Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Antonio Carlos Jobim - Urubu (1976)

When it comes to Jobim, as much as I love the sunny, sparkling crispness of Stone Flower, and the gorgeous perfection of Wave makes it possibly my favourite album of all time, this one from 1976 is fast catching up.  By the mid 70s, Jobim and Claus Ogerman's talents and ambition had reached a new level of maturity, complexity and subtlety.  This might not make Urubu an easy record to get into, but it is one that knocks you flat with more wonderful surprises with every listen.

It's a well structured album too - four songs with vocals, then four instrumental mood pieces making up the old side one/side two split.  Even at the outset of the song half, there's no obvious hook to draw you in or sumptuous flourish, just 40 seconds of solo berimbau scraping away before the twilit arrangements usher in Jobim and Miúcha's duet about an anthropomorphic trip through the tropics.  This is followed by three wonderful romantic songs which made me think of similar era Serge Gainsbourg, if only production-wise in Jobim's close-miked, instantly recognisable voice and the dense, languid orchestration.

The old Side 2, the instrumental suite, is the real prize here though.  There's that famously untranslatable word in the first title - saudade - that indicates right away that this piece is going to be Jobim's most ambitious tribute yet to his home nation, and it's a masterpiece.  Saudade Do Brasil, and in fact all of the three tracks to follow, sound as if they're superior soundtrack music to a documentary film - one that takes in Brazilian history, society and culture in a breathtaking sweep.  Musically, it's endlessly rewarding on repeated listens - I'm currently marveling afresh at the way the flutes lead the journey through the eight-minute Arquitetura De Morar.  Hugely recommended.

mega / zippy


  1. I'm always up for more Claus Ogerman. Ever since I first heard "Cityscape" I've sought out whatever he's worked on. Funny thing about "Cityscape" is that while I find the Michael Brecker sax to be fairly ordinary (y'know, in that "New York's All Right If You Like Saxophones" kind of way) Ogerman's string arrangements on that album are way out there like a hazy Blacksploitation cloud. Thanks again for the interesting listen.

    1. Have you got Gate Of Dreams? I saw that one going for cheap the other day, kicking myself now for not snapping it up.

    2. I've heard it, but it hasn't really drawn me in yet. I enjoy the album with Jan Akkerman (an album which must really confuse some Akkerman fans) and the kitsch "Watusi Trumpets" the most. Still digesting his work with Bill Evans.