INTERVIEWS:  Remembering Antonio Carlos Jobim


Interview with José Domingos Raffaelli (Journalist, Jazz Reviewer & Jazz Historian)

Interviewer: B.J. Major

This interview received in email.


Q. José, I would like to begin by asking you how long you knew Tom Jobim personally?

A. I met Jobim in the early fifties when he was playing a kind of cocktail piano in some local night clubs. At that time he was almost totally unknown as are the musicians who play in night clubs for the patrons, who usually don't pay attention to the music. He was a gentle man highly interested in all kinds of music, from classical and jazz to Brazilian, Latin and American popular music. Even then he was a great talker when the subjects were music and women. He was a talented promising musician and his main interest was to be a composer. At that time he admired pianist-composer-singer Johnny Alf who taught him harmony after hours.

Q. How would you characterize the way he was personally with others, both musicians and non-musicians?

A. He was an intelligent and astute man seeking for expanding his own musical universe. He also read a lot of books and could discuss about many subjects. He always had his own ideas about music and used to say he did not belong to the bossa nova movement but was [a] Brazilian samba composer. Generally speaking, he was much more intelligent than most musicians, but he respected the ones he considered talented and intelligent. Usually he lost patience easily when someone argued things without a musical base, with nonsense arguments.

He loved to smoke cigars and drink Scotch among friends. He used to meet his friends in a large restaurant called Plataforma, in the Leblon section of Rio. I know Gene Lees wrote he was "a very difficult person to deal with, angry and drunk all the time", but I don't agree. He could drink a lot and eventually became drunk but I never heard he say a bad word to anyone, although I always met him among his friends.

Q. Some people discount the influence of American jazz on Jobim's own work. Whom do you think were Jobim's biggest influences on his own music and style?

A. As I said before, he listened [to] almost every kind of music. When at home and not composing he used to hear music all the time. His biggest influences were so many that is impossible to tell, but in the very beginning of his career he was heavily influenced by the above mentioned Johnny Alf. I know he enjoyed Chopin, Scriabin, Mozart, Beethoven, jazz, Bill Evans, Brazilian composers Villa-Lobos, Dorival Caymmi, Ary Barroso, Noel Rosa, Lamartine Babo, Custódio Mesquita, Mario Albanese, saxist/flutist Pixinguinha, guitarist Garoto, pianist-singer Dick Farney, Astor Piazzolla and many, many more.

Q. About how many times did you get to interview Tom yourself?

A. Professionally I did it three or four times, but I used to talk with him very often, most by phone. When he became famous and many people called him, his secretary used to filter the calls. As anyone can expect, many boring people called him for nothing, so avoided speak to them. When he was talking and drinking with his friends at the Plataforma he used to stop conversation when an undesirable journalist or musician approached and stayed silent until the guy left the place.

Q. Were you involved in other projects with Tom Jobim besides the interviews?

A. Besides the interviews, I wrote reviews of some his records and concerts. But the main project I did with him was his jazz discography for a 3-LP box album recorded for a local company to give it as a Christmas gift to their customers. That happened in 1983.

Q. Do you have a favorite Jobim album?

A. Very difficult question. Impossible to choose just one for he left so many great records. In his own name, I can pick "Tide", "Wave", "Matita Perê", "Passarim", etc. But the one I hear the most is the famous Stan Getz/João Gilberto album on which he plays piano.

Q. How do you think Tom Jobim's music will be remembered many years from now?

A. Definitely, his music will stay forever. Like Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Astor Piazzolla, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Stravinsky and hundreds more, his music will be remembered.

Q. Do you have a favorite Jobim composition?

A. There are many, but if I had to pick one it would be "Meditação", unfortunately almost forgotten and eclipsed by "The Girl From Ipanema", "Desafinado", "O Amor em Paz", "Samba do Avião", "Useless Landscape", "Wave", "Triste" and others. "Meditação" has a special appeal to me; its charming melodic line, its construction, musical form, and the development of the song is so complete that the lack of just one bar would destroy its mood.

Q. Do you have any interesting stories to tell us about Tom Jobim that you were there to witness yourself?

A. Many, but let me tell just one. During a Saturday afternoon he was drinking with friends in a bar in Ipanema watching the girls going to the beach on their super-mini-very-very-small shorts. One of his friends was his famous lyricist and partner Vinicius de Moraes. Then Vinicius saw a so beautiful girl around 18-year old almost dancing while walking. Impressed by her beauty and her "swinging" walk, Vinicius called Jobim' attention.

Vinicius: Hey Jobim, look that girl. I'd do anything to love her, embrace her, kiss her and live with her forever. I even would stop drinking if I could do that.

Jobim: I'd do the same, but after I had her only for me I would return to drink again.

Thank you, José, for the interview!




 The below excerpt is taken from a 2 hour radio interview with Claudio Slon, drummer, concerning his studio recording work with
Antonio Carlos Jobim.  The interview can be read in its entirety on
The Official Claudio Slon Website.

DJ: So tell me about your recording with Tom Jobim. He is a master in Brazilian music, number one.

CS: I was so happy to be at the right place at the right time when Jobim recorded the "Wave" album for the first time with Claus Ogerman arranging, Ron Carter on Bass, and everything. It was a great time to be with him. Then after that, we recorded, I went back to L.A. and he called me back again, and we did the tv special with Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald (the Jobim segment), and I got to meet Sinatra. And then he called me for the second Sinatra/Jobim album, so it was great. To work with Jobim even without Sinatra, it was the high point in my career. But to put together Jobim AND Sinatra...!

DJ: Yes, many Americans don't know Jobim, but they know Sinatra, definitely. I have both albums and I'm going to play from both of them. But I want to know how was Tom Jobim as a person?

CS: To tell you the truth, to me he was more than a person; he was just somebody you listen to and learn from, because he was interested in everything; languages, geography, in the birds of the United States - comparing them to the birds in Brazil, of course, without even mentioning music, because he knew Villa Lobos, Stravinsky, Debussy, etc. We talked and drank beer; he loved beer (and unfortunately I do also), so sometimes at 3 or 4 in the morning we would be just talking about art or music and the situation in Brazil, etc. It was unbelievable, he was like one of a kind. I don't think we'll ever have another person, musician, friend, or even another regular person like Jobim. And, since he died, a lot of tributes, a lot of people discovered Jobim - which is great - but to be there with him when he was making music for the first time with Sinatra, the first time he recorded "Wave", and to participate in that is something I'll never forget.

DJ: Was it hard to record with him, like did he ask you to repeat the same thing over and over, or no?

CS: No, he was always going for the feel of the music. In other words, if there was any little mistake by anybody inside the studio but it felt good--he would tell Creed Taylor or whoever the producer was to "let's keep this one because it FELT good." And he wasn't too concerned about the little details. And he was right, of course, because that's what music should be.

DJ: How did it happen, how did you meet him?

CS: Well, he knew about me because of the Walter Wanderley recordings, and I was working in San Francisco with another Brazilian guitar player named Bola Sete. . .

DJ: Bola Sete, everybody!!! That's great because I receive lots of calls on him.

CS: That's good and that was great. So, I was there and Jobim called and said "listen, I'm recording an album and there are no drummers here." Because at the time - you know - now, we Brazilians, we took over; anyplace you go in the United States there is a Brazilian group, Brazilian percussion, etc. But at that time, it was maybe one or two. I'm talking about 1966, '67... And then he called and he said "you have to. . ."...and I said "but Tom, I cannot do it because I have another week" and then he said "well, it's going to be like this record, then Sinatra's record, then a Sinatra special." "So, do you want to do that?" And I said, "yes, I guess so." So I went to Bola Sete and I said "Bola, I hope you understand, I should stay here, but.." And then I told him and he was great. He said, "listen - you are talking about Antonio Carlos Jobim, Sinatra, ... go ahead, just get me another drummer." So I called a friend of mine, an American drummer, and he was great. And that's it. I never played again with Bola Sete!

DJ: So, you recorded the first version of "Wave", right?

CS: Yes. It was the original, the first time.

DJ: So how about that. I'm going to play the first version of "Wave", that was recorded with Tom Jobim and Claudio Slon on the drums.

SONG: [Antonio Carlos Jobim, "Wave" from Wave]






Interview with Arnaldo DeSouteiro, head of Jazz Station Records; Record producer,

journalist, publicist, educator.

Interviewer: B.J. Major

This interview received in email on 4/08/01.


Q. Arnaldo, I would like to begin by asking you how long you knew Tom Jobim personally?

A. The first album I ever purchased was a LP titled Brazilian Beat Vol.2, by the legendary arranger Meirelles. I was four years old and I was walking in a street with my father, in Copacabana, when I heard a sound that hypnotized me. It was coming from the speakers of a record shop. They were playing one of the tracks from that Meirelles LP, a beautiful recording of Jobim's Desafinado. I immediately asked my father to buy it! From that day, I became a fan of both Meirelles and Jobim, and started to look for any of their albums. That's how I knew Jobim's music. But I only knew Jobim personally in 1980, when I published a review about his Terra Brasilis album in my weekly column in the newspaper Tribuna da Imprensa (Press Tribune). Someone told him about that review and Jobim himself gave me a call just to say THANK YOU! I couldn't believe I was receiving a phone call from one of the world's leading artists! After that occasion, we met several times between 1980 and 1987, mostly in the backstage after his concerts in Rio.


Q. How would you characterize the way he was personally with others, both musicians and non-musicians?

A. It would be unfair to say that we were close friends. He was a big idol for me. And he always have showed respect for me both as an historian (the two of us hated the word critic) and as a producer. Like all the geniuses, he had a very special personality, he was a very special character. I know people that hated him, I know people that loved him. He was frequently very importuned by other musicians who were always asking to show him tapes etc. So, sometimes he needed to be rude with those people.

But he was a very special human being, someone who always worried about ecology long before this term became fashionable. At the same time that he loved New York, with all that urban chaos, he loved nature and the peace he could find in some hidden places in Rio de Janeiro.

In the business aspect, I always heard many complaints about Jobim, regarding mostly his attitude with the musicians. For example: when that Tom Jobim Apresenta album came out in Brazil, in 1965, with a big sketch of Jobim on the front cover (instead of crediting Gaya and Deodato as the album leaders) it seems that Jobim did nothing to amend the mistake--when a phone call to the album producer (his friend and partner Aloysio de Oliveira)--would have been enough to correct the info.

I suspect that that was the reason why, after that date, Gaya never accepted to work with Jobim again, because they had been friends for many years, they had studied with the same music teacher (Koellreuter), Gaya had done the arrangements for the legendary Sylvia Telles' Amor de Gente Moça album (in 1959) which consisted of Jobim's songs exclusively. I mean to say that they had collaborated in many projects and [then] suddenly they split.

When the aforementioned Tom Jobim Apresenta was released in the USA (under the new title Love, Strings And Jobim, crediting Jobim both as the pianist (instead of Deodato) and the guitarist (instead of Oscar Castro-Neves)), the discomfort became worse. And Jobim never did anything to revert the situation. It seems that he kept saying:  "it happens, sometimes these things happen..."  And he would blame the recording companies, although he never wanted to confront them.

These things led people who--for other reasons always had envied him--to say bad things about him.

The musicians who played on Jobim's albums had similar complaints. When the Matita Pere album was released in Brazil, Jobim allowed the record company (Philips) to delete the names of most of the musicians (only Ron Carter, Joao Palma and Airto were credited in very small letters in the back cover) and authorized the A&R at Philips (Eduardo Athayde) to be credited as the album producer--when it had been produced by Claus Ogerman for MCA. If you compare the recent Brazilian and American CD reissues of Matita Pere, you will confirm these absurd things!

More problems occured when the Terra Brasilis album was issued in Brazil, with none of the musicians credited on the cover (which had been modified, at Jobim's request) to include a big painting by his son Paulo, that was used instead of the musicians list and instead of the Claus Ogerman photo from the original USA release...The same way that the first Sinatra/Jobim had been important to Dom Um Romao's career, as the Wave album was important to Claudio Slon, the drummer on Terra Brasilis, Pascoal Meirelles, was very proud of that session. He was very young and studying at the Berklee College in Boston when Jobim invited him to do the date in 1979 (Joao Palma, the drummer in all Jobim's albums from Sinatra & Company in 1969 to Urubu in 1975 was unavailable in Rio). When Pascoal graduated and returned to Brazil, he told everybody about his recording with Jobim. But, when the album came out here, his name wasn't there. Even today there are people who say he never played with Jobim...

Deodato also was hurt many times by Jobim. When they worked together, in the soundtracks for The Girl From Ipanema and The Adventurers movies, Jobim was always featured alone on the front covers. On The Adventurers album, even some of the songs written by Deodato (Rome Montage among them) were credited to Jobim. Plus: Deodato says that, when the Sinatra & Company album was released, it was Sinatra who decided to feature Deodato's name in the front cover. It bothered Jobim, who considered an absurd situation that someone yet unknown like Deodato had received such a big exposure. Last comment:  also according to Deodato, after he became a star with the huge hit Zarathustra/2001, Jobim never spoke to him any more more! They only met again briefly in the early 90s, in a party in New York...

Do you remember that article about Joao Donato, which I wrote for Keyboard magazine in '96 and which is reproduced in your Donato site? Take a look in what Donato said about Jobim's attitude to his colleagues...

Another interesting thing I remembered: when Sinatra came to perform in Brazil for the first time, in the late 70s (I think 1978), he kept saying for almost two months that he wanted to meet Jobim once again, that he would like to invite Jobim to perform as a special guest on the concert at the Maracana, the big soccer stadium for over 150,000 people. Well, Jobim simply disappeared so that he would not have to attend the concert or play with Sinatra.  Can you explain that?  But in 1994 he accepted Sinatra's invitation to record on the Duets II album.  Sinatra recorded his vocal part in NY, and producer Phil Ramone traveled to Rio to record Jobim's piano and vocal on the intro of Fly Me To The Moon.


Q. Some people discount the influence of American jazz on Jobim's own work. Whom do you think were Jobim's biggest influences on his own music and style?

A.  For sure Jobim was very influenced by American jazz, especially by the cool-jazz generation of Mulligan and Baker. But this influence was mixed, in his musical personality, with other very strong influences from the European classical music (like Bonfa and Deodato, he was a big fan of Debussy and Ravel), from the samba and from the great Brazilian classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. Jobim was also fortunate to study with Joachim Koellreuter in the 1950s, [who was] a master in [the] twelve-tone system. But the biggest influence on Jobim's music was Joao Gilberto. I consider that we can talk about four periods in Jobim's career: the first one dates from the early '50s to 1958, when he worked at nightclubs as a pianist, as a sideman with Luiz Bonfa, and as an arranger for the Continental label; the second dates from 1958 to 1963, when he developed a deep association with Joao Gilberto; the third one is the Jobim post-64, when he once again changed his compositional style, doing his mostly jazz-influenced albums such as Tide and Stone Flower, as well as the mostly classical-oriented such as Matita Pere and the superb Urubu; the fourth period is the less interesting one, and dates from 1980 to 1994.

Back to Gilberto: after he listened to Joao's new guitar and singing style, Jobim modified his own composition style completely. In the space of a few months, there was a complete difference between their first recordings together. Their first date together, in January 1958, with Joao as the guitarist and Jobim as the arranger on the tracks Chega de Saudade and Outra Vez, from Elizabeth Cardoso's legendary Cançao do Amor Demais album (regarded as the first official bossa nova recording) shows Joao adapting Jobim's songs to his style, by adding the new beat soon to be identified as the bossa nova beat. When Joao Gilberto recorded Desafinado, some months later, we can clearly notice how Jobim had incorporated Gilberto's musical personality to his compositional style.

Basically, what happened is that Jobim started to compose having Joao's style on his mind, knowing that Joao would be the first one to record them.  Several bossa standards were born this way: One Note Samba, Once I Loved, How Insensitive, Quiet Nights, Meditation and the list goes on and on.

After Gilberto and Jobim split, soon after the Getz/Gilberto album release, they only met again in New York in 1971--when Jobim showed him a brand-new composition titled Waters of March--which, according to Leonard Feather, is one of the ten best songs of all-time. However, Jobim and Gilberto only performed together again in December 1992, exactly 30 years after their last live performance together. They were reunited for two concerts (one in Rio, another one in Sao Paulo) filmed for a TV Special, for which I had the honor to work as musical director, author of the texts, and even as the mixing engineer. Unfortunately, it also became their last performance together...


Q. About how many times did you get to interview Tom yourself?

A. I did only one interview with Jobim. I took the opportunity to do it in 1991 when he came to my house to visit a friend--the famous NY-based Brazilian guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima--who was my guest in Rio at that time. I never insisted in making other ones because Jobim hated interviews... It was typical of him to answer things that had nothing to do with the questions.

Like used to happen with Bonfa, you could ask Jobim something like: what do you think of Ron Carter, since it seems that he is your favorite bassist, isn't he? And then Jobim would answer: do you see that mountain, those birds? Do you [know] the name of these birds? It was almost impossible to talk with him about music...!  But, when someone interviewed him about ecology and other things, he was very amiable. He also loved to talk about the Indians, how they had been killed in Brazil etc.


Q. Were you involved in other projects with Tom Jobim besides the interviews?

A. In 1989, I was invited to write the liner notes for the first CD reissue of Jobim's Stone Flower album for CTI. These notes were used in all the future issues. Most recently, in June 2000, I was contracted to write updates notes for a 24-bit digitally remastered Japanese CD version of Stone Flower, which was part of a CTI reissue series I also supervised. Also in 2000, Verve asked me to supervise the CD reissue of Tide, for which I provided the complete data and musicians list, unknown until then. As I mentioned before, I worked with Jobim and Joao Gilberto on that TV Special for Globo TV network (titled Joao & Antonio) which was broadcast in December 1992. It was their first performance together in 30 years! I had the privilege to work as the musical director, also writing all the texts and doing the mixing of the songs Jobim performed with Gilberto (although Jobim's solo numbers were mixed by his grandson, Daniel Jobim).  I only regret that, some years later, that TV special was used as the centerpiece of a video commercially released worldwide, titled Bossa Nova:  Music And Reminiscences, on which I was credited only as mixing engineer. They never paid me any royalties, they never got my authorization to use my texts...Brazil!

Back to good memories: the first and last time we worked together in a studio was in October 1994 during the sessions for Ithamara's Rio Vermelho (Red River) album, which I produced. We recorded three songs, although only one (All That's Left Is To Say Goodbye) was included on the CD. Unfortunately, it became Jobim's final recording session, since he passed away in December 1994 in NY. Maybe someday I will have the chance to release the other tracks.


Q. Do you have a favorite Jobim album?

A. My five favorite Jobim albums are Stone Flower, Tide, Matita Pere, Urubu and the soundtrack for The Adventurers. Not to mention the two dates with Sinatra and his performance on Getz/Gilberto.


Q. How do you think Tom Jobim's music will be remembered many years from now?

A. First of all, I must say I hope he would not be remembered for his last (and musically poor) albums from the Eighties, such as Rio Revisited and the posthumous release Antonio Brasileiro on Sony, for which he won his only Grammy Award ever. Do you know on which category? Latin Jazz! Give me a break!!!

Jobim always was (and forever will be) acclaimed as a genius, one of the bossa nova creators. Sometimes people refer to him as the Brazilian Cole Porter.  For sure he is the most famous (and most recorded) Brazilian composer in the world!

So, I feel very sad when currently I read many young and stupid critics referring to him as a World-Music Pioneer. This is completely ridiculous! Jobim's music was always very sophisticated, very elegant, very refined, with no connection with the exotic elements which characterize the world-music label. We can't accept it, BJ!


Q. Do you have a favorite Jobim composition?

A. Oh, I have so many favorites. Two of them are not so well known songs, Tereza My Love and Andorinha, from the Stone Flower album. I also love Nuvens Douradas, Rancho das Nuvens (both featuring gorgeous Urbie Green's trombone solos) and Tempo do Mar, from Matita Pere. The Adventurers soundtrack is a masterpiece, for which Jobim wrote Children Games, Amparo and Sue Ann. From Urubu, my favorite tracks are the two long classical suites Saudade do Brazil and Arquitetura de Morar, orchestrated by Claus Ogerman, not to mention the sumptuous ballads Luiza and Angela, as well as the toada Correnteza, co-written with Luiz Bonfa.

And, one of my favorite Jobim performances is Aquarela do Brazil, from Stone Flower. In my opinion, it is the best recording ever of this Brazilian hymn written by Ary Barroso!


Thank you, Arnaldo, for the interview!




Above: Ithamara Koorax and Tom Jobim!


Interview with Ithamara Koorax, Brazilian vocalist

Interviewer: B.J. Major

This interview received in email on 4/30/01.


Q. Ithamara, I would like to begin by asking you how long you knew Tom Jobim personally?

A. As a fan, I knew him since the mid Eighties. Tom had been in a kind of retirement of live performances for a while. However, around 1984, he formed a new band and began to tour extensively. I used to attend all his concerts in Rio. Most of the time, invited by a dear friend Sebastião Neto, who was back living in Niteroi (the city where we both were born) after many years in the USA playing with Sergio Mendes. Then, Neto became Jobim's bass player.

I used to go backstage, after the shows, to congratulate Jobim and we always used to talk for a while. Around the same time, I remember we met during a party, in Rio, to celebrate the release of Carlos Barbosa Lima's album with songs by Jobim and Gershwin. But I was not a professional singer at that time.

Curiously, the first time we met to work together was in September 1994, a few days before the recording sessions for my Red River album. We did two rehearsals and then did the session. Some days later, he traveled to New York. I didn't knew he was very ill. Actually, nobody knew he had cancer. Then, he had surgery and, while recovering in the hospital, he had a heart attack and died.


Q. How would you characterize the way he was personally with others, both musicians and non-musicians?

A. Frankly speaking, I don't feel I can answer this question. I was never close to Jobim, personally. I was not part of his circle of friendship. So, it would be unfair to say anything about Jobim, the man. All I know is that I loved Jobim, the composer, the artist.


Q. Some people discount the influence of American jazz on Jobim's own work. Whom do you think were Jobim's biggest influences on his own music and style?

A. As Arnaldo told you, Villa-Lobos and Joachim Koellreuter were two big influences, as well as Ravel, Debussy, Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Mancini. Among his fellow Brazilians, Luiz Bonfa and Garoto, two great guitarists with a very modern harmonic conception in the early Fifties. As you know, Jobim was Bonfa's sideman, and he used to carry Bonfa's guitar saying: "you are an artist, you cannot hurt your hands carrying the guitar suitcase!"

There is a Jobim tune, Choro (from Stone Flower) that he later retitled Garoto as a tribute to his master. Another Jobim tune, Nuvens Douradas (from Matita Pere), sounds very similar to a song written by Garoto in the late Forties. When a Brazilian music critic, Tarik de Souza, asked Jobim about that similarity, Tom became very surprised and asked Tarik to show him the Garoto song. When he listened to it, he felt like in a state of shock....Nuvens Douradas sounded exactly like Garoto's song. Probably Jobim had assimilated it in the past, had forgotten about it, and one day woke up thought he was composing a new tune, while actually he was just remembering Garoto's old tune...Tom never played Nuvens Douradas in live performances, and never recorded it again. I think this true story shows how big was Garoto's influence on Tom's work.


Q. About how many times did you get to work with Tom yourself?

A. Jobim's sister, Helena, a great novelist, introduced Ithamara, the artist, to Tom in 1993. He was surprised and said: I know you, you are Sebastião Neto's friend! And of course I know you are having many hits with your songs to the soap operas. But I had not realized you were the same person!

On that my debut album, I had recorded a song for which Helena had written the lyrics, "Cordao de Prata", as well as some Jobim's songs: Derradeira Primavera (made famous by my artistic godmather, Brazil's best songstress ever, Elizeth Cardoso, who recorded that seminal bossa album, Cançao do Amor Demais in 1958), Luiza (a most recent song, written by Jobim for a soap opera in 1985 titled Brilhantes) and Sabia (which I had previously recorded on an album for CTI Records in NY, in 1991, with Art Farmer, Eddie Gomez and Gil Goldstein). Then, I had asked Helena to give Jobim a copy of the CD, even before it was released. He loved the album, offered to do the liner notes--and of course I was thrilled. But, after waiting for two months to receive the text, I gave up.

When the CD was released, Helena sent him a copy. He gave me a call to apologize for not having written the notes. He admitted he had simply forgotten! But, to my big surprise, he said: "when you record the next one, call me and I will play on it"!!! Some months later, around September 1994, I started to prepare my second album, Rio Vermelho (Red River). Arnaldo and I had selected some Jobim songs to the repertoire, including Zingaro (Portrait in Black & White) and Correnteza (The Stream). We wanted Tom playing piano in both of them, but he was in NY when we did the basic tracks with Ron Carter (for Zingaro) and Bonfa (for Correnteza). Jobim had a such busy schedule...Furthermore, he was very sick, and nobody knew.

But one day Tom called me and asked: "Do we still have time to record?". . . the next day I went to his house to choose the songs and rehearse. I remember I played him the basic tracks for Zingaro and Correnteza on my Walkman.  He listened to both again and again for almost one hour. During Ron Carter's solo on Zingaro, he kept repeating: "what a tone, what a sound!  He is my favorite bass player ever, but I can't say it in Brazil because people [then] feel offended."  (Two days later, Jobim called me to say he had sent the tapes of his forthcoming album, Antonio Brasileiro, to NY, because he wanted Ron Carter to overdub on one track, the version of How Insensitive on which Sting sings. He told me: Sebastião Neto will become jealous, but I want Ron on my last album. It sounded strange to me he had said MY LAST ALBUM...But maybe he just wanted to say my latest album.  Furthermore, I had no intimacy with Tom to ask him about the meaning of that statement...)

While listening to Bonfa's guitar on Correnteza, he kept repeating: "nobody plays guitar the way Bonfa does.  So subtle, so gentle!"  Well, I had prepared a list [of songs] to submit to him, which included Wave, Estrada Branca and a lesser known ballad, All That's Left Is To Say Goodbye (E Preciso Dizer Adeus). Jobim quickly made his choice:  "let's do All That's Left Is To say Goodbye," he said. And started playing it! We rehearsed for one hour and that was all! Tom said: "let's record tomorrow morning, because I am very vusy and next week I will travel to NY. But I want an acoustic piano, please, [I] don't want to play on a synthesizer," he added.  That's how I recorded with one of the most important artists in music history. We did three other songs. Among them, a haunting ballad, You Were Born To Be Mine, which remains unreleased. But he asked me to use only one song in the album: All That's Left Is To Say Goodbye. Tom said: "save the others for your next album." Once again, I could not understand what he meant to say...Later on, everything became clear: Tom knew he was very sick, he was afraid to die, and he was going to a spiritual center looking for a kind of miraculous healing, because he didn't want that surgery in NY.

I did the mixing in October, and All That's Left became track 8. Tom passed away on December 8. When the album came out, Tom had died.


Q. Were you involved in other projects with Tom Jobim beside recordings (concerts, tours, etc.)?

A. During the recording, Tom told me: "maybe we could do some duo concerts, just piano and voice", what do you think?  Unfortunately, it never happened, although the next day I suggested it to the director of a famous jazz club in Rio. But the guy refused to book Jobim, saying he was a very complicated person. Of course I never told that to Tom.


Q. Do you have a favorite Jobim album?

A. During my childhood, I used to listen a lot to Tom's debut album (The Composer of Desafinado, Plays) and Wave.  Both have a special place in my heart, along with Elizeth Cardoso's Cançao do Amor Demais, on which Tom arranged and composed all tracks. From his work in the Seventies, my personal favorites are Stone Flower, Matita Pere and Urubu.


Q. How do you think Tom Jobim's music will be remembered many years from now?

A. I think Tom is already recognized as one of the best composers ever in the entire history of music. Some of his tunes are already jazz standards. And some others will become labeled as classical music.


Q. Do you have a favorite Jobim composition?

A. I love all the songs from Cançao do Amor Demais. I already recorded two of them: Derradeira Primavera (on my debut solo album) and its title track, Cançao do Amor Demais (on the Jobim Songbook project). As you know, I have included Jobim's songs in all my albums. Some of these songs (Wave, How Insensitive) I recorded twice, on my albums Wave 2001 and Bossa Nova Meets Drum 'N' Bass. Another one, Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars) I have recorded three times! One of the versions was recorded in that all-star project for Universal, House of Bossa, on which I was reunited with the legendary vocal group Os Cariocas. The opening track in my latest album, Serenade In Blue, is Jobim's Bonita, on which I had the honor to play with the same drummer who had recorded the original version with Tom on the A Certain Mr. Jobim LP in 1967.

Two other favorites, Ligia and Amparo, I would love to record in a near future. Oh, and I can't forget an obscure beautiful ballad co-written with Bonfa, Amor Sem Adeus, which Deodato arranged for my third solo album, Almost in Love.


Q. Do you have any interesting stories to tell us about Tom Jobim that you were there to witness yourself?

A. Not exactly a story, but a very deplorable thing that happened with Jobim during a long [period of] time. During the Sixties, the Seventies and the early Eighties, Jobim suffered a ridiculous criticism in Brazil, the accusation that he was "Americanized".  Any serious music historian can tell how much it hurt Jobim, who used to say: "for Brazilians, when someone becomes successful, it is considered a personal offense!" Even nowadays, there are many critics (Jose Ramos Tinhorao, among them) who only write about Jobim to try to desmoralize his work. It is a disgusting attitude that claimed many other victims along the years: Sergio Mendes, Walter Wanderley, Eumir Deodato, Luiz Bonfa, Dom Um Romao, Tania Maria, Eliane Elias, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, to name a few.  All of them are accused of being traitors to their country, because they sold their souls to the devil, i.e., to jazz and to the American market.  I really feel very ashamed of such a stupid and misaken thought.


Thank you, Ithamara, for the interview!


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