Long before Stan Getz stormed the Top Ten in 1962, Brazilian guitarists João Gilberto, Laurindo Almeida, and Luiz Bonfá were developing the bossa nova with their clean style of playing and fluid rhythmic backing for their melodic improvisation. This Él Records compilation gathers 31 tracks by five masters of the guitar, presenting some of the most seminal recordings by each of them. Luiz Bonfá's contributions include a baker's dozen from 1959, a watershed year for Brazilian music in general and for him specifically -- his music for the soundtrack to Black Orpheus presaged the spread of Brazilian music across the globe for the next five decades. João Gilberto gets comparatively little, just two early tracks, one backing up Elizete Cardoso. (Admittedly, Gilberto is already the subject of two other fine compilations on the same label.) Both Laurindo Almeida and Baden Powell get six tracks each, Almeida's work especially showing how his style caught fire among jazz circles in America thanks to his recordings with Stan Kenton and Bud Shank. But most seminal of all is the last guitarist, Garôto, born Anibal Augusto Sardinha, who toured America with Carmen Miranda during the late '30s (during the first wave of 20th-century Brazilian musical export) and recorded the four tracks heard here around 1951 -- just four years before he died at an early age of 39.
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