The Swinger From Rio // Sergio Mendes feat. Art Farmer and Phil Woods (Atlantic SD 1434)

After unexpected travel, I am back at my computer.  And when I say unexpected, I mean exhausting, and when I’m exhausted, there’s nothing like bossa nova to aurally scratch my back and help me relax.  Out of the many jazz bossa nova albums out there, this relatively obscure title by one of those most unobscure (just made a new word.  Webster take notice) Brazilian musicians around hits the spot.

The Music

Tune:  Maria Moita

Personnel:

  • Phil Woods-  Alto Sax
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim-  Guitar
  • Sergio Mendes-  Piano
  • Tiao Netto-  Bass
  • Chico DeSouza-  Drums

Recorded:  7-9 December, 1964 in New York City, NY

Tune:  The Girl From Ipanema


Personnel:

  • Art Farmer-  Flugelhorn
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim-  Guitar
  • Sergio Mendes- Piano
  • Tiao Netto-  Bass
  • Chico DeSouza-  Drums

Recorded:  7-9 December, 1964 in New York City, NY

Recorded during the height of bossa nova’s heyday but not released until 1966, this album featured an all-star lineup, even if the public didn’t yet realize it.  Phil Woods and Art Farmer were long-time members of the jazz scene, and Antonio Carlos Jobim was already beginning to be compared to George Gershwin and Cole Porter in terms of his songwriting skills.  On some of the other tracks on the album, flutist Hubert Laws steps in for some deft work.  Then there’s the pianist, Sergio Mendes, almost unknown to most of the 1964 American record-buying public.  In fact, Mendes was a Brazilian transplant, having moved to America just before recording this album in 1964.  Mendes is better known as the leader of a popular vocal group known as Brasil ’66, which catapulted him from obscurity to an immensely influential musician who is still active today.

In the early and mid-60’s, he was only a Brazilian pianist with a jazz accent, and he plays some nice piano, nothing to make you forget Bill Evans or Oscar Peterson, but some solid piano.  The two tracks above show both his punchy side and his more reflective side, as well as showing how sympathetic he was as an accompanist.  Phil Woods and Art Farmer are two very different players, yet Mendes matches their playing.  The music is swinging (swaying, really.  I always thought bossa nova made you sway, not so much swing) and energetic with Phil on deck, cooling down to a relaxed, ‘after hours’ mood when Art steps in with some smooth and silky flugel.  The girl from Ipanema has made that walk to the beach thousands of times since Astrud Gilberto first told Americans about her, but this version manages to avoid the cheesiness and tiredness that plagues most covers of the song.  It’s authentic bossa nova from an authentic source.

The Cover

FullSizeRender (93)College Jazz Collector Rating:  A-

I will probably have some people shaking their heads at this rating, so let me briefly explain.  First, this picture is kinda iconic for Sergio.  It’s a rare picture of him without his beard, which he sported almost constantly from the mid-60’s to the present.  His piercing look, two notches below a glare, is also pretty wild and arresting.  It definitely makes you stop and look back at him.  The font of the title and subtitles is pretty groovy for the 1960’s, and the layout is wonderfully minimal and sleek.  It exudes all the seriousness and tact that a jazz musician commanded then.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how one looks at it), Sergio’s albums didn’t sell that well while at Atlantic, forcing him to regroup with a vocal group on a different label, which turned out to be much more successful for him.  The notch on the bottom right corner of the album cover is evidence to the low sales of the album.

The Back

SergioSolid notes from Mr. Bob Altshuler.  Some research showed that Bob was Columbia’s Publicity Director, as well as a long-time jazz-lover and collector.  Both the front and the back are in relatively great condition, with little to no yellowing.

The Vinyl

Beautiful clean vinyl, non-deep groove by 1966, with the original labels, indicating a first pressing.  It plays clean and quiet, and the stereo is warm and enveloping.  It may not be as life-like as one may hope, but it has an informal, late-in-the-afternoon-in-the-back-room kind of quality.  That is to say, relaxed and breezy.

The Place of Acquisition

eBay once again with the score.  I had heard the ‘Ipanema’ track online, and that cut alone made me search for the album.  It wasn’t too hard to find and was under $20, which made the purchase that much easier.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Jazz Vinyl College Collector

One response to “The Swinger From Rio // Sergio Mendes feat. Art Farmer and Phil Woods (Atlantic SD 1434)

  1. roger hunter

    E-music have this title as Sergio Mendes Trio “Bossa Nova York” almost the exact same tune list (well it is e-music)
    Roger Hunter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s