Over the course of a distinguished career spanning nearly 30 albums, multi-GRAMMY®-winning pianist/singer/composer Eliane Elias’ distinctive musical style has emerged as one of the most unique and immediately recognizable sounds in jazz. With over 2.2 million albums sold to date, Elias blends her Brazilian roots and alluring voice with her virtuosic instrumental jazz, classical and compositional skills, while she consistently displays her pianistic mastery and ability to integrate the many artistic roles she takes on.
Elias’ most recent recording, Love Stories, is an orchestral, all-English album to be released on August 30, 2019 via Concord Jazz. “I am very proud of this production and feel it’s one of the most romantic sets of music I’ve ever produced,” she says of the project, which she recorded in Brazil and at London’s Abbey Road Studios alongside co-producers Marc Johnson and Steve Rodby.
She brings a stellar lineup of some of Brazil’s most sought-after rhythm section players, including Marcus Texiera on guitar and Edu Ribeiro, Rafael Barata, Paulo Braga and Celso Almeida on drums, plus Marc Johnson, her longtime musical partner and co-lyricist, on bass. Orchestrator Rob Mathes returns for his fourth recording with Elias here, while composer Roberto Menescal plays guitar on his own song, “O Barquinho/ Little Boat.”
The São Paulo native tapped into a deep well of emotion for this project, which delves into various expressions of love that run the gamut from romantic and dreamy to profound and abiding. Elias’ strong connection to the bossa nova tradition features prominently here, as well, shining through in fresh, modern ways as she interprets several classic works made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Antonio Carlos Jobim plus some of her all-time favorites. Elias also mines her own heart for inspiration on three stunning new original compositions.
The music’s evocative nature reflects an emotionally challenging recent period in Elias’ life during which she wrote and arranged the material. Just four months before the death of her father, she suffered an accident, in which she fractured her shoulder, forcing her to remain almost completely still for many weeks. As she recuperated at home in São Paulo, Elias summoned her creative spirit in response to her challenging circumstances where her writing and her voice became, as Johnson put it, “her focal points for expression.”
As a GRAMMY® Award winner, Latin GRAMMY®-winner, four-time Gold Disc Award recipient and three-time winner of Best Vocal Album in Japan amongst many other awards, Elias has taken her place in the pantheon of music giants. Her three most recent recordings reached the #1 position on the Billboard charts, iTunes, jazz radio charts and Amazon best seller charts to name only a few recent accolades.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Elias’ musical talents began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven and at age 12 was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. By the time she was 15, she was teaching piano and improvisation at one of Brazil’s most prestigious schools of music, CLAM. Her performing career began in Brazil at age 17, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and the great poet Vinicius de Moraes, who was also Antonio Carlos Jobim’s co-writer/lyricist. In 1981, she headed for New York and in 1982 landed a spot in the acclaimed group Steps Ahead. Her first solo album release was a collaboration with Randy Brecker in 1984 entitled Amanda. Shortly thereafter her solo career began, spanning 28 albums to date with the release of Love Stories. In her work, Elias has documented dozens of her own compositions, her outstanding piano playing and arranging and beautiful vocal interpretations. She started winning polls in 1988 when she was voted Best New Talent in Jazziz magazine Critic’s Poll.
Together with Herbie Hancock, she was nominated for a GRAMMY® in the Best Jazz Solo Performance category for her 1995 release Solos and Duets. This recording was hailed by Musician magazine as “a landmark in piano duo history.” In the 1997 DownBeat Readers Poll, her recording The Three Americas was voted Best Jazz Album. Elias was also named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist and Musician of the Year. Considered one of the great interpreters of Jobim’s music, Elias has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer: Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release Eliane Elias Sings Jobim won Best Vocal Album in Japan, was the number one record on Japan’s charts for over three months and was awarded Best Brazilian Album in the Jazziz Critics Poll. Both of these albums are a part of Elias’ catalogue of fourteen Blue Note Records recordings.
Moreover, as a testament to the quality of her writing, the renowned Danish Radio Big Band has performed and recorded Elias’ compositions, arranged and conducted by the legendary Bob Brookmeyer. The CD recording of this project, entitled Impulsive, received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2001.That same year, Calle 54, the highly acclaimed documentary film by Oscar-winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba, featured Elias’ performance of “Samba Triste” and also received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album.
On the Classical Side, recorded in 1993, demonstrated Elias’ classical skills with a program of Bach, Ravel and Villa Lobos. In 2002, Elias recorded with opera sensation Denyce Graves. For this recording, The Lost Days, she arranged two Brazilian classical pieces and wrote an original classical composition especially for Graves titled “Haabiá-Tupi.”
In 2002, Elias signed to the RCA Music Group/Bluebird label and released Kissed by Nature, an album consisting of mostly original compositions. Dreamer, her second recording for the label (released in 2004), was a fresh mix of tunes from the Great American Songbook, Brazilian bossa novas and two new originals, sung in English and Portuguese and supported by a full orchestra. Dreamer received the Gold Disc Award and was voted Best Vocal Album in Japan. It reached number 3 on the pop charts in France and number 4 on the Billboard charts in
the U.S. Elias’ Around the City, released on RCA Victor in 2006, merges bits of bossa nova with shades of pop, jazz, Latin and even rock ’n’ roll. Around the City features Elias’ vocals and songwriting in collaborations with producers Andres Levin and Lester Mendez, as well as fresh takes on pop classics such as Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” and Bob Marley’s “Jammin’.” Elias returned to Blue Note/EMI in 2007 with Something for You, a tribute to the music of pianist Bill Evans. While touching the essence of the pianist/composer, she also brings her own unique gifts to the surface, as a composer, interpreter, outstanding instrumentalist and beguiling vocalist. At the time, tadalafil was popular. This release won Best Vocal Album of the Year and the Gold Disc Award in Japan. This is also the third consecutive recording of Elias to receive these awards and her fourth overall. Something for You reached number 1 on the U.S. Jazz Radio charts, number 8 on Billboard and number 2 on the French jazz charts.
2008 marked the 50th anniversary of the birth of bossa nova. In celebration of this event, Elias recorded Bossa Nova Stories, featuring some of the landmark songs of Brazil with American classic and pop standards, exquisitely performed as only she can, with lush romantic vocals and
exciting playing accompanied by a top-notch rhythm section and strings recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. Destined to become a classic, Bossa Nova Stories achieved the following: number 1 on the French charts (2008), number 1 Vocal Album from Swing Journal in Japan (May-June 2008), number 1 iTunes Top Jazz Album (January 2009), number iTunes Top Latin Album (January 2009) and number 2 debut on Billboard’s Overall and Top Jazz Charts (January 2009). Bossa Nova Stories was also nominated by the Brazilian GRAMMYs (20th Prêmio da Música Brasileira, 2009) for Best Foreign Album.
In 2010, Blue Note Records and EMI Japan released Eliane Elias Plays Live, an all-instrumental trio album with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron of a live concert recorded in Amsterdam on May 31, 2002. This performance demonstrates modern jazz trio playing at the highest level and spotlights Elias’ inventiveness and command of the instrument on a collection of jazz standards and one original.
Light My Fire, released May 31, 2011, was the first album she recorded for Concord Records. It featured four compositions by Elias as well as covers of familiar works by songwriters as diverse as Jim Morrison and the Doors, pop icon Stevie Wonder and jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond. Backing Elias was a crew of 12 high-caliber players, including Brazilian icon, guitarist/vocalist Gilberto Gil and trumpeter Randy Brecker. On Light My Fire, Elias wore many hats—as singer, pianist, composer, arranger and producer. In September 2011, her song “What About the Heart (Bate Bate)” was nominated for a Latin GRAMMY® in the category of Best Brazilian Song.
On May 28, 2013, Concord Jazz presented Elias’ I Thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker), an album that offered her personalized spin on the work of a key American jazz artist while spotlighting her connection to the singer-instrumentalist tradition.
Long known for her native feel of Brazilian music, I Thought About You truly confirmed Elias’ expertise as an interpreter of American standards. In addition to receiving glowing critical praise, I Thought About You reached number 1 album in the U.S. and France in sales on Amazon.com, number 2 on iTunes in several countries including the U.S., France and Brazil, number 4 on Billboard’s jazz charts and top jazz radio charts.
Made in Brazil, released on March 31, 2015, on Concord Jazz, brought Elias her first GRAMMY® win in the category of Best Latin Jazz Album in 2016, after seven previous GRAMMY® nominations. In her long career as a solo artist, it results from the first time she’s recorded a disc in her native Brazil since moving to the United States in 1981.
It marked a musical homecoming for Elias. Her following album, Dance of Time, which debuted at number 1 on two Billboard charts, the iTunes Jazz Albums chart and the Amazon.com Brazilian and Latin Jazz charts, was also recorded in Elias’ homeland and took home a Latin GRAMMY® for Best Latin Jazz/Jazz Album.
On April 13, 2018, Elias followed up those wins with the all-instrumental Music from Man of La Mancha, also via Concord Jazz. Featuring nine individualized interpretations of songs composed by the late Mitch Leigh for the legendary 1960s Broadway musical Man of La Mancha, it was a project Elias undertook in 1995 that was waiting for it’s release having been stymied by past contractual issues.
Leigh himself tracked down Elias after hearing her ingenius arrangements of Jobim’s music and commissioned her to arrange and produce the recording. Honored by the offer, she accepted and recruited two different all-star trios — one featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette and the other Marc Johnson on bass and Satoshi Takeishi on drums, with Manolo Badrena joining on percussion. This album also reached the #1 position on the Billboard Jazz Charts and on iTunes in several countries.
In review of Elias’ unique gifts as a pianist, singer, composer and arranger as well as melding her immense talents in jazz, pop, classical and Brazilian music, the New York Times has described Elias’ live concert as “a celebration of the vitality of a culture overflowing with life and natural beauty” and Jazziz magazine has called her, “a citizen of the world” and “an artist beyond category.”
GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING ELIANE ELIAS’ LOVE STORIES SERVES AS A CLASSIC HOMAGE TO LOVE IN ITS MANY FACETS AND FORMS
New orchestral project features originals, compositions from bossa nova’s golden age, and songs made famous by Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim
For Immediate Release – Eliane Elias ascends to a new echelon of artistic expression with the August 30, 2019 release of Love Stories on Concord Jazz. A multi-hyphenate musician whose recent releases Made in Brazil (2015), Dance of Time (2017) and Man of La Mancha (2018) have earned her multiple GRAMMY Award wins and No.1 Billboard chart debuts, Elias’ new orchestral project serves as a classic homage to love in its many facets and forms.
Love Stories is an orchestral album, revealing Elias’ mastery and preeminence as a multifaceted artist – a vocalist, pianist, arranger, composer, lyricist and producer. Sung almost entirely in English, the album features three original compositions plus seven superb arrangements of pieces from bossa nova’s golden age, including songs made famous by Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
As both an interpreter and composer, Elias inhabits the rich tradition of bossa while bringing the music into the present. She infuses familiar songs with unexpected twists that intensify the music’s evocative power – whether by creating harmonic modulations that enhance a lyric or shifting the rhythmic feel of a section to heighten its emotion – allowing the subtle complexities of her voice to take centerstage, all the while.
Noting that romantic love is just one of a wide range of ways the emotion gets manifested, Elias says, “The idea for this album was to bring to life various stories of love and loving through this collection of songs.”
As she tells those stories, Elias brings a depth of feeling to the album that comes courtesy of her evocative approach as a pianist and singer as well as the precision with which she’s able to execute her musical vision.
“From the moment of conception, it couldn’t be more integrated,” she explains. “From the first note that’s chosen, every color I create in the arrangements, the modulations, the choice of keys, the small group arranging, the possibilities for orchestra – it’s as deep into my personal taste as it can go…because I’m envisioning the arrangement; deciding how to convey the song and perform it with the band, and being mindful of the future orchestrations all at once.”
For the album, Elias invited some of her favorite Brazilian rhythm section players to join her –
Marcus Texiera on guitar and Edu Ribeiro, Rafael Barata and Celso Almeida on drums – plus her core collaborators, co-producer and bassist Marc Johnson and co-producer Steve Rodby. Orchestrator Rob Mathes returns for his fourth recording with Elias as well, bringing his lush string arrangements into flawless sync with Elias’ rich harmonic and varied rhythmic approaches, as he did on her GRAMMY Award-winning 2015 album, Made in Brazil.
A celebrated interpreter of Jobim, Elias sees undercurrents of his long collaborative history with orchestrator Claus Ogerman in the working relationship she’s developed with Mathes.
Says Johnson: “Rob’s orchestrations all go so deep and are so beautifully intertwined with
Eliane’s small group arrangements. He also understands voice distribution so well. He’s said that in the process of writing the arrangements, he immerses himself in the recorded basic tracks, and, in even more detail, into Eliane’s piano voicings. Rob is absolutely on the same emotional wavelength as Eliane.”
This emotional connection is essential given the circumstances from which the album was born. Elias began working on the music for Love Stories through a difficult year in which she lost her father, and four months prior to his passing, fractured her shoulder in an accident in her
hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She was rendered virtually immobile for months while recovering in her apartment there. As she recuperated, her window view of breeze-tickled palm trees and balconies against the blue Sao Paulo sky became the backdrop for a new set of musical inspiration.
“During that period, I wasn’t allowed to move, my left arm was in a sling and so to avoid surgery I had to stay immobilized and really still,” she recalls. “Meanwhile, I created and wrote all of these arrangements in that state.”
The album opens with a tone-setting bossa nova groove and Elias’ sensual, velvety voice, inspiring us with the message of taking a chance on love, from the vintage pop gem of Frances Lai’s theme song from the Oscar-winning 1966 French film, “A Man and a Woman.”
It’s a seamless jump from that to Elias’ take on “Baby, Come to Me.” Made famous in the early ’80s by Patti Austin and James Ingram, the song gets reworked here in characteristic Elias fashion, as she smoothly moves from a bossa nova to a hybrid Latin feel, with brilliant harmonic
and tempo modulations. Added to the backdrop of soaring strings and rich piano voicings, the tune becomes altogether new.
“I like the message of cultivating a relationship, of keeping the romance alive when you find someone you love.” says Elias, who enlisted yet another of her go-to collaborators, Take 6’s multiple GRAMMY Award-winning Mark Kibble, to cover the background vocals.
There’s a heartfelt vulnerability to Elias’ lilting, expressive singing on “Bonita,” a dreamy rendition of one of Jobim and Sinatra’s late ’60s collaborations that features some lovely interplay between the piano and orchestra alongside Elias’ delicate and nuanced vocal phrasing.
“It’s a very pure expression of someone who wants their love to be accepted and returned,” Elias says.
The Sinatra homage continues with a twinkling, sexy take on “Angel Eyes,” followed by a brilliant rendition of “Come Fly with Me” that’s re-imagined with a Brazilian groove and carries the listener away with a passionate, high-flying piano solo.
Elias explores yet another aspect of love on her warm toned original “The Simplest Things,” a rich and multi-layered musing on a love that has stood the test of time. The message here – about looking back on a love that’s matured and discovering that “the simplest things are the wonderful things” in that shared life – is a profound and sweet universal truth that we can all relate to.
On “Silence,” the album’s second original piece, the mood is decidedly more intense as Elias channels the protagonist of the story’s anguish. “My voice here is the most exposed on the album,” Elias says. “I believe that most everyone has experienced disappointment or
disillusionment at some point in their lives. The question is how does one respond to that?”
A bright and buoyant rendition of “O Barquinho/Little Boat,” where you can almost feel the waves gently undulating in time with Elias’ rocking piano solo, changes the mood again. Roberto Menescal, the song’s composer, plays the guitar on this track and the opening verse features the only moment on the recording in which Elias sings in Portuguese.
The album closes with one more original, “The View.” This story is a bit more adult and complicated, given its suggestive imagery. There’s a rendezvous and a vision of a woman rolling down her stockings – but her apparition is almost like a dream or an angel. “The story is about something more internalized,” says Elias, “somewhere between reality and imagination, erotic yet pure in love and love’s expression.”
It’s also an appropriately complex finish to an album that digs deep musically to shine new light on one of our deepest human experiences. In the process, it offers a portrait of an incomparable artist whose sound resonates from decades of experience – in music as in life.
Of the connection with her instrument Elias has said, “the piano is an extension of my body and the deepest expression of my soul.” Love Stories proves her voice now occupies that place, as well.