Astrud Gilberto's entry in the nicely appointed Verve Jazz Masters compilation series shows exactly why the Brazilian singer is deserving of such an accolade. In her '60s heyday, Gilberto was often derided by jazz purists for her vibrato-less "desafinado" (deliberately slightly off-pitch) singing style and deadpan, childlike voice. But the diminutive bossa nova star has since been a huge influence on dozens of jazz and pop singers.
VERVE JAZZ MASTERS is less of a greatest hits package than it is a smartly balanced retrospective of many of Gilberto's best performances. Her biggest hits, "Call Me" and "Summer Samba," are not included, and her signature tune, "The Girl From Ipanema," is only represented by a live take from a 1964 Carnegie Hall concert. The collection places equal emphasis on Gilberto's bossa nova-style interpretations of jazz standards and on her signature Portuguese-language sambas. The smartly packaged CD also features remastered sound and several rare photographs.