Charlie Byrd: Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros (1962)
Few Americans approached bossa nova with the commitment and understanding of Charlie Byrd. His classically influenced, unamplified style was perfectly suited to the Brazilian music that quickly became his forte after the success of Jazz Samba, after which he never looked back. Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros is his finest hour, a record’s worth of bossa nova standards and originals that effectively sum up the essential tunes and everything captivating about Brazil’s finest musical export. The folksy, lilting charm and warm groove of bossa are perfectly captured through Byrd’s deft plucking; an inspired head to “Bim Bom” and a catchy intro to “The Bird” prove that he can enhance the music with novel ideas that suit the idiom. His busy classical chops and bluesy jazz licks sure don’t sound like they would fit together, but Byrd stitches them into a convincing whole, one of the few successful Third Stream efforts ever made.
Unfortunately, Byrd falls into the trap that many who recorded bossa nova couldn’t escape: several tracks are washed over by an orchestra that provides unnecessary coloring. This doesn’t detract from the music per se (although a few of the extra tracks bear a passing resemblance to Herb Alpert’s Tijauna Brass), but the performances don’t need them and could stand on their own quite well. Still, the melodies shine through like sculpted sunshine and Byrd’s renditions of these tunes are flawless, and in some cases, definitive. The best bossa nova album is still Getz/Gilberto, but Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros isn’t far behind.
Track Listing: 1. Yvone 2. A Salute To Bonfa 3. Meditation 4. You And I 5. A Most Beautiful Thing 6. Little Boat 7. Slightly Out Of Tune 8. Samba Triste 9. Bim Bom 10. Ho-Ba-La-La 11. She Has Gone 12. The Bird 13. Once More 14. Birthday Present 15. How Insensitive 16. Three Note Samba 17. Samba Of My Country 18. Limehouse Blues.
Personnel: Charlie Byrd-guitar; Keter Betts-bass; Buddy Deppenschmidt-drums; various others.