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.