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December 2008

Milton Nascimento & the Jobim Trio
Novas Bossas
EMI Distribution

Sensitive. Natural. Intuitive. These are the first words that tumble from the reviewer’s pen when this collaboration between Brazilian pop provocateur Milton Nascimento and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s guitar-playing scion Paulo Jobim and pianist grandson Daniel ends. The historic gathering may not always live up to its hype: the story that Tom Jobim believed only Nascimento, a “true songbird,” could reach his compositions’ original pitches. But there is subtlety and grace to be heard in these poetic, sensual songs. And even when they go slightly awry, these most haunted of bossa- nova tunes contain all the lustful life they should and could.

Still possessed of a lithe and lovely voice at age 66, Nascimento takes to the trio’s plush arrangements with the hunger he’s brought to his most driven and riveting solo albums. Sometimes that passion drives Nascimento to drift from the sweetest and simplest melodies, a touchstone of bossa nova’s potent sway. His crushed-velvet tone seems to run wild with Nascimento’s own composition “Cais” being the first casualty. It doesn’t help that the Jobim Trio occasionally crowds the arrangements and makes the likes of A.C. Jobim’s classic “Esperanca Perdida” too busy for its brittle melody.

But the problems never last long. It’s as if Nascimento is blowing a kiss through the crowdedness of “Esperanca Perdida” in an attempt to make everything right and lovely. The languid flow of “Chega de Saudade” couldn’t have sounded more tender and tasty than if it was its originator João Gilberto performing the sonorous song all over again. And if Dori Caymmi’s achingly mysterious composition “O Vento” doesn’t show how intuitive Daniel and Paulo are as players—plucking and cutting such a gentle swath, you’d think they were master tailors—Daniel Jobim’s “Dias Azuis” proves that delicious songwriting skill is a hereditary trait.

Originally published in December 2008
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