The Japanese branch of EMI Toshiba has just issued 50 budget-priced CDs as part of its “Jazz 999 Best & More” series, including the tremendous George Shearing Bossa Nova, the late pianist’s lovely 1963 album, his first such experiment in the Brazilian fad that swept the Western world in the early half of the 1960s.
Caught up in the Bossa Nova craze that swept through jazz and popular music in the early 1960s, pianist George Shearing makes – perhaps – the first of his 1960s records that marks itself of its time.
Released in May 1963, George Shearing Bossa Nova finds Shearing’s piano set off rather remarkably by sensitively deployed woodwinds and “Brazilian rhythm,” all arranged to immaculate perfection by the great Clare Fischer, who had already arranged quite a number of Cal Tjader albums as well as several Bossa Nova albums on Pacific Jazz for the great saxophonist Bud Shank, who is surely one of the unnamed reed players heard here.
The well-tempered program mixes such cleverly considered Bossa Nova standards as “One Note Samba,” “Desafinado” and “Manha de Carnaval (Morning of the Carnival)” with jazz standards “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Blue Prelude,” done up in a refreshingly Bossa Nova style that sounds entirely compatible with the Latin styles Shearing popularized in the past.
Also included here is Ralph Melendez’s pretty “Nevermore,” bassist on the session Ralph Peña’s “Algo Novo,” Shearing’s “Black Satin” (the title track to his 1957 album), guitarist Laurindo Almeida’s “Amazona’s Legend,” Clare Fischer’s “Samba da Borboleta (Butterfly Samba)” and the now standard “Pensativa,” here in its second recorded performance following its first appearance on a Bud Shank record.
Shearing sounds absolutely at home here, which prompts one to ask why he didn’t further explore either more Bossa Nova music or albums coated in Brazilian rhythms? Perhaps it just wasn’t his bag. Or maybe Capitol didn’t want him to veer too far from the lucratively lush loveliness of the orchestrated Quintet sound.
Guitarist Laurindo Almeida is no doubt another of the unnamed musicians featured here – prominently on “Desafinado,” “Nevermore,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Algo Novo,” “Black Satin” and his own “Amazona’s Legend” (which has not been recorded elsewhere) – as he is distinctively featured (though mysteriously unnamed) and considered one of the first musicians who introduced Bossa Nova to the United States.
Additionally, Almeida was under contract to Capitol at the time and the company was all about pairing Shearing with Capitol recording artists like Nat King Cole and Nancy Wilson. Almeida had waxed Viva Bossa Nova! for Capitol a few months earlier, an album that also featured “One Note Samba” and “Desafinado” covered on George Shearing Bossa Nova, as well as the April 1963 release of Ole! Bossa Nova! that precedes George Shearing Bossa Nova by one catalog number.
It’s a shame – and a shock! – that the company didn’t see fit to name Laurindo Almeida on the record. This would have made a notable duo record for both the pianist and the guitarist.
The George Shearing Bossa Nova album has been newly re-mastered as part of the limited-edition “Jazz 999 Best & More” series (and sounds spectacularly lovely) from EMI Toshiba, exclusively available in Japan from the Capital, Jubilee, Colpix, United Artists, Pacific Jazz, World Pacific, Roost, Roulette and even Sue (!) archives – most of which is available for the first time on CD and all of which will probably go very fast. Here is what else is available in the series:
●TOCJ 50101 THE CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUINTET WITH STRINGS / Great Love Themes (1966)
●TOCJ 50102 LAURINDO ALMEIDA / A Man And A Woman (1967)
●TOCJ 50103 LAURINDO ALMEIDA / The Look Of Love (1968)
●TOCJ 50104 KEN HANNA AND HIS ORCHESTRA / Jazz For Dancers (1955)
●TOCJ 50105 THE JONAH JONES QUARTET / Swingin’ on Broadway (1957)
●TOCJ 50106 STAN KENTON / Kenton’s West Side Story (1961)
●TOCJ 50107 JUNIOR MANCE / Straight Ahead! (1964)
●TOCJ 50108 MANHATTAN TRANSFER / Jukin' (1971)
●TOCJ 50109 HOWARD ROBERTS QUARTET / Something’s Cookin’ (1964)
●TOCJ 50110 FRANK ROSOLINO / Kenton Presents Jazz (1954)
●TOCJ 50111 GEORGE SHEARING / Bossa Nova (1962)
●TOCJ 50112 PAUL SMITH / Delicate Jazz (1957)
●TOCJ 50113 SUPERSAX / Supersax Plays Bird With Strings (1973)
●TOCJ 50114 Clark Terry / Coleman Hawkins / Sonny Clark / Eddie Costa Memorial Concert (1962)
●TOCJ 50115 RANDY WESTON / Highlife (1963)
●TOCJ 50116 JOE MORELLO / Collections (1957)
●TOCJ 50117 EDDIE COSTA / VINNIE BURKE / Trio (1956)
●TOCJ 50118 JOE PUMA / Jazz (1957 – with Bill Evans, Eddie Costa, Oscar Pettiford and Paul Motian)
●TOCJ 50119 ETHEL AZAMA / Cool Heat (1960 – with Marty Paich’s Orchestra featuring Art Pepper)
●TOCJ 50120 HOWARD RUMSEY’S LIGHTHOUSE ALL STARS / Double of Nothin’ (1957)
●TOCJ 50121 ROY AYERS / West Coast Vibes (1963 – his debut with Jack Wilson, Curtis Amy and Bill Plummer)
●TOCJ 50122 COUNT BASIE / Basie Meets Bond (1965)
●TOCJ 50123 ART BLAKEY/JAZZ MESSENGERS / 3 Blind Mice (1962)
●TOCJ 50124 DIAHANN CARROLL AND THE ANDRE PREVIN TRIO / Porgy and Bess (1959)
●TOCJ 50125 BENNY GOLSON / Benny Golson & the Philadelphians (1958)
●TOCJ 50126 BILLIE HOLIDAY / Lady Love (1954)
●TOCJ 50127 BOOKER LITTLE / Booker Little 4 & Max Roach (1958)
●TOCJ 50128 PAUL QUINICHETTE / Like Basie! (1959)
●TOCJ 50129 JEROME RICHARDSON / Going to the Movies (1962)
●TOCJ 50130 RANDY WESTON / Live at the Five Spot (1959)
●TOCJ 50131 BOOKER ERVIN / Structurally Sound (1966)
●TOCJ 50132 BOOKER ERVIN / Booker ‘n’ Brass (1967)
●TOCJ 50133 GIL EVANS / New Bottle, Old Wine (1958)
●TOCJ 50134 CLARE FISCHER / First Time Out (1962)
●TOCJ 50135 CLARE FISCHER / Surging Ahead (1963)
●TOCJ 50136 RICHARD “GROOVE” HOLMES / Groove (1961 – his debut, with Ben Webster)
●TOCJ 50137 THE MASTERSOUNDS / The Mastersounds Play Horace Silver (c. 1960)
●TOCJ 50138 LES McCANN & THE JAZZ CRUSADERS / Jazz Waltz (1963)
●TOCJ 50139 THE MODEST JAZZ TRIO / Good Friday Blues (1960 – with Red Mitchell, Jim Hall and Red Kelly)
●TOCJ 50140 THE BUDDY RICH BIG BAND / Mercy, Mercy (1968)
●TOCJ 50141 BUD SHANK / Barefoot Adventure (1961 Soundtrack)
●TOCJ 50142 BUD SHANK/MICHEL LEGRAND / Windmills of Your Mind (1969)
●TOCJ 50143 RAVI SHANKAR / Improvisations (1961)
●TOCJ 50144 TONI ALESS / Long Island Suite (1955)
●TOCJ 50145 SELDON POWELL / Seldon Powell Sextet (1956)
●TOCJ 50146 SPECS POWELL & CO. / Movin’ In (1957)
●TOCJ 50147 SONNY STITT / The Saxophones of Sonny Stitt (1958)
●TOCJ 50148 ART BLAKEY/CHARLIE PERSIP/ELVIN JONES/”PHILLY” JOE JONES / Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland (1960)
●TOCJ 50149 JOHN HANDY / No Coast Jazz (1960)
●TOCJ 50150 RAY BRYANT / Cold Turkey (1964)