Jobim Forever, by Stephen Smoliar – The Rehearsal Studio

At the end of last month, Antonio Adolfo released his latest AMM album, entitled Jobim Forever. As of this writing it would appear that this recording is currently only available for download. The above link to is as good as any; but, sadly, it does not include any metadata. This is more than a little unfortunate, because Adolfo is leading a rather large ensemble from his piano; and those that take listening to jazz seriously tend to want to know who the jazz-makers are. Nevertheless, we are still in pandemic times; meaning that we have to manage by taking what we can get.

As one can probably guess from the title, the album is a tribute to Antônio Carlos Jobim. Jobim began his professional career as a musician in the Forties playing piano in the bars and nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro. His first composition to be recorded was “Incerteza,” performed by the Brazilian singer Mauricy Moura for recording sessions in April of 1953. His first major exposure outside Brazil probably came in 1959 with the release of the film Black Orpheus. The most familiar music from this film is Luiz Bonfá’s “Manhã de Carnaval;” but the film opened with “A felicidade,” which now occupies a significant position in the Jobim catalog.

Over the course of the following decade, Jobim’s compositions began to enjoy worldwide popularity. This was due in no small part to the release of the Verve album Getz/Gilberto, produced by Creed Taylor. The title referred to the partnership of American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto. However, the combo also included Jobim at the piano. He was the sole composer of the final track, “Vivo Sonhando.” However, he was a contributing composer for all but two of the remaining tracks; and he had a hand in four tunes that now have “classic” status: “The Girl from Ipanema,” “Desafinado,” “Corcovado,” and “Só Danço Samba.”

The nine tracks on Adolfo’s album include “A felicidade” and “The Girl from Ipanema.” Both “Wave” and “How Insensitive” are likely to be familiar to most listeners that have been drawn to the Jobim catalog. The remaining five tracks are less familiar; but they are all given sensitive treatment under Adolfo’s leadership, as well as the well-informed inventiveness that the attentive listener will appreciate in his piano performances. I have to wonder, however, whether appreciation of this music has to do with my generation, since I was an undergraduate when Getz/Gilberto was released. It is easy enough to say that Jobim’s achievements are as enduring as those of, for example, Duke Ellington; but how often do I encounter Ellington’s music performed these days?