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Bebelís dad Makes Good.

Joao Gilbertoís new In Tokyo finds the Brazilian master wizened, but in fine form.

Though their vocal styles weren't that different, Joao Gilberto served as the soft anchor to Astrud's slightly airier chanteuse. Given the compositions of Antonio Carlos Jobim and the occasional contributions of Stan Getz, they were able to convey a great deal of seductive sadness and longing through deceptively bright, deceptively simple contrapuntal chording and coolly trenchant deadpan singing.

While, along with fellow Brazilian composer Esquivel, it'd be easy to posthumously malign the founders of Bossa Nova as being the sickly sweet muzak voice that inspired the insipid, misguided, thankfully short lived nineties cocktail nation fad, that assessment would be just as short sighted as the shiny shirted tiki trend we can't smirk enough at. Credit is due for also giving another layer to the end of latter day rock that aims for the
stately. Stereolab, Sea and Cake and their myriad offspring and imitators are just as indebted to them for their melodic sensibilities as they are to Can and Neu! for their repetitive sonic hypno-drone.

Recorded in the fall of 03, In Tokyo is Joao alone with his guitar. You can hear his age in his voice. He doesn't have a hard time hitting his notes but he does have a number of nasal and raspy moments. However, it really doesn't take away from the proceedings. The album, actually, is about what you'd expect.


For my money, the Jobim material still stands above the rest. His material, with it's loping major to minor and back again turns, can make arrangements as spare as a guitar and a voice evoke a forty peice orchestra.


Other songs had been co-written by songwriters who I'm less familiar with, and they were strong, and I don't want to disparage Gilberto as a songwriter, but it becomes apparent that his strength was mainly as a collaborator who gave voice to a composerís ideas. That unfortunately makes the disk a tedious listen at times, especially given that Joao has a
signature sound he never deviates from. Also given that he never deviates from the task at hand, which is to play his songs and the songs of others, never pausing to work the crowd or even to say hello and thank you, which is understandable given the possible language barrier but still...

All in all, however, I can recommend the disk. Its high points are many and, when he plays the songs you love, you can almost even forgive Bebel for collaborating with Kenny G.

 

In Tokyo 7.2/10.  Review by Ollie Hunt.




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