It is difficult to overstate or overhype the importance of this CD, for it exhaustively documents the starting point of bossa nova in Brazil prior to the global craze. The building blocks are solidly in place -- João Gilberto's highly distinctive, pioneering acoustic guitar rhythms, his precisely enunciated vocals (not recorded too closely for a change), the stripped-down, samba-based percussion, Antonio Carlos Jobim's extraordinary songs, and most tellingly on many tracks, Jobim's spare, often-copied backdrops and countermelodies for strings, winds, and horns that are so much a part of his compositions. We can eavesdrop on the exact beginning of the bossa nova movement with the 1958 single containing Jobim's "Chega de Saudade" and Gilberto
's "Bim Bom"; one can easily see why this quietly revolutionary record hit the Brazilian music scene like a silent cruise missile. Moreover, the second single was "Desafinado," a fully formed masterpiece long before it became an international hit, with Gilberto
producing a precision-cut gem of vocal pinpointing. Along with the singles, there are three albums of material squeezed onto one CD, 38 tracks in all, of which only a dozen surfaced in the U.S. on LP at the time. In addition to Jobim's songs, there are plenty of first-rate contributions by Gilberto
, Dorival Caymmi
, Ary Barroso
, Carlos Lyra
, and other writers. And perhaps most importantly, besides being historically indispensable and an extraordinary deal for the consumer, this music is an absolute pleasure to hear.