Sérgio and Odair Assad's Nonesuch disc Jardim abandonado apparently has been in the pipeline for some time; part of it was recorded in 2002 and the rest in 2006. However, this mixed program of works ranging from Debussy to music written by Sergio Assad's daughter Clarice was certainly worth the wait. This beautifully recorded disc, with a breathtaking photograph by French master Eugène Atget gracing its front cover, is eminently listenable and seamlessly moves through works of Jobim, Milhaud, Debussy, and Sérgio Assad's arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue without missing a beat. Among the most striking aspects of Jardim abandonado is the selection of contemporary pieces included, which are sunk in among the more familiar stuff -- three radiant duets by Clarice Assad, a bracing and rhythmically palpitating long form piece by Sérgio Assad himself, and an instrumental work entitled Octet written by Broadway composer Adam Guettel.
There is not one word of notes in Nonesuch's package, so we are inclined to guess as to how the Assad brothers came up with this ingenious program and what the conceptual thrust of it is; Nonesuch doesn't even provide track numbers to go with the track titles. However, this should not be a hindrance to enjoying the great music and terrific playing of the Assads here -- such oversight just seems a little chintzy, as everything else about Jardim abandonado is deluxe in a big way.