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Morelenbaum2/Sakamoto
Casa: (Tribute To Jobim)

Review By Jim Luce
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Morelenbaum2/Sakamoto Casa: (Tribute To Jobim)

CD Number: Sony Classical SK89982

 

  Throughout the history of jazz, most composers and musicians have searched for outside influences to help take their music to a higher plane. Sometimes the risks reap immediate benefits but sometimes things donít pan out. The music falls flat, or perhaps it takes the audience a decade or two to find out that the music was just way ahead of its time. I think back to Louis Armstrong and what he must have gone through in putting together his Hot 5 in Chicago in the early 1920's. And Dizzy Gillespie, what must he have been eating for breakfast when he got together with Chano Pozo and helped to create the genre of Latin jazz. Through the taking of risks, these visionaries kept raising the ante for those that followed them.

Stan Getz instinctively knew this when he went to Brazil to seek out the beauty of the music and the culture. The rest is history. These wonderful musicians are sadly gone now, and here in the new century we are left to interpret the greatness of the music of the twentieth century and to make new music. How we do both will define the new direction for jazz.

Sitting in Los Angeles waiting for a plane back to New York, these thoughts dominated my mind as I searched for a way to introduce you, dear reader, to a CD that escaped me when it was released in the summer of 2002. If you already know about this session, please forgive me, but its beauty overwhelmed me when I first heard it last month during a listening session with the bassist, Peter Washington. Not only do I respect his musicianship, but his ears are big! When he puts something on to listen to, I pay attention.

And it was with delight to discover Casa. It is one of those rarified musical collaborations that is as wonderful as it is unforgettable. It deserves the widest audience, so as we approach the second anniversary of its release, I hope these words move you to check it out as this CD deserves your attention!

This is a recording that defies category. It's Brazilian, jazz and classical performed with virtuosic intensity. The Japanese composer/pianist Ryuchi Sakamoto along with the cellist, Jacques Morelenbaum and his wife, singer Paula Morelenbaum gathered at the home of Jobim for this recording. Jobim's very piano was made available to Sakamoto, and the setting was perfect for the music to emerge.

 

The Music

Sakamoto takes the lead with delicate piano phrasings which are caught by the wonderful bow work of cellist Morelenbaum. And when Paula Morelenbaum sings over that, well... it is just arresting. The tone of her voice is just top rate.

Try track 1, "As Praias Desertas," as complete masterpiece on its own and totally satisfying musically and emotionally. When I first heard the recording, I couldnít get past this tune for nearly a week. Like haiku, itís perfect and stands on its own as one of the most beautiful of Jobim's compositions. And thatís just the beginning.

The rest of the session is simply a further exploration into the beauty of the genre and of these three musicians who know theyíre charged with a wonderful responsibility, and the result is just more joy... and in some instances, the workout of pain too. You can just feel the musicians straining to make as much beauty as possible, and it is here that this record date, and these musicians, transcend into sheer excellence.

 

Yes, I Love This Record!

The tenderness of Sabia is breathtaking. While I do not understand Portuguese, but on this tune I don't need to. It is Matisse! Track 8, "Bonita," is a journey to the innermost region of a womanís heart. What is love? This tune tries to answer this age-old riddle. Friends, I wish I had more space and better words to inspire you to catch the wave of a beautiful moment in time when three musicians came together to pay tribute to ACJ. If you're looking for a passageway to the truth, this is it.

It will pass the test of time. I hope it inspires the new generation of jazz musicians. In the end, this recording made me go back and listen again to the man himself. And again, as an appreciator of beauty, I am moved.

 

 

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