Carlos Jobim: Stone Flower
Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim (1927-1994) was, by far, the most
important composer born in Brazil in the Twentieth Century. He was
Brazil's most prolific composer too, as well as the main composer of
the bossa nova era. But his immense work transcended the bossa nova
boundaries, influencing jazz and classical artists.
Jobim started his career in the late Forties, working as a piano
player in Rio de Janeiro's nightclubs. In 1952, he got a job as
arranger for the Continental label, also beginning to write songs with
another talented pianist, Newton Mendonēa. Jobim's main works in the
Fifties were "Sinfonia do Rio Janeiro" (an extended
symphonic piece in honor of his native city, in 1954), the score for
the stage play "Orfeu da Conceiēćo" in 1956, and the
soundtrack - along with songs by Luiz Bonfį and Antonio Maria - for
the movie "Black Orpheus" in 1959, a huge success all over
the world. One year before, in 1958, Jobim wrote all the songs and the
arrangements for an album by songstress Elizeth Cardoso, "Canēao
do Amor Demais", which featured Joćo Gilberto's uncredited
guitar on two tracks. One of them, "Chega de Saudade",
became a legendary recording, considered officially as the first bossa
nova recording. The following year, with the release of Joćo
Gilberto's debut solo album, also titled "Chega de Saudade"
and also arranged by Jobim, the bossa nova craze was born.
After the famous Bossa Nova Concert in Carnegie Hall, in 1962, Jobim's
impact in the jazz world increased. His song "Desafinado",
was already a No. 1 Pop Hit in the Billboard charts, recorded by Stan
Getz and Charlie Byrd in their landmark album "Jazz Samba",
produced by Creed Taylor, then the A&R for Verve Records. Creed
attended the Carnegie Hall concert and soon started to develop an
auspicious collaboration with Jobim. Firstly, Creed hired Jobim to
play as sideman in the Stan Getz/Luiz Bonfį album, "Jazz Samba
Encore!", in February 1983. It was followed by the stunning Stan
Getz/Joćo Gilberto collaboration on "Getz/Gilberto",
recorded in March 1963 with Jobim on the piano. Released one year
later, this million-selling album won four Grammy Awards (plus three
other nominations), remaining 96 weeks on Billboard's pop charts,
reaching No. 2. Its main track, "The Girl from Ipanema", a
Jobim song, became an instant hit, launching the careers of singers Joćo
and Astrud Gilberto.
In the meantime, Creed Taylor signed Jobim as a solo artist for Verve,
recording "The Composer of Desafinado, Plays" in May 1963.
In June 1964, Jobim was the guest guitarist on two tracks of Gary
McFarland's "Soft Samba" album. Some years later, when Creed
left Verve to create his own production company CTI (as a kind of jazz
division at A&M Records), he signed Jobim again. Then came the
"Wave" album, whose title tune soon became a jazz standard.
The next Taylor/Jobim meeting was in March 1970, when the producer had
transformed CTI into a completely independent label.
But both Creed and Jobim owed an album to A&M. So, they decided to
record two albums during the same sessions: "Tide" for
A&M, and "Stone Flower" for CTI. "For many years
people thought they had been recorded in different months, as separate
projects", says Eumir Deodato, who arranged the tracks used in
the two albums. "Creed wanted us to keep it as a secret, but the
truth is that he picked the songs he wanted in each album. All the
basic tracks were done in four sessions, at Van Gelder studio in
Passaic (he had not moved to Englewood Cliffs yet), one in March 16,
three on April 23, 24 and 29. Later on, I overdubbed the orchestra
(strings and horns) on May 8, 20 and 22."
In the many times I met Jobim, he referred to "Stone Flower"
as one of his favorite albums ever. "I think that it still sounds
very modern", Jobim told me proudly when we met for the last
time, in October 1994, during the sessions I produced for Ithamara
Koorax's "Red River" album (King KICP 497).
Unfortunately, it became Jobim's last recording session. Now, when
Susumu Morikawa prepares this new 24-bit reissue of "Stone
Flower", I'm sure it is the most creative and sophisticated album
Jobim ever made. Surrounded by an incredible cast of players, he
performs a wonderful repertoire (without the ups and downs of
"Wave") superbly arranged by Deodato. It is important to
note that Deodato's debut album "Inutil Paisagem", cut in
1964, was entirely dedicated to Jobim's songs.
Since then, the oldest master became a fan of the new genius, inviting
Deodato to arrange the soundtrack album of the movie "Garota de
Ipanema" in 1967, while Deodato was still living in Brazil. They
worked together again in the USA on Frank Sinatra's album "Sinatra
& Company" (recorded in 1969, released in 1971), and on the
soundtrack for the movie "The Adventurers", recorded in
London for the Paramount label in late 1969. Then came the sessions
which originated "Tide" and "Stone Flower", this
magnificent album that includes the following tracks:
1. Tereza My Love - A lovely bossa-oriented tune dedicated to Tereza
Hermany, his wife at that time. The sound of Joćo Palma's bass drum
establishes the perfect beat, while Urbie Green's velvety trombone
"sings" the melody. The solos are by Green and Jobim, with
the composer playing piano in his minimalist single-note style with
charming bass flutes in the background.
2. Children's Games - A theme originally composed for "The
Adventurers" soundtrack, got its title because it was used in a
scene in which the children played in a garden. This jazzy waltz was
later retitled "Double Rainbow" when Gene Lees added lyrics
in 1974. Deodato plays guitar, while Jobim plays piano and whistles in
3. Choro - A beautiful piece inspired by the old Brazilian musical
style of the same style, which developed in the `20s. Jobim, on piano,
is backed only by Ron Carter, Joćo Palma, and percussionists Airto
(on the tambourine) and Everaldo Ferreira (playing in a matchbox!)
This song also got another title some years later, "Garoto",
as a tribute to a great Brazilian guitarist of the `40s.
4. Brazil - The only non-Jobim song in the album, it was written by
Ary Barroso in 1939. A big hit for Carmen Miranda in the USA,
"Brazil", aka "Aquarela do Brasil", was featured
in the Disney movie "Saludos, Amigos" in 1943, the same year
Miranda sang it on "The Gang's All Here". Jobim sings with
uncanny intimacy and plays Rhodes electric piano with a peculiar
swing, propelled by an infectious samba beat sustained with great
ability by drummer Joćo Palma, a true sorcerer with the brushes.
Recently, Deodato arranged another fantastic version of
"Brazil", included on Ithamara Koorax's "Serenade in
Blue" album (KICP 696).
5. Stone Flower - Built up over a repetitive rhythm figure called
"maracatu", including some Brazilian folk motives on its
melodic line, "Stone Flower" features veteran violinist
Harry Lookofsky (then concertmaster of the NY Symphony). There is a
Villa-Lobos' "Na Corda da Viola", with Airto playing the
"maracatu" rhythm on a percussion instrument from Africa
called "agogo" during the intro, and later using the "caxixi".
6. Amparo - Another song from "The Adventurers". Its title
is the name of the main female character of the movie. A classical
piece heard in a haunting arrangement by Deodato, features Jobim on
piano and Hubert Laws on flute. Jobim retitled the song for "Olha
Maria" when Chico Buarque added lyrics in 1971.
7. Andorinha - Joćo Palma provides a very subtle bossa beat for this
track, which features Jobim's economic approach on the Fender Rhodes
piano. Once again, Urbie Green's trombone shines in a very
sophisticated and cool performance.
8. God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun - Titled "Bitter
Victory" and used as the theme for a war scene on the original
"The Adventurers" soundtrack, showcases Deodato's fiery
brass arrangement. Joe Farrell takes the solo spot on the soprano sax.
9. Sabiį - Its title is the name of a Brazilian bird, which sings
beautifully. Originally composed for a Song Contest called III FIC, in
1968, it was performed by the vocal duo of Cynara & Cybele. This
soulful ballad with lyrics by Brazilian pop star Chico Buarque won the
first prize, and Deodato's score was awarded the best arrangement.
However, the decision received a big hiss from the audience, because
most people had another song, a political one, as their favorite. The
very dramatic feeling was heightened for this 1970 recording, with
drummer Joćo Palma adding a bossa beat. The perfect ending for a
(Mr. DeSouteiro is a top Brazilian jazz producer and leading jazz