Walter Wanderley

Boss of the Bossa Nova

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Pianist, organist, arranger, bossa nova evangelist, and Brazilian expatriate Walter Wanderley is often thought of in terms of kitsch. That's too bad. As this collection articulates so beautifully over 45 tracks from his Verve and Philips catalogs alone (he recorded a handful or two of albums for other labels as well), Wanderley was nothing if not a true innovator in arrangement and sonic construction. His recording of Marcos Valle's "Summer Samba" from 1966 is regarded as perhaps a more definitive bossa tune than "Girl From Impanema." Mostly, what one will find here is Wanderley's shimmering organ work on classics such as Jorge Ben's "Pula Baú," Marcos and Sergio Valle's "Batacuda Surgiu" and "Deus Brasilero," Tom Jobim's "Samba do Avião" and "Goodbye Sadness" with Astrud Gilberto, and Viktor Lobo's "The Great Arrival." In addition to these well-known Wanderley numbers are the love theme from the film Man and a Woman, João Donato's "Amazonas," and another Valle/Valle classic, "Batacuda" from the album of the same name. But what's most remarkable about this boss of the bossa nova is that the material here covers a scant four years, from 1964-1968, a period of intense focus on bossa nova in the United States and throughout Europe as well. These were the years in which Tom Jobim was establishing himself as an international artist and the years before the Tropicalismos shook up their homeland enough to be exiled. Wanderley is seldom celebrated for his particular genius, which was not as melancholy as Jobim's, as these tracks duly attest, nor was he as elegant as João Gilberto or Vincius Canturias. He was, however, uncanny with a melody and knew how to voice its most attractive elements and make them almost irritatingly catchy -- check out the tunes "Bola Ibranca," "Tema do Vava," "Vou de Smaba Con Você," and the snappy "Dreixa Isso Pra La," all sequenced in a row before "Batacuda Surgiu." A bright, airy, sprightly organ against an insistent, even overpowering rhythm track and a popping bassline under melodies so breezy and tropical, they move through the listener's consciousness effortlessly and hook into the mind, where they become unforgettable even as they insist on the body's participation in the equation. Wanderley may have been a forgotten man when he passed away and his record company may have packaged him previously as merely a lounge act, but packages don't matter; what lives on is music so sophisticated, graceful, and enduring that justice will prevail eventually in placing him alongside his countrymen in the bossa nova pantheon.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:06
2 2:36
3 2:49
4 2:22
5
2:02
6 2:41
7
2:20
8 3:28
9 2:37
10 2:49
11
2:49
12 2:49
13 2:03
14 2:32
15 2:45
16 2:08
17 2:40
18 4:21
19
3:09
20 3:06
21 3:22
22 3:58
23 3:02
24 2:13
25
2:47
blue highlight denotes track pick