John Pizzarelli's love affair with the bossa nova stretched back over two decades prior to the making of this CD, which is his salute to the legendary João Gilberto. Accompanied by his regular group (pianist Ray Kennedy and bassist Martin Pizzarelli) and augmented by drummer Paulinho Braga and percussionist Jim Saporito, along with several others on selected tracks, Pizzarelli's soft, swinging vocals and strong but understated guitar work their magic throughout the session. While most of the pieces are Brazilian works, there are exceptions. Gershwin's "Fascinatin' Rhythm" is easily adapted into a bossa nova, adding backing vocals and the potent tenor sax of Harry Allen. Rocker James Taylor's "Your Smiling Face" benefits from the brisker setting and a flute choir backing Pizzarelli. Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim's "I Remember" adds Don Sebesky's string arrangement, carefully filling the backgrounds in this beautifully sung ballad. Of course, several songs are devoted to the timeless compositions of Antonio Carlos Jobim. All five present on this date have been recorded so frequently that it would be hard to come up with landmark interpretations, but Pizzarelli and company do justice to all of them. Also worth investigating are the leader's two originals, the swinging "Francesca" and the breezy "Soares Samba." The intimate sound throughout this recording is an additional bonus.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden