Let me say it from the top, I can't get enough of Antonio Adolfo. Every album, every song he has ever released is a treasure. Not only is Antonio a brilliant composer and pianist, he is also an arranger without peer. In 2020, he released BruMa, a tribute album to Milton Nascimento. Now, with Jobim Forever, he takes on the Brazilian titan Antônio Carlos Jobim.
The extra delight is that I have never heard that Jobim piece that I have not adored. The song selection on Jobim Forever is the best of the best. Maybe they are not the most famous—missing is Aquas De Marco--but they are the perfect choices for Antonio to work his arranging and performance magic.
With Antonio are some of Brazil’s hottest artists and most of them were on BruMa. Jesse Sadoc is on flugelhorn and trumpet, Marcelo Martins is on flutes and saxophones, Danilo Sinna is on alto saxophone, Rafael Rocha is on trombone, Lula Galvao on guitars, Jorge Helder on bass, Rafael Barata on drums with a guest appearance on drums by Paulo Braga, and Dada Costa on percussion. The amazing Brazilian vocalist Zé Renato joins for one tune.
Standards like The Girl from Ipanema, Wave, and Agua De Beber are flawlessly executed with Antonio’s great piano carrying the lead and that smoking hot band carries it off to perfection.
Sure, The Girl from Ipanema has been accused of being overplayed and some Jazz artists never want to hear it requested again. As for me, it never gets old and there is a reason why it is Jobim’s biggest success. Plus, Antonio Adolfo has a way of breathing fresh life into classics and standards. The same goes for Wave. So many times a guitarist’s tune, Antonio brings Rocha’s trombone to the front and the piano is always a delight.
Part of that is explained by Antonio’s approach to his arranging process. He says, “When I create arrangements for my albums, I played the music literally dozens of times on the piano until I start to feel a kind of partnership with the composer. After I thoroughly absorbed the music, I can start hearing my own voice emerge and I can then create the different harmonies, meters, phrasing, and forms but I adapt to the instruments in my concept.”
From the start, Antonio puts forth the big bossa nova. No doubt, it is in his blood.
A Felicidade (Happiness) hears Zé Renato on vocals for the only track on the album and it is excellent. It was written for the 1958 film Black Orpheus that captivated my mind and soul when I first saw it as a teenage. The horns capture the sheer depth of the piece but the rhythm section deserves special attention. The lush tones of How Insensitive are so well captured by everyone of the musicians. Sadoc’s horn is gorgeous and, as always, Antonio’s piano captivates.
Agua De Beber is one of my all-time favorite Jobim tunes. The first time I heard it was on Al Jarreau’s album Glow. It made me go out to my local record store and buy The Wonderful World of Antônio Carlos Jobim. From Ella Fitzgerald to Sophie Milman to Sergio Mendes to Frank Sinatra, the song never grows stale. Antonio Adolfo makes certain that it is as vibrant as ever in his stellar arrangement.
Piano, flute, and acoustic guitar carry the leads on the final track of the album, Estrada Do Sol (Road to the Sun). With the brilliant play of Martins on flute and Galvao on guitar, it is that so fine piano of Antonio’s that keeps the attention.
Jobim Forever is a treasure trove of material from the bossa nova master Antônio Carlos Jobim. Enhancing that is the splendid wealth of Antonio Adolfo’s arrangements and performing artistry. Antonio choose the right artists for the right tunes and he (and they) never disappoint. Antonio Adolfo is himself a treasure.