Master Composers: Antonio Carlos Jobim

I think it is only fitting that the first artist I speak about is a master composer, singer, musician, and songwriter who happens to have the major airport in Rio named after him.

Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) gave birth to the bossa nova movement.  Not only is “The Girl from Ipanema” the most widely copied and respected song of all time, he also helped in collaborations with the likes of Stan Ketz, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra with songs like “This Happy Madness” (which can be found on the Sinatra and Company album that I plan to discuss a bit more in depth in a later blog).

Both album covers courtesy of freecodesource.com

First released in 1967, Wave features many calm piano songs about life in Brazil…highlighted by the title track on the very first song.  Also a key song is Mojave, all of 2 minutes and 19 seconds on Track 5–the only number paying homage to outside of his homeland profiling that area of the desert in the American West.  What really gravitated me towards this album as well was reading the liner notes provided by Norman Gimbel where he remarked, “Jobim has planted the seeds…what remains for us is the reaping of the harvest.”

Under the guidance of director Claus Ogerman, you can clearly tell Jobim was destined for really great things.  Five years after bossa nova emigrated successfully to the United States and gained a popular following north of the Equator, this album also features the talented solo work of trombonists Urbie Green and Jimmy Cleveland.  The bassist for Miles Davis, Ron Carter and Bobby Rosengarden, who would later become a fixture displaying his masterful percussion on NBC’s The Tonight Show.

The second album I highlighted is a compilation from Warner Brothers where you could actually hear Jobim master the English language.  Especially on hits like “She’s A Carioca”, “Hurry Up And Love Me”, “Surfboard”, and “Don’t Ever Go Away” (yes, there is even a Portuguese version of this same song towards the end of the disk).

Regardless if you plan to listen to this pair of albums while you battle snow on your way to work during the winter, or maybe sipping a fruity, yet tropical drink on a beach in the middle of summer…you will truly be blessed in hearing such immense power at the piano and such glittering history that is simply amazing to behold.

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SPECIAL NOTE:  This will be one of a few key blogs under my self-titled “Master Composers” series.  Going forward, a good majority of my blogs will highlight several artists that are deemed worthy as “Artists Worth Checking Out”.  There are names that I truly feel deserve their own place in the sun, and most of them are of the female gender.  Those people will have their own heading of simply being “Rising Stars.”

In the next several weeks and months, I plan to highlight names like Marcela Mangabeira.  She was the very first Brazilian artist that I heard about, with her nice version of “Para Ti” (which means simply in English as, “For You”) in March of 2008 and I have been hooked ever since.  Other artists I plan to cover are Bebel Gilberto, Rosalia de Souza, Bianca Rossini, Fabiana Passoni, Liz Rosa, and an artist who also brings captivating images inside the albums along with English translations in most of her songs, Patricia Talem.

And of course, veteran names like Joao and Astrud Gilverto, Wanda de Sah, Gal Costa, Sabrina Malheiros, Michael Franks, Marcos Valle, Basia, and Marisa Monte (who did that very stunning opera number at the Closing Ceremony to the 2012 London Summer Olympics), should be recommended albums to add for any jazz fan’s library.  Also, we cannot forget the memorable duets performed by Lani Hall and Janis Hansen as part of Sergio Mendes and the wildly popular Brasil ’66 set of albums.  Still going strong at 71, I hope Mendes will be part of the group of singers for the Opening Ceremony to the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.  Ironic enough that the only Christmas song the group ever did was an upbeat version of the Nat King Cole classic, “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”).

Those names are just the start of many artists I plan to cover.  I also am planning to do some email interviews of some artists from time to time.

At the very least, let us all be thankful for the many contributions that Antonio Carlos Jobim provided for so many decades.  Without him, there probably wouldn’t be any jazz emanating from south of the Equator.

To all of our American friends reading, please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

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