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Jazz Notes: Guitarist John Pizzarelli Celebrates Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim on New Recording

By Denin Koch, Contributing Writer ZEALnyc, August 3, 2017

American Frank Sinatra and Brazilian Antonio Carlos Jobim are arguably the most important figures in the history of the pop music of their respective countries. Their 1967 collaboration Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim is widely considered one of the greatest works in both the Sinatra and Jobim catalogs. Fifty years later, acclaimed guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli celebrates that legacy with Sinatra & Jobim @ 50, a faithful tribute to the original masterwork. The album, while almost too careful at times, is relaxed and refreshing as Pizzarelli lets Jobim’s beautiful music and lyrics do the heavy lifting—a welcome departure from the compulsive complexity that plagues so much of today’s jazz releases.

The album’s track listing includes covers of a number of the songs that Sinatra and Jobim recorded together, as well as several other Jobim compositions and music inspired by the original collaboration. Pizzarelli’s best move in creating the album was the hiring of Daniel Jobim, Antonio’s grandson. The Brazilian’s breathy Portuguese is an excellent match for Pizzarelli’s thin tenor, with the medley of “Meditation” and “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” highlighting the two side-by-side. The rhythm section of Helio Alves (piano), Mike Karn (bass) and Duduka Da Fonseca (drums) delivers rather authentic bossa nova—Da Fonseca and Alves are natives of Brazil, and their excellent style marks one of the album’s strongest elements. Pizzarelli’s improvisational brilliance is scarce on this album, with a promising burst on “Agua de Beber” cut woefully short. Saxophonist Harry Allen adds luscious solos and fills on several tracks, with a sound reminiscent of Paul Desmond and Stan Getz that blends perfectly with the album’s gentle sound.

Sinatra & Jobim @ 50 succeeds in paying faithful tribute to the two masters and in bringing an album of music that sounds fresh and new. While Pizzarelli is capable of blowing audiences away with his vocal and instrumental chops, you will find none of that here. Pizzarelli’s restraint and reverence for the men he is honoring here makes his latest release a great success.

Rating: 8/10
Highlights: “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “Two Kites,” “Agua de Beber”

Cover: John Pizzarelli, guitar; photo: jen@palm-online.eu.


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