A chat about back catalogues between João Marcello Bôscoli (president of Trama) and the artistic vice-president of Universal, Max Pierre, led to the idea of mixing the Brazilian classic "Elis & Tom"
in stereo and 5.1 surround.
During three months, Cesar Camargo Mariano, who co-produced, played piano and did most of the arrangements on the original 1974 recordings (and who was also married to Elis at the time), ensconced himself in the Trama studios alongside sound engineer Luis Paulo Serafim.
Cesar first concern was to change nothing of the original recording. He created a map with the positions of the instruments during the recording at the MGM studios in Los Angeles.
After having commemorated 10 years with Jorge Ben and Jair Rodrigues as part of the cast of artists in 1973, the director of Philips, André Midani, verified that the following year Elis Regina would be celebrating 10 years with the label. Having had massive success with such songs as "Casa no Campo" and "Águas de Março" over the previous years, Midani asked Elis if there was anything she really wanted. "Record an album of music by Tom Jobim... with Tom Jobim".
The inspiration for the project was an LP of songs by Tom and Vinicius de Moraes, released in 1959 on the Festa label "Por Toda a Minha Vida", performed by Lenita Bruno (1926-1987), which featured arrangements by her husband Leo Peracchi (1911-1993), ex-professor of Tom. The arranger Cesar Camargo Mariano (married to Elis at the time) and Elis herself were both big fans of this record.
In January of 1974, Antonio Carlos Jobim received a telephone call from André Midani, president of Phonogram (Phillips), proposing the recording of a record with Elis Regina. Tom accepted the invite.
Philips invited Aloysio de Oliveira (1914-1995) to be producer of the project he was already a friend of all involved. The original budget didn’t allow for sending everybody to the US, where Tom had been living for some years. It would be cheaper to record in Brazil, but for some motive Tom couldn’t travel.
So, on the 20th of February, Elis Regina and her husband Cesar Camargo Mariano went to Los Angeles, accompanied by Aloísio de Oliveira and João Marcello (son of Elis and Ronaldo Bôscoli), as well as members of Cesar´s band Hélio Delmiro (guitar), Luisão (bass) and Paulinho Braga (drums). They were followed a few days later by Roberto de Oliveira, Elis´ manager and responsible for the idea of the whole project along with the mission of recording a documentary for television.
At the airport in Los Angeles they were received by Tom Jobim, who had a flower for Elis, and invited them to go firstly to his house for a chat, before heading on to the Sunset Marquis Hotel. There was already tension in the air, not least due to the age difference between the couple and Tom (Elis was 29, Tom 47). Arriving at the house, Tom asked Aloísio who´d be doing the arrangements on the recording, and wasn´t pleased when he discovered it would be Cesar Camargo Mariano. Tom tried ringing Claus Ogerman and Dave Grusin but couldn´t get them. Neither was he pleased to hear that some musicians would be arriving from Brazil the next day. "It doesn’t make sense. We already have excellent musicians here!"
The following day Cesar began working on the arangements, while Elis brought João Marcello to Disneyland. His work was constantly interrupted by Tom, asking if everything was going OK and the interruptions continued until he delivered the final mix to Tom. The recording sessions were delayed while Cesar worked out the arrangements. Bill Hitchcock had been contracted to direct the string quartet (because of local laws, Cesar couldn’t do so). The first 2 of the 4 days in the studio were slotted for recording Tom piano and guitar, accompanied by the string quintet and flautist. "Elis would rarely do other takes", Cesar recalls, who accompanied Aloysio on the rest of the sessions - with the quartet that had accompanied Elis since the beginning of the 1970s, with special participation from Oscar Castro Neves. The climate between Elis and Tom was also rocky on occassion. Happily, Aloísio was present to smooth out most of the problems. He was the only one who could put up with two strong personalities. Also, Tom wouldn´t initially accept the electric piano programed by Cesar Mariano. The artistic director of Phonogram, Roberto Menescal, was in Rio but he accompanied by phone the recordings. He phoned almost every day to talk with Aloísio who told him how things were.
But the record itself was a work of tranquility. Tom and Elis sang together on Águas de Março, Soneto da Separação and Chovendo na Roseira. Tom hummed on Corcovado and sang in the background on Inútil Paisagem. He also played piano and flute. The crowning moment is Águas de Março, presented as a spontaneous take but in fact was done various times to get the perfect take. Bonita wasn’t included in the final album because Elis didn’t like her English. The bonus version of Fotografia is actually the original recording from Los Angeles; the version included on the final album was actually recorded later in São Paulo.
The final result left everyone involved happy. Tom was later quoted as saying: "It was excellent because Elis is an incredible singer. The record featured a great repertory accompanied by excellent musicians. And a fantastic pianist, Cesar Camargo Mariano."