Albare Plays Jobim, Vol. 2 by Moroccan-born, Israeli-raised guitarist Albare (the only name given) isn't quite what it seems. While the names of the musicians and guest artists are listed on the jacket, what is not addressed is the presence of a string orchestra, the only suggestion of which is pianist Joe Chindamo's designation as "orchestra conductor." That's it. Perhaps, however, that is for the best, as the unnamed orchestra is recorded at arm's length and serves essentially as a syrupy backdrop for the principal musicians.
The album is, of course, a tribute to one of the most renowned Latin composers who ever lived, maestro Antonio Carlos Jobim. Those familiar with Jobim's music should know pretty much what to expect, slow-to mid-tempo sambas and bossas with sensuous melodies that linger in the mind and heart. That such classics as "Dindi," "A Felicidade," "So Danco Samba," "How Insensitive," "Triste," "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Once I Loved" had to wait for a second volume to command Albare's attention says a lot about the depth and breadth of Jobim's storehouse of memorable songs. But here they are, along with other masterworks, from "Summer Samba" and "Caminhos Cruzados" to "Favela" and "Meditation," played with ample sinceritybut scant fireby Albare's core sextet, the unobtrusive orchestra, and guest artists Randy Brecker (trumpet on "So Danco Samba" and "Favela"), flutist Nestor Torres ("Summer Samba," "How Insensitive") and drummer Antonio Sanchez ("Dindi," "Once I Loved"). Following Albare's lead, their solos are bright and tasteful but several strides short of special.
The scenario itself is formulaic; Albare lays down the melody, improvises gently for a chorus or two, then steps aside for ad libs by Chindamo or his guests while the orchestra murmurs softly in the distance. What is there is nicecertainly nothing to complain about. On the other hand, an occasional change of pace, mood or direction wouldn't have been amiss. To put it another way, there is an overall sameness to the enterprise that serves to temper even Jobim's wonderful music. But it is, inarguably, wonderful music, which may well be enough to gladden some listeners' ears.
Dindi; Summer Samba; A Felicidade; So Danco Samba; Caminhos Cruzados; How
Insensitive; Triste; The Girl from Ipanema; Once I Loved; Favela; Meditation.