Bossa 65, by Chris May – All About Jazz

A decade or more younger than the composer / musicians in the first wave of bossa nova artists, Antonio Adolfo began recording under his own name towards the end of the 1960s. Better known as a pianist and arranger than as a composer, though he has written some notable tunes, in recent years Adolfo has carved out a niche celebrating the work of belle epoque bossa songwriters.

In 2017, Adolfo sidestepped with Hybrido: From Rio To Wayne Shorter (AAM), an inventive disc which featured interpretations of eight Wayne Shorter tunes (check "Speak No Evil" on the YouTube clip below). He returned to straightforward Brazilian curation in 2017 with BruMa: Celebrating Milton Nascimento, followed in 2021 by Jobim Forever (both AAM).

Bossa 65 is named to mark what in 2023 Adolfo identifies as the 65th anniversary of bossa. That would be 1958, the year Joao Gilberto took the music into the Brazilian mainstream with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Chega De Saudade." On the album, Adolfo showcases the work of first-wave bossa composers Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal. There are five tunes by Lyra and five by Menescal, including Menescal's "O Barquinho," which since it was first recorded in 1960 has probably generated almost as many cover versions as Jobim's "The Girl From Ipanema."

Adolfo's band, a nonet, is much the same as the ones on Celebrating Milton Nascimento and Jobim Forever. The four horns include trombonist Rafael Rocha. Ethnomusicology has yet to provide an explanation as to why the trombone has played a central role in bossa practically from day one. One might imagine the instrument to be ill-suited to bossa's gentle, chilled-out vibe, but in the hands of Brazilian players it has blended in effortlessly, altogether more like Stan Getz's occasional colleague, valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer than New Orleans tailgate.

Did the embryonic bossa musicians hanging out in Copacabana apartments and jazz bars in the mid 1950s hear Getz's 1955 Norgran LP At The Shrine featuring Brookmeyer? It seems likely but we may never know for sure. Or is the 'bone simply a hangover from marching samba bands? Or none of the above? Anyway, significantly, the first horn solo on Bossa 65, a couple of minutes into the opening track, is from Rocha. You may already have noted the somewhat rougher-textured trombone on the aforementioned "Speak No Evil," on which Serginho Do Trombone takes the first solo.