Upon seeing the title Sings Gentle Bossa Nova, one might assume that this is an album of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá songs. Well, the title of this disc (which was originally released on LP by ABC/Paramount in 1965 and reissued on CD by Just a Memory/Justin Time in 2011) is technically accurate; a bossa nova beat is employed much of the time. But Connor doesn't inundate listeners with Brazilian songs on Bossa Nova, which isn't nearly as Astrud Gilberto-ish as one would expect from a vocalist who came out of jazz's cool school and could be described as the vocal equivalent of Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, or Paul Desmond. Actually, this album is a departure from the cool jazz that Connor was best known for. With Ken Greenglass (known for his work with Steve Allen and Eydie Gorme) serving as producer, and Pat Williams handling the arrangements, Bossa Nova is really an album of jazz-influenced easy listening pop rather than an album of straight-ahead jazz. But that isn't to say that it isn't enjoyable. Whether Connor is tackling Henry Mancini's "Dear Heart," the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night," Johnny Mandel's "The Shadow of Your Smile," or the Petula Clark hit "Downtown," Bossa Nova is a pleasant listen even though it falls short of the excellence that characterized so many of her straight-ahead cool jazz recordings of the '50s and '60s. As it turned out, Connor's flirtation with pop-oriented settings didn't last long; the easy listening albums she recorded for ABC/Paramount were designed to expose her to a larger audience, but they didn't sell. And so, Connor returned to straight-ahead cool jazz, which was obviously for the best, since that was what she was truly great at. But again, Bossa Nova is a decent effort even though it isn't among the essential albums that she recorded in the '60s.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson