Brazil's greatest songwriter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, admittedly preferred working in the shadows of the recording studio to the openness of the concert stage, and although, during the earlier part of his career he dutifully stepped out to perform his compositions, by the late 1960s and '70s he had become a more reclusive figure. The 1980 death of his chief inspiration and arguably most successful collaborator, Vinicius de Moraes (with whom Jobim wrote "The Girl from Ipanema," among many others), hit Jobim hard and brought him back to his adoring public to share his music more visibly. This CD is the naked Jobim, the man and his piano, performing solo for the first time in 20 years, recounting 18 of his greatest achievements in Minas, Brazil, in March 1981. Although he professes shyness (fortunately, the liner notes translate part of Jobim's all-Portuguese stage patter, included on the disc in its unedited form, for better or worse), Jobim on-stage is confident and homey. The warmth of his songs transfers easily to his performing manner, resulting in an intimate evening of classic Brazilian song. Jobim on the piano is never fancy, and as a vocalist he's rough but honest. Besides, for this audience he could do no wrong. Opening with two of his biggest hits, "Desafinado" and "Samba de uma Nota Só" ("One Note Samba"), both co-written with Newton Mendonça, Jobim pays tribute to his most important collaborators one at a time, among them Dolores Duran (who co-wrote the set's lone instrumental "Sun Road"), Aloysio de Oliveira, Chico Buarque and, of course, de Moraes. Jobim also tosses in a handful of pieces written solo. Saving "The Girl from Ipanema" for last, he practically gives it lip service with an under-two-minute perfunctory run-through that he cuts short. Perhaps he was simply tired of the song, but it's still a moving rendition, Jobim's way of leaving his lucky audience with something to remember him by -- as if they'd ever forget this evening.
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AllMusic Review by Jeff Tamarkin