Friday, June 25, 2010

Latin Jazz Week: Astrud Gilberto

Astrud Gilberto (vocals; b. 1940)

Many may know the name or if you don't you know the song she made famous,"The Girl From Impenema" by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. But that wonderful masterpiece is not the only statement she will leave on the cultural landscape of the music lovers.

Astrud burst onto the jazz scene through the aforementioned Brasilian classic. Her soft yet uplifting bled of Brasilian and American accented vocals has always been an enchanting element in her arsenal. But also the combinations of musicians she has worked with over the years has made her lyrics and vocals something to be treasured. Her work with her husband Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz and later Gil Evans are among some of the best Bossa Nova recordings of the sixties.

Among her many later solo albums, she record an excellent duet with Chet Baker entitled, "Far Away" on the album That Girl From Impenema. Her albums during the seventies and eighties showed that she was more than just the girl we sang that famous samba launching an entire genre to the rest of the world. Astrud had become an "Artist".

While most of her material is pretty hard to find. And there is an overwhelming dearth of compilations of her '70s material--it is really hard to know where to start. I would have recommend the compilation Finest Hour (Verve). This compilation while leaning heavily on the obvious '60s material does provide a clear overview of Astrud's gentle and easily accessible "girl next door" vocals. You can fall in love very quickly with songs "So Nice," the legendary "Corcovado," "Wish Me A Rainbow" and the infectious "Crickets Sings For Anamaria".

Finest Hour is definitely what I would suggest to anyone who doesn't own an Astrud Gilberto album and wants to learn more. The songs on Finest Hour are truly beautiful and legendary. A worthy lesson in Latin/Brasilian jazz.

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