Thursday, December 31, 2009
Gilberto's influence on Brazilian and much of the other music of our time has been pervasive for half a century. Yet, his repertoire primarily consists of songs composed by others, most prominently Antonio Carlos Jobim. In the development of modern samba Jobim was to Gilberto as Dizzy Gillespie said Charlie Parker was to him in bebop, the other half of his heartbeat. Gilberto has written only 11 songs, most of them less familiar than "Bim Bom," each of them exquisite in its own way.
This gem of an album by the Brazilian singer Ithamara Koorax and guitarist Juarez Moreira gathers all of Gilberto's songs under one cover for the first time. Gilberto himself has never done that. The purity and tonal accuracy of Koorax's voice, the perfection of her phrasing and interpretation, beautifully serve the songs in ways that should delight the composer. Moreira accompanies her with subtlety and harmonic resourcefulness that suggest Gilberto's own guitar playing. He has two tracks to himself.
You may be familiar with "Bim Bom," "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá" and "Minha Saudade," but unless you're a Gilberto completist, "Vôce Esteve Com Meu Bem?" "Bebel" and the others may be new to you. Koorax and Moreira are a fine way to meet them. Early in the collection, Koorax sings "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá" in Portuguese and later, in a separate track, in flawlessly unaccented English. I'd be hard-pressed to say which is the more charming.
This blog is founded on Doug's conviction that musicians and listeners who embrace and understand jazz have interests that run deep, wide and beyond jazz. Music is its principal concern, but it reaches past...
...the fashions, trends and commercial facets of the jazz scene of the moment, month or year. It considers current artists, performances and recordings not because they are current, but because they have value. It examines the broad history and universal aspects of the jazz mother lode that enriches not only music but also culture and life in general for millions of people. This blog is dedicated to taking music seriously, but itself with only enough seriousness to maintain reasonable dignity.
Doug is a recipient of the lifetime achievement award of the Jazz Journalists Association. He lives in the Pacific Northwest, where he settled following a career in print and broadcast journalism in cities including New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, San Antonio, Cleveland and Washington, DC. His writing about jazz has paralleled his life in journalism.
He is the author of Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond and Jazz Matters:Reflections on the Music and Some of its Makers. He is the winner of two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards, one for Take Five, another for an essay about Bill Evans in The Secret Sessions. He has contributed to Jazz Times since 1975 and, before that, wrote regularly for Down Beat. He was a contributing editor of Texas Monthly for twenty-five years and wrote a jazz column for The Dallas Morning News. His novel Poodie James was published in the summer of 2007. His articles, reviews and op-ed pieces on music and on free press and First Amendment issues have appeared in The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Oregonian, and Congressional Quarterly, among other publications. Doug is the co-editor (With Dale Shaps) of Journalism Ethics: Why Change? Under the American Speakers program of the United States Information Agency (when there was a U.S.I.A.), he lectured in Germany and Eastern Europe on jazz and on the role of a free press in a democracy. As senior vice president of FACS (Foundation for American Communications), he educated hundreds of professional journalists about analytical coverage of issues. He describes himself as an avocational trumpeter who sometimes plays for money.
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira salute the master in Bim Bom.
31 December 2009
"Bim Bom" reviewed by Daniella Thompson
Who in this world owns the most complete collection of João Gilberto recordings? My money is on record producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro, who periodically displays in his blog rare items that most JG fans never knew existed.
On 9 November 2009, Arnaldo surprised his readers with the cover of the Japanese DVD João Gilberto Live in Tokyo. Now, every João head knows that the long-awaited DVD of the 2004 Tokyo concerts was never released, so this is a coveted bootleg edition. Only Arnaldo has ever shown it.
More astonishing still, on 15 October 2009, Arnaldo published an image of the cover of João Gilberto—Acesita 50 Anos, recorded live in concert in 1994, when the stainless-steel company (now known as ArcelorMittal Inox Brasil) celebrated its 50-year jubilee. Who knew?
À propos of that concert, Arnaldo also pointed me to the 11 Sept. 2008 issue of Gazeta Mercantil, in which Durval Guimarães relates that João Gilberto arrived three hours late to the 50th-anniversary concert. In order to pass the time until the tardy artist’s arrival, the firm’s president, Wilson Brumer, gave a lecture on metallurgy.
Oh yes. Arnaldo was co-producer with João of the CD reissue of João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira.
You get the idea.
So who better than Arnaldo to produce the definitive João Gilberto songbook? Definitive, because there have always been questions among the JG faithful about this or that song. “Mambinho,” to name one, has been attributed to João Gilberto and João Donato, but only Arnaldo was able to verify with the reclusive JG that he had no involvement in the composition of this song.
João Gilberto himself has never recorded his complete oeuvre, confining himself to those tunes he composed without a partner. Other artists have occasionally committed to disc one Gilberto tune or another.
First out the door was João’s earliest known published song (he was 22), the samba-canção “Você Esteve com Meu Bem?” (1953). The crooner was João’s girlfriend, Marisa Gata Mansa, making her recording debut on a 78-rpm disc, and the orchestral accompaniment was conducted by the legendary Lindolpho Gaya. Forty-seven years later, João himself attempted to sing it at Teatro de Santa Izabel in Recife but quickly gave up, presumably because he couldn’t remember the lyrics.
In 1955, Luiz Bonfá and his conjunto, featuring João Donato on accordion, were the first to record “Minha Saudade,” still a wordless Donato tune at the time. After JG added lyrics, Alaíde Costa sang the song in the LP Gosto de Você (1959).
Also in 1959, after João’s recording of “Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá” had hit the charts, Norma Benguell gave a breathless rendition of it in the LP Ooooooh! Norma, pianist Waldir Calmon recorded it for Copacabana, and bandleader Luiz Arruda Paes with his orchestra and chorus executed it in the LP Brasil em Tempo de Dança. Sylvia Telles—another former JG girlfriend—introduced an English version on Amor em Hi-Fi (1960). The song would subsequently be recorded by artists as diverse as Mel Tormé and Sivuca.
In 1962, Stan Getz and Gary McFarland recorded “Bim Bom” in Big Band Bossa Nova. Cannonball Adderly and Tamba Trio rendered jazz interpretations of “Minha Saudade” in the albums Cannonball’s Bossa Nova and Tamba Trio, respectively. Two years later, the star-struck Jorge Ben sang a bombastic and weepy “Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá” in his second album, Ben É Samba Bom (1964).
Wanda Sá, who enjoyed a North American vogue in the mid-1960s, included the English version of “Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá” in her album Softly (1965). Bud Shank, João Donato, and Rosinha de Valença recorded “Um Abraço no Bonfá” and “Minha Saudade” in their album Bud Shank & His Brazilian Friends (1965). Walter Wanderley followed suit in Batucada (1967).
Astrud Gilberto sang “Bim Bom” with big orchestral accompaniment in Look to the Rainbow (1965), and Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’66 included a bouncy English version of it in Equinox (1967).
In 1974, having spent time under the tutelage of the Zen-baiano himself, the fusion-rock group Novos Baianos recorded “Isabel” [Bebel] on their eponymous LP.
Caetano Veloso included a medley of “Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá” and “Bim Bom” in Totalmente Demais (1986) and bravely tackled “Você Esteve com Meu Bem?” in Fina Estampa ao Vivo (1995).
In 1990, Baden Powell sang “Minha Saudade” in his reedy voice on TV Cultura, and Hendrik Meurkens played the same on the vibes in Sambahia.
Several additional recordings came in the ’90s, including three versions of “Minha Saudade”: Lisa Ono’s in her all-Donato album Minha Saudade (1995); Gilson Peranzzetta Trio in Alegria de Viver (1997); and Gilberto Gil in Lumiar’s Songbook João Donato (1999). Also in Songbook João Donato, Luiz Melodia contributed his interpretation of “Coisas Distantes.”
João Donato has, of course, recorded the songs he co-authored with João Gilberto repeatedly.
So here, at last, are the eleven songs that João Gilberto composed or co-authored, collected in one CD. The interpreters are Arnaldo DeSouteiro’s former wife, Ithamara Koorax (why give this gem to another singer?) and the mineiro ace guitarist Juarez Moreira.
Koorax has been singing “Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá” since her first concert in 1990. Moreira, in his turn, regards João Gilberto’s music as a challenge: “Although some of the songs may seem very simple, it’s a false impression,” he says. “Gilberto’s songs are very demanding in harmonic terms of guitar playing. They demand a lot of technique. That’s the main ingredient of Gilberto’s magic; to make very difficult and intricate things seem so easy and sound so natural.”
In this “live in the studio” album, the two produce a yin-yang effect. While Ithamara lends the songs a bright, bell-like clarity and at times a girlish reverie, Juarez provides a pure and contemplative link that harks directly back to the composer.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
(Foto: Fernando Natalaci)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Ithamara Koorax Interviewed at JazzWax
SOUND INSIGHTS - THE DOUGBLOG
Random musings from the broken mind and broken heart of Douglas Payne
The beautiful and brilliantly talented Brazilian chanteuse Ithamara Koorax discusses her tremendously enchanting new album, Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook with JazzWax’s always insightful Marc Myers. Ms. Koorax discusses Gilberto, his slim songbook, her accompanist on the album, guitarist Juarez Moeira, working with Brazilian legends Jobim, Bonfa, Donato and jazz legends John McLaughlin, Ron Carter and others. Ithamara’s glowing personality, which springs forth from her music, is ever present in this illuminating chat with JazzWax. Part 1 of the interview is here. Part 2 is here.
Posted by Douglas Payne at 9:57 PM
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira:
"Bim Bom - The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook"
Review by Marc Myers
Ithamara Koorax's Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook is a sensual bossa nova album and her finest CD to date. Ithamara's charm and optimism are irrepressible and a perfect fit for Gilberto's spare, smoldering melodies. What's more, Ithamara is joined here only by guitarist Juarez Moreira, who brings enormous technique and tenderness to the Gilberto canon. Together, they patiently tease out the beauty of Gilberto's simplicity in warm, shimmering lines.
(c) Marc Myers/JazzWax.com. Reprinted with permission.
JazzWax - www.jazzwax.com
Marc Myers blogs daily on jazz legends and legendary jazz recordings
December 14, 2009
Interview: Ithamara Koorax (Part 1)
In 1958, the bossa nova began to expand beyond Brazil and attract international attention, particularly in the U.S. While jazz artists here began adapting the Brazilian folk beat in the 1950s and early 1960s, the bossa nova didn't become a bona fide sensation until the release of Getz/Gilberto in 1964. On that album, Stan Getz was joined by two bossa nova stars, pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim and guitarist Joao Gilberto. Today, of the pair, only Gilberto survives. So last year, when Brazilian singer Ithamara Koorax was contemplating her next CD, she decided to pay tribute to Gilberto, whose debut album was released in 1959.
Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook is Ithamara's 11th solo release and the result of her life-long affection for the composer's hushed melodies and beat. If you're unfamiliar with Ithamara, she is a throwback to the days of graceful and poised Brazilian singers, when conveying passion and vulnerability mattered most of all. Ithamara's voice has the girlish breathlessness of early bossa nova singers but also the brash confidence and stamina that today's modern vocal style demands.
In Part 1 of my two-part interview with Ithamara, 44, the Brazilian singer talks about Joao Gilberto's importance, why the guitarist did not record on her tribute album, why she chose to record with guitarist Juarez Moreira, and the process she uses to learn songs before singing them:
JazzWax: Why did you decide to record an album of Joao Gilberto’s compositions?
Ithamara Koorax: Guitarist Joao Gilberto [pictured] is the most important living legend on the Brazilian music scene. Along with pianist Joao Donato, he’s the last living genius of the bossa nova era. So, after recording with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, Dom Um Romao and Joao Donato, I felt it was only natural that I turn to Gilberto in terms of a tribute album. I grew up listening to Gilberto's recordings, including the album Canção do Amor Demais by singer Elizete Cardoso. The 1958 LP featured the single Chega de Saudade, now known as No More Blues. Gilberto played the new rhythmic beat behind her, and the single is considered the first pure bossa nova recording.
JW: Why is Gilberto called the “Bossa Nova Pope?"
IK: Because he was the one who invented the style. Of course there were others who inspired him, like Luiz Bonfa and Garoto, another great guitarist who is still little known outside Brazil. But Gilberto [pictured] was the one who developed the bossa nova beat on the guitar. My producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro played me a few Joao Donato recordings from the mid-50s on which you can hear a very similar beat played by the pianist on the accordion. Nevertheless, Gilberto was the one who mixed all the elements together—the rhythmic guitar beat, the soft singing style and the complex harmonies. It’s that mix that became known as the bossa nova.
JW: How does Gilberto differ from other great Brazilian composers?
IK: I don't feel I'm able to translate his whole creative concept into words. But it's something magical that transcends music. The way his harmonies move and the way he develops his harmonic changes—they remain unmatched.
JW: And yet you covered all of his compositions in your new CD.
IK: Yes, Gilberto wrote only 11 songs—at least the only compositions that he and other artists have recorded. I decided to put all of them together on one CD. Of course I know that Gilberto has created some other pieces, some pretty tunes that he calls “guitar miniatures.” But he says they are "unfinished business" and would never allow me or anyone else to record them. He is an obsessive perfectionist, and he considers such unrecorded songs as mere sketches, not finished songs.
JW: Why do you think Gilberto hasn’t recorded more of his own compositions?
IK: Gilberto is such a creative interpreter that he winds up becoming an unofficial "co-author" of any song he chooses to sing and record. He says that's the reason he never felt compelled to write hundreds of songs. He has always said he knows hundreds of great songs that already exist that he’s satisfied trying to improve or re-do in his own style. [Pictured: Gilberto with his then wife Astrud Gilberto]
JW: For example?
IK: Look what he did with Estate, an Italian pop song recorded by Bruno Martino in 1960. Before Gilberto's interpretation of the song on his album Amoroso in 1977, nobody knew the song in the U.S. The song wasn’t even popular in Italy, where it originated. Joao turned it into a universal jazz standard. Which is proof that he performs musical miracles [laughs].
JW: What’s the origin of Gilberto's song Bim Bom, the title track of your new album?
IK: The song was first recorded in 1958 as the B-side of a 78-rpm single that featured Antonio Carlos Jobim's Chega de Saudade (also now known as No More Blues) on the A-side. Chega de Saudade was a hit and remains beautiful. But Bim Bom was much more intriguing and modern, and ahead of its time. At the time, most people other than musicians didn’t pay much attention to it. They couldn't understand such a strange song. Another wonderful tune by Gilberto, Voce Esteve Com Meu Bem, was composed in 1953 and still sounds unbelievably modern.
JW: Did you use song sheets or other artists' recordings to learn the melodies for your new album?
IK: For half of the material I turned to Claus Ogerman's piano parts from a recording Joao Donato made with Claus in 1965 called The New Sound of Brazil. The songs, Forgotten Places and Glass Beads were co-written by Gilberto and Donato specifically for that album. So I made copies of the lead sheets and gave them to the great Brazilian guitarist Juarez Moreira, who adapted them for voice and guitar on Bim Bom.
JW: When did you and guitarist Moreira meet?
IK: We met a few years ago. In addition to being a fantastic musician, Juarez also is a huge fan of Gilberto. He told me he grew up listening to his father's Gilberto recordings. He learned most of them by ear when he was in his teens.
JW: You've sung a few of Gilberto’s songs before.
IK: Oh, yes, of course. I sang Ho-Ba-La-La on my debut gig as a professional singer in January 1990 at a place called Rio Jazz Club. Since then it has become part of my repertoire in performances. But I had never recorded it before. As for Minha Saudade, I’ve recorded it on two different albums that were popular in Japan and in Europe. One is Wave 2001, an acid-jazz session recorded in Tokyo in 1996, and the other is Bossa Nova Meets Drum 'n' Bass, an electronic project for the jazz dance-floor market recorded in New York in 1998. But both sound very different from my new acoustic reading.
JW: Your singing approach on Gilberto’s songs is mostly wordless. Is that because his songs don't have lyrics?
IK: Yes, exactly. But some of them, like Undiu appear as though they have lyrics because of the movement of the sounds. I repeat the same word Undiu throughout the track, and each time the word sounds different. Take a listen and I'm sure you'll hear what I mean. I felt in a kind of hypnotic trance while recording that tune. There's a very special and strong energy there, a very subtle Eastern influence.
JW: Was there ever a plan to invite Gilberto to record this tribute album with you?
IK: I can't deny that I dreamed of recording with him, although not specifically on this album. My producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro [pictured] has been friends with Gilberto for about 30 years. They have worked together on various projects. But I never wanted to take advantage of their professional relationship. Then when I met Juarez, I felt that diving into Gilbert’s songbook with a guitarist as sensitive as Juarez would be fun and challenging.
JW: Is Gilberto intimidating?
IK: He doesn't like to do collaborations. Most of his recent albums are solo projects. He currently performs only solo concerts. Even on his albums Amoroso , Brazil  and João , which were orchestrated respectively by Claus Ogerman, Johnny Mandel and Clare Fischer, Gilberto recorded his guitar and vocal tracks alone. Then the tapes were sent to the arrangers who added the rhythm sections and later overdubbed the orchestral parts.
JW: Gilberto is quite a mysterious personality.
IK: I know some of the guys who recorded on all of these album projects, and they said it was bizarre and frustrating that they never had an opportunity to meet Gilberto in person, not even at the studio. That's how Gilberto likes to work, which is very different from the way I like to interact with the musicians on my recording dates.
JW: What did Gilberto say when you told him you were going to sing his songs on a tribute album?
IK: Oh, it's a secret [laughs].
JW: Come on!
IK: If you knew Gilberto, you would understand. He's highly eccentric and one of the most exotic, shy and low-profile musicians ever. He even refused to perform on his daughter Bebel’s albums.
IK: Decades ago, when Bebel was a child, he sometimes invited her to perform with him during his concerts. But after she started a solo career, it never happened again, and he never recorded on any of her albums.
JW: So what was his reaction to your project?
IK: When Arnaldo told him that we were planning to record the album, Arnaldo said Gilberto smiled and said, "Nobody will be interested in releasing a Joao Gilberto songbook." Don't ask me why the great Gilberto thought that [laughs].
JW: What do you feel when you're singing one of Gilberto's songs?
IK: Here's my creative process for any song: I listen to the original recording until I absorb all the elements. Then I start singing the song alone, a cappella, in my home studio. I do this for hours and hours. Sometimes I practice a tune for months. When I feel I have forgotten all that I have learned, I know I'm ready to sing the song live or record it.
IK: I have to ensure that I will not feel hesitation or fear, which will paralyze me. Nothing can compromise the free flow of passion and feelings when I sing.
Tomorrow Ithamara talks about singing with guitarist Juarez Moreira on her new album, working with bossa nova legends Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa on previous projects, the biggest hurdles she faced when singing Joao Gilberto's songs, and the U.S. charity to which all Bim Bom proceeds are being donated.
JazzWax tracks: Ithamara Koorax's Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook is a sensual bossa nova album and her finest CD to date. Ithamara's charm and optimism are irrepressible and a perfect fit for Gilberto's spare, smoldering melodies. What's more, Ithamara is joined here only by guitarist Juarez Moreira, who brings enormous technique and tenderness to the Gilberto canon. Together, they patiently tease out the beauty of Gilberto's simplicity in warm, shimmering lines. Bim Bom is available at iTunes and at Amazon here.
Another album by Ithamara with similar tenderness is Obrigado Dom Um Romao (2007). It's available at iTunes and Amazon here. By contrast, Brazilian Butterfly (2006) will give you a taste of Ithamara's stronger vocal style. It's available at iTunes.
JazzWax clip: Here's Joao Gilberto's original recording of Bim Bom in 1958...
(c) Marc Myers/JazzWax.com. Reprinted with permission.
JazzWax - www.jazzwax.com
Marc Myers blogs daily on jazz legends and legendary jazz recordings
December 15, 2009
Interview: Ithamara Koorax (Part 2)
Pics by Fernando Natalici
(Ira Giltler & Ithamara Koorax)
I met Brazilian vocalist Ithamara Koorax for the first time a year ago in New York at an amazing holiday party on Sutton Place. Jazz writer Ira Gitler introduced us. Ithamara was in town briefly to sing and had postponed her flight by a day just to make the soiree, which was softly lit and jammed with jazz legends. Singers Helen Merrill and Annie Ross were there. So were Joe Wilder, Teddy Charles, George Wein and about 50 other jazz luminaries. Ithamara was as lovely and as outgoing as her voice is on recordings, and what you see on stage is what you get when you have an animated conversation with her. Ithamara's latest CD, Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook, typifies her grace. The CD is an exuberant tribute to the bossa nova and the beat's low-key, unassuming inventor.
(Ithamara Koorax, Helen Merrill & Gary Giddins)
(Joe Wilder & Ithamara Koorax)
In Part 2 of my interview with Ithamara, the singer talks about recording on Bim Bom with guitarist Juarez Moreira, what she discovered about Gilberto's melody lines, recording with Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa, and why all of her proceeds from Bim Bom are being donated to the Dizzy Gillespie Fund:
JazzWax: You enjoy the sound of the acoustic guitar, don’t you?
Ithamara Koorax: I do. I should have learned to play it, but I only studied classical piano. I feel fortunate for having had the chance to play with so many great guitarists. After I played with Luiz Bonfa and Larry Coryell on Almost in Love in 1995, I invited Jay Berliner to record on my Serenade in Blue album. I grew up listening to his albums with Charles Mingus, Milt Jackson and George Benson. Then, John McLaughlin recorded with me as a guest artist on Love Dance. Now I'm working with Juarez Moreira.
JW: How did you and guitarist Moreira work together on your new album?
IK: We did the recordings in three days. Juarez lives in Belo Horizonte and I live about 270 miles away in Rio de Janeiro. So I sent him sheet music of the songs and a CD with a few tracks of Gilberto songs that weren’t familiar to him.
JW: Did you record together in the same studio?
IK: Yes, yes. When I booked the studio, Juarez came to Rio, and on the first day we rehearsed for six hours. Then we did two six-hour studio sessions for two consecutive days. All of the tracks were recorded face to face in the studio, and most of the songs were first takes.
JW: No overdubbing?
IK: I don't like to overdub vocals unless I'm doing electronic projects and working with programming and sequencers, which was not the case here, of course. So what I sang with Juarez is what you hear on the album. On a few tracks, Juarez felt he should add a second guitar for the solos, to not lose the groove of the rhythm guitar.
JW: What input did arranger and your long-time producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro have on the album?
IK: As usual, Arnaldo was essential. He suggested tempos, helped us find the best keys, prepared the basic arrangements and then asked Juarez and me for suggestions. He kept us focused on the spontaneity and asked us to not over-rehearse or lose the creative vibe. [Photo: Ithamara, Luiz Bonfa and Arnaldo DeSouteiro]
JW: How did Arnaldo work with Juarez?
IK: Arnaldo knows how to create and sustain a happy mood in the studio. At the same time Arnaldo also is a perfectionist, which is why he has worked with so many great artists, including Joao Gilberto [pictured]. In just a couple of hours, it seemed as though Juarez and I had been friends for decades. Arnaldo also interacted a lot with engineer Geraldo Brandao, who already knew how Arnaldo wanted my voice to sound. Everything clicked, and the bonding made the mix sessions easy and joyful.
JW: What did you discover about Gilberto's music that may come as a shock to some readers?
IK: What I discovered is that Gilberto’s music was much more difficult to sing than I imagined. As a singer you have to deal with so many things at the same time with Gilberto’s [pictured] songs. You need to be subtle, you need to sing softly, but you also need to deal with rhythm—all at once. And it all happens so quickly that you can't think about it. You only need to do it.
JW: You worked with Antonio Carlos Jobim. What was he like in the studio?
IK: Jobim was very important to my career because he gave me a great deal of support in my early years. For my first album, Ao Vivo (JVC) in 1993, I included four or five Jobim songs. After his sister Helena Jobim, a poet, gave him a copy of my CD, he called to congratulate me. He said, "Next time, please invite me." So in 1994 when I started working on my second CD, Red River (Paddle Wheel), I selected three Jobim songs and took him up on his kind offer.
JW: What did he say?
IK: His only request was, "Please book a studio with a good Steinway!" Actually, we did only one session together, in October 1994. Those were some of the most special six hours I have ever experienced in my life. He was very kind and was telling jokes the entire time. I felt he was trying to make me feel relaxed. Then, out of the blue, he suggested that we do a song titled All That's Left Is to Say Goodbye, which isn’t among his most famous songs. He said it was special to him, because he had recorded it with Astrud Gilberto on The Astrud Gilberto Album, her debut album in 1965. This was such a compliment. [Pictured: Ithamara and Antonio Carlos Jobim]
JW: Did you know the song?
IK: Yes, but I wasn't intimately familiar with Astrud's version at the time, even though I owned a copy of the album. I loved the version that Swedish singer Monica Zetterlund made of the song during her live recording with Bill Evans after their famous studio date in 1975. [The song is called Samba in discographies.]
JW: What happened next?
IK: We clicked. After we recorded All That's Left Is to Say Goodbye, we had lunch. Then we recorded two more songs. But Jobim wasn't totally satisfied with his performance. He said, "I need to go to New York next week, but we'll record again as soon as I come back to Rio". I was thrilled. One of the songs was titled Absolut Lee, and I started to study it. But he died in New York in a hospital after complications from surgery to remove a tumor. Nobody knew he had cancer, so Brazil was in a state of shock when he died.
JW: How did you feel?
IK: I felt devastated and decided to include only All That's Left Is to Say Goodbye on my album. The other songs I recorded with Jobim remain unreleased. I added other Jobim songs to the play list: Correnteza, a song Jobim co-wrote with Luiz Bonfa, who came in to play guitar on the track, and Zingaro, which I recorded with bassist Ron Carter [pictured].
JW: How did Luiz Bonfa differ from Jobim?
IK: Both had what I call "sophisticated souls." Both were gentlemen and geniuses. They worked together often in the 1950s and 1960s in Brazil, and both performed at the famous Bossa Nova at Carnegie Hall concert in 1962. Soon after both were signed to Verve by producer Creed Taylor.
JW: You recorded an entire album with Bonfa, yes?
IK: Yes. Almost In Love: Ithamara Koorax Sings the Luiz Bonfa Songbook (Paddle Wheel), which was a Top 15 album on the Japanese charts. The title track is a lush bossa nova that Bonfa wrote for Elvis Presley, who had a Billboard Top Pop chart hit with it. I was fortunate to record once again with Ron Carter as well as with Sadao Watanabe and Larry Coryell on that album.
JW: What was Bonfa like?
IK: Bonfa and I were neighbors for 10 years in Rio. We used to meet at least twice a week, sometimes just to chat. There were times when he would pick up his guitar as soon as I arrived at his home to show me new tunes he was working on. He wrote a couple of songs especially for me, which was a huge honor, especially because he was so reclusive, like Joao Gilberto.
JW: Did you perform in concert together?
IK: Bonfa loved to appear by surprise at my concerts, bringing his guitar and offering to sit in. The first time he did that, he entered the backstage, asking from the wings: "Don't you want to hire a guitarist for this band?" The musicians who played with me at the time recognized him instantly, of course, and were blown away. They felt so intimidated by his presence that they feared performing without a rehearsal. Bonfa was like a god to them. [Photo: Luiz Bonfa, Ithamara and John McLaughlin]
JW: What did you do?
IK: I started that concert by going off-stage and taking Bonfa on stage by the hand. As I led him out, I said to the audience, "We have a very special guest tonight, and he will start the show playing his song Manha de Carnaval from the movie Black Orpheus. When the audience realized Bonfa was there, they started to scream. He played superbly, of course, and we got a standing ovation on the first song! I'll never forget that night.
JW: You do quite a bit of touring.
IK: I'm just back from my third European tour this year. I performed at 47 concerts overseas in 2009, for a total of 82 concerts if you include my gigs in Brazil. My goal is to sing all over the world, I want to conquer new audiences all the time. That's why I do concerts for 1,500 people in Finland and 4,000 people in open-air jazz festivals in Korea. Last month I performed for the first time at jazz festivals in cities where I had never been before like Belgrade, Indija and Sofia, and people loved my music.
JW: I hear that the proceeds from Bim Bom are going to charity?
IK: Yes. I'm always involved in charities and benefit projects. I'm donating all of my revenue from Bim Bom's sales to the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, N.J. I sing to give love to the people and receive love back. God gave me a gift. I can't disappoint Him.
JazzWax tracks: Ithamara Koorax's Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook features 11 songs composed by the creator of the bossa nova beat. Gilberto wrote only 11 songs that he and others have recorded. Joining Ithamara is acoustic guitarist Juarez Moreira. The liner notes are by Ira Gitler. Bim Bom is available at iTunes and at Amazon here.
JazzWax clip: Here's Ithamara and Bernard Fines singing the theme from A Man and A Woman in 2007...
(c) Marc Myers/JazzWax.com. Reprinted with permission.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Jornal do Brasil, 11 de Dezembro de 2009
Coluna "Supersônicas" - Tárik de Souza
Caderno B, Página B6
DICA DE DISCO ITHAMARA KOORAX
Pela primeira vez a curta, mas expressiva, obra autoral completa do esquivo João Gilberto sai num disco. A audácia de The complete João Gilberto songbook (JazzTherapy) une a voz afiada da niteroiense Ithamara Koorax e o violão exato do mineiro Juarez Moreira. Preparem-se para agudas belezas como as parcerias dos Joões Gilberto e Donato, Minha saudade,Glass beads e Forgotten places (mais Lysias Ênio), os (re)fundadores baião (Bim bom) e bolero (Hô-ba-lá-lá), além da Valsa, escrita em homenagem à filha, hoje estrela, Bebel Gilberto. E também para surpresas como a inaugural Você esteve com meu bem?, gravada pela namorada de João na época, Marisa (depois Gata Mansa), em 1953. O parceiro Russo do Pandeiro, músico de Carmen Miranda, segundo o acurado texto do produtor Arnaldo DeSouteiro apenas trabalhou para que a música fosse gravada. Também foram escalados João Marcelo (para o filho de João com Astrud), o baião Undiu (com uma referência a Algodão, de Luiz Gonzaga e Zé Dantas) e a instrumental An embrace to Bonfá, que parafraseia O barbinha branca, pré-bossa de Luis Bonfá e Tom Jobim, de 1955. Deleite musical e história viva da MPB.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
SOUND INSIGHTS - THE DOUGBLOG
Random musings from the broken mind and broken heart of Douglas Payne
Monday, November 30, 2009
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira “Bim Bom”
The beautiful and most ethereal of all vocalists practicing their art today, Brazilian Ithamara Koorax (b. 1965), has achieved what ranks among her very greatest achievements with Bim Bom, a brilliantly conceived tribute to the Brazilian composer, guitarist and singer João Gilberto.
Here, the multi-lingual, multi-genre singer tackles a bracing set of lovely, lilting melodies written or co-written by fellow Brazilian legend João Gilberto, accompanied most perfectly only by the guitar of Juarez Moreira, who is acclaimed by no less an authority than Milton Nascimento as a "mix of every musical element from Brazil” who “interprets them in a majestic way."
João Gilberto, born João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira on June 10, 1931, in Juazeiro, Bahia, is a Grammy Award-winning Brazilian singer and guitarist. He is credited with having created what we now know as “bossa nova” and has rightly become known as the "Father of Bossa Nova." His seminal recordings, including many songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, established the new musical genre in the late 1950s, which gained huge significance throughout the world in the early 1960s.
After many American musicians (Herbie Mann, Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd) embraced his music, he lived in the United States during much of the sixties, eventually leaving to live in Mexico. He returned to Brazil in 1980 and currently resides in Rio de Janiero, where he lives out a somewhat reclusive lifestyle, though he tours occasionally.
Despite many deserving tributes to such bossa-nova forefathers as Antonio Carlos Jobim, this disc serves as a reminder of another of Brazil’s most prominent tunesmiths and musicians – thankfully while he is still alive to enjoy the significance of his influence and such a worthy celebration of his achievements.
Ithamara Koorax shows her remarkable range throughout, much more relaxed than usual, befitting the songs’ mostly easy-going nature. Surprisingly, her most outstanding performances occur when she’s not even singing the Portuguese or English lyrics the songs provide, as on the improvisations she provides for “Minha Saudade” or in the startlingly haunting way she hums out such instrumentals as “Valsa (Bebel),” “Glass Beads” (which was only recorded once by co-composer João Donato on his wondrous 1965 album The New Sound Of Brazil), “João Marcelo,” “Undiu” (where she does little more than repeat the title, but so hypnotically that it sounds like a full lyric).
Moreira’s beautiful accompaniment throughout is a joy to behold. As the only accompaniment heard here, he is outstandingly forward in his contribution, but never at a disservice to the melody or to his singing partner. When he solos on electric guitar, it is, fittingly, electrifying, as he does on “Voce Esteve Com Meu Bern,” “Valsa (Bebel)” and “Acapulco.” Koorax is out of “An Embrace To Bonfá,” a tribute to fellow guitarist Luiz Bonfá, which gives Moreira a chance to shine in this exceptionally lovely composition.
Those familiar with Gilberto’s work will miss some of the better-known numbers from the guitarist’s repertoire. But it’s difficult to argue with what is actually presented in this beautifully programmed 41-minute set.
Producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro provides a crisp, clear palette for the two artists to express themselves and, in his notes, a beautifully detailed summation of each song’s history and importance. While one could wish for more, it’s hard to best what is provided on the lovely Bim Bom, one of the most notable releases of 2009.
- Douglas Payne
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Whole Music Experience Top Ten Lists of 2009
The bulk of recordings I received in late 2008 and 2009 were of classical and traditional (world) genres. Since I had a large pile of classical recordings, some of those recordings ended up on the Top Ten Healing Recordings.
I received only a small collection of jazz recordings and some of the recordings I received in 2009 were actually recorded in 2008. Since my biggest discovery of the year was Galician (Spain) music, I included two recordings on the list below, a 2008 jazz recording and a 2009 world music recording. I feel fortunate to have received high quality recordings by some of the best names in classical, jazz and world music. The lists are random, meaning there is no number one spot—all being equal.
Best Jazz Recordings (2009)
1. New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Book One, World Village
2. Mario Adnet & Philippe Baden Powell, Afro Samba Jazz, Adventure Music
3. Mathias Eick, The Door, ECM (2008 recording)
4. Vaamonde, Lamas & Romero, Vellas Artes, Falcatruada, (Galicia, 2008)
5. Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze, Sira, ObliqSound, (2008 recording)
6. Benjamim Taubkin, Sèrgio Reze & Zeca Assumpcao, Trio +1, Adventure Music
7. Trio Ifriquiya, Petite Planète, World Village
8. Ithmara Koorax & Juarez Moreira, Bim Bom, Motema
9. Daniel Santiago, Metropole, Adventure Music
10. Tom Lellis and the Metropole Orchestra, Skylark, Adventure Music
29 de Novembro de 2009, página A24
BRASIL NAS ALTURAS
"Uma semana depois de incensada pelo New York Times, por causa de seu novo CD Bim Bom, Ithamara Koorax recebe novo afago da imprensa internacional: leitores da DownBeat - a bíblia do jazz - elegeram-na, pelo segundo ano consecutivo, a terceira melhor cantora de jazz do mundo.
A diva brasileira está atrás apenas de Diana Krall e Cassandra Wilson.
Entre os cantores, João Gilberto faturou a quinta colocação".
Saturday, November 21, 2009
(Foto: Fernando Natalici)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This article appeared in print on November 15, 2009, on page AR30.
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira: "Bim Bom"
For all his importance as an originator of bossa nova, João Gilberto hasn’t written a lot of music. But all the adepts know which songs in his slim discography are his own: the bewitchingly repetitive ones with minimal lyrics, like “Bim Bom” (rumored to mimic the pendulum-swing of washerwomen’s hips); “Valsa,” with its short, Möbius-strip melody; and “Undiú,” a drone meditation played over the Afro-Brazilian baião rhythm. In a new record, “Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook” (Motema), the jazz singer Ithamara Koorax and the guitarist Juarez Moreira, both from Brazil, line up all the existing Gilberto songs — his alone and the few he wrote with others — and play them with a sense of outgoing enthusiasm. These are mostly voice-and-guitar recordings, and Ms. Koorax’s singing is bright and forthright, unlike Mr. Gilberto’s whisper. But it’s fresh-water beautiful.
JAZZ Reviewed 11-11-09
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira
Bim Bom The Complete Joao Gilberto songbook (Motema Music)
reviewed by Christopher Llewellyn Adams ***** (5 stars)
There are few artists in the history of music who can lay legitimate claim to inventing a genre. Joao Gilberto is the unquestioned father of the bossa nova sound, and Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira pay homage to this legend with grace and brilliance.
2009 marks the 50th anniversary of Gilberto's "Chega de Saudade" album, a benchmark in the late 50's jazz boom. Blending the sounds of this classic release with a generation of musical growth, Koorax & Moreira have managed to rekindle the flame that had people worldwide dancing the nights away.
"Acapulco", in particular, is a song that has the ability to lift the listener off their feet, and remove them from whatever problems they are having, if only for a moment. Ithamara Koorax has one of the finest voices I've heard in years, and I look forward to any solo projects she may have coming soon.
At times like these, the world can use a drink and a dance. The next time your musical taste yearns for a little something South of the border, give Koorax & Moreira's take on the Joao Gilberto songbook a spin.
- reviewed by Christopher Llewellyn Adams ***** (5 stars)
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira -- Bim Bom -- The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook ... CD
Motema, 2009. New Copy .... $11.99
A lovely little tribute to the genius of Joao Gilberto -- and quite possibly the best album we've ever heard from vocalist Ithamara Koorax! The set's quite spare -- just Ithamara's vocals and a bit of guitar to back her up -- and the stripped-down setting hardly gives Koorax any room to hide -- putting her right out front in the mix, to carry the tunes both in terms of rhythm and melody! She handles both beautifully, with a depth of singing that goes beyond what we've already heard in her other great records -- and her interpretation of the tunes goes way past any simple bossa cliches, into a deeply personal space that really comes through on some of the album's English language tracks. Titles include "Bim Bom", "Minha Saudade", "Valsa", "Voce Esteve", "Acapulco", "Undiu", "Joao Marcelo", "Glass Beads", and "An Embrace To Bonfa".
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira – Bim Bom (Motema Music)
November 2009 - Reviewed by Raul da Gama for Latin Jazz Network
Now comes Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook, an affectionate tribute to the maestro from a younger Brasilian vocalist, Ithamara Koorax. The singer is a perfect foil for João Gilberto’s singing style, yet one who captures the floating lyricism of Gilberto’s music while herself soaring vocally like a thrush in the throes of a swirling thermal wind. She is accompanied by Juarez Moreira, a guitar stylist whose fingers fly exquisitely across the strings to replicate the sound of a broader string section. Moreira is also so skilled that he recreates the crisp accompaniment that João Gilberto often provided himself.
Ithamara Koorax has a voice that soars with celestial grace. It floats and sways as if nudged by a heavenly breeze. Koorax’s vocals can sometimes flip and flop and tumble like a bird in flight. She has complete control over her breath, letting it slip like a sharp flue through her lips. At other times, she may choose to reach deep beyond the bottom of her lungs and in to her guts, to draw great gusts of air, which she will then fill with lyrical swirls and stutters as she forms the words of the songs by brushing this hot breath onto them. Thus the lyrics melt in the heat of her lips that caress them, uttering phrases and memorable sentences that pierce like arrows into the heart.
Ithamara Koorax becomes each song that she sings in wonderous tribute to the maestro, João Gilberto. She is a puckish child playing with words on “Bim Bom.” Koorax becomes all brown up and sensuous as she strikes a pose on “Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá” and on the lustrous, “Minha Saudade.” On “Você Esteve Com Meu Bem?” Koorax recalls every great vocalist who ever covered this song, from Carmen Miranda to Mariza to Caetano Veloso. “Bebel” is a superbly crafted, affectionate waltz for Gilberto’s equally talented daughter, Bebel. Ithamara Koorax has made this a slow burning torch song, so graceful that it glows like molten metal running through her perfect throat. In addition, on and on she goes waxing and waning like a perfect lunar apparition.
The baiao rhythm of “Undiú” is hypnotic and Koorax herself delivers this in a trance-like mode. The Mexican-inflected, “João Marcello” and “Acapulco” are completely surreal in that they capture the blazing heat of the barrio but always are softened by the temperate strumming of a Brasilian guitar. It is impossible not to notice the superb guitar work by Moreira, which is understated at the best of times, always subordinate and supportive of the voice of Koorax. However, every once and awhile he too soars above the music. Naturally, therefore the project could not conclude without a showcase of his skills. “Um Abraço No Bonfá” is just that vehicle for the guitarist to sparkle as if he were a whole string section at times.
To see this record as a mere tribute to Gilberto would be to diminish, somewhat, the superb vocals of Ithamara Koorax and the dexeterity of Juarez Moreira on guitar. Still with abject modesty, they offer this wonderful music in praise of the legendary Brasilian who ought to have been better known decades ago.
Minor 7th Review by Alan Fark
"Some very challenging music which comes off as breezy as a Brazilian evening"
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira "Bim Bom," 2009
João Gilberto has been known as the "Bossa Nova Pope" ever since releasing his first album in 1959. To say that he has been an influential force in Brazilian music ever since is an incredible understatement. Brazilian singer Ithamara Koorax and guitarist Juarez Moreira have teamed together to laud Gilberto's contributions with the recording of "Bim Bom - The Complete João Gilberto Songbook," consolidating the entire Gilberto catalogue of compositions.
ITHAMARA KOORAX & JUAREZ MOREIRA
Bim Bom/The Complete João Gilberto Songbook
Como un homenaje póstumo al "Papa de la Bossa Nova", la extraordinaria cantante Ithamara Koorax y el sobresaliente guitarrista Juárez Moreira han grabado el CD Bim Bom - the Complete João Gilberto Songbook, con miras a documentar que las composiciones de Gilberto (mejor conocido por sus aportes como vocalista legendario y cantante innovador) tambien constituyen un capítulo valioso de su legado musical.
All About Jazz-New York, November 2009, page 11
"Bim Bom" reviewed by Suzanne Lorge
Brazilian vocalist Ithamara Koorax joins with guitarist Juarez Moreira on Bim Bam: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook (Motema) to recreate all 12 of the classic Gilberto bossa novas. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Gilberto's debut album, Chega de Saudade, and Koorax' homage to the Brazilian master reminds us of why the music was so groundbreaking. Koorax' lovely voice is perfect for the idiom; gentle, yes, as we've come to expect of our bossa singers, but unapologetically- and unexpectedly- strong.
Álbum em dupla com Juarez Moreira reúne curta e nobre obra do cantor
por Beto Feitosa
Aplaudida no circuito internacional de jazz, Ithamara Koorax lança novo CD no mercado americano. Aproveitando os cinquenta anos do clássico LP Chega de Saudade, Ithamara aborda João Gilberto por um lado inesperado. É a obra do compositor que desenha o novo álbum da cantora, que divide o ambiente minimalista com o violão e a guitarra/jazz de Juarez Moreira. O CD Bim bom - the complete João Gilberto songbook traz todas as onze músicas assinadas pelo pai da bossa.
Há muito tempo Ithamara não soava tão brasileira. Acostumada a - tão impressionantes quanto belos - malabarismos vocais, aqui ela se encaixa com inteligência no canto aconchegante da bossa nova. Rezando pela cartilha do homenageado, Ithamara se junta ao violonista mineiro Juarez Moreira, que cria um ambiente mágico transitando entre a bossa e o jazz. O músico tem grande participação no álbum, dividindo com Ithamara e com o produtor Arnaldo DeSouteiro os arranjos e a concepção artística das releituras. Aparentemente simples, mas sofisticadas e criativas como ensina o mestre João Gilberto.
A lista de onze músicas do repertório inclui dois grandes clássicos do movimento: Bim bom e Hô-bá-lá-lá, que volta ao final como bônus em versão em inglês assinada por Aloysio de Oliveira. Essa faixa traz outra curiosidade: notas publicadas no farto encarte revelam que a música fez parte da primeira apresentação profissional de Ithamara, na extinta casa carioca Rio Jazz Club, em 1990. Mas a cantora nunca havia registrado em nenhum de seus discos.
João homenageia o amigo Luiz Bonfá - a quem Ithamara já dedicou um maravilhoso álbum em 1996 - em Um abraço no Bonfá. Celebra seus filhos com Valsa (Bebel), sucesso com os Novos Baianos, e João Marcelo. Assina uma dobradinha com Russo do Pandeiro em Você esteve com meu bem?, primeira composição de João, gravada originalmente por Marisa Gata Mansa, sua namorada na época. Passam também parcerias com João Donato como Coisas distantes (aqui como Forgotten places), No coreto (Glass beads) e Minha saudade.
Ainda inédito no Brasil, o disco teve lançamento em 11 de outubro pela gravadora americana Motema Records. Pouco mais de um mês depois os nomes de Ithamara Koorax e João Gilberto voltam a se encontrar, dessa vez na já tradicional votação anual da revista DownBeat, a bíblia do jazz. Na edição de dezembro a revista traz o resultado de sua pesquisa anual feita com os leitores. João Gilberto faturou o quinto lugar entre os cantores, superado somente por Kurt Elling (primeiro colocado), Tony Bennett (segundo), Bobby McFerrin (terceiro) e Mark Murphy (quarto). Ithamara Koorax foi eleita a terceira melhor cantora, pelo segundo ano consecutivo, atrás apenas da americana Cassandra Wilson (segundo lugar) e da canadense Diana Krall, que chegou em primeiro.
Compositor esporádico, João Gilberto ganha esse inesperado tributo. Um álbum de aparente simplicidade, mas com a sofisticação inventada pelo mestre e atualizada por Ithamara e Juarez Moreira. Para girar na vitrola sem parar.
João Gilberto segundo Ithamara e Juarez
Sem dúvida, um dos melhores discos do ano é o lançamento da Motema Records, "Bim Bom", onde Ithamara Koorax e Juarez Moreira revisitam o songbook de João Gilberto.
06/11/2009 - Wilson Garzon
O mundo não tinha idéia que, quando João Gilberto utilizou seu violão para acompanhar com sua batida, a cantora Elizeth Cardoso na música de Tom Jobim-Vinícius de Moraes "Chega de Saudade", ele estava criando um estilo musical que viria a ser conhecida como Bossa Nova. O ano era 1958, e a gravação fez parte do LP “Canção do Amor Demais” (agora disponível em cd). Apesar dele começar a gravar desde 1951 (ele era crooner do grupo vocal Garotos da Lua), foi depois de “Canção do Amor Demais” que a carreira solo de João Gilberto decolou, fazendo dele uma grande estrela do cenário musical.
João Gilberto não foi só violonista e cantor. Ele também escreveu algumas composições, fato esse sempre menosprezado devido a seu grande talento de intérprete. Em 2008, para celebrar meio-século dessa famosa gravação que marcou o início da bossa nova, a cantora brasileira Ithamara Koorax (Rio de Janeiro, 1965) se juntou ao violonista Juarez Moreira (Minas Gerais, 1954) para gravar todo songbook de João Gilberto. Produzido por Arnaldo DeSouteiro, “Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook” tem Ithamara Koorax nos vocais e Juarez Moreira no violão.
Tanto Ithamara quanto Juarez não precisam de longas introduções. Ithamara é muito conhecida como cantora de jazz e mpb de qualidade, tendo gravado com artistas de todo o mundo, com destaque para Antônio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, Ron Carter, Azymuth, Eumir Deodato, Gonzalo Rubalcaba e Sadao Watanabe. Juarez, é reconhecido como um dos maiores violonistas da atualidade no Brasil, tendo trabalhado com artistas como Milton Nascimento, Toninho Horta, Nivaldo Ornelas e Badi Assad. Quando esses dois artistas se uniram para gravar o songbook de João Gilberto, o resultado não ficou muito longe da perfeição. A música resultante desse encontro é fantástica; além de honrar João Gilberto, sem dúvida se tornou um dos melhores tributos à sua carreira e obra.
A composição que João Gilberto fez em 1958, "Bim Bom", é a que abre o álbum. Um up-tempo bossa com letra simples, a canção é muito vibrante, apresentando um grande solo de Juarez. O vocal de Ithamara mantém o tempo, raramente dando uma pausa para respirar. É uma grande abertura. As cinco primeiras músicas do cd são principalmente canções com letras. Embora todas elas sejam belamente arranjadas e interpretadas, tenho que agradecer pessoalmente a Ithamara e Juarez pela qualidade do arranjo criado para "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá" (outra composição de 1958). Juntos, eles capturam o tom romântico das letras como ninguém, incluindo a própria versão do compositor! Para mim, essa é a versão definitva de "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá." Como bônus, o álbum também inclui uma versão inglesa de "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá."
As próximas seis faixas são músicas sem letras. Ithamara faz vocalese, assim como João Gilberto fez em suas gravações, pois originalmente essas canções não possuíam letras. Aqui temos a chance de escutar Juarez de uma maneira mais privilegiada. Ele pode mais livremente mostrar a sua arte na guitarra. Dos duetos que ele apresenta em suas guitarras acústica e elétrica, os destaques são "An Embrace to Bonfá" e "João Marcelo".
“Bim Bom” é um tributo que diz muito sobre João Gilberto. O que Ithamara e Juarez fizeram em “Bim Bom” é resultado dos talentos desses dois artistas que, em 24 horas de estúdio e gravando pela primeira vez, conseguiram gerar através de uma empatia mútua e altamente criativa, uma das melhores obras da música brasileira nessa década.
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira
Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook
Motéma Music MTM-30 (2009)
(Rodrigo Lima, Ithamara Koorax & Anat Cohen;
Friday, October 23, 2009
ITHAMARA KOORAX & JUAREZ MOREIRA TO RELEASE BIM BOM – THE COMPLETE JOÃO GILBERTO SONGBOOK
Celebrating 50 years of João Gilberto
Acclaimed Brazilian Vocalist Pays Tribute to Gilberto’s Prodigious Talents as a Composer on Motéma’s Second “Jazz Therapy” Release
For the very first time, all the songs composed by Joao Gilberto, the genius who created the Bossa Nova, are included in the same album.
And it's the first "João Gilberto Songbook" ever released by any artist in the world!
A celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the release of João Gilberto’s debut album, “Chega de Saudade” (1959), which included the original recordings of “Bim Bom” and “Ho-ba-La-La”.
Ithamara Koorax, acclaimed as one of the world’s top jazz singers, has recorded with such giants as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, Ron Carter, Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and now she teams up with legendary guitarist Juarez Moreira, one of Brazil’s best musicians ever, for this historic project.
The liner notes by renowned jazz historians Ira Gitler and Alex Henderson detail the recording history of each song. "Ithamara is gifted with a fabulous vocal instrument, and the innate intelligency of how to use it to convey feelings from the heart and soul. A sublime set that could be called "music for unwinding," "day or dusk dreaming," or "loving." Ithamara is an enchantress," writes Gitler.
While 2008 marked the “official” 50th anniversary of the bossa nova – a style first recorded in Brazil by guitarist João Gilberto on the 1958 song “Chega de Saudade” (No More Blues) - 2009 marks yet another key anniversary: the 50th anniversary of the release of Gilberto’s genre defining debut LP, also titled Chega de Saudade, with which he widely popularized and in many ways epitomized the emerging bossa style with his distinctive guitar styling, soft, almost whispered vocals and enchanting compositions.
In honor of this great master, Brazilian vocalist Ithamara Koorax, in collaboration with top contemporary Brazilian guitarist Juarez Moreira, has recorded Bim Bom – The Complete João Gilberto Songbook, which will be released on Motéma Music on October 13th. Although Gilberto has been amply praised as a “legendary vocalist” and as the innovative guitarist who invented bossa nova, his contributions as a composer are often overlooked. With this tribute, Koorax and Moreira make clear that songwriting is indeed a valuable part of Gilberto’s legacy.
The CD features, for the first time ever, all of Gilberto’s compositions on a single disc. Koorax, who has consistently been named among the Top Female Vocalists in DownBeat’s Readers’ Poll, is formidable in partnership with Moreira, who is revered as a top Brazilian guitar master, and has worked with such legends as Milton Nascimento, Claudio Roditi, and Toninho Horta. Together they perform twelve tracks, distinguished by a graceful simplicity and a remarkable rapport that showcases both artists while elucidating Gilberto’s brilliance as a composer.
The CD is also notable as the second release in Motéma’s “Jazz Therapy” series, benefitting the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center which partners with The Jazz Foundation of America to provide free medical care and screenings to musicians in need. Jazz Therapy (Volume I): Smile featured duo guitar masters Roni-Ben Hur and Gene Bertoncini, who launched the series in November 2008 to great critical and public acclaim, and sparked a Wall Street Journal feature on Englewood Hospital’s extraordinary program.
Bim Bom is the 12th solo release in Ithamara Koorax’s remarkable career. Well known in her native Brazil as a jazz-pop singer, she made her American recording debut in 2000 with Serenade in Blue. In the nine years since its release, she has received numerous accolades for her work. “Koorax is delightfully unpredictable in her music… embracing virtuosity, astonishing range, and volcanic vocalese,” read DownBeat’s review of her 2006 release, Brazilian Butterfly. DownBeat’s readers have supported her rise to the top of the magazine’s annual Readers’ Poll in the “Best Female Vocalist” category: she entered at #10 in 2000, and most recently, was voted #3 in 2008 (topped only by Diana Krall and Cassandra Wilson).
Koorax has recorded with such great musicians as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, Ron Carter, Larry Coryell, Sadao Watanabe, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Jay Berliner, Caetano Veloso, João Donato and many others.
Bim Bom producer Arnaldo De Souteiro has been a close associate of the reclusive Gilberto since 1979. He produced the tribute with a meticulous eye in regard to tempos and keys, in homage to the composer, while allowing Koorax and Moreira the space to create an intimate, improvisational “live in the studio” performance.
Ample notes that accompany the CD feature interesting comments about each composition. Gilberto has never before published a songbook, so the CD also serves as an excellent resource for guitarists seeking to master his material. “Although some of the songs may seem very simple,” explains Moreira, “it’s a false impression. They demand a lot of technique. That’s the main ingredient of Gilberto’s magic: to make very difficult and intricate things seem so easy and sound so natural.”
Koorax has her own special relationship with the music. “I don’t think of Bim Bom as just one more album in my career,” says Koorax. “I have always loved João Gilberto, and grew up listening to his recordings.”
In 2008, the World started to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Bossa nova, based on the date that Joao Gilberto (born on June 10, 1931, in Juazeiro, Bahia) did the first bossa nova recordings. Gilberto - known as the "Bossa Nova Pope", its creator and founder, a true living legend - did some very special concerts in 2008 in Brazil and in the USA (at the Carnegie Hall on June 22 as part of the JVC Jazz Festival). More dates were scheduled for Japan and Europe, but he was forced to cancel them due to health problems.
To celebrate the 50 Years of the Bossa Nova as well as to pay tribute to João Gilberto and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Gilberto’s first solo album in 1959, the internationally acclaimed Brazilian singer Ithamara Koorax has joined forces with guitarist Juarez Moreira to record "Bim Bom - The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook".
For the very first time, all the songs composed by Joao Gilberto are included in the same album! And it's the first "Joao Gilberto Songbook" ever released by any artist in the world!
The genius who did a complete revolution in Brazilian music, in terms of rhythm, melody and harmony, created a new samba beat, a new singing singing style (very soft, cool, subtle and charming), new concepts of harmonizing, and so forth. Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of the first to hear that "magic", was totally fascinated, and began to compose new material inspired by Gilberto's style, songs that basically were created to be sung by him. That was the beginning of the "bossa nova repertoire."
Following the release of his debut solo album, "Chega de Saudade" in 1959, which included “Bim Bom” and “Ho-ba-la-la”, the effect of Gilberto's revolution spread even more. Guitarists everywhere in Brazil were trying to play like him, to the point that the ones who learned the beat very quickly opened "guitar schools," at which they taught "how to play like João Gilberto."
Gilberto continues his perpetual evolution to this very today. Every time he plays one of the songs that he has been playing for fifty years, he does so employing new syncopations and new phrasings. Furthermore, everything he plays becomes bossa nova. That is why we can say that the bossa nova is João Gilberto, yet João Gilberto is bossa nova and much more.
Considered one of the top singers in the contemporary jazz scene, Ithamara Koorax has just been voted 3rd in the Downbeat 2008 Readers Poll for 'Best Female Vocalist' (behind only Diana Krall and Cassandra Wilson), and is also featured as one the best jazz singers of all time in the book "The Jazz Singers - The Ultimate Guide," recently released in the USA by journalist and historian Scott Yanow.
Koorax has recorded 11 solo albums (for the Milestone, Mercury, EMI, Irma, JVC and King labels), 15 soundtracks and took part in more than 200 special projects and compilations. She recorded/performed with such masters as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, Ron Carter, Larry Coryell, Sadao Watanabe, Hermeto Pascoal, João Donato, John McLaughlin, Jay Berliner, Marcos Valle, Dom Um Romão, Peter Scharli, Thiago de Mello, Edu Lobo, Lou Volpe, Jürgen Friedrich, Mario Castro-Neves, the Azymuth group and many symphony orchestras, having toured Japan, Korea, England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, Portugal and United States, among other countries.
In the 2000s, Koorax has received high marks from DownBeat magazine on several occasions. "Ithamara Koorax has one of the loveliest voices in creation," DownBeat critic Frank-John Hadley wrote in the November 2008 issue of the jazz bible. "Koorax is delightfully unpredictable in her music...embracing virtuosity, astonishing range and volcanic vocalese," stated Fred Bouchard in a 4-star rave review (about her “Brazilian Butterfly” album) printed in the February 2007 issue of DownBeat.
Meanwhile, DownBeat readers have been quite favorable to Koorax in the poll’s female vocalist category: she was voted #10 singer in 2000, #4 in 2002, #11 in 2004, #8 in 2005, #7 in 2006, #5 in 2007 and now #3 in 2008. According to renowned critic Thom Jurek, from the All Music Guide, "she is a diverse, adventurous, and utterly gifted vocalist. Koorax has set a new bar for jazz vocalists who come after her. As she does, they will need to embody many traditions and musical histories, root them in the tradition, and be able to comfortably combine as well improvise seamlessly with and between them."
"I quickly became a Koorax Konvert", wrote the famous jazz historian Ira Gitler. "Koorax is her own woman. She is multi-faceted and multi-lingual, comfortable in all situations and expressive in a variety of languages. Her range and technique are remarkable but you don’t necessarily take time out to marvel at her technique until later on because you are too absorbed in her musical message. Her powerful singing speaks for itself with celestial eloquence."
Celebrated as one of Brazil's leading guitarists, Juarez Moreira, besides a solo career as a jazzman, has performed with some of Brazil's top pop artists such as Milton Nascimento, Lô Borges, Beto Guedes and Maria Bethânia, while keeping jazz collaborations with Claudio Roditi, Paulo Moura, Nivaldo Ornelas, Toninho Horta and Wagner Tiso.
There is no shortage of artists who are more than willing to praise Gilberto; North Americans and Brazilians alike have often exalted him as a “legendary vocalist” and an “innovative guitarist.” But Gilberto’s contributions as a composer are sometimes overlooked—and with this historic “Bim Bom - The Complete João Gilberto Songbook,” Koorax, Moreira and producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro all do their part to remind listeners that songwriting has also been a valuable part of Gilberto’s legacy.
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira
Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook
Motéma Music MTM-30 (2009)
Simplicity Is Everything
Reviewed by Egídio Leitão
Little did the world know that when João Gilberto (Bahia, 1931) added his special guitar accompaniment and beat to Elizeth Cardoso's recording of Tom Jobim-Vinícius de Moraes' "Chega de Saudade," he was creating a mark for what would become known as Bossa Nova. The year was 1958, and that recording appeared in the LP Canção do Amor Demais (now also available on CD). Tough he had been recording since 1951 (he was crooner with the famous Garotos da Lua group), it was after Canção do Amor Demais that João Gilberto's solo career took off and made him the star he is today and also garnered him with the title of the Pope of Bossa Nova.
João Gilberto was more than an accomplished guitarist and singer. He also wrote a few compositions, a fact that is often overshadowed by his enormous performer talent. Since 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of that legendary recording that started a whole new musical genre, Brazilian vocalist Ithamara Koorax (Rio de Janeiro, 1965) teamed up with guitarist Juarez Moreira (Minas Gerais, 1954) to release an album with the complete João Gilberto songbook. Produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook features all vocals by Ithamara Koorax and guitars by Juarez Moreira.
Both Ithamara and Juarez need no long introductions. She has recorded with artists all over the world, including Antônio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, Ron Carter, Azymuth, Eumir Deodato, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Sadao Watanabe, and is a renowned jazz vocalist. Juarez, similarly, is admired as a top Brazilian guitarist who has worked with giants such as Milton Nascimento, Toninho Horta, Simone Guimarães and many others. His 1998 album Bom Dia was critically acclaimed and had Milton Nascimento's endorsement as "a trip to paradise." When these two artists joined talents to record the João Gilberto songbook, the result could not be far from perfection. The music is great, and the performers honor João Gilberto with probably one of the best tributes he will ever receive.
João Gilberto's 1958 single "Bim Bom" is the album opener. An up-tempo bossa with simple lyrics, the song is very lively and features a fantastic guitar solo by Juarez. Ithamara's vocals keep up with the tempo, rarely giving her time to breathe. It's a great opener. The first five tracks in the album are primarily songs with full lyrics. Though they are all beautifully arranged and performed, I cannot find the right words to congratulate Ithamara and Juarez for the simple arrangement created for "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá" (another 1958 single). Ithamara sounds heavenly in her breathy vocals, at times exhibiting an adorable laziness in her phrasing without affecting the enunciation at all. Together they capture the romantic tone of the lyrics like no one else, including the composer's version! To me, this has become the definitive version of "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá." The magic created in this song takes me back to that scene in Black Orpheus when we first hear "Manhã de Carnaval" in the movie. As a bonus, the album also includes the English version of "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá."
The next 6 tracks are primarily songs without lyrics. Though at times, Ithamara does vocalese as originally performed by João Gilberto in his own renditions, these tracks do not really have words. Here we have a chance to hear Juarez more prominently. He can more freely showcase his artistry as the accomplished guitarist he is. The duets he performs with his acoustic and electric guitars are present in most of these tracks. "An Embrace to Bonfá" and "João Marcelo" are especially memorable.
Bim Bom is certainly a well-deserving tribute to João Gilberto. What Ithamara and Juarez did in Bim Bom proves that with talent, one can clearly improve what was already good at the start. These two artists are in rare form and have done a superb job.
Brazilian Bim Bom & Other Celebrations
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira
Bim Bom (The Complete João Gilberto Songbook)
With Brazilians in the throes of celebration over the announcement about 2016 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, it seems appropriate to review a bossa nova recording. Brazilian chanteuse Ithamara Koorax and guitarist Juarez Moreira do their own bit of celebrating the founder of bossa nova, João Gilberto. The year 2008 marked the 50th anniversary based on João Gilberto’s first bossa nova recordings.
Fifty years later bossa nova feels hotter than ever and Gilberto has become a Brazilian jazz legend. The bossa nova style with its laid back groove, slightly flat and syncopated vocals and sedate guitar, seems only simple on the surface. After giving Bim Bom several listens and paying close attention to Koorax’s vocals and Moreira’s guitar, I could hear that this subtle music sports its share of complexities. The musicians, to their credit, only make it sound simple.
Only a handful of tracks appear here from the breezy opener, titular song, so tuneful it sticks in your head for the remainder of the day. The guitar work alone on the track could leave a listener exhilarated. Then top it off with Koorax’s masterful vocals which treat the challenge like musical playground. After the complex rhythms, Koorax slows down on Ho-Bà-Là-Là and her soprano voice glides gently over Moreira’s melancholic guitar. Minha Saudade though with its staccato guitar and Koorax’s scat-style vocals and signature scream (sounds like a bird whistle), is my favorite track on the album. This track gets me out of bed in the morning and I am rearing to go after listening to it.
Other tracks include, Forgotten Places, Voce Esteve Com Meu Bem?, Valsa (Bebel), An Embrace to Bonfà, Glass Beads, João Marcelo, Undiu, Acapulco and an English version of Ho-Bà-Là-Là. The entire recording feels like a warm Brazilian welcome, and certainly this music sets a romantic, if not, a relaxing mood. The Portuguese language, stellar vocals and gorgeous guitar entice listeners. And even more enticing, the sale of Bim Bom raises funds for the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund and is part of Motèma Music Jazz Therapy series (http://www.motema.com/artist/jazz_therapy).
ITHAMARA KOORAX & JUAREZ MOREIRA/Bim Bom
Head’s up, it another one of those records that just makes us say ‘goddamn”!, with an exclamation point. Koorax was introduced to these shores with some solid sets on Milestone a few years back. Here, the spotlight is almost totally on her as she teams with only a killer guitarist on a set that collects all the songs by one of the fathers of bossa nova in one place. Tipping the hat to Joao Gilberto while he’s still alive, you tell me this set isn’t going to set the play list at Connect Brazil on fire. Deceptively simply and completely heartfelt, bossa nova and samba are generally so subtle that the “sparsity” of this performance doesn’t hurt it at all. Top shelf throughout, this is a must for the world beater that just can’t get enough of that Brazilian vibe. Hot stuff. Bester News - Lushly Smooth
Ithamara Koorax and Juarez Moreira
Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook
(Motéma Music, 2009)
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto's release of Chega de Saudade, Motéma Music is set to release Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook on October 13th. Featuring the silky vocals of Ithamara Koorax against the wonders of guitarist Juarez Moreira, Bim Bom is touted as the first ever complete collection of all of João Gilberto's compositions.
The second installment in Motéma Music's "Jazz Therapy" series and a partner with The Jazz Foundation of America in the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, proceeds of the sale of this CD, along with Jazz Therapy (Volume I) with guitarists Roni-Ben Hur and Gene Bertoncini, will go to provide medical care to musicians in need. Fans get the added bonus beyond the glorious sounds on Bim Bom by knowing they are also helping musicians get needed medical treatment.
Bim Bom is downright silky smooth from the opening strains of title track "Bim Bom" all the way through to the sparkly "Acapulco." Bright and bouncy "Bim Bom" jets the listener straight to the exoticism of Brazil's famed bossa nova and into Mr. Gilberto's astonishingly smart songbook. With compositions that are tight and neatly drawn and a sound that is clean, Bim Bom is just plain plumy. The delicately dreamy "Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá" with Ms. Koorax's silvery vocals threaded throughout Mr. Moreira's seductive guitar lines is so lushly smooth that listeners might just have to recline just to listen to it.
Ms. Koorax and Mr. Moreira further drug the listener with the feather light "Forgotten Places," the plucky "Minha Saudade" and the sleepy sweetness of "Valsa (Bebel)." With "An Embrace to Bonfá," "Undiu" and "Glass Beads," Bim Bom is a treasure trove of delicious delights. Ms. Koorax's vocals weave effortlessly in and around Mr. Moreira's masterful guitar playing so that it is as if the two are intertwined.
Drawing on the expert craftsmanship of Mr. Gilberto, Bim Bom soars to dizzying heights with the stunning performances of Ms. Koorax, Mr. Moreira and producer Arnaldo de Souteiro. Bim Bom is proof that jazz therapy is both soothing and satisfying.