I would have considered the era around 1967’s “Summer of Love” as a perfect time for Jobim to drop a lush, sexy album of new Brazilian songs, but maybe I’m misreading the zeitgeist of those times.
“Wave” hit the market in October, just as the dayglo paint and optimism of those days started to fade into the past, so perhaps it wasn’t perfect timing for a collection of sun-drenched ‘bossa nova’ tunes. Just months earlier, in March, Jobim double-teamed with Frank Sinatra to record “Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim,” an album consisting mostly of Jobim compositions, then fleshed out with standards performed in Jobim’s bossa nova style. It became a hit, climbing into the top 20 as the Summer of Love rolled on, and helped to increase Jobim’s star profile here in the United States, seemingly providing momentum for his future recordings, and yet “Wave” stalled out at #114.
Is there any album anywhere, ever, that can qualify as being more sultry than “Wave”? This is some of the sexiest music ever laid down by human beings, evoking a sense of exotic, sun-drenched, peaceful satisfaction. The cover photo of a giraffe walking on the beach perfectly evokes the music contained inside, suggesting an alluring, gentle beauty that is almost mystical in its power and thoroughly transfixing. The recordings are built around the jazz rhythm section of Ron Carter (double bass) and Claudio Sion (drums), with gentle percussion weaving through a string section that drifts by like a gentle breeze through a bedroom window. Over this, Jobim picks at his guitar with a rhythmic certainty that falls somewhere between a poolside reverie and a dream state. The music has a timeless, ageless quality that paradoxically managed to be out of time when it was released.
With the Vietnam War spiraling out of control and a socio-political atmosphere climbing toward unimaginable violence, “Wave” represented a type of beauty that most of us could not summon. It was a perfect aural representation of peace and love, available at a time when it was most needed, but we missed it. The times have changed and luckily the music still lingers. “Wave” will never grow old.
October 1967 - Billboard Charted #114