Les Sabler

Jobim Tribute

Guitarist/vocalist/bassist Les Sabler was completely self-taught until attending Concordia University in Montreal. Living in the jazz rich city of Montreal allowed Sabler to be exposed and watch and listen to many jazz legends, the thriving local jazz scene and record bins became Sabler’s instructor. “One thing that I learned then that I still strive for today is maintaining the highest standards,” explains Sabler.

Sabler’s first recording project came in 1989 when he was asked to score a Canadian Television Network documentary titled “Lost Treasures of the Titanic.” The following year, Sabler released his solo debut CD, Hidden Treasure. Five years later, Sabler’s second album, Time For Love, garnered radio spins and hit the charts, enabling him to land concert dates headlining or opening for artists such as: Lorber, Spyro Gyra, Richard Elliot, Michael Lington, Diane Schurr and Fattburger. In the autumn of 2007, Sabler released his fourth album, Sweet Drive, which confirms that the artist has remained true to his commitment to maintain lofty standards. The Brian Bromberg-produced disc is a varied, soulful body of contemporary jazz, R&B and adult pop music that delivers a high level of musicianship, performances and production. The roster on the CD included: Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Ricky Peterson, Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuna, Gary Meek and Jerry Hey –orchestrated the horn arrangements. Sweet Drive was nominated as Album of the Year at the 2008 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. Sabler, who performed at the awards show in March, earned a second nomination as Guitarist of the Year.

In September 2009, Sabler released Live at the Sarasota Opera House and radio stations were serviced with Sabler’s live version of Sting’s “Fragile.” Crescent Shores was released in August. “Like the artists that influenced me most, on my albums I set out to blend a variety of styles while balancing art and technique with commercial accessibility,” said Sabler. “The truth is that I’ve accomplished a lot more in my career than I ever hoped or could have imagined.”

Sabler’s 2014 release Jobim Tribute finds the guitarist singing and playing selections from the Brazilian composer’s songbook. Sabler explains, “This project came as an inspiration from my first trip to Brazil in 2010. I have loved and played the music of Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim for so many years and this travel guided me to a deeper understanding of his music from the places I visited followed by an immersion of his music, videos and books after my return home. I am passionate about this music and very pleased to share it with you.” The CD is a mix of seven vocal tracks and five instrumental selections. The beauty of Jobim Tribute is Sabler’s willingness to dive deep into the Jobim songbook and cover some of the more obscure titles along with the many favorites we all know so well. Sabler’s quiet baritone voice is a nice compliment to his thoughtful guitar playing and is very enjoyable, his forays into Portuguese are also spot on.

“A Felicidade” begins the CD with Sabler singing the melody doubled by his nylon-strung guitar over a full string arrangement by Allon Sams. The well-known melody is also harmonized by vocalist W.F. Murphy and Eduardo Jerry, giving a full presentation chalked full of interesting colors and instrumentation. Sabler’s guitar solo is warm and lyrical, following the general shape and mode of the original melody. The arrangement does a great job of keeping the music flowing and providing little ensemble surprises along the way to peak the listeners interest. The full arrangements continue with a shy and easy-going take on the classic "Corcovado (Quite Nights of Quiet Stars) with Sabler presenting the lyrics in both English and Portuguese. Throughout the CD Sabler plays the nylon-strung guitar and plays electric bass on three selections and is accompanied by keyboardist Clay Perry, drummer and percussionist Celso Albertt, the late Joe Lala on percussion and acoustic bassist Byron House is on nine of the selections. The lesser-known Jobim tune, "Esquecendo Voce,” is a highlight instrumental selection that is again given an excellent string quartet arrangement by Allon Sams. The overall mood of this CD should have a broad appeal and is very digestible. “Ligia” follows in the same pattern; a wonderful string arrangement, thoughtful guitar soloing and Sabler plays a beautiful duet with violinist Leah Zeger that adds to the sonic color and mood of the selection. "Bonita" is another highpoint, featuring Sabler and Olivia Keaggy sharing vocal responsibilities. Tom Zink provides the string quartet arrangement for a light version of "Fotografia," Sabler’s reserved baritone voice sings the melody while providing another lyrical guitar solo, always keeping the melody close to heart, but still taking us to new melodic possibilities. The leader does a little solo of sorts as he sings and plays his guitar on "Por Causa De Voce" they back up music is provided by the strings, then by contrast, follows with a lively read of the usually light-styled "Triste."

Sabler conveys a fresh take on Jobim Tribute, as once again the power of Jobim’s music is given yet another wonderful working that is full of sensitivity and sophistication.
Track Listing: A Felicidade; Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars); Esquecendo Voce; Bonita; Brigas Niunca Mais; Ligia; Fotografia; Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Voce; Por Causa De Voce; Triste; Janelas Abertas; Chega De Saudade.
Personnel: Les Sabler: guitar, bass, vocals; Clay Perry: keyboards; Celso Alberti: drums, percussion; Joe Lala: percussion; Byron House: acoustic bass; W.F. Murphy: background vocals (1); Eduardo Jany: background vocals (1); Olivia Keaggy: vocals (4); Tom Zink: string arrangements (4, 5, 9); Allon Sams: string arrangements (2, 3, 6, 10, 11); Lea Zeger: violin; Rachel Grace: violin; Molly Rogers: viola; Irina Chirkova: cello.

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H. Allen Williams