Thursday, March 11, 2010

"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.

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