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 ...)

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