Last year I reviewed a great compilation of Bossa Nova music from the 1960's released on the UK label Soul Jazz called Bossa Nova & The Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s (http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2011/04/bossa-nova-rise-of-brazilian-music-in.html). Soul Jazz also released the great companion piece Bossa Nova And The Story Of Elenco Records, Brazil that is mandatory listening if you like this type of music. As great as those records are, this new Bossa Jazz compilation is the one I've been waiting for. Bossa Nova started off as a mixture the Brazilian samba and American jazz music, usually the so-called "cool" style from the West Coast. But pretty quickly it started mutating. Many "hard bop" jazz players like Art Blakey, Kenny Dorham, etc added the bossa influence into their repertoire. That in turn inspired the musicians in Brazil. And one of the great things about this music is that, while it may be musically complex, it is completely irresistible and very appealing to a mass audience. Who needs The Beatles when you can boogie to Sergio Mendes?
The title of this collection tells you everything you need to know. If you've checked out some bossa nova and it's a little too jazzy for you, then steer clear of this collection. If sometimes you wish the solos went on a little longer, then this is right up your alley. Me, I like it all. Even though these are definitely more jazz oriented songs, the arrangements are very tight and rarely go on for more than 5 minutes. I'm far from an expert in Brazilian music but many of the artist names were familiar to me - Sergio Mendes, Antonio Carlos, Jobim, Quarteto Novo, Airto Moreira and, my favorite, Walter Wanderley. There are many more who I've never heard of and will never be able to properly pronounce their names but at least I can type them, including Sambalanca Tio, Edu Lobo, Joao Donato, Tenorio Jr.
Instrumentation varies from piano led trios, to others where acoustic guitar and/or trombone are the lead instruments. There are some vocals, but this is primarily an instrumental record. I have no idea what any of the songs are about and it's a lot of fun to try and sing along. But even more fun is to drive my wife crazy by banging on a coffee can with a fork. Even better is when my 4 year old daughter chimes in with her own vocal and percussive additions. Eventually my wife will surrender and join in. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. There are no duds on either of the 2 discs. The packaging is excellent and comes with a nice booklet full of information and great photos. I really can't say more about this collection because I'd rather be listening to it. Spring is here and it's time to turn off the computer, get in the car and go space truckin with this one playing loud.