Pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader Antonio Adolfo has performed songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) many times before, both in concert and in the recording studio, and why not? Those songs, particularly the epochal bossa-nova hits composed in the 1950s and ’60s, made Jobim one of the brightest and most influential stars in the jazz firmament. They also helped make Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—the city in which both Adolfo and Jobim were born—an important capital of world culture. Beginning in his home country in the late ’50s and then gathering momentum with the global success of his “The Girl from Ipanema” (as recorded by Stan Getz and João Gilberto) in 1964, Jobim’s music has been enjoyed by millions of people around the world and recorded countless times by musicians across many different genres.
Under the circumstances, it’s far from surprising that Adolfo would feel a connection to Jobim. But he has never recorded a full album of compositions by his legendary countryman … until now. On his latest album Jobim Forever, Adolfo imbues nine iconic Jobim tunes from the 1960s with his own artistry, taking music that often seems ubiquitous and giving it a fresh sensibility, making it into a truly personal statement.
Joining Adolfo in this achievement is an eight-piece band, including Jesse Sadoc on trumpet and flugelhorn; Marcelo Martins on tenor and soprano saxophones and flutes; Danilo Sinna on alto saxophone; Rafael Rocha on trombone; Lula Galvão on guitars; Jorge Helder on double bass; Rafael Barata on drums and percussion; and Dada Costa on percussion. (Two additional players, vocalist Zé Renato and drummer Paulo Braga, make cameo appearances.) The material they tackle includes the cream of Jobim’s classic crop: “The Girl from Ipanema,” “Wave,” “A Felicidade,” “How Insensitive,” “Favela (O Morro Não Tem Vez),” “Inutil Paisagem,” “Agua de Beber,” a medley of “Amparo” and the introduction to “Por Toda a Minha Vida,” and “Estrada do Sol.”
Adolfo’s ability to put his stamp on this music is beyond doubt, as is his pedigree. Already a professional musician at 17, he studied early on with noteworthy teachers such as Eumir Deodato and the great Nadia Boulanger in Paris. During the 1960s he led his own trio and toured with singers Elis Regina and Milton Nascimento. He has been nominated for several Latin Grammy and Grammy Awards, and more than 200 of his original compositions have been recorded by major artists like Sérgio Mendes, Earl Klugh, Herb Alpert, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, and many others. He has recorded over two dozen albums as a leader in the U.S. and Brazil, the most recent being his first big-band collection, Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica (2018), which JazzTimes’ Philip Booth described as “often dazzling.”
The work of two modern Brazilian masters is on display on Jobim Forever. Antonio Adolfo’s modern jazz sensibilities, cultural heritage, and elegant aesthetics build a new paradigm for Antonio Carlos Jobim’s well-traveled music.