Antônio Carlos Jobim / Claus Ogerman


Composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim

Song Review by

Originally recorded as an instrumental for the 1967 album of the same name, "Wave" is a prime example of what Antonio Carlos Jobim did best; though he was also a great, albeit not very prolific, lyricist, Jobim had one of the best ears for melody south of Tin Pan Alley. Collaborating with Claus Ogerman, who charted and arranged the orchestration on the track, the sublime melody is handled mainly by the legendary Jobim himself. Like most of Jobim's material, "Wave" merges his influences -- samba from his native Brazil and American jazz -- the elements that form the foundation of bossa nova. But after the early '60s, when jazz musicians like Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd introduced bossa nova to American audiences, the musical form merged again with jazz as countless American jazz singers and musicians began to cover Jobim's material, embracing it as an alternative to the well-worn standards from Tin Pan Alley. It is no wonder, then, that Jobim has often been referred to as the George Gershwin of Brazil. His melodies were just as sophisticated and memorable, with a pop sensibility. Bossa nova offered a new sound over which jazz musicians could improvise, and Jobim started to include top-notch American musicians on his own recordings, like Ron Carter, who plays bass on this song. Jobim's melody and arrangement are clean-sounding, simple, lean, and unadorned like a Chet Baker-sung standard, with influences coming from modernist classical composers like Debussy as well as samba and West Coast jazz. The whimsical tune has a bittersweet quality with a tinge of melancholy and trails off with a little blues at the end of the lines. The song and subtle arrangement are as light as a deep breath on a breezy summer day. Frank Sinatra devoted two full LPs to the compositions of Jobim. He covered "Wave," adding lyrics, apparently written by Jobim, though it is unclear who wrote the translation or adaptation. The words certainly stay true to Jobim's themes, reflecting his Zen-like appreciation for nature, human nature, and the basic essence of life: "You can't deny don't try to fight the rising sea/Don't fight the moon, the stars above, and don't fight me/The fundamental loneliness goes whenever two can dream a dream together/When I saw you first the time was half past three/When your eyes met mine it was eternity/By now we know the wave is on its way to be/Just catch that wave don't be afraid of loving me/The fundamental loneliness goes whenever two can dream a dream together." As an instrumental, the song speaks Jobim's intended sentiments clearly enough, but the added words spell it out further without taking anything away from the song. Sinatra does a great job of riding the wave of the melody, which spans a wide range of octaves. It was recorded with Jobim himself and intended for the Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967) album, but not released until 1971 on Sinatra and Company. Sinatra seemed to have a true simpatico understanding of the composer's work and interprets it with a gentle, breezy style, staying close to the original melody. Oscar Peterson takes the melody and lets it sink in for a couple of rounds, remaining true to the arrangement to the point of using Ogerman and his same orchestration. But Peterson lets it loose for a solo and vamp-out of the song. It can be found on Motions and Emotions (1969).

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Wave 1967 A&M / Interscope 2:57
blue highlight denotes editor's pick