Albare – …Plays Jobim: A tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim (Alfi Records. CD review by John Arnett)
Guitarist Albare (Albert Dadon) was born in Morocco and grew up in Israel and France. Albare Plays Jobim is his 12th album, and as the sleeve notes of this very attractively produced CD explain, his discovery of the music of Jobim in the 1970s inspired him to study and develop the melodic approach to the guitar we now hear. Loss of sight has meant that his playing is now entirely by ear. The ten tracks on the CD are all well known Jobim compositions, with the exception of the last, Brazil (Barroso/Russell). Quality support is supplied by Antonio Sanchez (drums), Ricardo Rodriguez (bass) and Joe Chindamo (piano and string arrangements).
Albare’s guitar playing is very much in the foreground throughout, but in a way that is characterised by real feeling, subtlety and restraint, with a beautiful rounded and woody tone. There is no showmanship or high velocity pyrotechnics – everything is in the service of the music, and the music clearly means a great deal to him. There are some notable highlights. A spirited reading of One Note Samba makes a great opener, with infectious rhythm patterns and nice uncluttered exchanges between guitar, bass and drums. The use of the nylon string guitar on Orfeo Negro adds some pleasing tonal variety, likewise the steel string acoustic on Aguar de Beber. The staccato string figures and interjections on Double Rainbow and pizzicato violins on Aguas de Marco again introduce a welcome variation in sound palette.
Having said that, the album does to my mind have some limitations. A couple of the tracks seem excessively slow (Corcovada and Wave particularly) which can make the quiet night seem rather too quiet! This effect is exacerbated by the use of strings on every track, running the risk of creating an overly soporific, easy listening ambience. Admittedly this is a matter of taste, or indeed mood. An instructive comparison though is with Joe Henderson’s Double Rainbow Jobim tribute album of 1995, which has a kind of rhythmic drive and muscularity to it, with just quartet or quintet, which makes you want to move your body – surely an important feature of bossa. Another aspect of the use of strings here is that it does have a tendency to fill in all the available spaces in the music, which sometimes left me feeling that space is a vital component of music. Another reservation was that both Corcovada and Desafinado seemed to end rather meanderingly, running out of road rather than concluding.
Nonetheless, I think this is an album whose charms will continue to reveal themselves with repeated listens.