Stan Getz had a unique sound. Robert Kyle, a successful LA leader and sideman, comes close to reproducing it here. And he does it in a Brazilian groove that pays homage to Getz's most famous album, the four-Grammy winning smash he recorded in 1964 with guitarist João Gilberto and pianist/composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. Roberto Montero is the tasteful acoustic guitarist on the current release. He also contributes vocalise on several tracks in a light tenor with echoes of Astrud Gilberto's naïve delivery on "The Girl from Ipanema" from the Getz album. Two percussionists do all they can to complete the Brazilian vibe by tapping, shaking and slapping more than a dozen different rhythm instruments.
"Pra Machucar Meu Coração," the swaying, sensuous opening cut is a terrific start. But it is the highlight of the album. (Bolero de Satã also channels Getz and works well.) Jobim's "Favela" begins the descent. It opens well enough as percussion lays on a solid samba beat, but Kyle's playing, while never less than proficient, misses the buoyant joyousness of Brazilian music on this and other up tempo tracks. As much as he obviously likes the material, his standard jazz improvisations on top of the Brazilian base are often in conflict with an otherwise South-American feel.
Some of the slower tunes also miss the mark. The concluding "Amazon River" is a good example. It sounds lethargic rather than warmly romantic or lilting.
Kyle switches to flute on one of his own tunes, "The Long Goodbye." He has a beautiful tone on that instrument, and this original is a good showcase for it. So is Jobim's familiar "A Felicidade." On flute, Kyle seems more solidly in the Brazilian idiom.
While I can't recommend most of this one, Getz fans can download" Pra Machucar Meu Coração" to hear what might have been. The fault, of course, may be in the reviewer. I shouldn't have expected anyone to duplicate the pleasures of one of jazz's all-time best-selling albums.