Recorded at a video taping in the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the Jazzvisions series, this was Jobim's live act shortly after he resumed touring in the mid-'80s. At the time, Jobim struck an avuncular, almost casually anti-show-business presence seated before a grand piano, presiding over a large ensemble composed of friends and family, singing in his endearingly rough, now-threadbare voice. Some of the performances here are little more than pro-forma run-throughs of standard Jobim oldies but things perk up when Jobim digs into some lesser-known compositions like his "Song of the Jet" and son Paulo's catchy "Samba do Soho." In any case, the material is always superb and the cool-voiced, always in-pitch Brazilian singer Gal Costa turns up on a few numbers.
Antonio Carlos Jobim's entry in the exhaustive Verve Jazz Masters set of historical reissues is one of the best single-disc Jobim anthologies available. It's not got much in the way of historical range, since it stops in the mid-'60s, just before Jobim left Verve for Reprise and then A&M. However, since Jobim's Verve years were, in the minds of many, his career highpoint, Verve Jazz Masters 13 distills the best of his most artistically and commercially successful period. Nearly all of Jobim's greatest songs are here in their definitive versions, and the whole is sequenced thoughtfully, so that the disc has a logical and delightful flow. This is magnificent stuff, as well as being the birth of bossa nova.
Zenaida Yanowsky as Elizabeth allows us to see a dancer in her prime, capable of expressing emotion through her movement, never at a loss in this exploration of the Virgin Queen’s life. Carlos Acosta represents the various men in her life while displaying his remarkable artistry. Acosta has retired and Yanowsky is about to retire from the Royal Ballet, so it is good to have this souvenir of two dancers whom I imagine were rarely paired in performances of other ballets. Martin Yates’s score is an imaginative piece, using Elizabethan music as a blueprint while maintaining a contemporary feeling, and Raphael Wallfisch is amazing in the sounds he draws from his cello. (Joel Kasow)