Laurindo Almeida: One Note Samba

Laurindo Almeida with The Modern Jazz Quartet

By Flip Peters:

Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida came to the US in the late 1940s with the Stan Kenton band. In 1952, 10 years before Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd started the Bossa Nova craze with their album Jazz Samba, Almeida and Bud Shank recorded Brazilliance, fusing Brazilian music and “cool” or “West Coast” jazz.

His varied recording, composing and performing career is summarized at Wikipedia:

His performance here with the MJQ is an absolute tour de force. He incorporates lightning fast arpeggiated chord sequences, tremolos, blazing single note lines and daring, modern harmonies.

Notice how both of his hands appear to be barely moving, except for the chord tremolo executed with his thumb. His thumb is a blur as he tremolos block chords. The half step modulation leading to the ensemble section is unique and beautiful. Throughout the performance his face shows the outward manifestation of total calm and inner poise.


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