Laurindo Almeida

Laurindo Almeida Quartet, Vol. 1

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This is certainly one of the most prophetic albums of the '50s, though its ultimate historical value has been overstated somewhat. It is here that Almeida, a classical guitarist at heart but curious enough to play with the Kenton band and explore new things, makes the first cautious steps toward what would eventually bloom into bossa nova. They're not there yet by any means, though. The main Brazilian impetus comes from Almeida, who often sets a softly focused samba rhythm with his acoustic guitar. Percussionist Roy Harte, credited as the drummer but who can be seen playing a conga in the liner photo, rattles around in a semi-Latin manner when Almeida is the soloist, and Harry Babasin hangs onto the beat on bass. But when the baton is passed to the cool alto sax of Bud Shank, the groove usually straightens out into West Coast 4/4 or a mild Afro-Cuban thing. "Nono" seems to go the furthest down the road to bossa nova; even Shank tries to play a bit of samba before it switches back to the four-on-the-floor groove. While this 10" LP's implications were ignored in North America until Stan Getz broke through, copies of this LP and its successors made their ways down to Brazil in the '50s, where they reached such future pioneers as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, and other fans of American jazz. Such is the way revolutions often happen -- by stealth.