Oct 09 2009

Tom Jobim: Brazil’s Ambassador of Song

An Impressive Documentary


Brazil's Ambassador of SongImages of Brazil’s tropical beaches and even thoughts about those are often accompanied by the music of Antônio Carlos “Tom” Jobim (1927-1994). His compositions have traveled all over the world, interpreted by musicians of all styles. Tom Jobim’s influence on contemporary popular music is immense. It’s unquestionable that his role in the Bossa Nova movement is among Jobim’s greatest contributions. The artistic life of the composer, pianist, guitarist and singer is documented on three DVD’s that each carries the name of one of his world famous compositions.

Tom JobimThe first part of the trilogy on Jobim’s life is called No More Blues. It’s the title of the English version for “Chega de Saudade.” “Saudade” is a unique Portuguese word, roughly meaning something like a melancholic kind of longing for home, friends or certain sentiments. When a Brazilian is hurt by those feelings, he’ll start looking for something “pra matar as saudades,” to kill those feelings of saudades. That’s exactly what this first DVD is about. We go back in time, to the creative days of one of the world’s greatest composers, Brazil’s ambassador of song, Tom Jobim. The biography is narrated by Nelson Motta. Of course there’s a lot of music on the DVD, too. The film starts with nostalgic sepia images of old Rio de Janeiro, accompanied by Jobim and his wife Ana singing “Eu Não Existo sem Você.” Along the way we’re generously treated with songs performed by the master himself, accompanied by his Banda Nova in Rio de Janeiro (1985) and São Paulo (1990), as well as highlights from a tribute to Jobim (who passed away in 1994 in New York) on the beach of Copacabana on New Year’s Eve 1996 by some of Brazil’s biggest stars (Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque, Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil and Paulinho da Viola, backed-up by a huge orchestra).

The middle part of the trilogy (Waters of March) deals with the ecological interests of Tom Jobim. An interest that he shared with the musician he was most influenced by: Heitor Villa-Lobos. Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) has been without any doubt as important to Brazilian music as Jobim. They were both innovators with an enormous impact on respectively classical and popular Brazilian Music. On this DVD one of Jobim’s musical partners, lyricist/composer/singer Chico Buarque de Holanda, tells us everything about the master’s interest in nature, illustrated by beautiful and sometimes confronting images. Buarque quotes Jobim with a rather typical thought about music and nature: “My music owes a lot to mountains, to the sea, to beaches, to birds and, of course we can’t forget, to Brazilian women who are also part of the ecology…” A huge part of the DVD features compositions of Jobim related to nature. Of all these compositions “Waters of March” (Águas de Março) is the most dominating. A famous rendition of the song is the one Jobim recorded with the legendary singer Elis Regina (1945-1982) for the album Tom & Elis in 1974 (Los Angeles). This historical performance is one of the absolute highlights on the DVD set. Most of the rest of the music on DVD 2 features Jobim with his Banda Nova.

Heitor Villa-Lobos

The last part of the set (She’s a Carioca) tells about the love of Jobim for his hometown, Rio de Janeiro. In an interview that was recorded in 1967 and is illustrated by nostalgic images, Tom Jobim talks about his earliest memories of Rio de Janeiro. He felt happy, enjoying the good things of life, among which a good glass of whisky. It’s no secret that Jobim loved the drink. Together with his music buddy Vinícius de Moraes many hours were spent at the bar. Their most famous hang-out was bar Veloso, close to Ipanema beach, where the two enjoyed watching the girls passing by on their way to the refreshing ocean. One of them inspired them to one of the most covered songs in the world: “A Garota de Ipanema” (1962) or “The Girl from Ipanema,” as the translation by Norman Gimbel goes. The rendition we hear on the DVD is underlined by wonderful images of the renowned beach area. It’s clear that Jobim had a good time as a Carioca. During his many get-togethers in Rio’s music scene a revolutionary new music style was born. The style fitted the city in a most remarkable way: Bossa Nova. The music conquered the world and can nestle itself easily in quasi all music styles; pop, rock, jazz or even hip-hop, … Whichever style it’s mixed with, it always leaves the listener with images of Rio de Janeiro, the city of the Cariocas. The DVD ends with romantic night views of Rio de Janeiro, its beaches, the Lapa district, Corcovado Mountain; accompanied by music from the Reveillon 1996 tribute concert.

Antônio Carlos Jobim, his musical heritage to the world is of invaluable importance; truly the Brazilian ambassador of song. This DVD set tells us why, in a beautiful and musically illustrated way.

Vinícius de Moraes

Vinícius de Moraes



Tom Jobim
Brazil’s Ambassador of Song 
DRG Brazil DRG-DV-18101 (2009)

Maestro Soberano
Biscoito Fino BJ-307 (2007)

DVD 1: 66’15”
DVD 2: 63’59”
DVD 3: 66’30”