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Antonio Carlos Jobim: Composer

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Tom Jobim, unquestionably one of the great songwriters of our century, fused lyric and melody inseparably, as did Cole Porter. He sang well, with supreme understanding, in a warm, cheroot baritone and played “composer” piano and spidery guitar perfectly passably. He had samba in his blood, created bossa nova as “a hunch,” and loved jazz; his hundreds of compositions provide buoyant vehicles of beauty for singers and instrumental improvisers throughout the hemisphere. Imagery of water (the sea, “Aguas de Marzo,” raindrops, stream, ocean) and air (the sky, views from airplane windows of Rio, reflections of Angela, a soaring vulture) pervade his poetry; those of earth and fire are largely lacking. Jobim struck a chord with Aquarian age children, and rode his surfboard on a tidal wave of acclaim to the USA in the ’60s that’s still rippling in Europe.

Composer (28 tracks, combines material from three LP sessions, 1965-7, no lyrics included) is the best of the three, showing some of his very finest songs and arranger conductor Claus Ogerman’s lightest hand. Tom is in good voice and has a close touch with the people. His melodies may sound like a Satie sonatina (“Valse de Porto de Caixas”) or a tin-pan alley tango (“Hurry Up and Love Me”) at times, but here he’s at his best cruising Rio’s beaches like Corcovado with Bonita, Carioca, Dindi, Surfboard, Desafinado, and yes, that omnipresent girl from Ipanema.

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