A quintet of wonderful records from the legendary Astrud Gilberto! First up is the Astrud Gilberto Album – pne of Astrud Gilberto's greatest albums of the 60s – a classic session produced for Verve by Creed Taylor, and featuring sweet gentle arrangements from Marty Paich, co-arranged with Antonio Carlos Jobim, who also plays guitar on the session next to the piano of Joao Donato! That's a mouthful of heavy-hitters, we know – but the result is a totally great session that has Astrud's light and gentle vocals drifting over some of the most magical boss
a backings you'll ever hear. The whole thing's great, stuffed with boss
a classics done in English – and titles include "Once I Loved", "Aqua De Beber", "O Morro", "Dindi", "Dreamer", and "Photograph". Look To The Rainbow is one of the moodiest Verve albums from Astrud Gilberto – a set that has some surprising arrangements by Gil Evans – working here on one of his few 60s dates with a singer! Astrud's blue-tinged vocals work perfectly with Evans' backdrops – and Al Cohn also takes over the helm on two of the album's tracks, but still does a very good job of keeping the groove. There's a nice mix of sadness and lightness in the set – and titles include a wonderful version of "Berimbau" that actually features berimbau playing by Dom Um Romao, a great take on "El Preciso Aprender A Ser So" with English lyrics, and the titles "Bim Bom", "Lugar Bonito", "Frevo", and "Once Upon A Summertime". For Certain Smile Certain Sadness, Verve Records got the great idea of teaming up its (then) biggest Brazilian imports – vocalist Astrud Gilberto and organist Walter Wanderley – both of whom were selling plenty at the time! Astrud's lovely vocals are matched beautifully with the lean, rhythmic boss
a grooves of Wanderley's trio – and the result is a record that's near-perfect in execution. Most of the tracks are quite short, as is the record itself – but it's a perfectly concentrated dose of the Verve boss
a sound at its best, with tracks that include "Portuguese Washerwoman", "Tu Meu Delirio", "A Certain Smile", "Call Me", "Here's That Rainy Day", "A Certain Sadness", "It's A Lovely Day Today", and a vocal version of Wanderley's big
hit "Summer Samba", redone here as "So Nice"! Windy is one of the hardest to find Astrud Gilberto records on Verve – and one of the best! Deodato, Don Sebesky, and Pat Williams did the arrangements – and the sound here is a bit different than some of the straighter Gilberto sets of the time – still very boss
a-inspired, but also in a style that mixes in some great Sunshine Pop and 60s easy influences too – particularly on the tracks arranged by Williams! Tracks are all quite short, but get a heck of a lot of magic into a tiny space – and the album features some really wonderful songs that break Gilberto's pattern a bit – including versions of the Marcos Valle tracks "Crickets Sing For Anamaria" and "Chup Chup, I Got Away" – plus takes on "Windy", "Sing Me A Rainbow", "Never My Love", and "Where Are They Now?" I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do is one of the darkest albums ever recorded by Astrud Gilberto – her 60s last session for Verve Records, and a batch of beautifully moody tunes throughout! Arrangements are by Albert Gorgoni, who'd handled Gilberto's previous September 69 album – but the style here is a bit mellower, a bit sadder – touched with more adult themes of love, life, and loss – and very much in keeping with Astrud's tear-stained image on the cover! There's a sound here that almost mixes Gilberto's earlier boss
a with the more baroque modes of Scott Walker at the end of the 60s – and as with Scott Walker's classic solo sets, the album shows a side of Astrud's talents that we never would have expected a few years earlier! Titles include "Wailing Of The Willow", "Where's The Love", "Wee Small Hours", "If", "Without Him", "Trains & Boats & Planes", "The Sea Is My Soil", and "Didn't We?".