Marcel Camargo and the Brazil You Never Heard: Behind Jobim

True to the adage of little acorns and mighty oaks, this six-track EP seeds a massively ambitious project by Marcel Camargo. To date, the São Paulo-born guitarist, who holds a degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA, has been best known as a sideman to the likes of Michael Bublé, Sergio Mendes and Gretchen Parlato. Now, as leader of what will be an evolving chamber orchestra assembled under the Brazil You Never Heard moniker, Camargo is spearheading a series of concerts and companion studio sessions intended to provide unique perspectives on Brazilian music.

To salute Antonio Carlos Jobim, Camargo focuses less on Jobim’s compositions than on music that was influential to the maestro. The 20-member orchestra, including Parlato on three tracks, opens with a lithe treatment of legendary guitarist Garoto’s “Lamentos do Morro” which, Camargo theorizes in the liner notes, might have inspired Jobim’s “Samba do Avião.” Pixinguinha’s shimmering “Lamento” follows. Often cited (much to the composer’s chagrin) as the first Americanized Brazilian tune, it points to Jobim’s pivotal role in the globalization of the music in the 1960s.

Camargo employs Parlato’s fragile aridity to optimal advantage on Jobim’s early “Imagina” and his wider-known “How Insensitive” (paired with Chopin’s “Prelude No. 4 in E Minor,” on which it was based). Alone with Camargo, she also shapes a stunningly urgent “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” inspired not by Jobim’s association with Sinatra but by a 1956 reading by Chet Baker, a seminal figure, says Camargo, to Jobim and his Brazilian contemporaries.