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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tom Jobim - Apresenta

As a troubled and grumpy teen I very obviously gravitated to David Lynch's films in the 90's.

I was especially attracted to Lost Highway, notably because Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails sequenced and engineered the soundtrack. I was a big time NIN nerd when I was a boy, all the way up to the betrayal that WAS The Fragile. While I assert that even though Trent betrayed his fans, it paled in comparison to the betrayal by Billy Corgan, he still betrayed his fans nonetheless (how does a song called "Starfuckers Incorporated" actually exist?).

Anyway, I was already drawn to this movie and soundtrack on spec alone, and while Rammstein does annoy me on several levels, I persevered. I will never forget the very first moment I heard Antonio Carlos Jobim, via his tune "Insensatez" on this soundtrack. While sonically the opposite of what I was becoming accustomed to, it had basically everything I needed in a song. It was a "style" I was inexplicably attracted to in an immense way. Over the years I became enamored with Mr. Jobim's tunes. I have yet to hear one I don't like on any level.

So then I went searching for Mr. Jobim's records. The vast majority of his published catalog is comprised of other people, "famous" people, performing his compositions. Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Getz and the like litter most available releases from this name. There are more than a few albums under his name alone and to be frank if I had listened to every one I would have a better idea of what comprises them. I have "Tide" and "Wave" and "Getz/Gilberto play Jobim" and they are fine albums but nothing comes close to "Tom Jobim Apresenta". This was an extremely limited press outside the US, once these recordings made it to the US they were re-sequenced as "Love, Strings and Jobim" which I think is an inferior sequence.

Tom Jobim Apresenta is perfect in its original state, with not a single song sticking out as an outlier. "Berimbau" is a perfect opener, starting as sparse and mild and growing into an urgent and beautiful meditation on the progression of music. "Razao De Viver" is gorgeous and chill, like the type of music you hear on "Always Sunny". As dated as this music is, to me it is timeless and pure.

"Voce" is another sweet and warm little tune that bursts with string swells and curiosity. "Seu Encanto" keeps us drifting down this sweet river of music and brings us to the alive and poppy "Samba Torto". This and "Berimbau" are my two favorite tracks on this record. Superbly recorded and filled with lush and gorgeous instrumentation, these two tracks are a perfect example of Mr. Jobim's style and composition.

This is where the LP starts to get heavy and tug at your heartstrings. "Imagem" into "Chuva" is a breathtaking little sequence that can leave your eyes welling up by the end. "Eu Preciso De Voce" brings us back up into happier and more boastful musical territory, merrily chugging along a musical "ride". This song stands out in particular because of its change-ups. The different parts and elements change each time they are played which not only lends itself to enjoyable listening but also keeps your attention as the parts coalesce.

"A Morte De Um Deus De Sal" is another chugging musical ride. A relaxing and steady progression that is less showy and more cerebral than most previous songs. While flaunting some pretty impressive piano solo's toward the ends, it never breaks a sweat and keeps everything feeling chill. "Morrer De Amor" is like the sound of the dawn of a day, a simple and effective wash of sound to begin any morning. Conversely "Tristeza De Nos Dois" is like a perfect sunset song, a smoky and sweet tune to bring close to a day of accomplishment.

As opposition to "Berimbau" is album closer "Preciso Aprender A Ser So", a moody and introspective tune brimming with emotive melody. The journey is complete here. A resting place after a warm and satisfying trip through the mind and instruments of Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Of all of his recordings I will NEVER understand why this isn't available in its original form.


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