This is a 1959 bossa nova by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Newton Mendonça; the title means something like “Out of Tune” and is exquisitely incorrect. It has been recorded a staggering number of times. I’m here to talk about my favorite version, with Jobim guesting on a recording by Stan Getz and João Gilberto.

Getz/Gilberto album cover

It’s on a 1964 album called Getz/Gilberto, which is fabulous end-to-end. It also includes Girl from Ipanema which remains so beautiful all those decades later, although its gender politics probably haven’t aged well.

Here’s a story about this record: Down Beat, the jazz magazine, used to have this feature called the “blindfold test” where they’d play some tracks for a musician without telling him or her who they were, and ask for one- to five-star ratings. One time, the commentator was Miles Davis, who was really a mean guy, and he pissed on several of the recordings — some now regarded as classics — from a great height. But they put on Desafinado and he said:

Gilberto and Stan Getz made an album together? Stan plays good on that. I like Gilberto; I'm not particularly crazy about just anybody’s bossa nova. I like the samba. And I like Stan, because he has so much patience, the way he plays those melodies - other people can’t get nothing out of a song, but he can. Which takes a lot of imagination, that he has, that so many other people don’t have.

As for Gilberto, he could read a newspaper and sound good! I’ll give that one five stars.

Gilberto, Jobim, Getz

I’m with Miles. But like I said, there are a whole lot of versions out there; chances are there are one or two I’d be recommending here if I’d heard them. You really can’t go far wrong with this tune.

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify. I can’t find live video of this band playing the tune, but here’s Gilberto solo, Gilberto and Jobim, and Getz with Charlie Byrd.

author · Dad
colophon · rights

April 01, 2018
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