May 30, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Walter Wanderley

"Walter Wonderley's fiendishly bouncy Jetsons space-party sound brings to mind visions of poolside conspiratorial conferences of Swiss bankers in girlwatcher shades and emigre Nazis clutching pina-coladas while disposing of ill-gotten gold bullion amidst tanga-clad chocolate babes." -- Stuart Swezey, Exotica: Ports of Pleasure and Dancing in the Isles
There's nothing at all like the magical bossa nova sound created by Hammond B3 star Walter Wanderly. His instrumentals were like bits of summer sun saved for rainy days. Wanderley was probably best know for his top 40 hit Summer Samba (featuring the incomparable Astrud Gilberto on vocals). But all of his "New Swing" latin-jazz music is memorable. It is hard to turn the CD player off; hard to put on a different record; hard to tune out the DVD in the car stereo, whenever Walter's music is shining through.

American audiences were first introduced to the Brazillian bossa nova sound -- and latin jazz -- with Antonio Carlos Jobim's Black Orpheus soundtrack in 1959. In 1964 Stan Getz and the swank sounding Astrud Gilberto struck gold with bossa nova-influenced jazz hit "The Girl From Ipanema". So, when Walter Wanderley (along with Sergio Mendez & Brasil 66) burst upon the American music scene in 1966, American's were ready and practically begging for a bossa nova super star. Wanderley provided. His Hammond B-3 organ was the perfect vehicle to drive the bossa nova craze that lingered through late sixties. on the song here, "Chegan├ža (The Great Arrival)", you will hear the quintessential Wanderly organ along with a very exotica feeling set of sounds including whistles, kettle drums and more.

Born in Brazil in 1932, Wanderly was a bona-fide supestar in his homeland long before achieving the same status in the United States. Having studied at the Lyccu de Artes and played with Brazillian masters like Joao Gilberto and Joabim, he had a string of hits like Desafinado, Song of the Jet, and the origianl instrumental version of The Girl from Ipanema.

Wanderley's single "Summer Samba" took the US by storm in 1966, spending more than a month in the Top 40, and the album Rain Forest from which it was taken stayed in the charts nearly a year, and went platinum in 1970. Later, during the 1970s, Wanderley moved to San Francisco and experimented with a more fusion jazz like sound. Sadly, he died of cancer in 1986.

Walter Wanderly -- Chegan├ža