Live Reviews 2006

“EXEMPLARY PIANO TALENT AND SHE SINGS TOO”

By Don Heckman
Special to The LA Times March 22, 2006

Eliane Elias hasn’t been heard often enough in the Southland. And her previous recent appearance, a relatively brief set last summer at the Hollywood Bowl in a tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim, was obscured by unnecessarily distracting orchestral accompaniment. So it was particularly pleasant to hear the gifted Brazilian pianist and singer in a far more intimate setting Sunday afternoon at the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation in Beverly Hills. Performing with bassist Marc Johnson, drummer Satoshi Takeishi and guitarist Freddie Bryant, she offered a succulent menu of tunes showcasing her considerable skills. Unlike virtually every female jazz singer-pianist who comes to mind, Elias plays with enough improvisational inventiveness and hard- driving swing to establish her musical credibility without ever singing another note. Her soloing on “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Desafinado” – filled with well-paced, spontaneously crafted melodies, soaring freely across the top of the harmonies – was gripping, more than compensating for her tendency to rely a bit too much (especially in the vocals) on overly dramatic two-handed chording. In the early part of her career, Elias’ singing had the sound of a lower-pitched Astrud Gilberto. More recently, she has begun to find a warmer, darker vocal texture. And when she emphasized that quality – on numbers such as “Tangerine” – one sensed her singing finally beginning to find its own focus. Happily, the performance also had distinctly Brazilian overtones. Elias’ strengths as a jazz artist, combined with her roots in São Paulo, make her one of the most impressive interpreters of jazz- linked bossa novas, sambas and choros – notably apparent in tunes such as “Doralice,” “Chega de Saudade” and an unexpected, bossa nova rendering of the old Petula Clark hit “Call Me.” She was exceptionally well aided by Bryant, whose crisp articulation and rhythmic lift, enhanced by his lively interaction with Elias, took these numbers up another level. Johnson and Takeishi, deeply familiar with the adventurous twists and turns of Elias’ musical pathways, provided strong, supportive accompaniment throughout.

“Luscious and dreamy… her voice is subtle and husky… subdued beauty, expressive melodic lines and very integrated ensemble work.”

Billboard

“The undoubted charm is the haunting quality of Elias’ delicate, whispery vocals. Beuatiful and bewitching”

Mojo (London)

“Elias’ singing is like a warm breeze from the south – its pleasures are undeniable. Elias’ tunes ahve a winning breeziness about the, and her piano playing remains marveously impressionistic in a Bill Evans-meets-Antonio Carlos Jobim sort of way”

Boston Herald

“Elias delivers soft and swinging music hip and hot enough for North and South america. Whether the groove is acoustic or electronica jazz or same, it’s all Eliane Elias, and it’s all good.”

amazon.com

“Eliane Elias, blessed with a warm voice and elegant pianist’s touch, hits all the right chords. Elias delivers into seductive tones and textures in her native Brazil, joining them with the masterful jazz tonalities.”

Global Rhythm

Concert review -The New York Times, published on October 12, 2004

“An Ipanema Pianist-Singer With Force”, by Stephen Holden

“The Brazilian pianist and singer Eliane Elias commands the keyboard with a forceful two-handed muscularity that belies her image as a blond older sister of the mythical Girl From Ipanema. The more percussive her pianism becomes, the more she opens up a song and reimagines it in what might be called a romantic carnival groove. And on Friday evening, at Le Jazz au Bar, where Ms. Elias is appearing through Saturday, the most memorable moments were those in which she and her three musicians (Marc Johnson on bass, Rubens de la Corte on guitar and Paulo Braga on drums) cracked through the formal strictures of pop samba. Ms. Elias, originally from Saõ Paulo, was once the protégée of Vinicius de Moraes, the poet, lyricist and songwriting collaborator of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Since moving to the United States in the 1980′s, Ms. Elias has released more than 15 albums. Her newest one, “Dreamer” (Bluebird), is a richly orchestrated collection that looks back in spirit to the heyday of Jobim and American counterparts like Burt Bacharach. It includes “Tangerine,” the 40′s hit by Johnny Mercer and Victor Schertzinger that may have been a prototype for “The Girl From Ipanema.” Vocally, Ms. Elias has a matter-of-fact delivery…,with her reach never exceeding her grasp. Whether singing in Portuguese or English…she simply states a song, then lets her pianism carry it into another dimension. On Friday, her renditions of “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Desafinado,” in particular, ripped the songs open, lighted firecrackers in their grooves, and set them ablaze.”

“One of the most enchanting and relaxing albums in quite a while. She sings perfect music for a lazy afternoon out in the sun or romantic dinner.. Treat yourself to an audio island paradise with Eliane Elias and Dreamer!”

Buzz Magazine

“Dreamer presents a sensuous blend of strings, singing and deft piano playing….her singing drifts above the melody in a sexy cloud. …. With its many moods and lovely turns, this record is the aural equivalent of a beautiful and graceful woman dancing in the dark.”

The Hartford Courant