In 1959, Brazilian singer-songwriter Joao Gilberto recorded "Chega de Saudade" by composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, and the
recording is often cited as the first bossa nova record, a smash hit in Brazil. By blending the rhythms of traditional samba, the sophisticated chordal harmony of jazz, and a focus on melody, Joao became credited with inventing a new style of popular music. American jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd discovered the sound in 1961 while touring South America. He turned
saxophonist Stan Getz on to Jobim's songs, resulting in the 1962 album Jazz Samba (Verve Records 810 061-2), which became one of the biggest selling jazz albums ever. Bossa nova subsequently became a craze in America and composers began incorporating elements of the style into their songs and film scores.
In 1963, Stan Getz teamed up with Joao Gilberto for the album Getz/Gilberto, which also featured Jobim. During the recording, producer Creed Taylor felt that one song, Jobim's "The Girl From Ipanema," was a potential hit, but needed some English lyrics in addition to Joao's Portuguese. Fortuitously present at the session was Joao's wife Astrud (born in Bahia, Brazil, 1940), who knew a little English, but had no professional singing experience.
She was given a shot at "Ipanema" and the result was so charming that a 7" single version (with Joao's vocal edited out) became a smash hit in America in the summer of 1964, and the album outsold Jazz Samba.
Astrud's untrained, unaffected, wistful, almost childlike voice, tinged with the sadness of Brazilian history and a tendency to drift a bit off-key, held such appeal that a singing career of her own was accidentally begun. She then contributed some vocals on Getz Au Go Go and Getz/Gilberto #2, which was recorded live at Carnegie Hall on 10/9/1964.
Astrud went on to record five superb albums for Verve from 1965-1967, all recorded with excellent arrangers and produced by Creed Taylor, (all now available in various forms and configurations of CD reissues). She continued in the bossa nova style, leaning more towards her forte of pop rather than jazz. The Astrud Gilberto Album contained almost exclusively Jobim material. The Shadow Of Your Smile and Look To The Rainbow are mostly non-Jobim Brazilian material and a handful of jazz standards. A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness finds her backed by the fabulous Walter Wanderley trio, which features, of course, Walter's unique Hammond B-3 organ sound. Beach Samba contained more Hollywood and Broadway tunes along with Brazilian fare. Collect them all!
Her final three albums for Verve Records were produced by Brooks Arthur and showed her drifing away from the bossa sound and into what was then a more mainstream American sound. Windy came in 1967, followed by I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do in 1968 and September 17, 1969.