Eliane Elias, review: Legend of the bossa queen
Elias proved she’s an artist at her peak, says Jane Cornwell 4/21/17
Spectacular playing: She’s told it before but she’ll tell it again: Eliane Elias was just 17, leading her trio at a gig in Sao Paolo, when she spotted Joao Gilberto and Vinicius de Moraes, the creators of bossa nova, seated down the front.
“As close as you are now,” said the New York-based virtuoso, 57, smiling at a rapt front row from behind a grand piano. Adding that she would go on to work with the pair for three years, she dedicated Chega de Saudade, the first ever bossa, in their honour, her sweet croon and spectacular playing – delicate skips, cascading trills, wildly percussive chords – vindicating their faith, and then some.
The double bassist Marc Johnson, formerly of Bill Evans’ trio, clung tenderly to his instrument, as if it was all too beautiful.
An artist at her peak, Elias is getting her dues. Her last record, 2015’s Made In Brazil, won her a Grammy, finally, after seven previous nominations (“So, you know, never give up!”).
Current album Dance of Time, a salute to samba and to the musicians who helped her on her way, went straight to Number One all over the place. Little wonder: tracks including a Latin-tinged Sambao Sambao and her own exquisite ballad, Little Paradise, fizzed with optimism, bathed you in warmth. “Obrigado,” she said at the end, looking heavenwards.