The duo of John Pizzarelli and Daniel Jobim playing and singing bossa nova are the ultimate in cool. Pizzarelli represents the very height of cabaret’s jazzier side, with profound musical intelligence at work. Jobim is part of a legendary Brazilian musical dynasty: his grandfather was Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of Brazil’s all-time greatest songwriters and composers, and one of the original architect’s of bossa nova.
This act, entitled “Strictly Bossa Nova” is supremely laid back, in true bossa nova spirit. Laid back, yes, but also full of panache and musical elegance. Even the patter isn’t really patter, just a couple of very witty friends sharing stories and jokes.
They apply bossa nova style, not only to songs originally written in that style, but to great North American songs like the Gershwins’ “Fascinating Rhythm” and Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You”, both of which respond beautifully to the bossa nova treatment. They even apply it to Paul McCartney’s marvelous American Songbook tribute “My Valentine”, together with choice stories about Pizzarelli working with Sir Paul.
Still, the most sparkling parts of the evening are songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim, most of all his bristlingly poetic “Waters of March”. The only bossa nova evening I like nearly as much as this was another Pizzarelli act, and I think this is even better than that one. Highly recommended.
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