music of the late, great Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim
has remained a constant source of inspiration for both musicians
and music lovers as well. Inspired by Jobims magical bossa nova
jazz sound, Florida-based guitarist Les Sabler released a great
sounding album of Jobims timeless music appropriately entitled
Jobim Tribute. On the 2014 CD release of Jobim
Tribute, Les chose to cover some of Jobims most popular
tunes as well as some lesser known Jobim classics. Although hes
best known as a guitar instrumentalist, Les also demonstrates his
vocal talents on several tracks here that he sings in both English
and Brazilian. As if to further demonstrate his affinity for Jobims
music, Les traveled to Brazil in 2010, immersing himself in the rich
history of Brazilian music while exploring the places that Jobim himself
was inspired by. Most of the songs here are from the 1960s,
while the CD opener A Felicidade (Happiness) was actually
featured as the opening song in the 1959 film Black Orpheus. Another
highlight here is a fine Sabler cover of Jobims classic Triste
from his highly influential 1967 Wave album. Les has chosen
to surround himself with excellent musicians for the Jobim Tribute
album including Clay Perry (keyboards), Celso Alberti
(drums), Tom Zink (string arrangements) as well as the
late, great percussionist Joe Lala, who passed away shortly
after this album was recorded. Track by track liner notes by Scott
Yanow takes you through the albums discography information.
Les Sablers other album releases feature combined elements of
jazz, fusion, Latin music and contemporary jazz and the 2014 CD release
of Les Brazilian music homageJobim Tribute is a
most welcome development in the musical progression
of one of Americas finest jazz guitarists. www.LesSabler.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
Can you tell us where youre from originally and where you live
now and what you like best about it?
Les Sabler: I was born and raised in Montreal. I moved to Florida
after graduating from university and have lived here since then. I
have been in Tampa since 2000 and really enjoy it here. I have some
great friends here, there are many excellent musicians in the area,
the climate is very good, I enjoy watching and supporting our local
professional sports teams and love playing tennis, golf and hockey.
mwe3: I heard you traveled to Brazil to immerse yourself in
the history of Brazilian music. What was that experience like and
what were the other events that inspired you to make the Jobim Tribute
Les Sabler: I visited Brazil in 2010 and had a wonderful experience
there. Since I was a long time fan of Jobims music, it was particularly
inspiring to visit places he frequented like Ipanema, Jardim Botanico,
Corcovado, Aproador and others. I brought home a stack of CDs and
DVDs from Toca do Vinicius, a bossa nova music store in Ipanema and
spent the next few years learning and practicing these songs, many
of which I was previously unfamiliar with. I had no timetable to start
or complete a recording and really enjoyed this process during which
time I also read several books about Jobims life to gain a deeper
understanding of his music.
mwe3: Was there a process by which you decided to pick and
choose to include one Jobim song over the next? Jobim has so many
influential songs. Did you specifically want to highlight some of
Jobims lesser known songs as well? Were there some you feel
Les Sabler: There are so many great Jobim covers already recorded
and the original versions are timeless. In order to create something
unique and worthy of attention I felt it would be best to concentrate
on songs from his catalog that were less familiar to most listeners.
There are so many beautiful compositions of his to choose from I could
have easily selected others. I originally had planned to include Wave
and Samba do Aviao but ended up substituting Corcovado
and Ligia... certainly no regrets there. I may need to
work on volume 2!
mwe3: Is there a way to anthologize Jobims career? Did
Jobim go through various phases of his music career, like a pop phase,
a jazz and/or even progressive / New Age / classical music phase?
Les Sabler: There were a variety of phases in his career through
his various collaborations and his move from Brazil to the USA. His
work covered a broad spectrum and reflected his classical influence,
particularly from Debussy and Ravel, Brazilian influence from Heitor
Villa-Lobos and others as well as his interest in jazz. In my opinion
he was one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century.
What musicians, producers and engineers were key to the making of
the Jobim Tribute album? Tom Zinks string arrangements are great
and very authentic sounding and also can you tell us something about
working with Joe Lala, who recently passed away?
Sabler: The recording process started in Nashville at Mike Pachellis
studio with guitar parts that were used to create foundations for
each song. He is an excellent guitarist and very skilled engineer
and offered some great ideas from both perspectives. He also introduced
me to Byron House who was wonderful to work with, is an amazing musician
and a great guy!
Clay Perry had played with me in the mid 1990s and was also
on my live CD. Since then he received his doctorate of music from
University of Miami, worked on a number of prominent Latin recording
projects and spent the past five years as the pianist for Julio Iglesias.
That was an easy choice and I was very excited when he agreed to work
with me on this project. I wanted some authentic Brazilian representation
and was very fortunate that one of the best drummers and percussionists,
Celso Alberti was interested in recording with me. His input was a
major component of setting the mood that I was looking to create.
Tom Zink is very familiar with Claus Ogermans work as a string
arranger for Jobim and has done several Brazilian projects. I previously
worked with him on my CD, Sweet Drive and knew that he would
add something very special to this music. His arrangements were amazing
and he introduced me to a string quartet of world class talent that
blew me away in the session.
It was very important for me to include Joe Lala in this project.
Soon after I started recording he was diagnosed with cancer and there
were some challenges to coordinate his sessions during times when
he would feeling well enough to record. Little things he did like
the triangle in Bonita or the guira in Fotografia
added some beautiful sparkle and texture and of course his congas
brought a Latin flavor that expanded the overall sound and energy.
We were very close friends and it was extremely sad to say goodbye
to him recently. Besides being a very close friend, Joe was always
very encouraging and supportive when it came to discussions about
music. Coming from someone who played on sixty gold and platinum records
this meant a lot to me. Finally, Tom McCauley and Sunny Nam, who did
the mixing and mastering respectively, worked with me on previous
projects and I knew from experience that they would both make substantial
mwe3: Do you have a favorite Jobim album or albums and why?
Are there other Brazilian musicians and composers from the jazz, pop
and classical / folk music worlds that also influenced you?
Les Sabler: I love everything I have listened to by Jobim and
especially like Elis and Tom. I love listening to so many
of the incredible musicians from Brazil like Joao Gilberto, Gal Costa,
Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Roberto Carlos, Dori Caymmi and many
others. The younger generation including Maria Rita and Bebel Gilberto
are wonderful as well.
What guitars are you playing on the Jobim Tribute album and what studio
techniques did you implement to mic your guitars during the recording
Les Sabler: I used one guitar throughout the recording, a Jose
Ramirez 2CWE. Most of the guitar was recorded with a Neumann KM184
at close proximity. Mike used a three mic setup in his isolation booth
with a KM184, a U47 and AKG414. That setup worked very well, especially
in the solo guitar passages.
mwe3: How about what amps, stings, guitar picks and effects
did you feature during the recording process of the Jobim Tribute
Les Sabler: I use GHS La Classique strings and played without
a pick. A variety of mic preamps were used and digital reverb was
used during mixing.
mwe3: Who are some of your favorite guitarists from the world
of jazz, rock and even classical? What do you like best about the
current jazz guitar world?
Les Sabler: There are so many great guitarists that I have learned
from over the years. My favorite jazz guitarists include Larry Carlton,
George Benson and Wes Montgomery. On the rock side my favorites are
Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman. Being from Canada, of course I must
mention my favorites from north of the border - Ted Quinlan who was
also my teacher, Sonny Greenwich, Ed Bickert and the late Nelson Symonds.
With the internet offering easier exposure for artists than in the
past, I am always fascinated to find talented guitarists on you tube
or elsewhere online.
mwe3: Jobim Tribute is your 7th album to date. What
directions do you plan to take your music in next and what are you
planning for 2014 and into 2015? Do you have some ideas yet for your
Les Sabler: I spent four years on this project and am taking a
break from recording right now. Given the initial very positive response
Jobim Tribute has received from critics, radio and listeners,
I am optimistic and hopeful that global performance opportunities
will result. I enjoy the recording process and will likely start a
new project in 2015.
Thanks to Les Sabler @ www.LesSabler.com