Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Bim Bom" - JazzTimes review

February 2010, page 74
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira
Bim Bom: The Complete João Gilberto Songbook (Motema Jazz)
By Christopher Loudon

Though guitarist and vocalist João Gilberto is acknowledged as the father of bossa nova, the song—“Chega de Saudade”—with which he ignited what would become a global bossa craze was created not by Gilberto, but by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Morares. On the flip side of Gilberto’s 1958 recording of “Chega de Saudade” was his own “Bim Bom” (inspired by a passing gaggle of washerwomen).

So it can be considered near-equally seminal—and it is with “Bim Bom” that vocalist Ithamara Koorax and guitarist Juarez Moreira open this first-ever complete collection of Gilberto’s compositions. They number a mere 11, written across two decades between the early ’50s and early ’70s. Yet together they capture a vital slice of Brazilian jazz history, defining a visionary genius who, as producer (and longtime intimate of the reclusive Gilberto) Arnaldo DeSouteiro notes, “inspired a complete revolution in Brazilian music, in terms of rhythm, melody and harmony.” Paying absolute respect to Gilberto, DeSouteiro was meticulous with regard to tempos and keys as he guided Koorax and Moreira through these 12 tracks (the 12th an English-language version of “Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá” crafted for Sylvia Telles in 1960).

Koorax, arguably Brazil’s finest contemporary jazz vocalist, and Moreira, a guitarist who can fairly be recognized as the João Gilberto of his generation, respond in kind. A better trio to pay such beautiful and integral homage to Gilberto could not likely be assembled. Bim Bom is not only an album of gloriously elegant reverence but also a recording of essential importance.

Ithamara Koorax - "Backstage" magazine

"Backstage" magazine
March 2010, page 31
"Por Aí..." - Gustavo Victorino

Fui conferir o badalado disco da maior cantora brasileira, a irriquieta Ithamara Koorax. Escolhida anualmente como uma das três maiores cantoras de jazz do mundo pela DownBeat, a brasileira tem um público cativo nos quatro cantos do mundo, embora aqui a imprensa insista em ignorar seu sucesso. O trabalho recebeu críticas rasgadas no mundo inteiro e o New York Times o tratou como "genial". Como fã assumido da cantora, procurei despir-me da admiração e ouvir o disco com um tortuoso distanciamento crítico.
Desde a primeira faixa, o violão de Juarez Moreira funciona como um espetacular tapete para a irrepreensível voz da cantora. É quase cúmplice o desenrolar das 12 canções que compõem o trabalho, que revisita a obra de um dos nossos mais talentosos artistas. "The complete João Gilberto songbook" é um disco aula. Uma aula de como fazer música minimalista e intimista com competência e sensibilidade. E o New York Times tem razão...É genial!

Koorax - European Tour, February/March 2010

"Bim Bom" - ON-Top Audio review (France)

Musique > CD > Jazz > Ithamara Koorax - Juarez Moreira : Bim Bom
Ithamara Koorax - Juarez Moreira : Bim Bom
Publié par Michel Bedin le 4/3/2010 (13 lus)

Ithamara Koorax - Juarez Moreira
Bim Bom
Durée : 41’ 22’’
Jazz Therapy MTM 30

Notation: ****

Ce CD, sous-titré The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook, reprend, c’est vrai toutes les compositions du Pape de la bossa nova. Il est vrai qu’il fut surtout un interprète remarquable de ce genre, greffon étonnant du jazz sur une musique populaire étrangère aux Etats-unis, à l’instar du swing manouche pour la France. Pour chanter la bossa nova, mélange de sensualité subtile et de décontraction gentille, de séduction charmeuse et de j’menfoutisme militant et contagieux, la chanteuse Ithamara Koorax, troisième meilleure chanteuse de jazz 2008 du monde, pour les lecteurs de Down Beat, juste après Diana Krall et Cassandra Wilson a choisi de se faire accompagner uniquement par un guitariste, Juarez Moreira. C’est ce qu’aime la bossa nova, une musique hypersophistiquée, avec des accords incroyablement compliqués et une économie de moyens ascétique. La voix d’Ithamara, remarquablement pure, est encore plus touchante et impressionnante dans ce contexte. Elle et son complice se jouent des difficultés avec une apparente facilité, comme toujours avec les grands. Tout semble naturel tant c’est beau.
- texte de Michel Bedin

"Bim Bom" - All About Jazz review by Chris Slawecki

"Seven Steps to Soul"
by Chris M. Slawecki (Senior Editor, All About Jazz)

Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira
"Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook" (Motema Music)

The recently departed 2009 was heralded as the fiftieth anniversary of such landmark jazz albums as Kind of Blue and Time Out. But the 50th anniversary of the debut album by one of Brazil's most famous and enduring composers, Joao Gilberto—Chega de Saudade, which announced the birth of bossa nova to a world in aching need of its brightness and warmth—was more quietly celebrated. In Gilberto's honor, top contemporary Brazilian vocalist Ithamara Koorax teams with top contemporary Brazilian guitarist Juarez Moreira for the first recording of all Gilberto's compositions under one cover, an intimate "live in the studio" performance produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro, one of the reclusive composer's closest confidants.

The smallness of the duet format heightens the delicacy, intimacy and romance of these gorgeous compositions and the many moods they invoke. In the musical company of only one companion, Koorax fully explores every brassy edge, percussive jolt, and mysterious whisper in her voice, and gives Moreira the chance to sing with her through his guitar. In the ballad "Ho-Ba-La-La" and the title track, they twirl and intertwine together like lovers locked in embrace.

They saunter carefree through sunny "Acapulco," where Moreira stretches out an electric solo that sounds like Pat Metheny vacationing on a Mexican beach; in "Glass Beads," Koorax bubbles out her voice into flawless crystal spheres, strung together by Moreira's guitar. Moreira extends "An Embrace to Bonfa" as an acoustic guitar solo, with strumming that makes those strings seem to sing, while Koorax finds her spotlight in "Valsa (Bebel)," a wordless vocal that floats and bounces warm and soft.

Their mutual journey through "Forgotten Places" reveals that elusive, nearly perfect combination of composition, arrangement, and performance.

Bim Bom is the second release in Motema Music's "Jazz Therapy" series. Its proceeds benefit the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of Englewood Hospital & Medical Center, which partners with the Jazz Foundation of America to provide free medical care to musicians who need it.
Bim Bom: The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook
musicians: Juarez Moreira: acoustic guitars, electric guitars; Ithamara Koorax: vocals; Arnaldo DeSouteiro: producer, arranger
song titles: Bim Bom; Ho-Ba-La-La; Forgotten Places; Minha Suadade; Voce Esteve Con Meu Bem?; Valsa (Bebel); An Embrace to Bonfá; Glass Beads; Joao Marcelo; Undiu; Acapulco; Ho-Ba-La-La (English lyrics).

- Chris M. Slawecki has been published in music industry and related publications for nearly 25 years and has served as Senior Editor since 1997.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Bim Bom" - Swing2Bop review

Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira Bim Bom (Jazz Therapy MTM 30)
For this duo set, Ithamara is joined by guitarist Juarez Moreira for a delightful exploration of the musical world of João Gilberto. A key figure in the development of Brazilian music into a world force, Gilberto was also significantly important in the making of the bossa nova movement that has so captivated the world during the past half century. On this album. Ithamara and Juarez present all of Gilberto's songs, the first time it is believed that all this music has been presented in one place. Among these songs are some that have been recorded often, such as 'Hô-Bá-Lá-Lá' and 'An Embrace To Bonfá (Um Abraço No Bonfá)', and those that are rarely heard, including 'Glass Beads (No Coreto)' and 'Valsa (Bebel)'. These songs and others are lovingly interpreted by Ithamara and Juarez and their respect and dedication is plain to hear. A very attractive album and one that should have a very wide appeal to those who love good music beautifully performed.

Other Ithamara's CDs reviewed by Bruce Crowther for the "Swing2Bop" website:

Ithamara Koorax Autumn In New York (Huks Music EKLD 0473)

Hugely popular in Brazil, over the past few years Ithamara has made a considerable impression elsewhere, especially in the USA where Ithamara has placed well in polls, especially in the Down Beat Readers Poll as Best Female Jazz Singer. In 2003 her CD, Love Dance, was fifth in the same pollsters' Best Beyond Album category. Other CDs by Ithamara range through contemporary pop and predominantly popular Brazilian music (for some of which, see below) but with Autumn In New York, she is very much in a jazz mood. Here, Ithamara swings elegantly through a long and always interesting set of mainly standards, backed by the tight-knit trio of Jurgen Friedrich, piano, Sergio Barroso, bass, and Cesar Machado, drums. Eloquent interpretation of the lyrics and inventive improvisations all add to this being a CD that is deserving of the praise it has received in other quarters. (Buy this now ...)

Ithamara Koorax Sings The Luiz Bonfá Songbook (King KICP 503)
Ithamara Koorax Serenade In Blue (Milestone MBL 6002 9301)
Ithamara Koorax Love Dance: The Ballad Collection (Som Livre 3126 2)

On these three earlier CDs, Ithamara is much closer to her Brazilian roots, yet throughout there is evidence of the jazz singer then in-waiting. Her wide-ranging voice allows her to achieve with seeming effortlessness sinuous readings of songs that in less distinguished hands would become mere exercises in technique. Ithamara is far too good and experienced to fall into that trap and all of her interpretations are rewarding. Her interpretations of lyrics are admirable and she sings well not only in her native Portuguese but also occasionally in French and often in English. Of these three CDs, the Luiz Bonfá set is an eloquent exploration of one of the best known South American songwriters. Ithamara's love for his music is evident throughout and she is joined by many other musicians, including Eumir Deodato, Larry Coryell, Ron Carter and Sadao Watanabe. With Serenade In Blue, Ithamara moves confidently towards the jazz genre, which she fully and so successfully embraces with Autumn In New York; this is not to downplay the many attractions to be found on Love Dance whereon she is equally as elegant and eloquent in her interpretations of a largely non-jazz repertoire. She can also be heard with Gazzara, listed above, and on one of Thiago De Mello's CDs, listed below in the Braziliana section. In whatever mood, Ithamara is a singer to savour. (Buy these now ...)

Ithamara Koorax Brazilian Butterfly (Irma IRM 830 CD)
Ithamara Koorax Obrigado: Dom Um Romao (TCB 27702)

For Brazilian Butterfly, Ithamara has surrounded herself with some outstanding instrumentalists, including pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, organist Francesco Gazzara, trombonist Raul de Souza, and a remarkable team of percussionists: Dom Um Romao, Eloir de Moraes, Thiago de Mello, Laudir de Oliveira, Marcelo Slazar, Sidinho Moreira and Jadir de Castro. Warm and exciting, this is a superb example of Brazilian music at its very best. Vocally and instrumentally, this is flawless; the song selection is excellent, including as it does Milton Nascimento's 'Escravos de Jo', Herbie Hancock's 'Butterfly' and Geraldo Vandre's 'Fica Mal Com Deus'. This packed CD (79 minutes) is filled with exceptional musical moments and although it is virtually impossible to choose one track over all the others, the scorching improvised vocal line on Romao's 'Amor Em Jacuma' demands repeated playing.

With Obrigado Ithamara memorably sets out a tale of what might have been. A European tour on which Ithamara was to have worked with Dom Um Romao and the Peter Schärli Trio. When news came of Romao's death, it was decided that the tour should go ahead but that no attempt would be made to replace Romao's remarkable talent. It was during this tour that these pieces were recorded by Radio Station, Zürich, and the result is some exceptionally fine playing and singing. Peter is an inventive trumpet player with a softly burning tone. His instrumental accompanists here are guitarist Markus Stalder and bassist Thomas Dürst and all acquit themselves very well indeed. Ithamara's singing here, while leaning slightly towards the mainstream that she tackled so well on Autumn In New York, always maintains that subtle feel for the music of South America. Altogether, this is an admirable set. To add icing to the cake, one track, Manha de Carnaval, is a berimbao solo Romao recorded in the late 1990s over which Peter has dubbed a moving trumpet solo. A fine remembrance for a gifted and much-missed musician. (Buy these now ...)

"Bim Bom" reviewed by Chris Conway

chums with new albums dept
posted by Chris Conway
Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira:
"Bim Bom - The Complete Joao Gilberto Songbook"

Those who were delighted by Ithamara Koorax's vocal performance on my song The Answer on my Chocolate Bossa album will surely enjoy her new album with master guitarist Juarez Moreira as they perform a wonderful set of Joao Gilberto's songs - really great relaxed set, stunningly recorded - bossa at its best from the top Brazilian jazz diva.

check out the Jazz Times review here