Cabaret Review: John Pizzarelli and Daniel Jobim

Pizzarelli Jobim U65A0864

The duo of John Pizzarelli and Daniel Jobim playing and singing bossa nova are the ultimate in cool. Pizzarelli represents the very height of cabaret’s jazzier side, with profound musical intelligence at work. Jobim is part of a legendary Brazilian musical dynasty: his grandfather was Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of Brazil’s all-time greatest songwriters and composers, and one of the original architects of bossa nova.

This act, entitled “Strictly Bossa Nova II” is supremely laid back, in true bossa nova spirit. Laid back, yes, but also full of panache and musical elegance. Even the patter isn’t really patter, just a couple of very witty friends sharing stories and jokes.

They apply bossa nova style, not only to songs originally written in that style, but to great North American songs like the Gershwins’ “’S Wonderful”, which responds beautifully to the bossa nova treatment. That particular idea isn’t original with these two – “’S Wonderful” was the opening track on Brazilian guitarist/vocalist João Gilberto’s 1977 album Amoroso, and Pizzarelli is very explicit about the debt both this cabaret act and he personally owe to that album.

The most sparkling parts of the evening are songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Most moving is the pairing of Stephen Sondheim’s “I Remember” with Jobim’s bristlingly poetic “Waters of March”. Pizzarelli said before the songs that the transition between the two made him inexplicably cry. I expected not to respond that way, and yet I did. And I think I know why: “I Remember” is a song of immense longing for absent things, and “Waters of March” makes you strongly feel the presence of all the objects it catalogues. Very, very intense. The whole evening, highly recommended.

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For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see his blog Drama Queen.

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Written by Jonathan Warman

Jonathan Warman

Jonathan Warman is’s exclusive theatre critic. He also writes regular music and cabaret reviews. Jonathan is also accomplished freelance Stage Director. You can e-mail him at or by clicking on the social networking links below.

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