Hot Tracks

Reviews: Sinatra And Jobim @ 50 is a mixed bag of tributes; Aida Garifullina hits the high notes

Sinatra and Jobim @ 50 by John Pizzarelli.
Sinatra and Jobim @ 50 by John Pizzarelli. PHOTO: CONCORD
Aida Garifullina with ORF Radio Sinfonieorchester Cornelius Meister (Conductor).
Aida Garifullina with ORF Radio Sinfonieorchester Cornelius Meister (Conductor).PHOTO: DECCA

Singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli's latest album celebrates the teaming up of Old Blue Eyes and the king of bossa for the 1967 album, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Unfortunately, this album is but a pale shadow of that classic duet, where Sinatra's rich, resonant baritone offered such a velvety contrast to Jobim's limpidly nasal tenor.

Pizzarelli's voice has always been rather thin and reedy, and sounds better when he is working on bright pacy material. Ballads test his limited voice and, while the veteran musician knows enough to dodge the more obvious pitfalls, it does not help that he has teamed up with Jobim's grandson Daniel, whose equally flyaway whisper sometimes goes distressingly flat in the slower melodies.

Bonita and the mash-up, If You Never Come To Me/Change Partners, are the most egregious victims of Jobim's arid attempts at reaching the higher notes.

Not all the tracks are bad, mainly because the duets take up six out of the 11 tracks.

The opening track, Baubles, Bangles And Beads, is an alluring example of Pizzarelli's savvy maximising of his light croon. Jobim, likewise, fares better on the marginally faster-paced duet Aqua De Beber. It helps, too, to have pianist Helio Alves' percussive piano perking up the track.

  • JAZZ


    John Pizzarelli


    3.5/5 stars

The tracks that better withstand scrutiny are tunes not drawn from the Sinatra/Jobim album, such as Michael Franks' Antonio's Song, which benefits also from a breathily beautiful solo from saxophonist Harry Allen.

In the end, this mixed bag of tributes just makes you want to dig up the original for a spin.

Ong Sor Fern

The soprano Aida Garifullina, from Kazan in the Russian republic of Tatarstan, came to prominence after winning Placido Domingo's competition Operalia in 2013 and appearing as coloratura soprano Lily Pons in the 2016 movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, starring opposite actress Meryl Streep.



    With ORF Radio Symphonieorchester

    Cornelius Meister (conductor)

    Decca 478 8305

    5/5 stars

Her debut recording opens with two coloratura favourites, Gounod's Ah! Je Veux Vivre (Romeo Et Juliette) and Delibes' Bell Song (Lakme), which showcases an impressive range and vocal agility for a lyric soprano.

The rest of her hour-long programme features Russian songs, including arias from Rimsky-Korsakov's Sadko (The Song Of India), The Golden Cockerel (Hymn To The Sun and Seduction Aria) and The Snow Maiden as well as Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa (Maria's Lullaby).

She is totally at home in her native language, bringing out every ounce of feeling and nuance. The clarity and beauty of her voice are further highlighted in Russian romances by Rachmaninov (Lilacs, How Beautiful It Is Here and the wordless Vocalise) and Tchaikovsky's Serenade.

The folksongs Alluki (in the Turkic Tatar language) and Cossack Lullaby are particularly alluring.

And in Solovyov-Sedoy's familiar Midnight In Moscow (also called Moscow Nights), she is accompanied via overdubbing by the 1962 recording of the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra.

Past and present become one in this lovely disc.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe