Charlie Rouse’s ‘Bossa Nova Bacchanal’

Read The Liner Notes To Our New Release With Blue Note

On April 17th 2018

Charlie ROuse

Last year, we reissued two Blue Note classics, Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music, and Johnny Griffin’s A Blowing Session. Today, we’re releasing the third album in our series with Blue Note; Charlie Rouse’s Bossa Nova Bacchanal. Below, you can read an excerpt of the original liner notes.

The exact origin of bossa nova is as indeterminable as the genesis of jazz. It is beyond dispute, of course, that records by such American artists as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker made a profound impression during the 1940s and ‘50s on young musicians in Brazil. It is also a matter of record that a guitarist from Sao Paolo, Laurindo Almeida, collaborated in Hollywood with a jazz saxophonist, Bud Shank, to apply jazz harmonic and rhythmic ideas to certain popular folk melodies from Brazil. Whether these developments had any bearing on the birth of bossa nova has been the subject of animated disagreement from Brazil to the Bronx.

Less debatable is the fact that some five years ago a conclave of youngsters in Rio began to express their disillusionment with the traditional samba, which they felt had developed a false sophistication, was becoming hybrid and distorted and consequently short on authenticity. They proposed to remedy this situation by experimenting with new ideas on every level—rhythmic, harmonic, melodic and lyrical. This new thing, new wave or flair was called bossa nova, and the first festival celebrating its creation was held in the fall of 1959 in the auditorium of Rio Architecture University.

With the emergence of a new form and new beat for the sam, Joao Gilberto, the singer and guitarist, became the king of the movement. A Gilberto LP Chega de Saudade, release in 1959, brought the interest in bossa nova from a limited in-group to broad national attention. Before long the Brazilian record companies were jumping on the bandwagon with vocal or instrumental version of many of the attractive songs born of the movement. Additional impetus was provided by a remarkable motion picture, Black Orpheus, winner of the grand prize at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, for the picture had a score wrtiten by two of the primer movers in bossa nova. They were Antonio Carlos Jobim, best known as Gilberto’s musical director, and Luiz Bonfa, a subtly brilliant guitarist and composer.

What happened from 1960 on is common enough knowledge to need only a brief recapitulation here. Beginning in that year there was a heavy influx, into Brazil and other South American countries, of jazz-men who listened in fascination to the gentle understatement of the Brazilian rhythms combined with the harmony of jazz. Roy Eldridge, a member of one touring group, came home and recorded a blues entitled Bossa Nova; he was first with the name, but not with the music. Ironically the artists whose success led directly to the present international excitement, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, used the genuina samba feeling, but nowwhere in tune titles or liner notes referred to bossa nova as such.

Whatever one calls this music, new samba or bossa nova or simply Brazilian jazz, this much is clear: there is more to it than the eight-to-the-bar undercurrent, or the frequent two-bar repeated clave statement (two dotted quarters, quarter, quarter rest, two dotted quarters) that constitute the technical basis of bossa nova. Essentially this is a feeling, a reflection of a pattern of life as mirrored by a particular group of individualism and, this reflection can change greatly according to the special reactions of the interpreters.
Charlie Rouse is an American jazz musician, a tenor saxophonist and a graduate of many well known big bands and small combos; it might therefore be expected that his background provided him for a reaction to bossa nova not unlike the reaction of, say, Ike Quebec, whose Soul Samba was heard on Blue Note 4114. As even a superficial observation of the two albums will show, this was not the case. Despite the presence of two of the same sidemen (Kenny Burrell and Garvin Masseaux) and the use of basically comparable material, Rouse sees and hears bossa nova very differently.

Heard previously on Blue Note in sessions with Bennie Green, Fars Navarro, Donald Byrd, Sonny Clark and others, Rouse is essentially a tenor man of the hard modern school. Born in 1924 in Washington, D.C., he earned his jazz orientation in the first early big bands of the bebop years—Billy Eckstine’s in 1944, Dizzy Gillespie’s in ‘45—and toured for a year with Duke Ellington in 1949-50. In recent years he was heard intermittently as co-leader with Julius Watkins of Les Jazz Modes, as a member of Buddy Rich’s aggressively swinging group, and from 1959 most often with Thelonious Monk.

These associations clearly were significant not only in the growth of Rouse’s general improvisational style but also in the nature of his approach to bossa nova. He tackles it head on, with a roundhouse sound, plenty of percussion backing and a thoroughly convincing rhythmic interpretation of the melodies.

“I’ve always been very interested in all forms of Latin music,” says Charlie, “so when the opportunity came along to make this album, I was prepared to make it as authentic as possible, injecting the true rhythmic feeling of bossa nova—that’s why I used Latin rhythm players—but also including enough jazz feeling to keep my own personality intact.”

You can read the rest of the Liner Notes by buyingBossa Nova Bacchanalnow.

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