Bossa America

The Bossa Nova had already been maturing in Brazil for several years when, in 1959, the movie Black Orpheus first broke the sounds of Luiz Bonfa and Antonio Carlos Jobim to a larger American and European audience. The wheels were set in motion, though it took Stan Getz and João and Astrud Gilberto with 1963’s “Girl From Ipanema” to truly charge the American popular consciousness.

Its commercial potential immediately obvious, jazz musicians from coast to coast were soon adding “Mas Que Nada” and “One Note Samba” to their repertoires – or were, for better or for worse, being goaded by managers and record executives into making Bossa Nova-themed albums. This was mostly for the better. It just meant that, in the typical American fashion, Bossa Nova became a fairly loose concept, something any jazz record could invoke with the right breezy rhythm section and the promise of South American latitudes.

1. Dan Yessian Quintet, Basadelic (Sound Patterns)
Imagine my disappointment when it turns out that this wasn’t “basadelic.”

Nominally the most Brazilian of this week’s selections, this nifty jazz instrumental from the hip Michigan label Sound Patterns has a lovely, confident swing. Dan Yessian, a Detroit-area saxophonist, was later the founder and head honcho of the Yessian music production house.

I’d guess that this released around 1968.

2. The Cals, Amazon Bossa Nova (Loadstone)
Even by most the liberal standards, “Amazon Bossa Nova” is not a Bossa Nova.

It’s got an unfamiliar time signature, though, and the rattle of maracas. And though it isn’t music that seeks to startle, or to move us the brink of tears, it’s tropical – or tropical-ish – an organ jazz cocktail with no overriding motive beyond a certain loose sophistication. There’s your Bossa Nova right there.

The Cals – a hip young teen jazz and pop trio who played the lounges and clubs of the Bay Area and nearby San Rafael – were guitarist and bassist Doug Cox, organist John Allair and drummer Pete Lind.  Their “Amazon Bossa Nova,” one of several similar 45s for W.C. Stone’s great R&B label Loadstone, was recorded and released in the mid-’60s.
Pete Lind and Doug Cox still play in Bay Area jazz circles today.

3. Mk. III, Mocha Nova (Tigertown)
Just drums, flute, and a reedy-sounding electric organ. “Mocha Nova” is another low-key nightclub jazz charmer, brought to us by this obscure Tampa trio.

“Mocha Nova” has the relaxed sort of cool that would have only been heard long after nightfall, when, with the local populace asleep, it was finally safe for jazz flutes to come creeping out. Great stuff either way. “Mocha Nova” was recorded in 1966.

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One Response to Bossa America

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Cals! I have "ocean Waves" on the jukebox and always wondered if there was more. Thank you, Danny!

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