🎷 AotW: CTi Tamba 4 - SAMBA BLIM (SP-3013)

All the A&M/CTi releases

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (Best)

    Votes: 3 27.3%
  • ****

    Votes: 4 36.4%
  • ***

    Votes: 1 9.1%
  • **

    Votes: 2 18.2%
  • * (Worst)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Never Heard This Album

    Votes: 1 9.1%

  • Total voters
    11

jazzdre

Well-Known Member
Heard this album on an internt listening station, and a long time ago at my friend's family's house.Though this album is a bit 'muzaky', the power of the original band/sound is still there(from the first TAMBA 4 album). I loved their interpretation of 'Slick';which was originally done by Herb and The Brass for The Beat Of The Brass album/TV special.

All in all, a pretty good album.
 

Moritat

Well-Known Member
Samba Blim in my estimation is the worst second album by any group, after having released a great first album. To me, it doesn't even sound like the same musicians. The first lp, We And The Sea in my estimation is the finest jazz lp on A&M (beating out Down Here On The Ground and Glory Of Love). That first lp had everything... excitement, beauty, interesting solos and unpredictible turns. On Samba Blim, its like they threw in the white flag and didn't even try. A bunch of short, boring, forgettable performances that have muzak written all over them. I congratulate anybody in that recording studio who was able to stay awake for the entire recording session.

This is just my opinion of course, and I'm sorry as I know some folks like this album. I guess my opinion is so negative because I remember how terribly disappointed I was when I bought this and first listened to it. Maybe I was spoiled after hearing We And The Sea. I just think it was wrong for the folks that produced this not to have put forth a better effort.

Hey, lets end this on a positive note.... what a fantastic cover shot by Pete Turner. It doesn't get much better that this!
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Moritat said:
Samba Blim in my estimation is the worst second album by any group, after having released a great first album. To me, it doesn't even sound like the same musicians. The first lp, We And The Sea in my estimation is the finest jazz lp on A&M (beating out Down Here On The Ground and Glory Of Love). That first lp had everything... excitement, beauty, interesting solos and unpredictible turns. On Samba Blim, its like they threw in the white flag and didn't even try. A bunch of short, boring, forgettable performances that have muzak written all over them. I congratulate anybody in that recording studio who was able to stay awake for the entire recording session...
Fair enough assessment. Though, I'd rather refer to it as "disappointing".

I'm confident the first LP was deemed too progressive (for a pop label) to allow a similarly engaging follow-up. The jazz folks passed on it because it was "bossa nova" music (not "jazz" -- a very important distinction back in the day -- just read any of the old Down Beat reviews or Blind Fold tests!), while the bossa people passed on it because it was too out there. (A similar fate was bestowed upon the release of the Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album: the hard-core jazz folks wouldn't touch Tony, while Tony's pop fans could not appreciate Bill Evans' singular and very personal approach to piano.)

I'm pretty much in agreement with you in that We And The Sea may very well be the finest offering from the A&M/CTi production unit (perhaps Cap'n B will run a poll once we get to the end of the series). The others you listed are top faves as well -- however, for me Nat Adderley's Calling Out Loud is the most representative of contemporary-mainstream [1968] post-bop jazz of all the A&M/CTis. There are orchestrations (reeds with French horn; no strings), however, they are essentially limited to intros/outros and links; additionally, all the orchestrations were written by the principal songwriter (not a staff arranger) for the date suggesting that most are intrinsic to each song; lastly, half of the LP's 8 songs are at least 5 minutes in length -- surely an all-time record for an A&M/CTi release. We And The Sea was the most adventurous and progressive, but Calling Out Loud was foremost at being a sincere jazz record with no overt compromises to pop.

Now, you wanna talk about Muzak on A&M/CTi... Those upcoming Walter Wanderley LPs have some stuff that's nearly embarrassing -- principally because Walter's Verve LPs were wayy better.
 

audiofile

Member
I also agree that We And The Sea was the best A&M/CTI release. I also like Samba Blim. It's no where near as good as the first album, but Slick is worth the price alone. The opening track is good also. I'll just take this album for what it is, rather than comparing it to We And The Sea. It's much more pleasing that way....
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Knowing Tamba Trio as well as I do, this album basically comes across to me as a CTi album with Tamba 4 guesting on it. IOW, there isn't much to separate it from the others in the catalog--aside from their trademarked vocals and Eca's piano playing, this wouldn't even stand out. The upside is that Luiz Eca wrote the string arrangements, as he had done on a couple of Tamba Trio recordings, so the whole album isn't buried under a layer of muck. They do seem awfully subdued here, given all the energy exuded on all of the other Tamba Trio recordings I've heard. It's almost as though they had to throttle back their sound substantially to fit within the CTi mold on this one...a shame, really.
 

Captain Bacardi

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Thread Starter
Let's face it - anything after We And The Sea was going to be a disappointment. It seems Creed Taylor tried to "pop" this up a bit and maybe make it more radio-friendly with the shorter tracks. Theres a few goodies here. My favorite is "San Salvador", with "Reza" and the title track following close behind. "Slick" is okay, but this version doesn't do much for me. The rest of the album is rather mundane.

I have the 2CD set of the Tamba Trio's Classics, which is very good. After I played Samba Blim this weekend I quickly put the Classics disc on. Quite of difference!



Capt. Bacardi
 

Rudy

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Staff member
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Captain Bacardi said:
I have the 2CD set of the Tamba Trio's Classics, which is very good. After I played Samba Blim this weekend I quickly put the Classics disc on. Quite of difference!

Huge difference. There's even a large difference on We And The Sea: "Moca Flor", "Iemanja", "We And The Sea" and "Dolphin" were recorded at Van Gelder's studio (notice how muddy they are, just like the sound quality on all the other CTi albums), where the rest of the tracks are much brighter and in mono...with guitar dubbed in after the fact. And notice how similar "Consolacao" is on the Tamba Trio Classics and We And The Sea (even the sound quality): very bright. Those tracks had to be recorded in Brazil, then used for We And The Sea (with the muddy guitar overdubs likely done at Van Gelder's Temple of Muck to make it Tamba "4"). The style of music on the four aforementioned tracks is even similar to Samba Blim. It also fits everyone's description here of how that album is so dynamic, where Samba Blim is bland. Those dynamic tracks are signature Tamba Trio style, the whole nine yards.

I just think Van Gelder's work on these albums is questionable. Every one of them sounds like a muddy mess. I think it was a conscious attempt to boost up the mid-bass on these to sound "hi fi" to the non-jazz buyers out there in the market. Not only that, some of the tracks are over-modulated with distortion: it's even worse on Jobim's Stone Flower album, on the title track. I know that was an effect back then to make it sound like the music was louder (the same thing was on Bacharach's Kapp album, recorded in the U.K., mentioned in the liner notes for the Something Big box set IIRC)...to me it's just poor engineering.

As an experiment, I recorded a CD of both of Tom Jobim's A&M albums, running it through a parametric EQ and trimming only a decibel or two out of the mid-bass region (can't remember the frequency, but it's in the neighborhood of 100-200Hz); it made a very noticeable (and welcome) change in clarity.

Later Creed Taylor albums sound fine though. One of my favorites is Ray Barretto's La Cuna--musically it's a very solid effort (I recommend it highly) with an all-star lineup, and sonically it sounds like a product of the 70s, but at least it has decent sound quality to it.
 

RichardWarner

Well-Known Member
Contributor
So I'll be the cheerleader: always found "Samba Blim" to be a wonderful ride. It's one of my favorites in the CTI series. While the tunes are short, they have a great hot, muggy summer quality to them. You can listen to them or have them on in the background, like Jobim's "Wave." As you can tell by my avatar, I'd love to hear the unreleased tracks from the third album. Only "California Soul" and "Berimbau" ever saw the light of day.

Ramblings: I was having a conversation with A&M's Harold Childs in 1975 and he hadn't even heard of Tamba 4! On a trip to Rio (the day of the OJ low-speed Bronco chase), I was talking with a friend of Eca's and she said he doesn't get out much and "smokes a lot of pot."
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I've been a fan of SAMBA BLIM too since discovering it about a decade ago. As this site was exploring different musical journeys on the A&M label, I checked out our record library at work. (Back when radio stations still HAD record libraries!)

There, in an unmarked, blank album cover was a mono promo of SAMBA BLIM. The PD said I could borrow it, which I did, listened to it and made a dub. At that point in time, the thought of this album on a CD was still much to hope for.

Nevertheless, within a year, I believe, word came that the Japanese had put SAMBA BLIM on CD. I eagerly ordered it, and though much of what's been described as muddy audio still plagued the recording, I found it enjoyable.

And at that point in time, I'd yet to hear WE AND THE SEA, so I had no basis of comparison. If I had to choose between the two, WE AND THE SEA would win hands down, but I still find SAMBA BLIM has much to offer me.

Harry
 

Moritat

Well-Known Member
I just want to ask everyone... which pressing (cd) of We And The Sea has the best quality sound? I have the Japanese import. Usually the Japanese cds are outstanding, but this has that muddled murky sound that several folks previously described. I believe I read a long time ago on this site that the release by Verve sounded better. Now I see there's a Tamba Trio classics. Are the tunes from We And The Sea on this classics cd? Basically, I'd like to know which cd version of this album has the best sound? ....thanks.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Rudy said:
...There's even a large difference on We And The Sea: "Moca Flor", "Iemanja", "We And The Sea" and "Dolphin" were recorded at Van Gelder's studio (notice how muddy they are, just like the sound quality on all the other CTi albums), where the rest of the tracks are much brighter and in mono...with guitar dubbed in after the fact. And notice how similar "Consolacao" is on the Tamba Trio Classics and We And The Sea (even the sound quality): very bright. Those tracks had to be recorded in Brazil, then used for We And The Sea (with the muddy guitar overdubs likely done at Van Gelder's Temple of Muck to make it Tamba "4")...

I just think Van Gelder's work on these albums is questionable. Every one of them sounds like a muddy mess. I think it was a conscious attempt to boost up the mid-bass on these to sound "hi fi" to the non-jazz buyers out there in the market. Not only that, some of the tracks are over-modulated with distortion: it's even worse on Jobim's Stone Flower album, on the title track...to me it's just poor engineering...Later Creed Taylor albums sound fine though.

Rudy -- you touched on an on-going and highly-impassioned argument that essentially got me kicked out of an old Blue Note forum years ago.

Here's the nuts a bolts about Van Gelder around that time...

In 1959, Van Gelder built a studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ [all previous dates were actually recorded his parent's living room (of all places!) in Hackensack, NJ].

The new studio was a fave of his two principal clients, Blue Note [Al Lion] and Prestige -- unarguably the two foremost jazz indies during 1955-1968.

That "muddy" bass sound (as well as the "cottoney" pianos) were crafted to suite Al Lion's taste. In college, working in a record shop 17 years ago, I ran into a fellow who was an acquaintance of Bobby Hutcherson and who had the opportunity to watch a few recording sessions in the '60s. I asked him why the Blue Notes always had such undefined double bass -- he told me that Van Gelder used to wrap up the bass mic in a special fabric and stuff it under the bridge. Apparently Al liked the result -- which was a booming, engulfing low end (but at the expense of definition -- which to my ears always made the bass playing sound sluggish). The fella couldn't comment on why the pianos sounded dull and lacked bite, but it's no doubt a result of engineering technique to, again, suit his principal client. I would have to guess that Creed also liked the sound -- as the A&M / CTis are quite similar to the Blue Notes in terms of sonics. Of course, Blue Note added no orchestrations and other inserts (until about 1968) so, in spite of the dull bass and piano, the recordings were otherwise bright and clean. On the other hand, the A&M / CTis were riddled with inserts and sweetening sessions, which, as Rudy eludes, would "compound the mud" as it were.

The Prestige records for the most part have bass that is consistent with other releases of the day -- indicating that Van Gelder did indeed purposely record double bass in a unique way for Al (and Creed). Interestingly, once Al left Blue Note (1967) and Francis Wolf and Duke Pearson started producing, both the double bass and piano sonics improved immensely; however, the sound Creed continued to use didn't change.

As for the recording of We And The Sea, the Doug Payne site states that all the tracks were recorded at Van Gelder's; so, I'm wondering if you think that perhaps a few were started in Brazil and finished in the US? (The Payne site also lists 4 additional titles -- of course, we have no way of knowing if any of these were finished; Payne states that his research is from recording logs and not from auditioning session tapes.)

In any event, Van Gelder's "studio" per se is not the culprit for the bad sound -- it was simply a matter of his delivering a sound that his client requested. Keep The Customer Satisfied, as Paul Simon once wrote.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Moritat said:
I just want to ask everyone... which pressing (cd) of We And The Sea has the best quality sound? I have the Japanese import. Usually the Japanese cds are outstanding, but this has that muddled murky sound that several folks previously described. I believe I read a long time ago on this site that the release by Verve sounded better. Now I see there's a Tamba Trio classics. Are the tunes from We And The Sea on this classics cd? Basically, I'd like to know which cd version of this album has the best sound? ....thanks.

I thought the Verve version had better clarity to it. I had the Japan import as well. I had first found the reel tape, and it sounded typical of A&M's reels (OK, it was bad :laugh: ). Then I finally located a clean copy on LP, and made it even cleaner with a trip through the record vacuum. Naturally, it came out on the Japan CD within the year. :laugh:

From my own copies, the Verve CD sounds the best, and the LP is next in line. The Japan CD was pretty close to the A&M vinyl I had--I can't say it was a bad CD (it sounded fine), it's just that I felt the Verve had just a little bit extra that made it a bit clearer. (Probably just a small EQ choice in mastering is all it amounts to.)

I do prefer U.S. CDs to Japan (or other imports), as over there, they are probably working from copies of the master tapes, where the originals are located over here. Not sure how true that is in the digital age, but I also don't see the U.S. labels digitizing their archived tapes for an import release...

As for Tamba Trio Classics, it is from another label, so it includes no A&M/CTi material. But, these are a selection of both earlier and (IIRC) later tracks under the Tamba Trio name. I think they're an excellent set of tunes--if you can find a copy of this one, by all means grab it. (It's out of print, I think, so please watch for price gouging.) Luizinho Eca was right there at the forefront of Bossa Nova, and it is a treat to hear how technically accomplished his playing is. (Listen to him on "Desafinado"...I have NO idea how he could play that fast!) They were also one of the first two Bossa Nova groups to play Jobim's then-new composition "Garota de Ipanema"...so they actually cut it a couple of years before the hit Getz/Gilberto version.

I think hearing this compilation really opened me up to what Tamba Trio really was about. And you can hear a lot of the Tamba Trio sound in We And The Sea, but not necessarily Samba Blim (although the accelerando section of "Reza" is a classic Tamba Trio twist).
 

Rudy

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JO said:
Rudy -- you touched on an on-going and highly-impassioned argument that essentially got me kicked out of an old Blue Note forum years ago.

Don't worry--I heard a LOT of people got kicked out for not agreeing with the forums' opinions. :laugh: In fact, when I still used to hang out at jazz forums, I used to read it all the time: "Back on the old Blue Note forums...". They had quite the following in their day!

At any rate, thanks for the Van Gelder info. You're right--I wasn't really blaming the studio, but the engineering decisions. That really explains why the bass is so muddy on those recordings.

JO said:
As for the recording of We And The Sea, the Doug Payne site states that all the tracks were recorded at Van Gelder's; so, I'm wondering if you think that perhaps a few were started in Brazil and finished in the US?

I don't buy that those three tracks even touched Van Gelder's until overdubs. The sonics just don't match up at all...and in mono? That was uncharacterstic of EVERY A&M/CTi album ever released. The Tamba "trio" is in mono on those songs. Only the guitar (and--heh--it's muddy...imagine that! :laugh: ) is not centered, which is where I feel it was overdubbed. Now, if you compare it to Tamba Trio recordings around the same time (even of the same song, like "Consolacao"), you have a match: the trio is in mono (as it is on We And The Sea), and it has that bright quality that many other Brazilian albums have (like Edu Lobo's early ones, Sergio Mendes' early ones, etc.). Even the musical style doesn't match the other four songs (and Samba Blim).

My own theory (as misguided and misinformed as it can be :laugh: ) is that they had three solid Tamba Trio tracks that were already recorded and "in the bag", and this is what "sold" the group to CTi. With an additional member and an overdubbed guitar, these three tracks would form the nucleus of the album, with the quartet recording four additional tracks (or maybe more?) to flesh it out.

Just my theory and two cents' worth...and you know what that'll buy you these days. :D
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Rudy said:
Don't worry--I heard a LOT of people got kicked out for not agreeing with the forums' opinions. :laugh: In fact, when I still used to hang out at jazz forums, I used to read it all the time: "Back on the old Blue Note forums...". They had quite the following in their day!

At any rate, thanks for the Van Gelder info. You're right--I wasn't really blaming the studio, but the engineering decisions. That really explains why the bass is so muddy on those recordings.

Oh, man -- Van Gelder was more sacred than Al Lion and many of the Blue Notes staple artists to some of those guys. I mean, one could criticize Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver just fine, but don't you EVEN touch Van Gelder! Discussions about the "poorly engineered" bass and piano sonics were the kiss of e-death.

I was initially a bit skeptical of the bass recording technique suggestion, but since those days I've been in enough studios to observe many "unique" approaches to mic placement -- an art popularized with the George Martin / Geoff Emerick-led engineering crew at Abbey Road Studios beginning with The Beatles' Rubber Soul ['65] sessions. About 13 years ago, I acquired a book of Francis Wolff Blue Note photographs (most of which had previously never been seen; Wolff photographed most rehearsals and sessions as an avocation: some of his photos were used as cover art, but the vast majority (a few thousand shots of many famous and not-so-famous artists) had never been printed). Anyway, for completest, on p.56 is a photo of Paul Chambers with a one of these fabric contraptions jammed into the bridge of his bass -- just as that old fella told me years ago!

Rudy said:
I don't buy that those three tracks even touched Van Gelder's until overdubs. The sonics just don't match up at all...and in mono? That was uncharacteristic of EVERY A&M/CTi album ever released. The Tamba "trio" is in mono on those songs. Only the guitar (and--heh--it's muddy...imagine that! :laugh: ) is not centered, which is where I feel it was overdubbed. Now, if you compare it to Tamba Trio recordings around the same time (even of the same song, like "Consolacao"), you have a match: the trio is in mono...

My own theory (as misguided and misinformed as it can be :laugh: ) is that they had three solid Tamba Trio tracks that were already recorded and "in the bag", and this is what "sold" the group to CTi. With an additional member and an overdubbed guitar, these three tracks would form the nucleus of the album, with the quartet recording four additional tracks (or maybe more?) to flesh it out...

There are certainly some recording oddities at play here not evident on other CTi releases of the day. As you state, the trio is in mono on several selections -- with guitar or flute
and conga. I agree in that is seems reasonable the guitar was recorded as inserts (conga, too) here and there. One thing about Van Gelder's Blue Notes -- the drums are always panned right, which would suggest the "mono" (or center placement of the three trio instruments) was not his own work.

On the other hand, to my ears, the sonics match fairly well (could be our audio system differences: I have an old '60s HH Scott tube amp and a pair of '70s Tannoy studio monitors...not too dissimilar to plausible listening conditions of the mid/late '60s). In fact, I would think it very difficult (back in those days) to master an LP and achieve some sense of sonic unity with sounds produced on different equipment (half way around the world, no less)... I mean, it's hard enough to achieve similar sounds when dealing with the work of different engineers -- let alone different equipment!

I almost wonder if the session tapes were compromised and the recording circumstances were such and they had to rely on the 1/4" 7 1/2 ips mono reference copy that Van Gelder ran. I know of an Andrew Hill / Blue Note session ['67] where such a mono reference was used for release.



 

seashorepiano

Active Member
In short: a good album overall. Made for airplay, perhaps, but that's fine with me. They don't lose artistic integrity for it.
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
I agree... Why compare Samba Blim with We And The Sea?

Each album has a magical characteristic, all its own...!



Dave
 
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