By Jay S. Jacobs
The latest of the Red Hot AIDS benefit albums, like the first compilation Red Hot & Blue, Rio features a group of current rock, rap and jazz artists taking on the songbook of a classic songwriter, this time father of the bossa nova Antonio Carlos Jobim. So beyond being for a good cause, it also turns out to be a long overdue tribute to one of the brightest songwriters of the century.
One of the cool things about the album is how well the songs fit into other genres. For example, who would have thought Jobim's classic "The Boy From Ipanema" would work as a new jack dance tune by Crystal Waters. And who'd expect Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark would do the jazzy instrumental "Use Your Head" justice, but he does. Other standouts include Everything But The Girl's smooth take on "Corcovado," David Byrne's quirky "Waters Of March" and Stereolab and Herbie Mann's deconstruction of "One Note Samba."
One of the best moments on the album is the last performance of Jobim himself (he died last year) as a duet with Sting on the "How Insensitive," one of the saddest ballads ever written, on the pain of being the focus of unrequited love.
Red, Hot & Rio will no doubt catch on the big with the nuevo-lounge scene. It deserves to be heard by everyone.