The songs of Jobim seem to have a particular attraction to pianists and featured here are Hector Martignon, Buddy Greco, Shirley Scott and Brazilian pianist Gilson (now resident at Berklee in the U.S.A,) who gets us under way with a swinging Trio adaptation of Chega de Saudade known also as No More Blues. Hector Martignon, from Colombia is in more reflective mood on Retrato (Portrait in White and Black), exhibiting a delicate touch in this seldom heard tune. The veteran Buddy Greco reminds us why Benny Goodman hired him for his Undercurrent Blues bebop band of 1948 with his polished bop style on So Danco Samba and there is too, a jaunty contribution from guitarist Joe Lano - all nicely augmented by some appropriately wistful flute playing. The Shirley Scott track Triste is a master craftswoman at work- this gentle, swinging romp was recorded live at Birdland in New York City in front of a few hardy souls burning the late Friday midnight oil. Deft accompaniment by bassist Arthur Harper and ace drummer Mickey Roker.
Singer Monica Vasconcelos from Sao Paulo, currently residing in London is heard in soulful voice in her native tongue on the well-known Dindi (a tune especially written for singer Sylvia Telfes, who’s nickname this was) and Insensatez made by As Meninas, the marvellous small unit which featured fellow Brazilian Ife Tolentino on guitar and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Ingrid Laubrock from Germany. Monica also features on the seldom heard Cancao em modo menor – a mellow version full of emotion ably abetted again by Ingrid. Guitarist Charlie Byrd was, along with saxophone genius Stan Getz, instrumental in popularising the new Brazilian rhythms in 1962 with their album Jazz Samba - the forerunner to countless recordings in the idiom Byrd played unamplified acoustic guitar to telling effect but there are relatively few present day guitarists who play this instrument. One is Nate Najar, heard here playing Charlie’s actual nylon stringed acoustic guitar while putting his own stamp on Desafinado and Chovendo na Roseira which features Chuck Redd – an underestimated wizard of the vibes and Tommy Cecil’s big round bass sound.
Vocalist Stacey Kent has, along with husband/saxist Jim Tomlinson long had a close relationship with Brazilian music honed now by many trips to Brazil and a fluent command of the Portugese language. Stacey’s very personal style is immediately identifiable on her delightful version of If you never come to me (original title Inutil Paisagem) and she also interprets the melody lines of Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer) on Jim Tomlinson’s marvellous interpretation of the piece on which his luscious, round, tenor sax shines out.
Lastly in bold brassy mode is Buddy Childers’ stupendous version of the tune originally known as Garota de Ipanema, sung here as The Boy from Ipanema by vocalist Tierney Sutton. It is a veritable tour de force for Tierney with a mind blowing arrangement by Buddy tailored for his powerhouse big band and showcasing a stunning display of swinging technique and scatting. It is a fitting finale to such a distinguished collection of differing interpretations of this Great Brazilian Songbook comprising the unforgettable song masterpieces of Brazilian rhythm, melody and grace by the one and only Tom Jobim.
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