For fans of Brazilian music all over the world, the voice of João Gilberto is as familiar as that of a father or trusted family friend. The vocalist/guitarist's signature soft, hushed delivery redefined the bossa nova style in Brazil in the '50s and initiated its popularity in the U.S. (through his collaborations with Stan Getz) in the '60s. Gilberto's almost monotone style of singing maintains a remarkable dynamism that is able to convey the full spectrum of human emotions, from romantic to melancholy, while employing a very narrow range of notes. In Tokyo documents the legendary artist's first trip to Japan (in '03) and demonstrates just how popular his music has become, even with audiences who do not understand the language of the lyrics he sings.
Accompanying himself on guitar, Gilberto is a quintessential one-man show that needs no assistance to make the music come alive. The fifteen-track disc features many classics by some of his favorite Brazilian composers, including Jobim's "Corcovado," "Wave," "Meditacao" and "Este Seu Olhar," Dori Caymmi's "Acontece Que Eu Sou Baiano," "Doralice" and "Rosa Morena" and Ary Barroso's "Isto Aqui o Que E?." The program achieves an easy balance, moving back and forth between bossa novas and sambas with each song delivered with unshakeable conviction.
At a sold out JVC Jazz Festival Carnegie Hall concert in June, the legendary vocalist sat alone on the consecrated stage, guitar in hand, and mesmerized his adoring audience with more than two hours of some of the purest music ever heard in that hallowed hall. Many of the same songs can be heard on this disc, which delivers a bit of the pleasure one can only receive when in the presence of a true master.