Billboard Spotlight Review

August 14, 2006

Eliane Elias – Around The City
Producers: Eliane Elias, Andres Levin, Lester Mendez
RCA Victor
Release date: Aug 22

On “Around The City”, pianist Elias assigns the keys a back seat in support of her alluring, sensuous vocals sung in English and Portuguese. The Brazil-born, New York-based Elias has played the singer card before in her 18-album career, but nothing like this outing, where she delivers a spellbinding meld of pop, Brazillian and Latin music with a jazz sensibility. Her pianistic excursions arrive sporadically and deeper into the 13-song collection, including a fine run in “A Vizinha Do Lado”. But upfront is where “Around The City” enraptures, beginning with the spirited original “Running”, and continuing with a bossa-steeped take on Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” and later a sultry swing through Beck’s “Tropicalia”. Standout track: Elias’ jazzy spin on Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” with loops, trumpet ornamentation and a piano sprint, all girded to earth with speedy grooves by two drummers.

Around The City

Eliane Elias

by Duane Wells,

(Los Angeles, California) Brazilian born pianist and composer, Eliane Elias, may have been one of music’s best kept secrets for years, but she certainly seems to have no plans to allow that situation to endure.

In 2004, the prolific jazz artist, released the critically acclaimed album Dreamer, a lush 11-track collection of songs from the American songbook, which demonstrated that the Grammy-nominated, virtuoso pianist was also quite a singer as well. And now Elias is back with an elegantly eclectic new collection of songs entitled Around The City that continues to showcase her prowess as both a singer and a musician.

Disarmingly sultry and playfully seductive, Elias’ Around The City is one of those rare transcendent jazz albums that refuses to be categorized or placed in a box of any kind. You don’t have to like jazz or the sounds of Brazil to fall in love with Around The City. In fact all you need to be enchanted by Eliane Elias and her new album Around The City is a pulse and satisfactory hearing.
With a voice bearing a huskiness reminiscent of Astrid Gilberto and a breezy style that puts me in the mind of Michael Franks with a little more South American flavor, Eliane Elias is to jazz what Sade and Basia are to pop – a gifted vocal ballerina who glides across notes with whisper light ease…her voice seemingly floating on a puffy cloud of comfortable lyrics…almost as if she is sailing on a breeze.

Around The City opens with an uplifting bossa nova flavored track entitled “Running” that will likely land a coveted place in rotation at Smooth Jazz radio. I’ve never been to Brazil, but the slick, sexiness of this track captures everything that I imagine it to be. A jazzy cover of Tito Puente-penned Santana hit “Oye Como Va” that practically makes you sway from the opening bars follows the opening track and keeps the pace of the album in high gear, but the real highlight of Around The City comes on track 4 when Elias delivers a truly inspired and rousing version of Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” that along the way turns into a religious experience.

Graceful ballads like “Segredos (secrets)”, “Another Day” and “Save Your Love For Me” along with a cover of Beck’s в”Tropicalia” homage to the Brazilian Tropicalia psychedelic/soul fusion movement of the mid – 1960′s complete this jazz collection which should be a shoo-in for a Grammy nomination.

Fans of lounge music, elegant jazz and Brazilian rhythms have got reason to celebrate thanks to the release of Eliane Elias’ Around The City on August 22nd. I can almost see them doing the samba now! © 2006

Outlook Magazine Arizona

August 11, 2006

AROUND THE CITY Sophisticated Jazz From Brazil

The image of the “Girl From Ipanema” still lingers. Song stylist Sade took the exoticism to another level creating a sophisticated calm, ever so cool, update on that standard image. Operating within the same musical background, Brazilian Eliane Elias comes up with a smooth retro release that contains that same cool jazz, with some pop touches.

By: Kurt von Behrmann

While I am not exactly “bowled over” by the publicity lines “Brazilians do it better,” for Elias’ latest release, the music is the key. I won’t hold “cheese PR lines” against her. Her release merits more respect than that. For this outing, she has come through with a consistent set of numbers on “Around The City.”

The title cut, obviously titled “Around The City,” merges bits of Bossa Nova with shades of pop, jazz and rock and roll that would not be totally out of place on Steele Dan release.

Bossa Nova, created by João Gilberto and first introduced in Brazil by Gilberto’s recording of “Chega de Saudade”, in 1958, Elias, who hails from Brazil and includes one track, “Oye Como Va,” a track she covered Tito Puente in Portuguese, takes advantage of her connection to Brazil’s unique take on jazz. Not confining herself to one location, she covers Bob Marley’s “Jammin.” In her take she turns the track into something so far removed from the original it is nearly unrecognizable.

A member of the jazz ensemble Steps Ahead, Elias ventured tentatively into solo recordings in the 80s, while maintaining her solid commitment to jazz all the while never failing to bridge her adventurous tendencies with Brazilian musical traditions. Even with the pop touches of “Around The City,” the singer songwriter pianist maintains strong ties to her musical roots.

On recent albums she’s been redefining herself, shifting from a role as a strictly instrumental musician to building a rep as a vocalist. Able to sing in both English and Portuguese, Elias has a calm style that she never pushes. In contrast to a lot of song stylist, I have to give her credit for doing it without resorting to “over-doing it.” Able to sing in a straight forward manner, she is not out to overwhelm or impress, she is out to sing the songs pure and simple. That direct approach works well. Plus, she has the vocal chops and musical ability to do it without tripping over herself.

Segredos (Secrets) is a low key polished number that successfully blends the best of 70s Southern California singer songwriter melodic stylings with jazz flourishes. It is one of the most successful hybrids in that arena that has rolled out in a while.

“We’re So Good,” brings sounds much more pop, even easy listening than the other numbers. Not that this is a insult, it is a compliment that she can pull it off without making it sound slight.

As laid back easy smooth releases go, Elias has made only a few concessions to pop while keeping herself firmly planed in jazz. Making the difficult choice to retain Brazilian musical traditions and at the same time making a bid for a more mainstream approach, Elias has come out ahead.

If you love Julia Fordham, and who doesn’t, Sade and you have a real appreciation for jazz, this 13 track release has something for you to enjoy and savor over a glass of wine.

If you think this is just background music, it really isn’t, and it does merit a repeated listen to two to get the idea. Well worth checking out .


Spin Control
by Gregory T. Angelo

Why don’t we take it down a few notches for a change? Lord knows it’s too hot outside to be listening to some 160 bpm monstrosity—there’ll be time enough for that later. For now, why not throw something cooler onto your home stereo? Something like Eliane Elias’ new disc Around the City? The Brazilian bossa nova beauty’s 18th album is an essential summer chill-out CD, gorgeously blending smooth instrumentals and Elias’ subtle, mesmerizing voice. The 13-track RCA Victor release begins with the bubbly “Running,” percolates into a downplayed cover of “Oye Como Va,” hits a furtive peak on the jubilant “Jammin”‘ and floats to a downy finale on the feathery “Another Day.”