Morelenbaum² / Jaques Morelenbaum / Ryuichi Sakamoto

Morelenbaum 2/Sakamoto: Casa

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Multiple-threat cellist/arranger Jacques Morelenbaum and his singer/wife, Paula, were a big part of Antonio Carlos Jobim's life in his last decade, touring and recording with him and shaping the music of his last recordings. So it's entirely fitting that the Morelenbaums, along with pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto, should journey to Jobim's idyllic music room in his home above Rio de Janeiro to make some intimate on-the-spot recordings of Jobim's music -- with Sakamoto playing Jobim's own grand piano. Of course, there was more recording done at two other Rio studios -- and two additional tracks were recorded live in Tokyo -- but the ambience of intimacy remains intact throughout the disc. All of the songs here have been published before, many dating from as early as 1958, yet the disc trumpets some recorded premieres of Jobim material, though the booklet doesn't point them out. But there is at least one first recording that can be verified, "Tema Para Ana," a short, attractive duet for cello and piano written for Jobim's wife, Ana, and not published until a year after his death in 1994. Paula's soft, dusky voice -- whether singing in English or Portuguese -- is the personification of the Brazilian beach itself, and Jacques' cello amplifies the element of melancholy that runs through much of Jobim. A lovely rendition of "Song of the Sabia" finds Sakamoto hammering out chords that tie the song to the Chopin E minor prelude, and a nicely swinging "Bonita" has sounds of the sea overdubbed. The trio gets frequent help from ringers like Luis Brasil and Jobim's son, Paulo, on violao (guitar), percussionist Marcos Suzano, and bassist Zeca Assumpcao, who impose overt bossa nova grooves on tunes like "O Amor Em Paz" and "O Grande Amor." In addition, Ed Motta's vocals are like a ghostly facsimile of Jobim's own gravelly voice in "Imagina." The last track is a live, untitled free improvisation by Jacques and Sakamoto that acts as a jarring avant-garde postscript to all of the sultry sounds that preceded it. The cover art itself is a classy nostalgia trip, a photograph of Sugar Loaf, the beach at Ipanema, and the surrounding Rio landscape mounted in the sparely elegant style of Creed Taylor's A&M jackets of the late '60s. Nice touch. The US release includes two bonus tracks:

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:50
2 3:51
3 4:30
4 4:29
5 3:49
6 3:10
7 4:22
8 4:18
9 2:18
10 4:02
11 4:30
12 2:00
13 2:07
14 2:21
15 4:04
16 5:07
blue highlight denotes track pick