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October 2007

Phil Wilson’s Panamerican All-Stars
Celebrate the Music of Antonio Carlos “Tom” Jobim
Capri Records

Don’t look for trombonist Phil Wilson to take the Jobim route less traveled here. This is, for the most part, a collection of the composer’s most famous and frequently recorded themes, beginning with “Desafinado” and featuring “Corcovado,” “Triste,” “Samba De Uma Nota So” and “Chega De Saudade.” But if the melodies are largely familiar, the arrangements are invariably fresh, as you might expect coming from an ensemble that features Wilson on trombone, Matt Marvuglio on bass flute, Larry Baione on guitar, Dario Eskenazi on piano, Oscar Stagnaro on electric bass, and Mark Walker on drums.

Of course, those aware of Wilson’s credits—big band stints with Woody Herman and Buddy Rich, for starters—won’t be surprised to find that it’s not the songs but the settings that allow this Jobim tribute to stand apart. There are harmonic and textural subtleties throughout, with Marvuglio’s resonant flute and Wilson’s airy lyricism contributing more than their share of charms to “Corcovado,” also a terrific showcase for Eskenazi and Baione, and several other performances, not least a soulful take on “Insensatez.”

Still, the unusual instrumentation isn’t the only thing that catches the ear. Walker is in propulsive form when the mood shifts to a street samba on “Chega De Saudade,” and the entire rhythm section distinguishes itself when the tune calls for a more subdued approach or when the ensemble unearths the sparkling and seldom heard Jobim gem “Look to the Sky.”

Originally published in October 2007
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