The phrase you see in the headline above is mine. It's a subtle genre played mostly by Blue Note recording artists between 1963 and 1965. While the bossa nova craze raged, hard bop artists for the label were adding their own twist. The results weren't quite hard bop, Afro-Cuban or straight up bossa nova popular at the time. It was something else, with a different energy level.
First, a little background on the bossa nova. In 1957 French singer Henri Salvador recorded Dans Mon Ile—a medium-tempo ballad with a light Latin beat. Salvador's [pictured] song was featured in Europa di Notte, a 1957 Italian film that was widely distributed in Brazil. Among those influenced by the song's slowed Latin rhythm and soft sound was Antonio Carlos Jobim. In later years, Jobim cited the Salvador recording as playing a vital role in his bossa nova direction and development.
Inspired by Salvador, samba and other regional music and musicians, Jobim set to work composing songs built on a cool delivery. One of the first big Brazilian albums of bossa nova songs was Elizeth Cardoso's Cancao do Amor Demais. Recorded in 1958, Cardoso sang songs written by Jobim (music) and Vinicius de Moraes (lyrics).
Then in 1959, French director Marcel Camus filmed Black Orpheus in Rio de Janeiro. The film's soundtrack featured the bossa nova music of Jobim and guitarist Luiz Bonfa, and the film received huge international acclaim, winning a Palme d'Or at Cannes and an Oscar and Golden Globe for best foreign film of the year.
Jazz musicians traveling to Brazil during 1960 and 1961 couldn't help but be exposed to bossa nova's infectious beat and rising popularity. Guitarist Charlie Byrd, for example, toured Brazil in the spring of 1961 for the U.S. State Department. When touring musicians returned to the U.S., they played their newly acquired bossa nova records for other jazz musicians, and the beat spread. That's how Stan Getz first heard bossa nova—off Byrd's LPs.
In July 1961, Herbie Mann was in Rio de Janeiro with a group that included Kenny Dorham, Curtis Fuller, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn and Ahmed Abdul-Malik. They recorded a jazz album there, Jazz Committee for Latin American Affairs. When Mann returned, he recorded Brazil, Bossa Nova and Blues in late 1961. The Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond followed with Bossa Nova USA in January 1962.
Getz, more than any other jazz musician, popularized and advanced the bossa nova beat, starting with Charlie Byrd on Jazz Samba in February 1962. Next Getz recorded Big Band Bossa Nova in August 1962, Jazz Samba Encore! in February 1963 and perhaps the finest jazz bossa nova album of them all, Getz/Gilberto, in March 1963.
Back in early 1962, with Getz's first bossa nova album on commercial fire, jazz producers hustled musicians into recording studios in an effort to catch the wave. Dizzy Gillespie recorded the track No More Blues with Lalo Schifrin on Dizzy on the French Riviera in May 1962, and Quincy Jones recorded a bossa nova album in August. Next came separate efforts from Coleman Hawkins and Gene Ammons in September 1962, Ike Quebec in October, Charlie Rouse in November and Cannonball Adderley in December.
By 1963, the bossa nova clearly was the next big Latin thing. The beat was cooler than the cha-cha-cha and mambo, which had become slightly less trendy with the fall of Cuba in 1959. The bossa nova also was much more popular with younger, hip listeners who already were leaning toward folk and less slick music.
While many older, established jazz artists recorded Jobim songs and standards with a bossa nova tweak, several Blue Note artists were combining hard bop with a bossa nova beat. This Blue Note movement was short-lived—lasting about two years—and was replaced ultimately at the label by the boogaloo beat.
Here are five of my favorite examples of what I call "Afro-bossa hard bop." The bossa tracks are in bold below, with their corresponding albums in parenthesis followed by recording dates:
Kenny Dorham—Sao Paulo (Una Mas), April 1963.
Joe Henderson—Recorda-me (Page One), June 1963.
Art Blakey—Pensativa (Free for All), February 1964.
Lee Morgan—Ceora (Cornbread), September 1965.
Hank Mobley—Recado Bossa Nova (Dippin'), June 1965.
Know of others? Send them along by email. I'll compile a master list. Just remember the ground rules: The tune has to be a jazz original—not a Jobim tune or standard—with a bossa nova beat that was recorded by a hard bop artist.
JazzWax tracks: Henri Salvador's inspirational Dans Mon Ile is available as a download at iTunes or here at Amazon. Elizeth Cardoso's Cancao do Amor Demais album is out of print on CD but a mint copy of the original LP recently was selling for $88 at eBay. To hear album samples, go here. If anyone finds the CD, please pass the word and I'll let everyone know.
Each of the Afro-bossa hard bop tracks mentioned above are available at iTunes—or the CDs can be purchased online. To hear Hank Mobley play Recado Bossa Nova, go here.
JazzWax video clip: Dig this clip of Recorda-me with Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams and Bobby Hutcherson at Town Hall in 1985.