Sinatra & Jobim @ 50 John Pizzarelli featuring Daniel Jobim Concord Music Group Frank Sinatra recorded many great albums in his career but none more pleasurable than his 1967 album with Antonio Carlos Jobim. For me, Sinatra’s readings of Jobim staples such as How Insensitive and Once I Loved were definitive. John Pizzarelli, son of the great American guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, has now issued Sinatra & Jobim @ 50, a tribute to the 1967 classic. Pizzarelli, 57, a veteran of 20 solo albums and a brilliant guitarist in the mainstream jazz tradition, is no slouch at scat singing in unison with his own improvisations. To appreciate this album, however, one needs to look past Pizzarelli’s modest singing voice. He sings in tune, though, and his phrasing is musical; generally his approach is adequate for the gentle bossa novas that dominate here. Some of the 1967 repertoire is duplicated, including Jobim’s Dindi, Meditation and Quiet Nights, and the three American standards that were so successful previously: Baubles Bangles and Beads, I Concentrate on You and Change Partners. Pizzarelli’s arrangements borrow judiciously from the superb Claus Ogerman orchestrations that underpinned the 1967 album. The highlight of Sinatra & Jobim @
is a faultless version of Antonio’s Song, a truly beautiful work that Michael Franks wrote in tribute to Jobim. The vocals on the album are shared with Jobim’s grandson Daniel Jobim, who reminds us how sensuous are the lyrics of his grandfather’s songs when sung in Portuguese. There are splendid jazz solos from pianist Helio Alves and lyrical tenor saxophonist Harry Allen. Allen largely emulates Stan Getz, whose legendary sound was so much part of the bossa nova genre when it emerged in the 1960s. its predecessor, 2013’s Free Your Mind, instead promoting big drums and guitars, sunny melodies and shiny, electronica-tinged urban grooves.
As usual, Whitford’s inimitable voice anchors proceedings. The cowbell and gentle bassline of opener Standing in the Middle of the Field creates a euphoria touched with melancholy.
It’s beautifully layered, slow-burn fare with some gorgeous guitar flourishes towards the end, and is a warm-up to the percussive kick of Counting Down, which has all the ingredients of a future festival favourite. There are chunky drums, swirling guitars and Whitford’s echoing vocal.
Latest single Black Rainbows continues Haiku From Zero’s up-tempo trajectory and is notable for its vocal hook, while Stars Last Me a Lifetime harks back to 2008’s In Ghost Colours, as does the dancefloor-directed Memories We Share.
This is an energetic, emotive album and its appeal grows with each listen.