If jazz canonization is based on prolificacy, then the alto saxophone virtuoso Stan Getz is certainly guaranteed a seat at the altar. Rather than focusing primarily on jazz innovations over all 40-something albums, though, Getz included a variety of alternate styles from other countries. His most high-profile exploration, which gave jazz its highest popularity since the emergence of big band, was a series of records throughout 1963 that hit on the smooth rhythms of the Brazilian bossa nova. In terms of its popularity, these records could clearly be marked "crossover." Outside of record sales, though, there was another border crossing. Bossa nova was an inherently Brazilian music, never touched by an American player.
So Getz, though having recorded his first bossa offering with Charlie Byrd in 1963, had to be shown the way. That same year, he brought a flood of Brazilian artists to record with him in the U.S., many of whom had been playing for almost a decade. Having roots in bop, though, Getz clearly brought his own feel to languid music.
Perhaps the shining example of the complementary nature of the two inherently different styles is Getz's session with Laurindo Almeida. Throughout the resulting record, Getz and Almeida's style reveal their hard contrast. While Getz emotes all the lyrical spotlight that the progressions would seem to demand, Almeida remains tightly wound around the chord progressions and melodies.
For Almeida, who wrote most of the songs, they seem to be mere exercises; but his impressively disciplined timbre only contributes more to the setting of the music. Getz seems to come in handy for the music when he can offer variation through his own improvisation skills, as well as his ability to channel his emotion into simple staccato runs. Getz is already picking up this skill by the second track, "Outra Vez."
By the final track, "Maractu-Too," Getz is firmly enmeshed in the rhythm while Almeida begins to improvise over his own song's deceptively slippery melody. The trade-off is indicative of what the two styles bring to each other, and, more importantly, how the improvisational element of jazz, when held in check, can produce a more powerful effect.
In terms of chronology, the unification of Getz and a figure like Almeida made no sense for American jazz and its obsession with moving forward. Some pondering the viability of an already-been-done may look to this resurrection as proof of hope across all borders, musical and geographical.