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August 21, 2008


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"The beauty of The Girl From Ipanema is that there are no bad versions of the song. Actually, let me rephrase: You have to work really hard to mess it up."

If only! "Ipanema" is notorious for getting butchered at jam sessions by players who don't know the bridge changes. Let alone all the lifeless, groovelss musak-y and bossa-lite renditions.

ivan Santiago

I might well prefer Jobim's own vocal on this one. Even if he isn't exactly a singer, the cadences of the Portuguese language are hard to beat.

Here's another unabashed fan of the Sammy Davis Jr. version with Count Basie. The ad-libbed part is too much fun to resist.

I should also dutifully mention a closing chorus from Peggy Lee's version (with Billy May). I don't recall hearing it in any of the other versions: "But he's so cool and calm and collected / Makes a girl feel a bit neglected / That boy from Ipanema / Doesn't see me!"

ivan Santiago

I forgot to mention a cool, low-key instrumental version that deserves listening: Laurindo Almeida's, in his Capitol album "Guitar from Ipanema," accompanied throughout by Jack Marshall's whistling and, I think, by one flute.

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  • Marc Myers writes on music and the arts for The Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (Univ. of California Press). Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a Jazz Journalists Association's "Blog of the Year" winner.
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