On January 25, 2017, Antonio Carlos Jobim would have been 90 years old. Known among other musicians as the Maestro Soberano (Sovereign Maestro), Jobim wrote hundreds of Bossa Nova standards performed by singers all over the world. Anyone who’s ever heard any Brazilian music will likely have heard at least one Jobim song. It is believed that his “Garota de Ipanema” (The Girl from Ipanema) is the second most recorded song in the world (the first being The Beatles’ “Yesterday”). Whether true or not, it is irrelevant. When someone has a body of work such as Jobim’s, his music is all that matters.
To celebrate what would have been his 90th birthday, Fernanda Cunha (Minas Gerais, 1970). kicks off the celebration with a brand new recording, Jobim 90, her seventh solo album. A previous album of Fernanda’s, her 2007 Zíngaro, had focused on the songs Jobim had written with Chico Buarque. This time, Fernanda’s picks were songs entirely written by Jobim alone, music and lyrics. Possessing a soft timbre and impeccable phrasing, Fernanda Cunha exudes superb vocal quality unlike other performers who have attempted to record Jobim’s music. The repertoire fits her voice and style perfectly well, and the arrangements are simple, effective and well suited to this tribute. Her usual quartet does a magnificent job in providing these songs with appropriate background to Fernanda’s voice. Jobim 90 features Zé Carlos (guitars), Camilla Dias (piano), Jorjão Carvalho (bass) and Helbe Machado (drums). The atmosphere of the entire album is one of peaceful energy with vocals at times very soulful (“Ângela” and “Ana Luíza”) and playful (“Two Kites”). Special guests are Toronto-based Reg Schwager (guitar) — returning with great class and pizzazz — and Edson Ghilardi (drums), both featured on “Two Kites.”
It is no wonder that Fernanda Cunha is a household name in several jazz festivals around the world. When she sings, she pours her soul into the music and bring audiences close to her music. In recent years, she’s been to the Vancouver Jazz Festival (Canada), Wien Jazz Festival (Austria), Aarhus Jazz Festival (Denmark) and Borneo Jazz (Malaysia), among others. Her presence takes a piece of Brazil to audiences who are very appreciative of quality Brazilian music.
For Jobim 90, you can expect classic renditions in Fernanda’s inimitable style. Arrangements focus on the music and lyrics in straightforward performances. There are surprises sprinkled throughout these ten tracks. For example, the introduction to “Samba do Avião” leads you to think it’ll be another Jobim song. “Two Kites,” the only song in English, is pure joy. Guest guitarist Reg Schwager lets it loose and provides Fernanda with ample room to enjoy herself, too. As listeners, we can feel the light nature of this strong arrangement and the connection these two musicians share in the track. Reg’s solos are amazing here. This guy knows Brazilian music and shows off deservedly so! The two songs I previously mentioned above, “Ângela” and “Ana Luíza,” are some of my own favorites in the Jobim songbook. Here Fernanda proves why she keeps being asked back to several jazz festivals. She is expressive and passionate without overdoing her performance. That’s the touch of a great artist who knows her craft. “Ângela” is faultless! Zé Carlos and Camilla Dias also shine in this track.
Jobim 90 is a great mark in Ferrnanda’s discography. She is in exceptional form, and this celebration one of our most beloved composers is not a mere tribute. Fernanda Cunha elevates Jobim‘s music to new heights.
Total Time: 38’00”
Tracks (all music by Tom Jobim):
- Águas de Março
- Samba do Avião
- Two Kites
- Ana Luíza
- Chovendo na Roseira
- Vivo Sonhando