No one would have thought as they arrived at A & R Studios in New York City on that Monday evening in 1963 that they were about to give jazz such an amazing boost in popularity. Stan Getz along with pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim, Tommy Williams on bass, drummer Milton Banana (he was born Antônio de Souza), guitarist Joao Gilberto accompanied by his wife Astrud Gilberto were there to make what Getz thought of as the another record to capitalise on the success of Jazz Samba. The previous month Getz had recorded with guitarist Luiz Bonfa the album that would be called Jazz Samba Encore.
From the cover painting by Olga Albizu, admittedly from Puerto Rico, to the soft samba sounds, to the subject of the songs – Corcovado and Ipanema are in Rio de Janeiro – Getz/Gilberto oozes Brazil from every groove.
Released a year later it made No.2 on the Billboard charts and went on to spend close to two years on the best seller list. In 1965 it won the Grammy for Best Album of the Year across all musical genres, the first time a jazz album was so rewarded, and has subsequently continued to be one of the half dozen best selling jazz albums of all time. Aside from all that it proves conclusively that jazz can be commercial and artistically satisfying.
Everything that could possible be said about this album has already been said, but… It was an after thought in the studio to get Astrud to sing in English on the two tracks as it was felt it needed some tracks that could get radio airplay. Norman Gimbel who subsequently wrote English lyrics to many classic Brazilian songs wrote the lyrics to ‘The Girl From Ipanema’. He also wrote the lyrics to ‘Sway’ the Mambo classic that was a hit for Dean Martin and much later the words to Roberta Flack’s ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’. Astrud’s beautiful vocal on ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ helped propel it into best seller charts around the world, including No.5 in the USA where it also won a Grammy as Song of the Year.
The musicians were back in the studio the following day to finish off the album. When Billboard reviewed the LP in April 1964 they simply said, “The sensuous tenor sax of Stan Getz combines with the soft edged voice of Brazil’s famous Joaõ Gilberto in a program of lovely Brazilian music.” So possibly no one expected it to do as well as it did.