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Charlie Rouse : Bossa Nova Bacchanal


The exact origin of bossa nova is as indeterminable as the genesis of jazz. As Charlie Rouse said, “I’ve always been every interested in all forms of Latin music, so when the opportunity can 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.”

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Recorded in 1962 by Rudy Van Gelder at the Englewood Cliffs studio, Rouse and Co. departed from the normal hard-bop that as Monk’s main tenorman he had earned his New York rep for this date and instead took the recent bossa nova/calypso craze, started by Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd and even Sonny Rollins, to another place.
With great grooves from the rhythm section, including augmentation with conga and chekere, the result is a great collection, rooted in various Afro-Caribbean styles and not American jazzmen trying to sound Brazilian. Among others, guitarist Kenny Burrell’s and especially drummer Willie Bobo’s playing makes this not just another bossa nova fad date. Mastered and cut on an all-tube pure Mono cutting system by Bernie Grundman.

AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
This 1962 date by tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse celebrates a grander and funkier scale of what Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd did earlier in 1962 with the bossa nova. Unlike Getz, Rouse didn’t feel he needed to be a purist about it, and welcomed all sorts of Afro-Caribbean variations into his music. His choice of bandmates reflects that: a three-piece percussion section with drummer Willie Bobo, conguero Carlos “Patato” Valdes, and Garvin Masseaux on chekere (a beaded percussion instrument that is played by being shaken). Add to this bassist Larry Gales, and a pair of guitarists, Kenny Burrell, and Chauncey Westbrook, along with Rouse, and it is an unusual and exotic sextet. Burrell and Masseaux were part of Ike Quebec’s band on Soul Samba, but the two recordings couldn’t be more different. For his part, Rouse’s embrace of bossa nova, as well as other Latin and Caribbean music, is firmly rooted in jazz — and not American jazz trying to be Brazilian. Rhythmically, Rouse, who is a hard bopper if there ever was one, takes the rhythmic and harmonic concepts of the samba, marries them to Afro-Caribbean folk styles, and burns it all through with the gloriously unapologetic swing of jazz. The standout selections here are a pair of Luiz Bonfá tunes, “Velhos Tempos,” and his classic “Samba de Orfeu.” On the former, both guitarists play unamplified guitars in rhythmic counterpoint as Rouse offers first the melody, and then an improvisation in the upper register of the horn, on the latter, nix the counterpoint and listen, as both guitarists shimmer through the changes, one playing just behind the beat for a reverb effect. The percussion interplay is startling in its complexity, but seamless and warm in its balance, resulting in a fine section solo in the middle of the cut that is infectious. Ultimately, this is one of Rouse’s finest moments as a leader.


1. Back to the Tropics
2. Aconteceu
3. Velhos Tempos
4. Samba De Orfeu
1. Un Dia
2. Meci Bon Dieu
3. In Martinique


Additional information

Weight 0.550 kg
Dimensions 32.0 × 32.0 × 2.0 cm