Fifty years ago, Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim recorded the landmark album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim (Reprise), a collection of seductive bossa novas that kept Sinatra musically relevant during the onslaught of British rock during the latter part of the 1960s. The album features lush arrangements by Claus Ogerman; Diana Krall would later rip a page from the Sinatra/Jobim playbook to record her own bossa album, Quiet Nights (Verve), with Ogerman in 2009. Earlier this year, Universal Music Enterprises dropped a luxe, remastered version of the classic album to commemorate this inspired collaboration—but they weren’t the only ones wanting to pay homage.
Guitarist, singer, and producer John Pizzarelli met up digitally with Antonio Carlos’ Rio-based grandson, singer/pianist Daniel Jobim, this past January to record Sinatra & Jobim @ 50 for Concord Music Group. (According to the liner notes, Jobim recorded in Brazil, but it isn’t clear where Pizzarelli recorded. No matter.) Pizzarelli doesn’t include every tune from the original—he stays clear of “The Girl from Ipanema,” for instance—instead offering a nice mix of medleys and singles from the original, some other Antonio Carlos tunes, and a few originals. His arrangements feature a trio with occasional tenor sax rather than an orchestra, so right away his renditions are less formal, more open. And Daniel’s crisp vocals in luscious Portuguese feature more prominently than his grandfather’s vocals did on the original. In truth, the album is more Jobim than Sinatra, but it’s hard to imagine how more Jobim is a bad thing during the dog days of summer. Pizzarelli will appear at Birdland Aug 8-12.
Allegra Levy is the rare singer/songwriter who can channel the auteurs of the Great American Songbook. Her second album, Cities Between Us (SteepleChase Records) opens with “Cherry Blossom Song,” an engaging swing composition that shows off Levy’s talent for melding modern lyrics with a traditional jazz sonority, and closes with the title cut, an evocative poem set to a skyline-inspired soundscape. In between these two, Levy explores a panoply of emotions and jazz feels, strongly supported by trumpeter John McNeil’s dexterous arrangements. Levy also applies her considerable skills with a pen to two instrumental masterpieces: Duke Jordan’s haunting ballad “Lullaby of the Orient” and, in contrast, Dexter Gordon’s brisk and inviting “Soy Califa.” An auspicious talent.
TCB Music has discovered another unreleased beauty: Swiss Radio Days Vol 43—Zurich 1950: Nat King Cole Trio, which presents Nat King Cole as the headliner on vocals and piano, along with the unusual backing of a guitar, bass, and bongos. The lineup of tunes contains several of the jazz standards that you’d expect (“Body and Soul” and “How High The Moon”), some instrumentals that you wouldn’t (“Bop Kick” and “Bluesology”), and only one of his pop hits (“Route 66”). The live recording is full of charming impromptu moments and amusing improvisations; Cole was an exceptional jazz pianist, a truth that his pop stardom often obscured. Among those that Cole inspired: Vocalist Sachal Vasandani will present a set honoring the life of Nat King Cole at JALC – Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola on Aug 1.
Producer Larry Klein was similarly inspired by Charlie Parker; so much so that he created “an impressionistic narrative” of Parker’s life using the sax virtuoso’s compositions, set with lyrics (by David Baerwald). An impressive array of vocal talent turned out to help create The Passion of Charlie Parker (Impulse/Verve): Madeleine Peyroux, Gregory Porter, Luciana Souza, Kurt Elling, and Melody Gardot among them. As it happens, this year Summerstage will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. The uber-talented Charanee Wade will participate in the festival on Aug 26, followed by rising star Alicia Olatuja on Aug. 27.
Final notes: Vocalist/arranger MJ Territo will launch Ladies Day (Jollie Mollie), an album of tunes by female composers or lyricists, played by female instrumentalists, at Club Bonafide on Aug 17. Artists represented on the album include Iola Brubeck, Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams, Abbey Lincoln, Lorraine Feather, and Blossom Dearie, to single out just a handful. Territo reminds us that there are more where these came from. The VoxFest at Cornelia Street Underground promises an impressive lineup of singers again this year: Kelly Suttenfield, Peggy Chew, Anaïs Maviel, Leonid Galaganov, Alexis Marcelo, Vadim Neselovskyi, Aubrey Johnson, Júlia Karosi, and curator Deborah Latz, will explore the boundaries of vocal jazz Aug 21-23.
(Reprinted from August 2017 of The New York City Jazz Record.)