Charlie Byrd / Stan Getz

Desafinado

Composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim / Newton Mendonça

Song Review by

“Desafinado” -- which roughly translates as ‘off key’ or ‘slightly out of tune’ -- was one of the earliest tracks to have introduced the Brazilian-influenced Bossa Nova into North America’s musical mainstream. The blithe melody and breezy syncopated rhythms became one of the most instantly recognizable facets of jazz-influenced pop in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. It was Charlie Byrd (guitar) who actually picked up on the Samba vibe while touring Brazil, bringing the exotic sounds to Getz’ attention. This ultimately led not only to “Desafinado” becoming a Top 20 pop crossover hit in October of ’62, but also garnered the pair a Grammy win the same year. Although the infectious Getz/Byrd collaboration was initially presented as an instrumental, it was reworked during Getz’ association with João Gilberto (guitar/vocal) and Antonio Carlos Jobim (piano) for inclusion on the celebrated Getz/Gilberto (1964) album. This disc also spawned the Top 5 hit “The Girl From Ipanema”. Here the melody of “Desafinado” is further enhanced by the traditional Brazilian vocals from João, giving the song a more intimate and romantic allure. Another discerning factor is the intricate interaction between Gilberto’s guitar work, Jobim’s delicate keyboard inflections and the viscous and soulfully smoky tenor sax of Getz. A live version of this configuration is available on the Carnegie Hall Concert 1964 (1998) archival release, featuring Getz’ Quartet along with Gilberto. This is the same run of shows that produced the Getz/Gilberto #2 (1965) release on Verve.

“Desafinado” has also been covered by literally dozens of additional pop and jazz artists, ranging from the decidedly R&B rendering courtesy of the Drifters to the bop mastery of Dizzy Gillespie and violin virtuoso of Stephane Grappelli.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Jazz Samba 1962 Verve 5:51
Gitane Jazz: Autour De Minuit 1992 PolyGram / Universal 5:49
Your Hit Parade: '60s Instrumentals - Take Two 1993
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
Verve Story 1944-1994 1994
Various Artists
Polygram 5:49
Great Jazz Soloists 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / PSM 5:51
Nova Bossa: Red Hot on Verve 1996
Various Artists
Red Hot Organization / Verve 5:49
Masters of Jazz, Vol. 7: Jazz Hit Singles 1996
Various Artists
Rhino 0:00
Wave: The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook 1996 Verve 5:50
A Trip to Brazil: 40 Years of Bossa Nova 1998
Various Artists
Motor 5:50
Essential Jazz [Time Life] 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:51
The Best of Ken Burns Jazz 2000
Various Artists
Legacy / Columbia 0:00
Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of America's Music 2000
Various Artists
Legacy / Columbia 5:50
Classic Jazz: Jazz Masters 2002
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:51
The Art of Duo 2004 Verve 5:52
To Go: Stick It in Your Ear 2006 Verve 0:00
Jazz Number 1's 2007
Various Artists
Verve 2:02
The Bossa Nova Albums 2008 Universal / Verve 5:51
Best of Bossa Nova: The Girls from Ipanema
Various Artists
PolyGram / Verve 5:51
Coffee to Go: Latin Jazz, Vol. 2
Various Artists
Bella Musica Edition / Zebralution
Fiesta Party Playlist
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 5:47
Let's Do It: 60 Years of Verve Records
Various Artists
Universal 5:52
Moon River: Great Instrumental Hits of the '60s
Various Artists
Dynamic Nostalgia 1:57