Basic education in Brazil is in chaos. A little more
than 30% of students ever finish elementary school. Teachers’ salaries
are a joke with some receiving as little as $1.30 (that is one dollar and
thirty cents) per 45-minute class. Nobody is happy. There are islands of
excellence in some private schools, and higher education is reasonable.
But that is too little for the eighth largest economy in the world if it
wants to make any difference in the next millennium.
By Jorge da Silva
With renewed emphasis on the music of Antônio Carlos Jobim
coming from all directions, three newly released CDs from the Warner Archives
Series make a timely and noteworthy arrival for Brazilian music fans. These
three CDs cover a remarkably creative period in Jobim’s career, and help
to put his creative direction into perspective. With so much emphasis being
given to the newly released A Twist of Jobim, and the countless
tribute recordings that have been released over the past two years, I thought
that it might be a good idea to remember where all the inspiration came
from in the first place.
In 1964, both Jobim and Brazil were undergoing major changes. His phenomenal
recording success with Stan Getz and João and Astrud
Gilberto in New York heralded the rise of bossa nova in the
US with "The Girl From Ipanema" even as his homeland plunged
into dictatorship. Dissolved from his early alliance with Polygram Brasil
(a relationship that he would later return to for his Passarim recording)
and allied with producer and conductor Claus Ogerman, Jobim
once again set his sights on New York City to produce the recordings contained
within these three CDs.
The first of these, The Composer, is a chronicle of his
work from 1965-1967, years that expanded Jobim’s international stature
as a songwriter. The 28 tracks are taken from three recordings and a wealth
of previously unreleased material to stand in marked contrast to his earlier
Polygram releases in both content and approach. One of these, A Certain
Mr. Jobim (now discontinued, and one of our all-time favorites), was
recorded scant days after completing his work with Frank Sinatra,
and it carries an air of spontaneity and unfettered joy; elements curiously
absent from his set with Old Blue Eyes. With a wonderful mix of instrumental
and vocal favorites like "She’s a Carioca," "Surfboard,"
"Zingaro" and "Photograph," The Composer moves
from song to song with all the grace of a seagull in flight.
Various projects kept Jobim busy through the early 70s, during which
time he recorded several albums for CTI & A&M, including Tide,
Stone Flower, and Wave. These recordings focused on his use
of stronger orchestral settings, and incorporated many of the top US sidemen
of the day, including bassist Ron Carter (from Miles Davis),
Tonight Show drummer Bobby Rosengarden, reedman Joe Farrell,
and percussionist Airto Moreira, who both would soon join with Chick
Corea to form "Return To Forever" and flutist Hubert Laws,
who was already well on his way to establishing a strong presence with
popular jazz under the direction of Creed Taylor. Through all of
this, Claus Ogerman remained close, personally and professionally.
By 1976, Jobim had become a household word in the US and around the
world, and his Urubu from that year reunites his music with Ogerman
and Warner to celebrate a joining of Bossa with MPB and to illuminate a
new focus: the ecology. Urubu was inspired by Jobim’s intimate ties
to nature with songs like "Correnteza" (The Stream), "Boto"
(Porpoise) and "Lígia," and it continues to invite comparisons
to the finest works of other 20th Century composers, including George
Gershwin and Heitor Villa-Lobos . It was also different. Here
Jobim moved away from his pop music sense to record an album that blurs
the lines between jazz and classical, between the traditional folk styles
of the Brazilian northeast and the bossa rhythms Jobim helped to
create. Critically acclaimed, Jobim would waste no time getting back onto
more familiar ground.
The culmination of Jobim’s influence during this period coincided with
a new decade and the 1980 release of Terra Brasilis (Brazilian Land).
Jobim, who once observed that he enjoyed writing in English "because
it is a well-stolen language," sheds new light on "Dreamer,"
"Sabiá" and "Dindi." This opus also contains
several beautifully crafted instrumentals among its 20 tracks including
"Maria" and "Estrada do Sol", here presented by Jobim’s
solo piano. And "Você Vai Ver" (You’ll See) with daughter
Ana pre-dates Jobim’s musical vision for his ultimate phase, the gentle
unisons and close harmonies of The New Band seven years later.
Individually, each of these three albums convey Jobim’s talent in extraordinary
ways. Taken together, they represent 15 years of creative growth from melodic
adolescence to musical maturity and Bob Blumenthal’s liner notes provide
a personal insight into Jobim and his music.