Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings & Plays Bill Evans
Record LabelBlue Note Records
- Gold Disc Award, Swing Journal, Japan
- “Best Vocal Album of the Year” award for 2007 in Japan (Swing Journal)
- 3rd consecutive recording that Eliane receives this award & her 4th all together!
- Gold Disc Award 2007 (Japan)
- #1 USA Jazz on radio
- #2 In France (Jazz Charts)
- #8 on Billboard
- #8 on Itunes
- #14 in the “Top 100 of 2008″ airplay posted by Billboard Magazine
Track Listing1. You and the Night and the Music
2. Here Is Something For You
3. A Sleepin' Bee
4. But Not For Me
5. Waltz for Debby
7. Blue in Green
8. Detour Ahead
9. Minha (All Mine)
10. My Foolish Heart
11. But Beautiful / Here's that Rainy Day
12. I Love My Wife
13. For Nenette
16. After All
17. Introduction To "Here Is Something For You"
It takes a rare artist to make a statement through music that extends his or her legacy through the act of paying tribute to someone else.Eliane Elias is one of the few who can pull off this contradictory tour de force. Throughout Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans, her latest album and the first to mark her return to the Blue Note Records family, she does exactly that. While touching the essence of the late great Bill Evans, she also brings her own unique gifts to the surface, as a composer, interpreter, outstanding instrumentalist and beguiling vocalist as well.
Something for You is, above all else, a supremely conceived and well executed album, recorded over the space of just four days, with the renowned pianist, bassist Marc Johnson (Elias’ husband), and drummer Joey Baron delivering exquisite interpretations of tunes inspired by or drawn from the Evans catalog – including a couple of tunes that have never been recorded until now.
Every moment of Something for You radiates the sound that Elias had begun developing back in her home country of Brazil as a child, based on her unique juxtapositions of elegant phrasing, adventurous harmony and breezy swing, each element complementing the others. In this sense, this album will be no surprise to those who have learned to expect excellence from Elias as a matter of course.
Yet Evans is in this mix too, not just as one of her first and most significant influences but also as a presence that Elias allows to surface, always in the context of her own voice.
At times, his essence is especially vivid: In her treatment of “I Love My Wife,” which Evans recorded in 1978 as an experiment in layering his improvisations on top of themselves, she opens with an almost literal reproduction of his opening passage – and then, in a breathtaking display, expands on this by echoing his three-piano texture without any overdubs.
But more typically, Elias celebrates Evans by using his innovations as a springboard for her inventiveness, drawing from his style without ever letting it pull her into mere imitation.
Really, it was only a matter of time that Elias would get around to making this gesture. It was important, first, to bring her talents to fruition. This mission was accomplished long ago – even in her teens, Elias was a strikingly original player – but perhaps it made sense to wait until now, with her return to Blue Note Records, which had brought her into the international jazz spotlight shortly after her arrival from Brazil in New York. With its appreciation of the traditional and contemporary aspects of jazz, this label was the perfect home for a project of such encompassing perspective.
Even so, Something for You might never have happened, if not for a discovery made by Marc Johnson.
Johnson, of course, had played with the last Evans trio. In their time together, the bassist achieved the kind of insight that can come only from working directly with another artist. Just as important, the two had formed a close bond, symbolized by the cassette that Evans had given to Johnson. On it were rough sketches of songs in progress that unfortunately were left unfinished at the time of the pianist’s untimely demise in 1980.
Not long ago, Johnson found one of these tapes and played it for Elias. That was all it took to bring their Evans tribute to life.
In her mid teens, back in Sao Paulo, Elias cultivated her appreciation for Evans by writing out his recorded performances. With Johnson’s cassette, she returned to this practice, focusing first on one fragment that piqued her interest. “I transcribed every note,” she says, “exactly as he played them. It brought back the feeling I had as a young child. I reacted to what he played very emotionally. It even brought me to tears. I cannot tell you how strongly it touched me, as I wrote it out and then played along with him.”
The experience inspired Elias to rearrange the tune and to write an ending for it as well as a set of lyrics and a title: “Here’s Something for You.” More than that, it set her on track with Johnson and Baron, to make this the cornerstone of a comprehensive nod to Evans.
Understandably, Something for You has a special meaning for Johnson. “Bill’s conception of trio playing was so enthralling to me that from an early age I felt I had a direction in my life as a musician,” he says. “And then actually sharing the bandstand with him was a life-altering experience, simultaneously thrilling, humbling and ultimately life-affirming. Bill was so supportive in the music that simply playing with him every night was enough to elevate my playing.”
With their distinctive insights into Evans and his legacy, Elias and Johnson sifted through the Evans catalog, from the ‘50s to his last works, searching for the material best suited to this album. Their first criterion was to focus on songs that could speak both briefly and eloquently. “There were just so many beautiful songs,” she says. “And rather than feeling I have to do five or ten choruses to say something, I prefer songs whose stories I can tell in a shorter amount of time.”
This left them still with abundant riches. In the end she chose standards such as “But Not for Me,” “My Foolish Heart” and “You and the Night and the Music,” set here to a brilliant sequence of chord changes in each verse. There were Evans compositions too, on which she also borrowed certain conventions that Evans often embraced – shifting between meters, for example, during sections of “Five” and “Waltz for Debby,” and displacing the time over the bar lines of the previously unrecorded “Evanesque.”
Sometimes, though, even this wasn’t enough to express fully the feelings Elias holds for Evans. So here—more than she has ever done elsewhere—Elias brings her singing into the spotlight. Her ability to caress a melody within the frame of evocative harmonies on “But Beautiful,” “Detour Ahead” and “Minha” showcases another act of balance, in this case between the vocal and instrumental sides of her artistry.
All of this can be discerned easily in the music. But the finishing touch isn’t so obvious, except to listeners who might notice something different in the low end on “My Foolish Heart.” On that track, Johnson sets his instrument aside and plays the bass once owned by Scott LaFaro, the brilliant young innovator who substantially redefined the role of the bass in jazz in just the few recordings he made with the original Evans trio. This bass, blessed to this day with an unusual resonance and rich timbre, has never been recorded since its owner’s untimely death in 1961 at age 25, in an automobile accident.