By Lawrence Budmen

Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) was Brazil's musical voice. Trained as a classical musician, Jobim created a new sound in the late 1950's. Fusing his classical roots with American jazz, the African rhythms of the Brazilian samba, and Portuguese ballads, Jobim gave birth to the Bossa Nova - one of the first manifestations of World Music to gain international acclaim. Following Jobim's death in 1994 his son Paulo Jobim and his long time arranger Mario Adnet created Jobim Sinfonico - completing Jobim's musical journey. This symphonic portrait of Jobim's extensive creative output won the Classical Latin Grammy Award in 2004. The American premiere of this adventurous multicultural project took place on March 11 at the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale.

Even as he became one of Latin America's most famous composers of pop music, Jobim continued to explore his classical roots. One of the most interesting aspects of this concert was the presentation of several of Jobim's classical works - an unfamiliar side of this composer's creative output. For the dedication of the new capital of Brasilia in 1960 Jobim composed "Brasilia, Sinfonia del Alvorada" - a four movement symphony. This ambitious work is remarkably astringent and contemporary. Driving motor rhythms, motivic cells, and bursts of dissonance abound. The slow movement is dominated by a gorgeous, sultry theme for the cellos. A voiceless choral ensemble joins in the eloquent finale. Jobim's orchestration is colorful and large in scale. The sounds of Stravinsky's instrumentation are not far away. If one did not know who the composer of this score was, Heitor Villa-Lobos (in his Hollywood mode) would seem a natural. The Ft. Lauderdale based Symphony of the Americas (reinforced by several former Florida Philharmonic players) gave a rousing performance of this multicolored score. Claudio Cruz (Resident Conductor of Brazil's Sao Paulo State Symphony which gave a superb concert in Miami several seasons ago) led a rich hued, rhythmically galvanizing performance. An important revival of a magnum opus that spotlights a rarely heard side of a musical genius!

Cruz and the Symphony of the Americas players were equally impressive in the waltz "Imagina" - a work of the 18 year old Jobim (in an arrangement by Mario Adnet). This score is cut from the same musical cloth as Ravel's "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales" - a rhapsodic, elegantly crafted tribute to three-quarter time. Cruz drew sparkling performances from the wind and string players. The sultry sounds of "Saudade de Brasil" ("Longing for Brazil") in a 1975 arrangement by the legendary Claus Ogerman were captured in a subtle, evocative performance. A suite from the film score for "A Casa Assassinada" brought Amazon rhythms, bright high flying rifts for the woodwinds, and insistent percussion and choral exclamations. Cruz and his forces offered an exciting performance.

Music from Jobim's multiple adaptations of the Orpheus legend was played with sizzling dynamism under Cruz's fervent direction. Maucha Adnet was the gorgeous voiced vocalist in "A Felicidade" ("Happiness") from the film score for Marcel Camus's classic "Black Orpheus" (in the legendary Nelson Riddle's 1964 arrangement). From the incidental music for the play "Orfeu da Conceicao" Cruz offered a dramatic, richly streamed Overture and the romantic ballad "Se Todos Fossem Iguas a Voce" ("If Everybody Were like You") sung by famed Brazilian balladeer Dori Caymmi - one of Jobim's original arrangers and a true song stylist. The sensuous "Meu Amigo Radames" (dedicated to Brazilian conductor Radames Gnatalli) featured enchanting choral harmonies. As an encore a swinging 1970 arrangement by Eumir Deodato of "The Girl from Ipanema" brought the audience to its feet. Cruz's rhythmic drive and the orchestra's razor sharp playing gave new life to this Jobim standard. Paulo Jobim and Mario Adnet were the brilliant guitar soloists throughout the program.

Jobim Sinfonico is a wonderful blending of cultures and musical genres. This brilliant program should have great success on symphonic pops concert series. This superb concert was a stylish, exciting tribute to a unique musical genius!

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