Tampa, FL: Before Les Sabler began recording “Jobim Tribute,” which will be released April 8 on New Vista Records, the jazz guitarist-vocalist walked a mile in the shoes of the iconic Brazilian composer known for writing exquisitely poetic romantic standards that popularized bossa nova. An inspired Sabler trekked to Brazil, visited the places Antonio Carlos Jobim frequented and absorbed the native culture and sounds. He voraciously studied recordings and read stacks of books about Jobim’s life. Sagely he knew that fostering authenticity on a collection of twelve Jobim songs involved more than just playing the right notes on his nylon string guitar or mastering the pronunciation of the Portuguese lyrics. Sabler, who produced the album, recognized that the most important ingredient was to capture the soulful passion inherent in the author’s touching melodies and sensually exotic rhythms.
The timing of Sabler’s record correlates to two milestones: the 50th anniversary of the classic “Getz/Gilberto” that spawned Jobim’s No. 1 hit “The Girl from Ipanema,” which helped weave bossa nova permanently into the fabric of American music; and the 20th anniversary of Jobim’s passing. When selecting material for “Jobim Tribute,” which is comprised of seven vocal tunes and five instrumentals, Sabler challenged himself by recording some of Jobim’s lesser known gems (“Esquecendo Voce” and “Janelas Abertas”) as well as popular favorites such as “Corcovado,” “Bonita” and “Fotografia.” The first single that was just shipped to radio stations for airplay is Sabler’s rendition of “A Felicidade,” a sweeping wave of joyous melody, nifty guitar fingerplay and an ethereal vocal chorus.
Produced, arranged and performed in acoustic jazz settings, Sabler was accompanied by keyboardist Clay Perry (Julio Iglesias), acoustic bassist Byron House (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy), Brazilian drummer-percussionist Celso Alberti (Flora Purim, Stevie Winwood) and the late percussionist Joe Lala (CSNY, Bee Gees). Allon Sams scripted string arrangements as did Grammy-nominated arranger Tom Zink, who orchestrated a 4-piece string section that added emotional depth on three selections.
Sabler explained that “My first trip to Brazil guided me to a deeper understanding of Jobim’s music from the places I visited followed by an immersion of his music, videos and books. During my trip, I was able to learn a lot more about the history of Brazilian music. I explored some of the places where Jobim used to hangout, including the restaurant where Heloisa Pinhiro walked by, who was the inspiration for ‘The Girl from Ipanema.’ I am passionate about this music and made it a goal to master and record it. After working on this project for several years, I am pleased to finally share it.”
“Jobim Tribute” is Sabler’s seventh album. The Montreal native who studied music at Canada’s Concordia University and at the University of Miami, has created a catalogue of finely-crafted contemporary jazz recordings that summited sales and airplay charts in the U.S. and Canada while garnering award nominations, No. 1 most-played Canadian artist airplay honors and international acclaim. Most often playing electric guitar on earlier works, “Jobim Tribute” is his second consecutive record on which he exclusively plays nylon string acoustic guitar following 2010’s “Crescent Shores.”
Earlier this week, the Tampa, Florida-based sports fan performed the American and Canadian National Anthems with Marshall Gillon on Opening Day for the Tampa Bay Rays followed the next night by performing the anthems prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning game. With the eyes of the world turning to Brazil for this year’s FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Sabler’s elegant “Jobim Tribute” is a perfectly timed soundtrack.