Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd - Jazz Samba (1962), 6/10

The all-American duo Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz make a great pair in this smoothly arranged and performed set of samba tracks. First, “Desafinado” opens the record with a recognizable, grounded, yet catchy tune accentuated by Getz’s horn and Betts’ bass. Then the humorously titled “Samba Dees Days” gets very lighthearted and uplifting, even joyful when delivered by these leading men. The record often occupies a lofty and pillowy space that inspires a soft smile and sway, necessary for success in samba but pulled off here consistently. Even “Samba triste” and its melancholic atmosphere manifest a calming sensation. While the music is not daring, it is undoubtedly successful in its aim and remarkable for its ability to inspire a trance-like impression. When the duo, Getz in particular, very briefly ventures outside of their hypnotic stasis the record is most successful, as both quickly withdraw to their respective origins before compromising melody or smooth progression. The plainly titled Jazz Samba is an impressively consistent, surprisingly moving bossa nova record. Marcel Camus had already exposed listeners to samba before this early album iteration of the genre for wider audiences, yet this velvety enclave of harmony remains a striking success. The album is overshadowed by the later iteration featuring Getz and Gilberto, but this early effort reflects a purer product flowing with graceful delicacy.