Verve's PERSONALIDADE series of Brazilian jazz reissues is probably the best way for North American listeners to familiarize themselves with the sometimes under-represented stars of South American jazz. The series also contains entries by better-known artists, of course, and naturally no set of Brazilian jazz reissues would be complete without a collection by Antonio Carlos Jobim, who only invented the very idea. By combining Brazilian samba, the acoustic guitar and percussion music so popular in the streets of Rio and Brazil's other major cities, with American cool jazz, Jobim created bossa nova. This 16-track compilation covers most of the high points of Jobim's most Brazilian-oriented material. Half of the tracks are instrumentals, but the others feature lyrics in Portuguese, Brazil's official language. The clipped, rhythmic sound of the Portuguese language, especially as sung in Jobim's distracted mumble, one of the most delightful and unique singing voices of its era, fits the music's chattering rhythms beautifully. This is an excellent entry into Jobim's life and work.
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