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A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness

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Album Review

In 1966, the bossa nova craze was at a peak, and A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness marked a collaboration between two of its biggest stars — vocalist Astrud Gilberto, brought to fame by her classic rendition of "The Girl from Ipanema," and organist Walter Wanderley. Even though the album is good, it is not as exciting as one might hope. While the music is remarkably innocent and sweet, with just a little underlying touch of sadness beneath the joyous, even naïve, surface, Gilberto and Wanderley do not always seem to work together on these tracks — it often appears as if each is performing in a universe of his or her own. That being said, there are many bright sides to the album, too: Wanderley's organ playing is as enthusiastic and fluffy as ever, while Gilberto's singing (in both English and Portuguese) remains smile-inducing. Both manage to create an incredibly warm sound, and when Wanderley plays some piano (as on the beautiful "A Certain Sadness"), you can sense a spark between the two. So, while A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness might not be the most successful album of all time, it is still a nice record that fans of either Gilberto or Wanderley will want to have. And — even though one tends to use the word "cocktail lounge music" — their rendition of "Tristeza" is simply irresistible, easy listening or not.

Biography

Born: 12 May 1932 in Recife, Brazil

Genre: Brazilian

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Walter Wanderley was a talented and gifted organist with an acute ear for new harmonies. With 46 recorded solo albums in his entire career, both in Brazil and the U.S., he reached number 26 on the Billboard pop charts in September 1966, opening a large pathway of success only menaced by himself and his complex character. Ten years after his death from cancer, with a new fad coming, he was repackaged by the entertainment industry as a mere lounge player, carrying his record sales even further and...
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A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, Walter Wanderley
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