Various Artists: João Gilberto And The Stylists Of Bossa Nova Sing Antonio Carlos Jobim (él Records)

Brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim made a name for himself as one of the finest jazz composers of the 20th century, helping to create and define Bossa Nova, Samba, and Latin music, with an influence still felt today. His soothing, gentle melodies, lyrics, and arrangements transcended the language barrier, with many of his hits becoming pop standards all over the world. It’s rare that one doesn’t hear his songs “The Girl From Ipanema,” “Desafinado,” “One Note Samba,” or “Dindi,” in jazz broadcasts.  él Records‘ new compilation, João Gilberto And The Stylists Of Bossa Nova Sing Antonio Carlos Jobim, serves as a wonderful introduction to Jobim’s world.

To set the background, this collection uses the recordings of Brazilian singer João Gilberto as a starting point. It’s a superb choice, as Gilberto was a frequent collaborator and fine interpreter of Jobim’s work. Their 1959 recording of “Desafinado” is breezy, light, and has since been noted as the definitive version of this Bossa Nova classic. Gilberto’s voice is soft, gentle, and romantic, and glides tenderly over Jobim’s arrangements of guitar, tasteful horns, and shuffling percussion. Hearing him sing such standards as “One Note Samba,” “Happiness,” and “How Insensitive” is always a pleasure, and it’s nice to have the original versions of these numbers in one place.

But it’s the “Stylists of Bossa Nova” portion of this set that really make it a worthy collection, as it shows just how influential Jobim had become in a relatively short amount of time. This section collects over a dozen collaborations, covers, and interpretations of Jobim’s work from a wide, diverse array of artists. Though songs from well-known albums such 1964’s seminal Getz/Gilberto and 1967’s Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim aren’t included here, many notable pieces are, such as “Dindi,” written for vocalist Sylvia Telles, which was an international hit in 1959. Jobim features as an arranger for several gorgeous tracks of light instrumental fare with the Radames Gnattall Quintet, and to broaden the scope of his influence, takes from American jazz notables such as Vince Guaraldi Trio (“Happiness”), Jon Hendricks, and Herbie Mann round out the collection. There’s even an orchestral chorale number featured here, from the Rio de Janerio Symphony Orchestra, with Jobim conducting.

Jobim, who died in 1994, left behind a legacy that has yet to fade, and younger audiences are continually rediscovering his work. This collection is nothing if not essential, a cool listening experience and introduction to one of music’s finest songwriters and arrangers.

 

João Gilberto And The Stylists Of Bossa Nova Sing Antonio Carlos Jobim is available now from  él Records/Cherry Red.

 

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