Milton Nascimento and The Jobim Trio
University of Michigan, Hill Auditorium
Ann Arbor, Michigan
October 18, 2008
It's not often that all-star groups assembled to honor a particular milestone manage to coalesce in a manner that transcends the novelty factor to become a satisfying listening experience. But this is just exactly what has happened with the brilliant pairing of Brazilian star Milton Nascimento with the Jobim Trio. The unique ensemble first came together in Rio last year to celebrate what would have been Antonio Carlos Jobim 's 80th birthday. Things went so well that the group then decided to mark 50 years of bossa nova with the recording of Novas Bossas, released domestically by Blue Note this fall. This success was quickly followed up by a modest U.S. tour, of which one of their stops would be the campus of the University of Michigan.
A large and energetic crowd filled the lush environs of Hill Auditorium for a singular evening kicked off in an inviting if understated manner by the Jobim Trio. Namesake members of the group include guitarist Paulo Jobim, son of Antonio, and his own son Daniel on piano and vocals. Drummer Paulo Braga and bassist Rodrigo Villa complete this fine cross-generational band. The first few numbers were familiar, with such Jobim classics as "One Note Samba" and "Waters of March." Daniel's unpretentious and wispy vocals pleasantly evoked his grandfather's singing, a gratifying reminder of how the Master's talented progeny is now carrying on the family name.
During the fourth number, "So Tinha Que Ser Com Voce," Nascimento casually sauntered on stage, picking up a melodic line just where Daniel had left off. From that point on, the ensemble would mix it up with a combination of Jobim numbers and those more closely associated with Nascimento's own particular muse. Just a few days away from what would be his 66th birthday, the singer was in exceptional form, his signature falsetto as clear and breathtaking as ever. With guitar in hand, Nascimento raised the goose bump factor on numbers like "Inutil Paisagem," "Caminhos Cruzados," and "Brigas Nunca Mais."
Touching on numbers from the iconic Clube da Esquina, Milton impressed with the catchy "Cravo e Canela" and "Cais," on the latter number sharing the piano stool with Daniel for a brief duet at the keys. Although he kept the banter to an agreeable minimum, Nascimento was no less than charming during his few monologues. He told stories of the travels of his guitar and introduced the band with a touch of humor. He first called them a trio, took a second look, held up four fingers, and then just shrugged his shoulders.
Following a brisk romp by the group through "Samba do Aviao," the crowd responded with swelling applause and a steady stream of cheers that obliged the ensemble to an encore. Graciously, Nascimento and the Jobims offered "Nos Bailes da Vida" and "Maria, Maria." Clearly, these men share a unique musical chemistry, and the joy they have in playing together is obvious and ultimately contagious. Hats off to the University Musical Society for adding this special evening to their already impressive musical season. Over the years, this non-profit organization has brought several of the most important Brazilian artists to their Ann Arbor campus including Gilberto Gil, Egberto Gismonti, and Caetano Veloso. Add another feather to their cap.
C. Andrew Hovan