João Gilberto – O amor, o sorriso e a flor
1960 Odeon – MOFB 3151
This pressing, early 1970’s, mono mix
A month ago, the world mourned the loss of a gentle musical soul, and an icon of a Brazil that ceased to exist long ago. Like many others, discovering João Gilberto’s music beyond the Getz/Gilberto album was a major “event” in my life that made me want to understand more about a country that could produce such a messenger of raw beauty. Twenty-odd years later and I am still coming to grips with understanding the place – as are many Brazilians these days – but this much is certain: Brazil will never produce another João Gilberto.
This is João Gilberto’s second LP – although “long player” is a bit misleading since it clocks in under 22 minutes. With Antônio Carlos Jobim as musical director, it is a classic in the genre they essentially invented together, bossa nova. João had been in ill health for some time before his passing, and his estate is kind of a mess. His work for Odeon / EMI has never seen a proper digital release. There is an out-of-print CD compilation that contained most or all of the material from his first three classic albums, with mixes that may have been taken from a 1980s LP compilation titled “O Mito”. That collection did not preserve the songs’ playing sequence of the original releases, a decision made without João’s consent, and one which really wrankled him. To add insult to injury, the CD release also had a brittle tonal quality from tampering with the EQ, and also added unnecessary reverb when there was already just exactly the right amount of plate reverb applied to the original recordings. These records were crafted with very deliberate attention to detail to fit the modernist aesthetic of late 50’s/ early 60’s Brazil, and any record executives or studio managers thinking they could improve on them or make them more “contemporary” by tweaking this or that were misguided at best. João developed a reputation for being a bit of a rabujento or grouch concerning the acoustical environment. I get warm fuzzies thinking I have a certain affinity with him on that, as if we were cut from the same cloth – but there the comparison ends. Along with my inability to stake any claims of genius or having created an entire genre of music, João had something else that I do not: complete and total control over his guitar and voice. If the man says to leave his recordings alone (or to be quiet during a performance), he knows what he is talking about and should be listened to.
Jobim also wrote the liner notes on the back jacket which paint an idyllic portrait of the pair working on these songs in a bucolic country retreat during a rainy summer, refugees from the sweltering summer heat back in Rio, with little kids playing in the other room. The kids loved “O pato” but who doesn’t like songs about ducks and geese featuring onomatopoeia? Along with songs that became standards in both MPB and jazz like Samba de uma nota só, Meditação,” and “Corcovado,” the album has some lesser-known gems like a bossa nova reading of the 1920’s hit “I’m Looking Over A Four-Leaf Clover” and the requisite Dorival Caymmi song (“Doralice”). There is also a musician’s tip of the hat to fellow guitar innovator Luis Bonfá in the lovely instrumental “Um abraço no Bonfá,” the only track here where João takes a composer credit.
A1 Samba de uma nota só 1:35
A2 Doralice 1:25
A3 Só em teus braços 1:46
A4 Trevo de quatro folhas 1:21
A5 Se é tarde, me perdoa 1:43
A6 Um abraço no Bonfá 1:35
B1 Meditação 1:44
B2 O pato 1:56
B3 Corcovado 1:58
B4 Discussão 1:47
B5 Amor certinho 1:50
B6 Outra vez 1:45
Record Company – Indústrias Elétricas E Musicais Fábrica Odeon S.A.
Musical director and arranger – Antônio Carlos Jobim
Artwork – Cesar Gomes Villela
Photography By – Francisco Pereira
Producer – Aloysio De Oliveira
LINEAGE: Odeon BR-XLD 10.421 vinyl, early 1970’s mono repress; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on very light settings, manually auditioning the output, stereo->mono; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
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