A South American “goodwill” tour in 1961 first exposed musicians like Charlie Byrd to Brazil’s seductive new swing as epitomized by composer/arranger/A&R guy “Tom” Jobim. Bossa nova tunes by Jobim and his circle of innovative collaborators — including Vinicius de Moraes, Newton Mendonça and Joåo Gilberto — were re-recorded by Byrd, Stan Getz and other Yankee instrumentalists, soon attracting the attention of pop/jazz crooners from Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Sinatra. Shortly thereafter bilingual bossa nova established a substantial, if short lived, presence on stateside radio.
Now Runt Records offers The Prime of Antonio Carlos Jobim, a set of three vintage albums commemorating the Brazilian invasion of the 1960s. Replete with both original liner notes and corrected studio credits, The Wonderful World of Antonio Carlos Jobim, A Certain Mr. Jobim and Love, Strings and Jobim, revisit the lush arrangements, fragile vocals and quirky rhythms that even today inspire neo-bossa imitations.
The first two discs actually comprise Jobim’s second and third American albums. They showcase a mix of Sinatra-esque vocals and the cinematic instrumentals the artist recorded in Gringolandia for Warner Brothers after a two-year stint in California. Love, Strings, and Jobim, however, was made back in Rio under Jobim’s avuncular aegis, to give newer Brazilian writers and arrangers like Deodato access to the U.S. market.
Although all three CDs feature full orchestras, this Brazil-based production is the most aggressively Hollywoodized. Burying its Afro-Brazilian guitar licks and percussion under the sort of perky keyboards and bold strings meant to prove how modern and globally competitive Rio’s session men could be.
None of these reissues contain big crossover hits like ‘One Note Samba’, or ‘Girl From Ipanema’ because Jobim’s solo work for Warner came out after the collaborative Byrd/Getz and Gilberto/Getz LPs had already transformed such signature Jobim singles into American standards. Instead, they anthologize subtler and more personal material, like ‘Bonita’ (his alleged come-on to a blossoming Candice Bergen) and overtly political statements like the insightful meditation on class warfare, ‘A Felicidade’.