Herbie Mann – Do The Bossa Nova (1962) (Atlantic 1397, Mono pressing)

Herbie Mann
Do The Bossa Nova
1962 Atlantic 1397
Mono pressing

Before bossa nova became the semiotic index for the synthetic happiness of mass consumer culture and alienation (and long before it was featured in the supermarkets and the Commander’s dinner parties in the current adaptation of A Handmaid’s Tale), bossa nova was  associated with the cool and cosmopolitan, with goatee-sporting hep cats like Herbie Mann.  For this record, he went to Rio and actually recorded with a bunch of the leading lights of the movement, which sets this apart from a lot of the contemporary North American jazz-bossa crossovers of the time.  The personnel includes Baden Powell, Paulo Moura, Tom Jobim, and Sérgio Mendes. A fun version of Clifford Brown’s ‘Blues Walk’ gives it a Brazilian twist.

1. Deve Ser Amor (It Must Be Love) – Baden Poweel & Vinicius de Moraes
2. Menina Feia (Ugly Girl) – Oscar Castro Neves
3. Amor Em Paz – Love In Peace – Jobim & Moraes
4. Voce E Eu (You And I) – Carlos Lyra, Vinicius de Moraes
5. One Note Samba (Samba De Uma Nota So) Antonio Carlos Jobim, Newton Mendonça
6. Blues Walk – Clifford Brown
7. Consolação (Consolation) – Baden Powell
8. Bossa Velha (Old Bossa) – Herbie Mann


Tracks 1 & 7 – Herbie Mann, flute; Baden Powell, guitar; Gabriel, bass; Alexandre Papão, drums on Deve Ser Amor; Juquinha (João Baptista Stockler Pimentel), drums on Consolação

Tracks 2 & 6 – Herbie Mann & the Sergio Mendes ‘Bossa Nova Rio’ Group: Paulo Moura, alto sax, Pedro Paulo, trumpet, Sergio Mendes, piano; Durval Ferreira, guitar; Otavio Bailly, Jr., bass; Dom Um Romão, drums.

Tracks 3 and 5 – Antonio Carlos Jobim, arrangements, piano, and vocal on 5.

Tracks 4 – Herbie Mann and the Luis Carlos Vinhas Trio (with Luis Carlos Vinhas, piano; Tião Neto, bass; Edison Machado, drums)

Track 8 – Herbie Mann and “Zezinho e sua Escola de Samba”

Recording engineers (except Bossa Velha) – Umberto

LINEAGE: Atlantic 1397 mono pressing; 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; 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.

Music scholar David Treece, whose book on bossa nova and related genres is highly recommended, singles out this album for having helped to establish the idea of bossa nova as a primarily instrumental genre in the Anglophone world, rather than a song form where the vocal delivery and lyrical content were essential to the whole aesthetic.  This is a very valid point.  The album’s liner notes make the pitch that this is the real thing, “the real bossa nova,” in contrast to the “synthetic” representations available to non-Brazilians at the time.  And those notes show a perceptive understanding of the music by outsiders that was rare.  But the North American culture industry still can’t help contributing to misreadings of the genre – in the eye-catching simplicity of the album cover’s design, the words “Do The Bossa Nova with Herbie Mann” conjure images of people attempting to do a non-existent dance.  One of key distinguishing features of the genre is that, unlike nearly all Latin American music genres, bossa nova did not have any corresponding dance tradition.  It was a music that one sat and listened to.  Treece’s observation about representing bossa as an instrumental music is made in passing (mentioned together with, if I recall correctly, Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd’s early forays).  But what I would like to know more about is how this album fit into the sub-genre of jazz bossa that was flourishing in Brazil.  From one angle, we can answer that question simply: it didn’t fit anywhere, because it was never released in Brazil, in spite of having so many important Brazilian musicians and composers involved.  Was this viewed by them as just another session in the whirlwind of musical activity that was happening in Rio in the early 60’s?  Or did they take away any specific memories or experiences from working with this white Jewish jazz guy from Brooklyn?

Herbie was a popularizer, which of course was and is anathema for many jazz heads, but I have always admired him – he gave many young up-and-coming musicians a place in his bands, and he was attempting serious engagement with “world” music styles that informed the jazz lexicon, at a time when the majority of records released in the US that encompassed Latin or African music were still relegated to the “exotica” category.  Is this the best jazz bossa album you’ve never heard?  No, almost certainly not.  Mann’s playing is often busy, much more beholden to bebop and not quite getting to the place of relaxed, parsimonious phrasing that is characteristic of the genre.  But it’s also not a bad jazz bossa record by any means, and quite a good Herbie Mann album.  His choice to end the record with his own composition, Bossa Velha, at least tells us that he learned something important from all the great Brazilian masters whose compositions make up the majority of the material:  that bossa nova has Afro-Brazilian samba at its foundation, and could not have existed without it.  Never-mind that the album jacket’s liner notes (reproduced below) make it sound as if there is only one Escola de Samba in the entire country: a proper identification would have specified which samba school lent their percussive orchestra to the track, which shows us that Americans still had a lot to learn about Brazilian music in 1962.  The song is an object lesson and respectful homage to all those who let opened the door of Brazilian music for Herbie Mann and showed him around the joint, with a message that was often lost on foreigners, then and now.

Liner notes by Dick Kleiner:

When playing  Brazilian  music,  play  it like the Brazilians do. That’s Herbie Mann’s musical philosophy. And where better to imbibe the flavor and  reality  of  Brazil s bouncing baby, the Bossa Nova, than in Rio de Janeiro ?  Exactly.

That’s why Herbie Mann took his beard and  his  two  flutes  to  Rio  to  record  this album.  It may  come  as  a  pleasant  shock to  those  who’ve  only  heard what   Mann calls “the synthetic Bossa Nova”  recorded in  New  York  and  Los  Angeles  to  hear the genuine article. The real  Bossa  Nova is a jazz-flavored samba, but it is played in a crisp, clean style undiluted with trick rhythms or pseudo-Latin phraseology.  The Bossa Nova is a modern product of a modern people ;  it  borrows  some  from the traditional music of  Brazil and some from the jazz idiom of the North Americans, but it is always itself .

You’ll hear just how varied the Bossa Nova can be in these eight selections. Mann plays his flute against several backgrounds, in different tempos and in different moods. You’ll hear the Bossa Nova fast, the Bossa Nova slow, the Bossa Nova with  strings, with jazz, with a near-primitive outburst of percussion. And  always in the foreground is Mann’s flute, sometimes swinging, some­ times haunting, always blending perfectly with  the  accompaniment.

There  are  five  groups  which  perform with Mann on this album. Perhaps most intriguing is the work of Antonio Carlo Jobim , who sings his own One Note Samba here. This is the first  time Jobim  has re­ corded this composition; Mann said he did it only because he was “disgusted” with the way it has been done on American recordings. Jobim also plays the piano on this and on a beautiful melody, Amor Em Paz.

The great Brazilian guitarist, Baden Powell, backs up Mann on two of Powell’s own tunes, Deve Ser Amor and Consolação. On Voce E Eu it is pianist Luis Carlos Vinhas and his trio. On Menina Feia and Blues Walk it is the hard-swinging young jazz group of Sergio Mendes. And on Bossa Velha ( a number Mann whipped up for the occasion ) it is a 17-piece percussion group recruited from  the  “Escola  de Samba.”

Mann originally discovered the Bossa Nova when he played in Brazil in the sum­mer of 1961. The Brooklyn-born flutist is known as a musical internationalist, and he adapted himself to this new rhythm with the same ease as he had to African music when he was there. The Brazilians told him he played it like a native, and when he came back home, he reorganized his own group so he could play it. The Bossa Nova, he says, “revitalized ” him, and he began playing it for American audiences. He went to Brazil again in the autumn of 1962 just to make these recordings, so that America could fin­ally hear the real Bossa Nova. It’s the next thing to being there !



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  1. Paul Winter was another awkward, fake, phoney, or some would describe him as just bad, American jazz instrumental recording artist who went to Rio and recorded with some of the best musicians in the Bossa Nova scene. He had some similar results compared to Herbie Mann.

  2. I passed on taking a look at this post until now, because i already had this album (thanks Loronix and Zecalauro). But your post on Bohannon spurred me to take a look at your thoughtful writing.
    Herbie Mann has always elicited mixed feelings – sometimes it seems he’s phoning it in – other times he is great, really connecting with the other players, and with me as a listener. He certainly deserves credit for opening my ears to Duane Allman (Push Push is not where most folks start with Duane Allman) and his Gagaku and Beyond album got me interested in East Asian music.
    You too, have helped get find value in music I would not have heard otherwise. Thanks for all you do!

  3. Herbie Mann has always struck me as a sincere and talented musician who has his heart in the right place. Thank you very much for this Dr. V!

  4. ….previous anonymous comment was from me.

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