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Milton Nascimento: Dedicated To Jobim

Astrud Gilberto recorded them. Frank Sinatra recorded them. Ella Fitzgerald recorded them. Dee Dee Bridgewater recorded them. But late in his life, Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-94) expressed a wish that someday, the great Milton Nascimento would record his bossa novas.

Jobim's melodies are so chromatic that a singer can easily slide off the path. According to the composer, only Nascimento was capable of singing the true original pitches. Years after Jobim's death, his wish finally came true, as Nascimento and the Jobim Trio released the album Nova Bossas and toured the U.S. with the project.

Milton Nascimento's miraculous voice is one gift. Brazilian music is another — passionate and in an innately beautiful language. In concert on his 66th birthday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, with Newark's Portuguese-speaking community understanding every word, the world-renowned Nascimento celebrates bossa nova pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The group is a trio plus one: At the piano, Jobim's grandson Daniel wears a stylish hat as his grandfather often did. Paulo — Daniel's father and Jobim's son — is on guitar with Jobim's drummer, Paulo Braga, and young Rodrigo Villa on bass. All are from Brazil.

The audience stokes the energy, as Portuguese speakers in the hall call out to Nascimento and later sing along. Nascimento is a great hero to them, yet so real that he left his formal clothes on a hanger in his dressing room, and he's onstage in a casual shirt and denim pants, always with dreadlocks and tinted glasses. His rich voice still spans the full range from baritone to falsetto.

Toward the end of the set, Nascimento turns to his own compositions and the audience joins him, turning "Maria, Maria" into an enormous anthem. You will be singing along.

Credits: Thanks to Baraka Sele and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The WBGO Jazz 88 team is Josh Jackson, David Tallacksen, Josh Webb and executive producer Thurston Briscoe III. Music mix in Surround Sound by Duke Markos. Dee Dee Bridgewater's recording engineer at KUNV in Las Vegas is Ginger Bruner. Produced by Becca Pulliam.

This segment originally ran Feb. 19, 2009.

Copyright 2009 WBGO

Becca Pulliam