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The New IMPEX Records Getz/Gilberto 1Step. Has IMPEX Now Produced the Definitive Pressing?

04-08-2024 | By Robert S. Youman | Issue 132

I have been waiting with great anticipation for the new IMPEX 1Step Getz/Gilberto reissue to arrive, but that was no problem. I have learned long ago that patience more than pays off when it comes to IMPEX Records. This label never fails to amaze and delight! The excitement began to build after I experienced the demonstration of the test pressings at AXPONA 2023 as hosted by Abey Fonn of IMPEX Records and Nicolaus Getz (son of Stan Getz). Served by a world class system in the Quintessence Audio Room, the sound quality was absolutely superb!

Thanks so much to Abey for introducing me to Nicolaus at the show as I was greatly honored to have that short time with him. This provided me with another personal memory and connection to one of my most favorite albums—a true iconic masterpiece. Often included in many Jazz top ten lists, Getz/Gilberto has to be considered one of the most important Jazz albums of all time, as it played a significant role in jump starting the bossa nova craze in the USA during the 1960s. It also kept Jazz in the limelight at a time when Rock n' Roll, the British Invasion, and The Beatles were taking over the record industry.

One could also claim that Getz/Gilberto was a standard addition to many middle class family collections back in the day, when the almost ubiquitous living room stereo console was just taking off during the 1950s and 1960s. From my own personal experience, I know that after a long day of playing outdoors with several of my pre-teen friends, we often ended up in one home or another to pass the time until we were all called in for dinner. On occasion, we would spend those last few hours listening to the resident family collection of record albums.

I could not help but notice back then, that along with Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and even Elvis and The Everly Brothers, I would frequently find Getz/Gilberto on the family room book shelf. It was clearly one of the most common family favorites in our little center of the world. It had that kind of appeal! Those were special times and this reissue brings back some fantastic memories!

Released on the Verve label in 1964, Getz/Gilberto went on win four awards at the 1965 Grammys. This included "Best Instrumental Jazz Performance—Small Group or Soloist," "Best Engineered Recording—Non-Classical," and the first ever Jazz album to win "Album of the Year." In addition, the "Record of the Year" award went to "The Girl from Ipanema" with Astrud Gilberto on the vocals. 

As many might know, the story goes that Astrud was only in attendance as a casual observer and supporter for her husband João during the recordings. She was not a professional singer at the time. With the encouragement and persistence provided by Stan Getz's wife Monica and Producer Creed Taylor, Astrud was eventually included on the album as a vocalist on two songs. The track "The Girl from Ipanema" was then realized, and the rest is history!


Album credits include Stan Getz on saxophone, João Gilberto on piano, Tommy Williams on bass, and Milton Banana on drums. Interestingly, Williams did not perform at the recording sessions. It has been said that Sebastião Neto was the primary bass player at the sessions, but was not credited as he was in the process of being hired by another record label at the time. Vocals were handled by João, who sang in Portuguese along with his wife Astrud, who sang in English.

It is also important to note that the album was produced by the celebrated Creed Taylor and engineered by the acclaimed Phil Ramone. As just one example of the many outstanding albums supported by both, you have to be awfully impressed by Taylor and Ramone as their extensive resumés have seldom been equaled. "Getz/Gilberto" has to be somewhere near the top of their best ever lists!  

Production Quality

This new Getz/Gilberto reissue checks all the boxes for a major 1Step reissue. Actually, it must be stated that this might just establish a new standard for production quality and aesthetics, as it is truly a labor of love by Creative Director Robert Sliger and the entire IMPEX team. Though I don't mean to be overly dramatic, it is genuinely an "emotional like experience" from a visual and sound perspective when you sit down and take a deep dive into both (see below for my comments on sound quality).

This includes a deluxe "Monster-Pak" jacket with a distinctive yellow outer slipcase and an upscale like design and leather grain feel. In contrast to other box set like reissues, I just love the slimmer dimensions for easier storage and access. The glossy heavy weight tip-on style record jacket is far and away the most impressive of all the many past reissues. It just oozes quality! Also included is a superb 36 page booklet with several informative background stories and narratives. The vast gallery of pictures that are provided are also quite amazing and serve the chronology well.  Though attached to the LP cover, the booklet has the look, feel, and quality of the very best coffee table like publications.

I should also note that this reissue is the only edition made in total collaboration with the Getz family. Many story lines and references in the booklet come directly from both Monica and Nicolaus. Discussions between Abey and Nicolaus began prior to Covid as the process and negotiations took considerable time, but the results speak for themselves. As always, IMPEX takes the long view as their reissues are not hurried along with anything other than quality and satisfaction driving the project forward.


Similar to the production values, this was an all-out assault on virtually every variable that could impact the sound quality. You get two LPs cut at 45 RPM and pressed on VR900-Supreme vinyl by RTI. New lacquers were cut for every 500 pressings for manufacturing and quality control consistency. The original analog tapes were mastered by Bernie Grundman, one of our finest in the industry. There are a few small anomalies on the original master tapes, but it was decided that no digital processing would be utilized to fix them. This was an all analog process from beginning to end. I will not say anything more about this, as you may not notice much if anything during your listening sessions. I can almost guarantee that the quality of the overall sound reproduction will have you focused on nothing else but the music!

I don't have an original pressing, but I do have two other impressive reissues for comparison. This includes the MOFI 33 RPM and the Analogue Production 45 RPM. I was quite surprised by the MOFI, which I have not listened to for quite some time. In my system, it gave both the AP and the IMPEX a real run for the money, despite the 33 RPM disadvantage. I found it to be extremely dynamic and detailed with a fairly warm and alluring presentation across the entire frequency range. The AP has been my go to pressing for many years. Slightly more three dimensional than the MOFI, it also has additional clarity in the mids and bass that I thought could not be equaled.

Bottom line. The IMPEX sets a new standard. There was an additional level of coherency and attack to  the individual instruments and vocalists that was just so much more realistic and exciting! I was taken aback by the harmonic brilliance and the lifelike immediacy of all that was presented. The sound stage was now extended even further in all directions. Highs had the sweetness and texture of the real thing, yet with all the transient detail that can sometimes make your hair stand on end. Mids and bass had a visceral rightness and physicality that I had not quite heard before on the other pressings. All in all, a definite step up in sound quality that I did not expect!

Final Thoughts

Congrats to the entire IMPEX team for another superb effort! If you check Discogs, you will find that this title has been reissued well over 300 times. Many might be satisfied with their current choices and for good reason, but if you want the very best for both production and sound quality, this new IMPEX 1Step reissue is the one to have! Limited to 7500 numbered pressings, you might want to consider your options more sooner than later!