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Clooney's Warm Glow For Moody Bossa Nova

Date: 2000-06-02
source: The New York Times
author: Stephen Holden

Sooner or later, almost every great popular singer has a moment of reckoning with the wistful bossa nova ballads of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Frank Sinatra's albums of Jobim songs were the quietest arguably the most intimate recordings of his career. And in her latest album, "Brazil" (Concord Jazz), Rosemary Clooney, joined by the guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, applies her warm, earthy stamp to songs like "Quiet Nights," "Desafinado" and "Once I Loved."

Now Ms. Clooney and Mr. Pizzarelli (the star soloist of a fine seven-member band) ar at Feinstein's at the Regency (through June 12), performing an abridged version of that album. What these two superb musicians make of the Jobim catalog is a friendly dialogue between opposing points of view. Mr. Pizzarelli, by far the younger of the two, emerges as a bossa nova traditionalist, strumming and crooning a rendition of "Dindi" that almost matches Joao Gilberto's in seductive romantic beauty.

It is Ms. Clooney who resists the impulse to go with the lyrical flow and swoon in misty reveries. When she sings about romantic dreams nowadays, she assumes a maternal distance, conveying the empathic wisdom of someone who has gotten safely past all that. At Wednesday's show she commented more than once on how sad so many of these Brazilian ballads are. Thus, "Desafinado," done as a duet with Mr. Pizzarelli, became a humorous song about a "slightly out of tune" relationship.

Ms. Clooney capped the set by bringing back a medley she used to perform 30 years ago of "I Cried for You," "Who's Sorry Now?" and "Goody, Goody," all songs that gloat over how the tables have turned on a former lover. The singer pointedly introduced the medley as "the Kentucky point of view on lost love."