Blame it on the bossa nova! That’s what they said back then, in a cheesy hit song of the same name. Though bossa nova hasn’t been a force in the US Top 40 since Astrid Gilberto’s sultry hit "Girl From Ipanema" and the popular records by Charlie Byrd, Stan Getz and Herbie Mann, the bossa nova has held sway on international pop music and jazz for decades, especially in Europe. (Some better known examples: Everything But The Girl, Sade, Working Week and even the arty-minimalist avant-pop of Stereolab.) And its best-known exponent is Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-94), who’s been quite-rightly referred to as the George Gershwin of Brazil.
In 1970 ACJ hooked up with Creed Taylor’s CTI label - they’d worked together when they were both at the Verve label - and recorded this lost gem of album with a small group of American and Brazilian musicians, with the Man playing piano (acoustic & electric) and guitar, as well as making with the occasional hushed vocal. The energy level is somewhat "quiet" - but there’s where he fools you-all into thinking this is "mood music." The arrangements are so subtle and unassuming and the rhythms so warm, gentle and languorous, you might not notice how sophisticated and full-sounding these songs are. The soloing is top-notch, especially Urbie Green’s trombone and the evocative, positively orchestral trumpet/French horn sounds he achieves. ACJ’s piano style calls to mind the keyboardism of Bill Evans, Duke Ellington and Claude Debussy, and his melodies carry the breezes of balmy, intrigue-laden nights in Brazil. Whether you’re a devotee of Brazilian jazz and/or pop, or you’re curious because you’ve read of Jobim’s influence on performers as diverse as Joe Henderson, Frank Sinatra (with whom he recorded an album in 1967) and Stereolab, the long-out-of-print-but-digitally-restored-plus-one-bonus-track classic Stone Flower is unreservedly recommended!