanema" was inspired by a stunning 17-year old local girl Heloísa Pinto, and although she had nothing whatsoever to do with the song (which was written in 1962), its international success brought her fame and popularity after Gilberto publicly acknowledged her as its inspiration.  Amazing to think that today she is a pensioner!