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The Files of Tom Jobim

The personal archive of Tom Jobim is being organized with the help of Faperj

ANTONIO TRINDADE / Personal ArchiveTom Jobim composing: more than 60,000 items will be available for consultationANTONIO TRINDADE / Personal Archive

A project is taking place that will allow musicians, researchers and fans throughout the whole e world to enter into contact with the intimate and musical universe of Brazilian composer who was the most interpreted and internationally recorded. Going on for just over a year, the Tom Jobim Institute, presided over by the maestro’s son, Paulo Jobim, is digging out the trunk and the bottom drawer of one of the fathers of the Bossa Nova. With the financial support of the Research Support Foundation of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Faperj), the institution has been, for the last two months, looking over the personal archive of Tom Jobim, which has in it close to 60,000 items.

There are musical scores, letters, notes, recordings, objects, photographs, sketches, cassette and video tapes, which are being rigorously classified and organized, in such a manner that they can be consulted by all those interested in Tom’s life and work. “Our objective is to preserve the work of Tom Jobim”, says Vanda Klabin, the institute’s director.

For this reason, the classification is only the first stage of the process of reproducing all of the material, so that the originals can remain protected in the institute’s headquarters, in the Jradim Botânico in Rio, close to Jobim’s house. Access to the documentation, which includes lyrics of unpublished pieces of music, will be given by way of the Internet and through microfilm.

“The process is extremely complex and it’s exactly during this phase of classificationthat unimaginable things have been found”, comments Vanda. The second phase will be the digitalization of the material. To handle the documents, six researchers from the Casa Rui Barbosa specialists in the archives of personalities, were hired. “The Casa Rui Barbosa looks after more than seventy archives, among them those of Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Vinícius de Morais”, she adds.

It is to the work of these researchers that Faperj is lending its support by way of assistant scholarships. “The total support grant will be R$ 211,000. Up until now we’ve received R$ 50,000”, related Vanda. The director is also taking the project – which has already been approved by the Rouanet Law for cultural incentives – to the company Petrobras for possible sponsoring. The idea is to set up partnerships during the digitalization phase.

“Besides the papers, among which are included musical scores written in pencil, there are dozens of musical and audiovisual recordings of incredible value”, says the director. “For example, a rehearsal of the Caymmi family with the Jobim family”, she says. Last year the archive of Tom Jobim musical scores produced the Jobim Song Collection, organized by Paulo Jobim. Since his childhood he accompanied the manner in which his father was accustomed to arranging his music. Consequently, it was not difficult to recover and to bring together the musical scores, giving to those that needed some repair, a truly Jobim like musical rhythm.

In some cases, he found musical sheets whose recording had not been located. “There’s an arrangement for a legendary orchestra that was done for a radio program called When the Maestros Meet . I never found the recording. I don’t even know if it exists”, Paulo tells, arranger and also an architect. Another surprise in the archive was the discovery of a cigar box with dozens of receipts from the Plataforma, a steak house attended by the Bohemian class of Rio de Janeiro. “Tom kept all of his receipts for many years”, explains Vanda.

Furthermore, there are hundreds of documents filled with music and foreign songs, among them , of course, Frank Sinatra. “The sketches are also very impressive”, comments Vanda. “He liked to sketch birds a lot. And also made various sketches proposing how the division of his house should be, which was projected by Paulo and Maria Elisa, the daughter of Lúcio Costa.”

In the opinion of Vanda, one can perceive that Tom wanted the house well integrated with nature. The Botanic Gardens were almost his back garden”, she added. “The positions of the rooms and the furniture were very important. Perhaps he was the first Brazilian to concern himself with feng shui, the Chinese art form of creating harmonious environments.” In the archive there were also discovered Tom’s curiosities, such as the words of Águas de Março (Waters of March) written on brown paper from the bakery.

The organization of Jobim’s personal archive is not the first activity developed by Paulo in order to preserve his father’s memory. Four years ago the project Tom da Mata (Tom of the Jungle) took place, carried out with the support of the Roberto Marinho Foundation and the Central Electricity Company. It dealt with working with various schools in the State to which were brought ecological kits, which included a book, video and a CD with “ecological” songs by Tom such as Águas de Março and Borzeguim .

Still in the state of preparation are the projects Tom of the Amazon and Tom of the Pantanal (Swampy Lands). “I would say that these projects are more ecological than musical”, explains Paulo. “The institute is very well linked into environmental questions, since this was the question that my father spoke most about, after music”, says the architect. He is anxious about the organization of the archive. “I just can’t wait to make this information available to students at all of the music faculties, such as the Free Music University of São Paulo, which received my father’s name”, he concludes.