Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Bim Bom" - Rifftides review by Doug Ramsey

Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira, Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook (Motéma)

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 Ramsey
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.

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