Some albums seem to have a profound influence in our lives for not specific reason other than the beauty of the music we hear. I have asked myself why Jobim‘s Urubu is an album I listen to from time to time. Is it his voice? Is it the music or lyrics? Could it be Claus Ogerman’s production and soaring orchestrations? Whatever it is, Urubu is a desert island disc.
Urubu is an indispensable recording in anyone’s collection who wants to delve deeper into the music of Antônio Carlos Jobim, or Tom Jobim. The significance of the album in Jobim’s career is evident among other albums of his. Here the listener clearly sees and hears Jobim’s concern in ecology. From the album title and cover with a turkey vulture and also Tom’s son Paulo Jobim’s own painting on the back to the repertoire, Urubu is rich in ecological material.
“Bôto” (Porpoise) is a collaboration of Jobim with Jararaca. The animal itself is a native freshwater dolphin of the Amazon and Orinoco river tributaries. The obvious song title only touches the surface of this animal’s importance, considered by many as a primitive species. The lyrics also mention other species, such as caranguejos (crabs) and arraias (rays), papagaios (parrots) and jandaias (parakeet). Then we go deeper in the Amazon forest with inhambu (quail), jereba (turkey buzzard), camiranga and urutau (other types of vultures). Musically speaking “Bôto” starts off with a berimbau (a single-string musical bow) solo and evolves into a toada, a Brazilian musical genre with simple and constant harmonies. A similar country and ecological feeling is presented in “Correnteza” (The Stream), where we hear about the inga-tree, rains and cattle herds along a river bank.
Urubu is also Jobim in love. “Lígia,” for example, brings the love bard that Jobim was. There is actually an interesting story about “Lígia.” There are two versions of the song, with the second version containing a few lyrics by Chico Buarque. Chico, however, opted not to have his name listed as a co-writer because this song was written in 1972, when the military dictatorship was still keeping Chico Buarque‘s music under severe scrutiny. “Lígia” and “Ângela” are two examples of Jobim’s artistry in music and lyrics in love songs.
One remarkable side of Urubu is also the fact that the album shows the classical side of Jobim. In the original LP version, the instrumental pieces were on side B of the album. Even though “Valse” was written by Jobim’s son, Paulo, the four instrumental pieces are melodically grand and homogeneous. “Saudade do Brasil” receives a superb arrangement in the hands of Ogerman. Strings, cellos and flutes grow to a crescendo and are joined by an angelic female chorus in the middle of composition. The waltz theme explored in “Valse” is expanded in “Arquitetura de Morar” (Architecture to Live), with woodwinds and strings playing a more prominent role. Here in this piece we hear echoes of other Jobim’s more popular compositions, such as “Águas de Março” (Water of March). For the album closing number, “Homem” (Man) is more vibrant and explosive. One can think of these instrumental pieces as cinematographic Jobim.
The diversity and quality of the music you hear in Urubu is both captivating and pleasing in various levels, including popular and erudite.
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Warner Bros. 2928-2 (1976)
All music written by Antônio Carlos Jobim, except where noted.
- Bôto (Antônio Carlos Jobim – Jararaca) – w/ Miúcha
- Correnteza (Luiz Bonfá – Antônio Carlos Jobim)
- Saudade Do Brasil
- Valse (Paulo Jobim)
- Arquitetura de Morar
- O Homem