Jobim Tribute
(New Vista Records)


The 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 Jobim’s magical bossa nova jazz sound, Florida-based guitarist Les Sabler released a great sounding album of Jobim’s timeless music appropriately entitled Jobim Tribute. On the 2014 CD release of Jobim Tribute, Les chose to cover some of Jobim’s most popular tunes as well as some lesser known Jobim classics. Although he’s 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 Jobim’s 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 1960’s, 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 Jobim’s 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 album’s discography information. Les Sabler’s other album releases feature combined elements of jazz, fusion, Latin music and contemporary jazz and the 2014 CD release of Les’ Brazilian music homage—Jobim Tribute is a most welcome development in the musical progression of one of America’s finest jazz guitarists. www.LesSabler.com

mwe3.com presents an interview with

mwe3: Can you tell us where you’re 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 album?

Les Sabler: I visited Brazil in 2010 and had a wonderful experience there. Since I was a long time fan of Jobim’s 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 Jobim’s 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 Jobim’s lesser known songs as well? Were there some you feel you missed?

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 Jobim’s 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.

mwe3: What musicians, producers and engineers were key to the making of the Jobim Tribute album? Tom Zink’s string arrangements are great and very authentic sounding and also can you tell us something about working with Joe Lala, who recently passed away?

Les Sabler: The recording process started in Nashville at Mike Pachelli’s 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 1990’s 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 Ogerman’s 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 contributions.

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.

mwe3: What guitars are you playing on the Jobim Tribute album and what studio techniques did you implement to mic your guitars during the recording process?

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 CD?

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 next recordings?

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


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