Antônio Carlos Jobim

Antonio Carlos Jobim and Friends

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Jobim made his last Brazilian concert appearance -- and the penultimate one of his life -- at this warm, star-studded affair in which American jazz musicians jetted down to the Free Jazz Festival in São Paulo to pay effusive homage. The miracle is how easily the jazzers were able to capture the yearning essence of Jobim's idiom without really compromising their own distinct styles. Thus, Joe Henderson welds his trademark unpredictable flurries into the cool tenor sax bossa nova tradition, Shirley Horn does "Once I Loved" in her own inimitable manner that matches the mood of the song perfectly, Jon Hendricks' scatting fits the samba like a glove. The pianists go somewhat outside the idiom -- Herbie Hancock's modern complexity, Gonzalo Rubalcaba's technical fireworks laced with Afro-Cuban salsa -- but they stay within their orbits around the Jobim sun. The composer himself only appears on the last four tracks -- he sounds weary and ill -- yet he radiates his gentle warmth and spirit throughout the evening.

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