recorded in Brazil by guitarist João Gilberto on the 1958 song "Chega de Saudade"(No
More Blues) - 2009 marks yet another key anniversary: the 50th anniversary of the
release of Gilberto’s genre defining debut LP, also titled Chega de Saudade, with
which he widely popularized and in many ways epitomized the emerging bossa style
with his distinctive guitar styling, soft, almost whispered vocals and enchanting
In honor of this great master, Brazilian vocalist Ithamara Koorax, in
collaboration with top contemporary Brazilian guitarist Juarez Moreira, has recorded
Bim Bom The Complete João Gilberto Songbook, which will be released on Motéma Music
on October 13th. Although Gilberto has been amply praised as a "legendary vocalist"
and as the innovative guitarist who invented bossa nova, his contributions as a
composer are often overlooked. With this tribute, Koorax and Moreira make clear that
songwriting is indeed a valuable part of Gilberto’s legacy.
The CD features, for the first time ever, all of Gilberto’s compositions on a
single disc. Koorax, who has consistently been named among the Top Female Vocalists
in DownBeat’s Readers’ Poll, is formidable in partnership with Moreira, who is
revered as a top Brazilian guitar master, and has worked with such legends as Milton
Nascimento, Claudio Roditi, and Toninho Horta. Together they perform twelve tracks,
distinguished by a graceful simplicity and a remarkable rapport that showcases both
artists while elucidating Gilberto’s brilliance as a composer.
The CD is also notable as the second release in Motéma’s "Jazz Therapy" series,
benefitting the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of Englewood Hospital and Medical
Center which partners with The Jazz Foundation of America to provide free medical
care and screenings to musicians in need. Jazz Therapy (Volume I): Smile featured duo
guitar masters Roni-Ben Hur and Gene Bertoncini, who launched the series in November
2008 to great critical and public acclaim, and sparked a Wall Street Journal feature
on Englewood Hospital’s extraordinary program.
Bim Bom is the 12th solo release in Ithamara Koorax’s remarkable career. Well-known
in her native Brazil as a jazz-pop singer, she made her American recording debut in
2000 with Serenade in Blue. In the nine years since its release, she has received
numerous accolades for her work. "Koorax is delightfully unpredictable in her music
embracing virtuosity, astonishing range, and volcanic vocalese," read DownBeat’s
review of her 2006 release, Brazilian Butterfly. DownBeat’s readers have supported
her rise to the top of the magazine’s annual Readers’ Poll in the "Best Female
Vocalist" category: she entered at #10 in 2000, and most recently, was voted #3 in
2008 (topped only by Diana Krall and Cassandra Wilson.)
Koorax has recorded with such great musicians as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá,
Ron Carter, Larry Coryell, Sadao Watanabe, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Jay Berliner, Caetano
Veloso, João Donato and many others.
Bim Bom producer Arnaldo de Souteiro has been a close associate of the reclusive
Gilberto since 1979. He produced the tribute with a meticulous eye in regard to
tempos and keys, in homage to the composer, while allowing Koorax and Moreira the
space to create an intimate, improvisational "live in the studio" performance.
Ample notes that accompany the CD feature interesting comments about each
composition. Gilberto has never before published a songbook, so the CD also serves
as an excellent resource for guitarists seeking to master his material. "Although
some of the songs may seem very simple," explains Moreira, "it’s a false impression.
They demand a lot of technique. That’s the main ingredient of Gilberto’s magic: to
make very difficult and intricate things seem so easy and sound so natural."
Koorax has her own special relationship with the music. "I don’t think of Bim Bom
as just one more album in my career," says Koorax. "I have always loved João Gilberto,
and grew up listening to his recordings."
"Gilberto continues his perpetual evolution to this very day," she adds. "Every
time he plays one of the songs that he has been playing for fifty years, he does so
by employing new syncopations and new phrasings. Furthermore, everything he plays
becomes bossa nova. That is why we can say that the bossa nova is João Gilberto, yet
João Gilberto is bossa nova and much more."