Liner Notes to Quarteto Jobim-Morelenbaum CD
by Caetano Veloso
When Jaques Morelenbaum - once the song has been completely introduced by the harmonious contrast between Daniel's whisper and Paula's diamond-cut brilliance - improvises on the chords of "Meditação", we hear echoes of "Desafinado", and even more hidden, other songs composed by Tom Jobim; we also hear, further yet, echoes of themes not present in the Maestro's work but nonetheless in the same family as those that are - all this comes as if filtered by Jaques' sensitivity and taste: what he has reaped from his links with classical music (principally the romantics), jazz, English neo-rock 'n roll - and the fate-full melancholy of eastern Europe - all work to transform phrases of the Jobim family of musical phrases into musical phrases of the Morelenbaum family.
Tom died too soon for our expectation. But it is out great luck that he left his work in such good hands: his son Paulo and grandson Daniel inherited not only the care of the repertory but also the musicality with which the continue to create within and beyond this repertory; Jaques and his wife Paula had been relatively recent acquisitions of the composer; at the time in which Tom, many years after the bossa nova explosion, gathered together a group of young female singers and young male musicians for rare and most pleasing presentations in order to answer the demand for shows across the world. (These shows were indeed most pleasing rare, although always musically rigorous and tinted with a hint of irony perhaps somewhat sinister, due to the very presence of Tom with his breathy voice, that voice both matte and transcendent, and his stage craft weaving between solemnity and deceptively silly humor).
From these shows the Jobim-Morelenbaum Quartet was born, which for me functions as a sort of filtered extract of the musical experience of Tom's final years. In this first recording, we find musically correct and fresh versions of some of the bossa nova standards ("Água de beber", "Ela é carioca", "Meditação" and "Desafinado"), some sambas from the pre-bossa nova era composed especially for the film "Orfeu da Conceição" ("A felicidade", "Eu e meu amor" and "Lamento no morro"), and lastly some of his most fulfilled pieces ("Águas de março", "Correnteza" and "O boto"), those composed by a mature Tom, that are laced with a rural Northeastern flavor and were composed when, free of the movement that made him famous, he could finally be himself, a loner, with no dues left to pay to the minimalist laws that molded his well-known style, and so could give himself up entirely to his fundamental identification with Villa Lobos and "serious" Brazilian music of the nationalist vein, coinciding with what came to be called, in almost direct opposition to bossa nova, "MPB" (Popular Brazilian Music): the attraction for a stylized Brazilian Northeast, as presented in Edu Lobo's work and working its way to Milton Nascimento and other musicians from the state of Minas Gerais, and on. But in this case here, ruralism undergoes a very particular stylization. There is a sense of elegance in every line that is unique, Jobimian.
In fact it is the profound understanding of this sense of elegance that the Quartet exhibits with such moving natural grace and devotion. Paula presents the melodies with perfect limpidity (both musical and emotional); Daniel always finds the notes that best reveal the composition's harmonic genius and places them under Paula's voice as if they simply flowed forth by natural necessity. (When he himself is alone with the principal melody, the similarity his voice and his grandfather's voice does not complicate the task of admiring both, on the contrary, the freshness of his youth and the authority with which he comments on the real identification leave us humbled and thus free to love); Paulo, who in addition to singing the sambas (as well as "Desafinado") with utter precision, gives us the only composition that is not Tom's: the beautiful "Mantiqueira Range" - he is direct descendant, the center and guardian while Daniel is the freed spirit, the very proof of how unnecessary reincarnation is; Jaques is the bond, pure and flexible, that encounter that all of them (Tom, Paula, Paulo, Daniel) had to have in their lives.
Percussionists Marcelo Costa & Marcos Suzano, as well as bassist Zeca Assumpção, guests on this recording, all brought in what they do best, in mint condition.
This recording, this quartet - is a miracle that "happened" as if it were a simple daily occurrence. Perhaps in stores or on airplanes it will be classified as "easy listening", but the fact is that it is a rare event. For this reason it requires care, concentration and contrition so as not to run the risk of listening to it with pleasure but without property.