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Getz/Gilberto Vol. 2, Live from Carnegie Hall

This is one of my favourite live recordings of all time. I got the extended version for cheap bucks at a record store. And later, compared to other friends' copies, realised that this is the only version that really matters here, because the original release, which contains only separate performances from Getz and Gilberto, is missing the most important part.

Before proceeding, you should make sure you are aware of the dramatic contours of the historical context, and how this concert is an epilogue to a longer story arc, which includes international politics and a brutal reversal of fortune. Or don't, just ignore the backdrop. When I first heard this record, and fell in love with the characters, I also didn't know the first thing about their stories.

Picture of Getz/Gilberto vol. 2' album Cover featuring a green, yellow and black abstract painting
Getz/Gilberto - Vol. 2 Wikipedia Visit site

Getz and Gilberto were billed separately for this concert at Carnegie Hall. Opposite to the album they had completed together, but yet to be released, where João Gilberto's voice shares the space on each song with Getz's sax.

Also, in the single The Girl from Ipanema released 6 months before the show, and skyrocketing to eventually become the most famous Brazilian song of all times, they both share the song with a third voice, Astrud Gilberto, João's wife at the time, who sings the English version of Garota de Ipanema.

In my humble opinion, this concert was superbly captured by Rudy Van Gelder. Apparently, the Van Gelder sound was not very consensual at the time, but I wasn't brought up listening to jazz combos in person, so I might be too ignorant here to tell purity from technology.

Stan Getz quartet comes out first. I don't know how long they played, but there are only 4 tracks in the album. There's nothing Bossa about the Getz section. But again, to me, all tracks sound supreme and I just love how vibraphone and saxophone take turns occupying the centre, and how much dynamics there are in the performances.

Then João Gilberto takes the stage. Sitting, murmuring, fingerpicking in his own unique, inimitable style, supported by a very discrete bass line, and minimalistic drumming, and not much more happening there for 20 minutes. The sound is very clear and transparent again, the dynamics are gone, everything is now velvet. But the recording adjusted to the more intimate sound of João Gilberto and you can hear every detail.

You can Listen on Spotify to Live from Carnegie Hall as it was originally released, but you will totally be missing the point, so keep reading.

In the original release, clapping fades out aggressively after the 6th song by Gilberto. But this is where the performance gets really interesting. The third act, the reveal. The missing piece on the 10 track version.

On the night, the two headliners performed separate sets before being joined by Gilberto's then wife, Astrud — whose voice was heard on their big hit from the original album, "The Girl from Ipanema" — for the completion of the Carnegie Hall concert.

Old black and white photo of Carnegie Hall's balconies full of people
Public Domain Visit site

Getz introduces act three, and as the band kicks off the first song, "It Might as Well be Spring", for some reason, the husband and wife miss their cue. Awkwardness ensues.

And now we would like to bring out the wife of the great artist. I present Astrid Gilberto. [.. four bars ..] The wife and husband are nowhere to be found [.. stalling ..] I'll tell you a few stories, .. there was a cowboy ..

They eventually show up. Laughter. The song restarts, and it's amazing. But it gets better. Getz goes on to introduce the next song. First introduces the composers because they are in the house and because they wrote this next song especially for Astrud.

Never Trust your heart [.. Astrud giggles, someone corrects Getz ..] Only trust your heart [.. audience laughs ..].

The set goes on to include a husband & wife duet on Corcovado and an extended and lazy Girl from Ipanema. The crowd claps for a long time, the stage rearranges for an encore as João Gilberto asks for a microphone for his guitar.

The show ends with Eu e você which means me and you. Gilberto leads, Astrud sings. That's two. Then, Getz's solo sneaks in between verses. A romance for 3, to wrap up this third act.

Close up photo of Astrud Gilberto face, in warm light, and dark shadows. Tears are falling from her eyes
Astrud Gilberto Wikipedia Visit site

They divorced the next year. Not sure if the affair is an urban myth but, if you are curious, there are several articles, such as this one that support that narrative.

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