Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gary McFarland - Soft Samba

Gary McFarland sold a ton of records with the mix of bossa nova, Beatles songs and easy listening found on his 1964 album Soft Samba. Jazz purists have yet to forgive him for it. At the risk of being forever banished from the fraternity of music snobs, I have to say I absolutely love this album. It would be a shame for Soft Samba to be remembered as nothing more than "bachelor pad" kitsch (although it will serve quite nicely in that capacity if that is what you are looking for).

In addition to having a notable influence on Jobim himself (who plays guitar on several tracks), I strongly suspect the album had an impact on Arthur Lee and Brian MacLean of Love as they sought to expanded their sonic palette on Da Capo and Forever Changes. Listen to the last thirty seconds of "Orange Skies," and see if you can convince yourself that MacLean and Lee had never heard McFarland's distinctive vocalese and were unfamiliar with his inventive arrangements of popular songs.

Additionally, McFarland deserves much credit for recognizing the melodic sophistication that lay at the heart of the Beatles appeal while many of his contemporaries were dismissing the Fab Four as teenie-bopper garbage.

And how many albums have had a cocktail named after them?

Soft Samba Cocktail

Pour two ounces of dry (fino) Spanish Sherry over two ice cubes in an old fashioned glass. Add half and ounce of tropical fruit juice or pineapple juice. Add a dash of Angostura Bitters.
(Courtesy Spanish Sherry Institute)


Peter Hennig said...

Pete - Who is the current keeper of the Bill Plummer Lp?

Pete Bilderback said...

I believe that one was yours--it definitely wasn't mine. If you still have it you should post it. Awesome stuff, I had forgotten about it.

If you let go of that one you're going to be bumming when you see this.

If somehow Ernie ended up with it, one of us has to rescue it from that basement.

Peter Hennig said...

I only had it for a brief time then it went into Ernie's collection where he played it on his radio show - from there I have no idea.

Pete Bilderback said...

Then most likely it is sitting in a milk crate, outside of its jacket in Ernie's workshop. I browsed through his stuff at one point, but I don't specifically recall seeing it. I did tell him that he had some pretty rare records, and that he should take better care of them...but I don't think he actually heard me.

rattymatty said...

what a great album - it it one of the coolest things from my childhood - i picked up a second hand copy about 10 years ago and have made a cd of it - so hip and great cool arrangements!!!