Folly Theater, Kansas City

April 14, 2013
By Libby Hanssen
Eliane Elias, Brazilian-born pianist and vocalist, presented an enviable image as she grinned and tossed her mane of blonde hair, pounding out rhythms with insatiable enthusiasm.

She returned to the Folly Theater stage on Saturday night with her trio: bassist and husband Marc Johnson and drummer and fellow countryman Mauricio Zottarelli.

Recovering from a bout of bronchitis and suffering from some lingering laryngitis, Elias still managed to deliver in a blend of Portuguese and sexily accented English nearly half the program in her dusky voice.

Despite the vocal setback, the show was vibrantly energetic with an insistent pulse, and had it quite a few audience members compulsively moving in the confines of their seats. Elias kicked off her stiletto heels, too, stomping her feet and swinging her shoulders as she almost danced at the piano.

Elias melds styles of bossa nova and samba with straight-ahead jazz in her compositions and arrangements, sometimes within the same tune. Duringthis concert, the trio performed a few selections from her latest album which features collaborations with Brazilian musician and activist Gilberto Gil.

She offered rough translations for some of the tunes, such as “Bananiera,” with its ridiculous lyrics yet infectious melody, and Ary Barroso’s sweet, slightly cheeky “Isto Aqui O Que É.”

Her own compositions veer toward the romantic, as in “B is for Butterfly,” with its shifting meter and gentle, dewdrop-like ornaments.

The group paid tribute to a few American composers: the bluesy, gospel-fueled “Bowing to Bud” for Bud Powell and Bill Evans’ “You and the Night and Music.” Bassist Johnson played in Evans’ last trio in the late 1970s. This evening, he primarily provided sturdy bass lines and interesting, if comparatively subdued, choruses, but his unfettered solo rendition of Evans’ “Nardis” was incredibly rewarding.

Elias is well regarded as an interpreter of the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. The trio performed a riotous opening “Chega de Saudade” and a cool, gliding “Fotografia,” with a suddenly swinging coda.

Jobim’s “Desfinado” was presented tenderly and atmospheric, with rolling lines in the piano, arco work in the bass and an impressive, extended solo from Zottarelli as he subverted the groove and quoted the melody, using his hands and elbows on the drumheads to bend the pitch.

They came back for one final tune – the percussively syllabic “Turn to Me (Samba Maracatú)” that allowed Zottarelli to play out the intricate rhythms, exchanging phrases with Elias.
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Marc Johnson, Ronnie Scott’s, London

February 19, 2013 5:43 pm
By Mike Hobart

Tonight’s few-frills piano trio gig swirled with invention, pulse and history lived. Marc Johnson was the bass player, alongside drummer Pat LaBarbera, in pianist Bill Evans’ last rhythm section; the legendary jazz impressionist died in 1980. Johnson and LaBarbera sustained Evans’ final years at a creative high, and tonight’s performance resonated with the stealthy rhythms, group interplay and gossamer textures that were the late pianist’s hallmark.

But with Johnson’s marital partner, Eliane Elias, playing piano this was never going to be a retread of a particular niche of the jazz heritage. Elias’s style-crossing career has Brazilian roots – she was born in São Paulo – but 30 years in New York have given her an encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz. Husky-voiced bossas and light-touch sambas yield to sharp, dazzling runs, impressionist voicings suspended in time, two-handed tremolos, angular abstractions and, at this gig, even a four-to-the-floor bar-room shuffle.

The first set mixed a Brazilian dalliance into the songbook repertoire and added originals from a newly released album. Two floating chords opened, a tumbledown run set the tempo, cuing the standard “Everything I Love” at a nippy pace. There was counterpoint bass and an understated pulse, breaks and exchanges and then a Bill Evans original, “Five”, with Elias adding a tough edge to this soulful and oddly asymmetric theme.

As the set progressed, the trio presented a fluttery tribute to nature – “B is for Butterfly” – a brace of husky, rough-at-the-edges vocals and the genre-bending “Sirens of Titan” a showcase for Johnson’s bowed bass. As the evening wore on, Elias came increasingly to the fore, her ideas teeming with dexterity and rhythmic independence over a palette of influences. The set ended with a tribute to another jazz great, Bud Powell. “Bowing to Bud” opened as an angular, unaccompanied, fingers-flying celebration and was eased out as fragments over a mid-tempo lope.

The second set gave the songbook repertoire precedence. “Autumn Leaves” was obliquely stated, there was Gershwin as a samba and Kern at a romp. Elias was on fire and in command, twisting and turning and putting her stamp on “Desafinado”. Johnson, alongside LaBarbera, played his role to perfection and delivered a solo highlight on “Nardis”.

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From Miami to Copacabana
The festival brings down the curtain with an emotional recital and the mayor promises a new edition

Translated from:

“I hope in the 16th edition of Jazz San Javier.” The words of Juan Martinez, mayor of San Javier, supporting the Director Alberto Nieto, while delivering the prize of the festival to the Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias, were greeted with a standing ovation, dispelling uncertainty about the continuity. A bold gamble by the municipal corporation, not only by culture but by the economy of the area, given the economic impact of the festival, an expensive investment to tourism. Indeed, initiatives such as the San Javier Jazz perhaps more should be supported by the tourism industry. The balance of this fifteenth edition has been very positive, says Alberto Nieto: “Despite the circumstances, it has maintained a high level of artistry”, highlighting among other proceedings the Italian pianist Giovanni Mirabassi and American rocker John Hiatt. In terms of figures, attendance at the festival was around 13,000 spectators. In a year in which the public has fallen on average between 20 and 30%, the balance can not be seen but from the success and brand consolidation Jazz San Javier. You have to make concessions to gain altitude, but let’s be smart and not us to let go of everything that keeps us on the air.

In the last concert of Jazz San Javier, the pianist Eliane Elias said in its interpretation by her great technique and improvisational ease These characteristics in no way come to overshadow the enormous emotional and lyrical content of her music. Elias recurs frequently in the repertoire of Brazilian music, through whose sinuous chromatic lines slide easily in their improvisations, often brilliant. The Brazilian diva closed the festival, this year dedicated to women in jazz, accompanied by bassist Marc Johnson, a jazz legend, drummer Rafael Barata and Sao Paulo guitarist Rubens de La Corte. Struck by the harmony of her current quartet, an exquisite combination of experience and youth, which gave way to excellent arrangements with astonishing eloquence. Marc Johnson on bass brought out his stripes to create a seamless transition from the rhythm of Rafael Barata, with the harmony of the piano and guitar Eliane Rubens LaCorte. As a result, a sound elegant and solid, an ode to elegance and sensuality. The quartet was excellent, but only at the end, during the performance of a magnificent Desafinado Jobim, bassist (and husband of Eliane) Marc Johnson and drummer fantastic displayed alone.

Elias appeared on the scene voluptuous and sensual black short dress and black shoes on red heels, surreptitiously took off when she sat at the piano to the pedals. She demanded that no photos get her out, as the lights distracted her, and captured in a show full of sambas and bossa novas from her native Brazil. Known for decades as a formidable pianist, in recent years her singing career has become an equally important part of her music. Sometimes you can not anticipate an extreme experience.

Sure, there may be a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, but when it comes, you get stunned. This is what happened with Eliane Elias. She is pretty, mature, innocent and lively, a great songwriter and pianist. Arrived and started her musical and spiritual journey to Brazil.

Simultaneously powerful and fragile, Elias played with joy and fervor, and her group was not far behind in power. Leaning on her piano, chords throwing in ‘staccato’, as in Dorival Caymmi Rosa Morena (version she did ‘Rosa blonde’) tearing to dance while singing. Who can sing a song while dancing wasting sexy sensuality, and then sit at the piano and play a solo that would rival McCoy Tyner? Elias could be the best example of the music of Brazilian jazz.

Her ability to keep rhythm with her left hand and melodies with the right is simply staggering. Not only was her technical skill, but also its spectrum, and then her voice. Nothing frantic cries, just that lovely midrange voice like Astrud Gilberto, family, sensual Brazilian, and so effective.

It’s the best creative rhythmic and melodic jazz of the current scene. Johnson sometimes played as Eddie Gomez, fast and fearless, but always with an intention to make finally got emotional, not just for the sake of speed or ostentation. It is no exaggeration to suggest that Johnson is in the same league as Gomez, bassist dedication to the music of pianist Bill Evans, he replaced the late Gomez 70, was apparent, and picked up wanting those rhythms of bossa nova. In fact, besides the friendly connection with the Brazilian jazz, the whole group looks like a tribute to Evans. Barata and percussion played horizontally (all drums and cymbals before him, to waist level), creating many rhythms with hip movement that his solos were absolute wonders: powerful and ethereal.

The sound of drums rose from his legs and torso as a sacred fire. Concert was a soft, whispery voice, piano and winds high Brazilians: No shortage of classics like da saudade Chega, One note samba, but also played A rã of Joao Donato, her virtuosity on the ivories, a Jobim Desafinado a Expressionist part, a piece of Eiane, What About the Heart, from their latest album, Light my Fire, and classic American swing (They Can not Take That Away From Me from Gershwin) with piano infiltrate samba. After being handed the prize offered us a nice Chicletti com banana, Gozanguinha, son of legendary Luiz Gonzaga, who joined, she said, Miami with Copacabana, mixing samba and bebop. The code was used to show an excellent singer, always clear and vibrant. Eliane her voice caresses each of the notes she vocalizes, intoxicating music space a feeling melancholy but hopeful, elegant vitalist. It may not be anything we did not know, but it was terribly seductive.

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Eliane Elias
Copenhagen Jazzfestival, Politikens Hus, Pressen,
lørdag d. 14. juli 2012

A splendid night with the Brazilian musician and Bossa Nova’s master composer ( 5 stars review)
by Ivan Rod

Eliane Elias, Brazilian pianist and vocalist, is for Bossa Nova what the Canadian pianist and vocalist Diana Krall is for jazz. She is a brilliant interpreter and a musical storyteller par excellence. Both are outstanding pianists and singers. Many critics have surely emphasized Diana Krall’s contralto as an outstanding force; but even though Eliane Elias’ vocals come a little higher, and have not been as expressive in the beginning { of her singing career}, her vocal confidence and authenticity have grown. This – combined with her obvious love to music and the ability to become one with her music – is her strength today.
Eliane Elias has given two concerts at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival; one Friday night, themed around her last album “Light My Fire”, the other one Saturday with the works of Brazil’s major composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, who not just created an immortalized Bossa Nova, but also made the special qualities of the mixture of samba and jazz much more accessible to a broader audience. Bossa Nova has been standard repertoire for jazz musicians all over the world since the mid-fifties, which Antonio Carlos Jobim is to thank for.

A piece like “Garota de Ipanema” (The Girl from Ipanema), with lyrics by Vinícius De Moraes is one example for one of these standards. This very number became Eliane Elias’ encore this Saturday at the old print hall at Politikens Hus Copenhagen, and this very number initialized very much deserved standing ovations.
The Eliane Elias Quartet’s Jobim-tribute was carried by the interaction between the musicians on the stage, their connection with the audience, empathy, the generous and joyous play, as well as the audience’s presence and their spontaneous applause. Eliane Elias did not only play and sing with sincere joy, but she also happily involved her audience generously with her own musical (hi)story and especially the history she shares with Jobim. They both established – through music – a close relationship, before he passed away in 1994.

With this in mind, Eliane Elias has the authority and can naturally communicate and sometimes twist Jobim’s material. She did both Saturday night – together with bassist Marc Johnson, guitar player Rubens De La Corte and drummer Rafael Barata. They played pieces according to the initial compositions, showed “extended versions” and improvised through others. By doing that, they brought Jobim’s material to life in front of a spellbound Danish audience. Eliane sat aside the concept of the Jobim-tribute only once, when she and her accompanists performed her own composition “Bate Bate”, part of her album “Light My Fire”. This composition has earned a Grammy-nomination for “Best Brazilian Song”, but nevertheless she left the path. This deviation though only revealed, that Eliane Elias is the obvious choice to interpret the inventor of Bossa Nova. This piece showed clearly that there is a natural artistic connection between Elias and Jobim. And that is, what made this concert so completely outstanding.
The only thing left to be wished for would be that the concert – and concept – would have been released at another venue. Many of those who had spent 350 DKK to listen to Eliane Elias play Jobim, were hardly able to see the stage due to the supporting columns at the print hall. Many were in their right to be upset, and some obviously have been. The sound though, gave no reason for complaints – nothing wrong there.

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Politiken, July 15 2012 Copenhagen Jazz Festival , by Thomas Michelsen

Sensual singer was like a warm breeze from Rio de Janeiro

She was a hit when she performed with her quartet at the print hall on Friday evening, themed around her album from last year, ‘Light My Fire’. This record spans a repertoire from Brazilian music and some jazz standards to pop and rock. The latter, including The Doors’ classic, which supplied the album’s title.

Saturday, the four musicians back on the same stage, and additional podiums had been brought in for the audience that filled the print hall to the last seat. But the theme was changed.

A warm breeze
The evening was this time entirely devoted to Bossa Nova’s great Brazilian creator, Antonio Carlos Jobim, who singer and pianist Eliane Elias has known and worked with since she was 17 years old and played in jazz clubs. Or almost entirely, you would probably say, because there was also room for Eliane Elias’ own, beautiful and just as Brazilian sensual ‘What About the Heart” or “Bate Bate”, as it is called in her native tongue.

During the concert, Elias told beautifully about Jobim and his work with him and remembered to highlight how he had influenced her interpretations and appreciated them.

No one plays Jobim as beautiful as Elias. No one sings his songs so beautifully in Portuguese, and the evening was like a warm soothing bath.

We were allowed to dive into Jobims harmonic saturated, melodic elegant world of songs, which with wonderfully relaxed chords from Rubens de la Corte’s guitar lulled our hearts and sorrows with a fine melancholy.

Right from Jobims breakthrough song ‘Chega the Saudade’ and smash hit “Desafinado”, there were minor chords of the most beautiful kind, and a warm breeze from the Rio de Janeiro to be felt.

The last song … contained not only a beautiful brushed bass solo from the last Bill Evans bassist Marc Johnson, who Elias is married to, but also a drum solo …

On drums, Raphael Barata from Rio was the right man. He has so much style in the sticks, and not a single hit was wrong. His playing was light, supple and sublime, while Eliane Elias’ husband did underlay it with simple and accurate musicality….

Bossa nova does not get much more beautiful than when Eliane Elias sits at the piano or holds the microphone, and the evening was a nice end to the Brazilian theme, which has been run at the print hall during this year’s jazz festival.

Translation by Matthias Schwarz

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CITY NEWSPAPER Greater Rochester’s Alternative Newsweekly
June 27, 2012 • by roccitynews • in Music Blog

Eliane Elias played Kilbourn Hall on Wednesday, June 27, as part of the 2012 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE

Eliane Elias wowed the crowd at Kilbourn Hall Wednesday night in a show filled with sambas and bossa novas from her native Brazil. For decades Elias has been known as a formidable pianist; in recent years her singing has become an equally important part of her music. She sang songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and others in the original Portuguese. Only on “Call Me” and on the bridge in “The Girl From Ipanema” did she sing in English.

But there was no language barrier. She knew all of the songwriters personally and was very funny in her descriptions of their lyrics, especially when they related to sexy women. And speaking of sexy women, at the age of 52 Elias is blonde and beautiful. She was wearing a low-cut black dress and, at one point got up to dance while singing a song about a blonde dancing. Who else can sing a sexy song, dance a sexy dance, and then sit down at the piano and play a solo to rival McCoy Tyner?

Her band was excellent throughout, but only on the last tune did her bassist (and husband), Marc Johnson, and drummer, Rafael Barata, unleash fantastic solos. After a standing ovation, the group came back and played two more songs.

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From bossa nova to fusion
Democrat and Chronicle – Rochester
Jeff Spevak

Boss of the bossa nova

Eliane Elias kicked off her shoes as she sat down at the Kilbourn Hall piano. A good idea. It’s probably pretty tough to work those pedals with four-inch spike heels. WXXI had cameras all over the stage, filming the Brazilian jazz chanteuse’s performance, and she was ready for her closeup in a black evening dress. She has a flair for the dramatic, tossing her long blonde hair, gesturing expansively. She probably wasn’t doing that just for the cameras. Elias seems to live it that way.

She sang in English and Portuguese. On “The Girl From Ipanema,” she sang in both. She and her band — guitar, bass and drums — peeled through Gilberto Gil, old bossa novas and “The Way You Wear Your Hat.” She put the heels back on and sashayed to the front of the stage, dancing and singing. She said one song’s title translated as “Chewing Gum and Eating Bananas Simultaneously” and explained the point of another song as something about pride in Brazil, then gave a little wiggle on the piano bench emphasizing the line where the fella in the song basically says — and this is Elias’ rough translation — check out the way that woman moves her hips.

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Montreal International Jazz Festival 2012: Eliane Elias at Club Soda; June 30, 2012
June 30, 2012

Earlier Saturday at Club Soda, Brazilian-born pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias wowed  a wildly appreciative audience with her take on  the bossa nova and samba traditions, performing music by great Brazilian composers like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Gilberto Gil.There was stuff you would have expected , like Girl from Ipanema, Desafinado and Chega de Saudade. And there were Brazilian-styled versions of popular standards like Call Me and They Can’t Take That Away from Me.

Elias doesn’t have the vocal range of  some jazz singers but she makes up for that with her deep understanding of Brazilian musical tradition.

Backed by her husband, the great bassist Marc Johnson, by Rubens de la  Corte on guitar and  Rafael Barata on drums, she was on fire for much of the night at the piano.

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Eliane Elias Brasileira on the OLG Stage (concert review)
By Peter Hum
Ottawa Citizen, June 27, 2012

If you came to the OLG Stage on Tuesday night hoping for a samba party, Eliane Elias made sure that you were not disappointed.
The veteran jazz pianist and singer and her backing band delivered a slick, tautly arranged show that surged with Brazilian warmth and rhythms. Elias clearly had come to entertain the standing- room-only crowd… Sassiness and sex appeal mattered in her show, from the well-placed hand on her hip during one song to a full-out solo samba dance performance on centre stage during her rendition of Dorival Caymmi’s Rosa Morena.

The standing-room only crowd that packed the tent was staunchly on Elias’ side, never more so than when she amusingly but pointedly chided an unruly man at the front of the stage not far from her, distracting her and detracting from the show before security hustled him away. (Elias was certainly a trooper for not stopping the music in its tracks, when things were getting iffy.)

Meanwhile, jazz fans who remember Elias’ initial musical incarnation in the 1980s as a non- singing instrumentalist, might also have thought — “Really?”
But over the last 15 or so years, Elias’ recordings have stressed her singing and the musical treasure trove of her homeland.

Elias’ piano work was always accomplished and confident…driven by insistent chords on the offbeats in the bar. While she can also play with great delicacy and jazz sophistication, but chose to stress the piano as a percussive, rhythmic instrument, for any number of reasons. (Elias might simply have been playing to the room, or rather, the tent, figuring that all the crowd wanted was a samba party. She might also have been reacting to the festival’s lesser and rented baby grand, which doesn’t put out a lot of sound and was aggressively mic’d so that at times it sounded like a digital piano.)

With respect to her voice, Elias has grown over the years into a confident and stylish singer. She will never have a big, rich voice, but she makes what she does have spunky and alluring, and of course, she has the inherent beauty of Brazilian Portuguese going for her.

Antonio Carlos Jobim tunes figured prominently in her set — Chega de Saudade kicked things off, an epic version of Desafinado that featured some racing swinging closed it, and the encore began with The Girl From Ipanema. Also memorable was a groovy version of They Can’t Take That Away From Me, which given the yahoo who had been acting up during its performance could have been called They Can Take Him Away From Me.

Eliane’s three backing musicians were for the most part consigned to boosting her star power. But when the clearly drawn road maps of the songs allowed them to step forward, they shone. Bassist Marc Johnson, who is also Elias’ husband, took several compelling solos, including an epic one on Desafinado, which had been extended into what Elias called “a journey.” On that same tune, drummer Rafael Barata pulled out all the stops when his turn came, playing briskly and boldly with sticks, shakers attached to sticks, and brushes.

A one-man drum corps, Barata had listeners whooping him on. And a full-out samba session could have broken out if that had been part of the game plan.

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Brasiliansk himmelflugt på Montmartre – Copenhagen, Denmark
By Kjeld Frandsen
March 15, 2012

Det er ikke bare publikum, der kan få sig en unik oplevelse, når kunstnere, som almindeligvis optræder på de store koncertscener, kommer inden for i varmen på et intimt spillested. Oplevelsen kan tydeligvis gå begge veje. Det var i hvert fald tilfældet onsdag aften, hvor den brasilianske pianist og sangerinde Eliane Elias bare strålede af glæde og spillelyst ved nærkontakten med publikum i det københavnske jazztempel.

Eliane Elias, der i næste uge fylder 52 år, har fortsat sit indtagende udseende med sig, og så sandelig også sit håndelag. Og skulle man – som jeg – bære rundt på en erindring om, at hendes seneste koncerter i København – begge på Gamle Scene på Det Kongelige Teater – tog sig ud som en pligtaflevering og/eller en blandet landhandel, ja, så blev den erindring da øjeblikkeligt slettet af lystavlen. Med “Chega de Saudade”, en klassiker fra Eliane Elias’ navnkundige landsmand, Antonio Carlos Jobim, blev der lagt mere end godt ud i den ”klassiske” trio-jazz-tradition, hvor den virtuose, veloplagte og barfodede pianist fik den rette support sin ægtemand, den amerikanske bassist Marc Johnson, og den unge brasilianske trommeslager Rafael Barata.

Og så kørte musikken ellers af sted med et fint, nuanceret repertoire, jævnligt med Eliane Elias i rollen som vokalist – på såvel portugisisk som engelsk, og her er det værd at fremhæve fortolkningen af George & Ira Gershwins ”They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, som i et dejligt medium tempo gav nyt liv til de udødelige ord og toner, og som udover det fint afdæmpede vokalforedrag bød på et jazzklaverspil af sjældent fantasifuld og melodiøs beskaffenhed. Også i klaverlegenden Bill Evans’ skæve ”Five” blev der budt på jazzmusik på højniveau, og da Eliane Elias i klubbens baglokale netop havde set et billede af den store bebop-pianist Bud Powell, som optrådte på lokaliteten for 50 år siden, ja, så afleverede hun da lige et lille, men forrygende, Bud Powell-medley – til stor fryd og til stor overraskelse for såvel publikum som medmusikere.

Intensiteten holdt sig – og lidt til – gennem aftenens anden afdeling, som omfattede populære Antonio Carlos Jobim-værker som ”Garota de Ipanema”, “Desafinado” og “So Danço Samba” og hårdtprøvede jazzklassikere som ”Autumn Leaves” og ”You And The Night And The Music” – alt afleveret i et sprudlende, ærligt og ikke sjældent himmelflugtslignende regi.

Og glemmes skal det ikke, at Marc Johnson nok engang viste formatet som en af nutidsjazzens betydeligste bassister, og at Rafael Barata ikke blot viste sig som en mesterlig trommeslager, men i endnu højere grad en mesterlig trommespiller. Og så indtraf et af aftenens særligt mindeværdige stunder, da Eliane Elias rejste sig fra flyglet og fra scenekanten diverterede med den brasilianske sangskriver Dorival Caymmis muntre sang ”Rosa Morena”, inden det atter blev tid for unikt klaverspil og råswingende triojazz. Og – helt klart – Eliane Elias og hendes håndgangne mænd nød hvert et øjeblik, og det samme gjorde publikum. Andet var næppe muligt.

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English translation

Eliane Elias, Ronnie Scott’s, London
By Mike Hobart
February 24 2011

Eliane Elias has not so much blended the rhythmic complexities of her native Brazil with the piano jazz traditions of New York, as laid bare the equal influence of both.

She darts from the gentle cadences of classic bossa nova to rich clusters of impressionism, and from supple Brazilian rhythms to rolling gospel shouts at the drop of a hat. Expressive, slightly lived-in vocals add charm, while fluent self-accompaniment adds dazzle. It is a warm, highly personal mixture that has long guaranteed headline status.

Elias usually references bossa nova’s heyday, but this gig had more of a historical bent than most. After a sprightly opening samba, Gilberto Gil’s “Ladeira de Preguiça”, Elias told us “we don’t have a bass yet”. While it was being fixed, she doled out snippets of biography – touring with the Brazilian lyricist/poet Vinicius de Moraes as a teenager; a lucky break soon after arriving in New York in 1981 aged 21 when the president of the Steinway Corporation, having heard her trying out pianos in his showroom, offered her one.

A year later, Elias joined the fusion band Steps Ahead, but for this performance she referenced earlier times with a transcription of the original introduction to “Chega de Saudade”. Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote bossa nova’s founding statement in 1958, and Elias’s in-style vocals and Ricardo de Almeida Vogt’s lightly strummed acoustic guitar captured the style perfectly. A slight acceleration tightened mood, guitar dropped out, and Elias spun the fluent runs and close harmonies of modern jazz piano over a hard-nosed swing.

Both sets applied Brazilian lilt to songbook standards – “Tangerine” in the first set and “Light My Fire” in the second – and added jazzy workouts to Brazilian classics – “Rosa Morena” and “Desafinado” stand out. Here, authentically delivered, deceptively light Brazilian rhythms were a staging post for powerful two-fisted tremolos, urgent swing and lush impressionism. Marc Johnson was a fluent foil on counterpoint bass.

Elias has long used Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” as a vehicle to showcase her jazz credentials. This gig’s unaccompanied performance rampaged through modern jazz styles and showed off her rhythmic independence and harmonic fluency. It bordered on the classic.

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Eliane Elias at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola

The Wall Street Journal
JUNE 3, 2011

Single guys take note: This Brazilian pianist-singer is a great act to bring a date to hear, and Dizzy’s is easily the most romantic-looking music venue in town.

Even the uninitiated could dig Ms. Elias. Her music is very similar to the breakthrough bossa nova albums of João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Astrid Gilberto, with Ms. Elias playing all three roles by herself. Her new release, “Light My Fire,” combines originals with North American and South American standards from both the jazz and pop sides of the fence; she’s written a set of lyrics to trumpeter Kenny Dorham’s “Stay Cool,” and given the Doors’ title track and Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” a Brazilian waxing.

She also tackles “Take Five.” I was trying to figure out if she could actually play a bossa nova in 5/4, but I was enjoying myself so much that I kept losing her tour dates are continuously updated.

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The Exquisite Eliane Elias: the “Light My Fire” CD Launch Concert

[Q] On Stage
Susan Freedner

I had the extreme good fortune of receiving a press invitation to attend a performance by, followed by a meet and greet, with the amazingly gifted musician/singer Eliane Elias.

Due to my ardent interest in this extraordinary pianist, and scheduling conflicts of other writers, I was able to attend the 7:30 p.m. show at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, on June 2, as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center series. There was a palpable buzz in the room by the SRO crowd, as most of the people were not novices to the incredibly talented Eliane Elias and were eager and expectant to hear selections from her newly released CD, “Light My Fire,” which promised a return to her bossa nova roots.

Her appearance, upon entering, brought to mind the image of Anita Ekberg standing in the fountain in the film “La Dolce Vita,” which increased the expectant excitement in the room. She has a relaxed, engaging, warm and personable manner of introducing a song and, since she was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, her charmingly accented English adds to her aura. She truly casts a spell on her audience: when she plays and sings softly, the audience instantly quiets to a hush and listens intently when, just a few moments before, they were foot tapping and hand clapping along with her driving, rhythmic left hand on the piano. Great talent attracts great talent and she always has a remarkable group of musicians, whether at a live performance or on her recordings. This was my fourth live performance by her, at various sites, with different combinations of musicians.

This group at this concert, billed as the Eliane Elias Quartet, consisted of Marc Johnson on bass, Rubens de La Corte on acoustic guitar, Rafael Barata on drums, and Marivaldo dos Santo on percussion. When each of them riffed a solo in the true jazz fashion, it was spellbinding. They are truly musicians and interact with her and each other creating musical magic. A renowned bassa nova guitarist, from the album, attending the performance, sat in to play and it was a lightning-in-a-bottle moment. Romero Lubambo played an improvisational conversation with Elias, on a song from the CD called “Samba Maracatu.” Elias wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music with Gonzaguinha.

Elias, a trained classical pianist, puts her astonishing talent and skill to excellent use, seamlessly shifting gears from Brazilian bossa nova to covers of pop standards, as well as iconic jazz favorites.

She commands her stage with an incredible presence even when not playing. She stood in front of the piano and described a song from the CD, entitled “Rosa Morena,” as a brunette woman with a flower in her hair dancing the samba, and she began to sway and sing to the Bahian percussion and totally enthralled the audience.

Another delightful, intriguing description of a song, written by Gilberto Gil, “Toda Menina Baiana,” told of mixing boogie woogie with samba, Uncle Sam with Brazil, chewing bubble gum while eating bananas, and included noteworthy bass, percussion, and drum solos.

Another song from “Light My Fire,” “Bate Bate” (What About the Heart), with music and words by Elias, she described as beat, beat, like the heart. She played alone at first, then the combo joined in, then she sang, in both Portuguese and English, and finally everyone played. I would call that very significant multi-tasking.

In addition to writing some of the music and lyrics, playing exceptional piano, singing softly and sensuously, Elias also co-produced and arranged all the songs on this new disc, and it is a must-have, as anyone would be thrilled to see/hear her perform. She tours throughout the world and will be appearing in June at the Saratoga Jazz Festival, in Saratoga, New York, as well as at the Toronto Jazz Festival, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She will be in Europe in July and South America in August, and returning to the west coast of the United States in September, followed by a stint in Boston, Massachusetts, so check out her website,, as her tour dates are continuously updated.

Eliane Elias at Dizzy’s Coca-Cola

New York Observer
Rex Reed
June 08, 2011

The New York cabaret season is humming to a close, but before waxing that bikini line and heading for the beach, take note: The big rooms are saving the best for last.

Smoldering like an ember on a rainy night, the peerless Brazilian singer-pianist Eliane Elias has been packing them in at Dizzy’s Coca-Cola, New York’s best jazz club and the only room in town where the food is as great as the music. With a voice as smoky and warm as a dark Creole roux, she is currently celebrating her new Concord Jazz CD, “Light My Fire”—and boy, does she ever. Accompanied by a tumultuous Brazilian jazz combo headed by her husband, Marc Johnson, on acoustic bass (“He’s from Omaha, Neb., but he has a Brazilian heart”), she provides some of the most sensual, un-gimmicky sounds in our digital world. Swinging in chords is always a thrill and she really knows how. The CD has three duets with the unsurpassed Gilberto Gil, and even outside the recording studio, she plays around with tempos like she’s mixing cocktails.

Maybe it’s the Portuguese, but Brazilian singers seem to make more sounds with their vocal chords than anyone else. Shapely and ladylike at first, when she kicks off her heels and goes to work on the pedals in her nylons, she really heats the gumbo.  Think of Ellen Barkin playing a chanteuse on a nightclub stage owned by gangsters in an old black-and-white Hollywood musical, and you get the visuals. From familiar favorites like the Dave Brubeck theme song “Take Five” and Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” to her original composition “Bate Bate” (pronounced “Batchi-Batchi,” what the beat of the human heart sounds like in Rio), the sambas overflow in a throwback to the surprising, infectious rhythms that started the bossa nova craze 50 years ago. But Eliane Elias is also fresh, contemporary and sexy, taking classics by João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim in a whole new direction. There really is nobody like her, and you owe it to yourself to catch her while the mic is still hot. Buy “Light My Fire”—it will cool your summer.

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Eliane Elias: New York, NY, June 2, 2011

All About Jazz
June 16, 2011

Eliane Elias Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola New York, NY June 2, 2011

Pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias opened her set at New York’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, in celebration of Light My Fire (Concord, 2011) with “Ladeira,” a Gilberto Gil-penned instrumental samba with a very syncopated drive. The tune was more like a warm-up, where her solid band—drummer Rafael Barata, percussionist Marivaldo Santos, acoustic guitarist Rubens de La Corte and bassist Marc Johnson—seemed to stretch its muscles for what was to come. Elias immediately followed with Ary Barroso’s “Isso Aqui o Que E”—a tune celebrating the virtues of Brazil and the happiness of its people—initially accompanied solely by de La Corte and Santos (on shekere). The remaining members gradually joined in, with Elias and Barata taking accomplished solos.

Among the highlights of the set was a bossa nova arrangement of George and Ira Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” Elias demonstrated a percussive approach to her instrument, hitting the keys with strength that added brightness to each note. Joao Donato’s “A Ra” was also enjoyable, with Elias highlighting the composer’s unique pianistic approach—using the right hand in a samba format, while employing the left provide a Latin flavor. She also featured a handful of Antonio Carlos Jobim numbers, including “Por Causa de Voce” and “So Danco Samba,” the latter of which served to showcase the ensemble’s individual talents, including a dexterous solo from de La Corte.

There was one unexpected moment during the set, when Elias acknowledged the presence of guitarist Romero Lubambo in the audience. He got up, walked to the stage and asked if he could sit in. De La Corte promptly handed him the guitar, and Lubambo proceeded to improvise around one of the tracks he played on Elias’ record. He then switched gears and started playing around a simple chord progression, with Johnson and Elias following him, and then it was a feast of snippets, which included Luis Gonzaga’s “Asa Branca,” amongst other songs.

The set closed with “Chiclete Com Banana,” a Brazilian classic originally recorded by Jackson do Pandeiro, whose lyrics criticized the Americanization of Brazilian music in the late ’50s. The arrangement was a blend of samba, Afro-Cuban music and straight-ahead jazz, giving Johnson an opportunity to deliver his only solo of the entire set. He played very subtly, responding to the percussionists’ groove and to Elias’ left hand.

Elias balanced the music between more classic Brazilian numbers, bossa nova and straight-ahead jazz. Lubambo’s unscheduled appearance was also a great surprise, and of course the entire ensemble was in great shape, which made for quite a few greatly entertaining moments.

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Eliane Elias Shows a Captivating Charm to Merge with Monster Musical Talent

RJ on Jazz
R.J. DeLuke
July 16,2011

Eliane Elias was a fantastic pianist when she came from her native Sao Paulo to New York City in 1981. She’s already worked with some of the best Brazilian musicians as a teenager. Her early albums show a pianist with monster chops, but with the ability to display delicate beauty. Passion and emotion.

She did a vocal album of Antonio Carlos Jobim music (Eliane Elias Sings Jobim, Blue Note, 1998) but admits she was a bit tentative with her singing. Since then, her soft, sensual voice has become more of a mainstay in her work. Dreamer (Bluebird, 2004) was a delight, as was and Boss Nova Stories (Blue Note, 2008). More surety in the vocals. With Brazilian music, she’s obviously at home and nails the material, but other songs she selects come joyfully to life.

Now there’s Light My Fire, out this year on Concord. It’s not that dissimilar in content to her recent vocal outings, but her masterful piano has a strong presence, her singing seems to grow stronger. Her band is tight. It’s a record that’s jumped up the musical charts. In support of it,. She’s on a huge tour that takes her and her sparkling band around the world. Not too many artists can boast of such an itinerary. It’s warming to see a performer of such class, style and talent get the support of fans and the music industry.

An fans, she has in large numbers. Her live concerts are always enchanting because the musicianship is so high. At Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival in Saratoga Springs, NY, in June, the band was full of energy. She did songs from the new CD, as well as some from past albums. Romero Lubambo joined on guitar. Marc Johnson, one of the finest bassists out there, is still at the hub of the rhythm and percussionist Marlvaldo dos Santos adds a great layer to the sound. The band sizzles and Elias‘ voice adds the charm and sensuality

“I’m truly very excited with this album,” she said after the concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center… and the way it’s being received by critics, by the people … You saw the show. You see how people love it. There’s such energy. We’re very happy about it.”

It’s a joyous event when this band plays. So much that the superior musicianship might slide under the radar. But listen closely and see what’s at work. Fantastic music, great piano.

The band had been in South America and from SPAC was off to Canada. The Europe, South America again, Central America, to the United States and back to Europe. Then the U.S. and Asia. So much of the world will get to see it.

“I always brought different elements of Brazilian music, but I’ve done a lot of albums that were more instrumental. This is a vocal album that still has a lot of piano. But this album, with the vocals has more of a variety of elements of Brazilian music, than just the bossa nova. There’s some music from the north of brazil, from Bahia. And some Afro-Brazilian rhythms. Then we have percussion added,” she said. “It’s a very special album and it has an aspect to it that is different than the others. It has some very sexy moments. It has moments that are very cool, vibey. But also a lot of rhythm, groove and romance. It has different things that worked so nice together.”

Elias has found a way to get everything to work together.

Though she says her first love is jazz, having been influenced by the greats like Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett, she also loves the music of Brazil and puts a stamp on it that is now her own. It’s intimate and joyous. And her playing still smokes. Don’t be surprised if more hard-core jazz albums emerge as Elias’ career continues its growth. This is a first-rate musician whose accolades, and awards that have been amassed along the way, are well deserved.

In concert, it’s invigorating.

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Full House At Anthology For Eliane Elias
By Robert Bush | Posted September 17, 2011, 7:08 p.m.

Anthology filled to capacity for the Sept. 14 Eliane Elias show. Even on the third level, where there is limited sightlines to the bandstand, waiters were having to drag extra tables to accommodate the ever growing numbers of her fans. While her rhythm section of husband Marc Johnson on solid-body upright bass, and fellow Brazilian drummer Rafael Beratta vamped, Elias made a grand entrance in a “little black dress”, something she wears to great effect. Sitting at the piano, she laced that vamp with bluesy, gospel inflections that indicated how much American jazz has imbued her consciousness since arriving in the US in the 1980s. This was a point that would surface many times in the show.
She announced the Antonio Carlos Jobim standard, “Chega de Saudade” as the next piece, and though it began with the familiar Bossa Nova groove, Elias and company quickly turned it into a swing fest after erupting into double-time on the second chorus. Johnson let fly with a multi-note solo with frequent excursions into the cello register of his instrument, sounding uncannily like Gary Peacock a good deal of the time. Maybe it’s their shared association with the late Bill Evans, at any rate, every time Johnson got the spotlight, he wowed the listener with his use of velocity, creative repetition and well timed double stops. Toward the end of the piece they traded a series of eights, fours and twos with Baratta, a superb drummer who shares many of the attributes of Pat Metheny sideman Antonio Sanchez. Both share intricate ride cymbal patterns with an astonishing integration of multiple cowbell strikes and cross-sticking tom-tom poly-rhythms. Further supporting her love of the Great American Songbook, Elias leapt into Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” with obvious affection. She’s got a huskier mid-range, but much of the same pure vulnerability as the great Brazilian songbird Astrud Gilberto who came to fame with Stan Getz in the 1960s.

Showcasing the title tune from her latest release, Elias’ arrangement of the rock standard “Light My Fire” was a bird of a different color, to be sure. Performed with a throbbing, slow pulse which allowed for her accented articulation of “few-neh-rahl pyre”, the singer transformed the piece into even darker, more mysterious and languid territory–offset by serpentine strands of piano adventure.
The highlight moment came with her interpretation of “You And The Night And The Music,” a standard from her Bill Evans tribute album a few years back. Attacking the tune with a wild swing abandon, Elias whipped out layers of overlapping ideas with intricate force and melodic invention. Johnson’s solo began from the opposite aesthetic–it almost seemed as if the song had ended, and he was inventing a deliberate, measured response. Using a touch of digital delay, Johnson began building ideas that repeated as he elaborated, and altered their meaning.

The concert came to a close with a treatment of the Jobim classic “Desafinado”. Once again the familiar Bossa Nova groove was re-invented into a swinging 4/4, featuring extended solos for piano, bass and drums. After several minutes of standing ovation, Elias, Johnson and Beratta returned for a pitch-perfect excursion on “Girl From Ipanema”, the song that began America’s fascination with the Bossa Nova in 1964.

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SAN FRANCISCO – Eliane Elias casts Brazilian spell on Yoshi’s audience
David Becker, September 17, 2011

So what’s your excuse for not being in Monterey, the center of the jazz universe right now?
Yeah, obligations can be a pain, but we Bay Area stay-at-homers have a fine consolation prize this weekend in the form of dynamic Brazilian pianist-singer Eliane Elias. Opening a weekend run at Yoshi’s San Francisco, the blond whirlwind was a breath of fresh, tropical air.

Certainly anyone who’s paid much attention to Elias — who’s been making brilliant connections between straight-ahead jazz and Brazilian styles for more than two decades — knows she can take just about anything and turn it into bossa nova magic. Exhibit A on Friday was Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour,” a highlight from Elias’ new album, “Light My Fire.” With Elias caressing the lyrics with her breathy, seductive style, you had to pay attention to note the keyboard wizardy she was performing at the same time, slyly injecting the tune with bouncy rhythmic undertones.

The legendary Gilberto Gil’s “Bananeira” was textbook slice of Latin jazz magic that highlighted the supreme flexibility of the bossa nova style. What in Gil’s hands would be simple guitar-and-voice tune full of folkish charm was for Elias a grand opportunity to let her improvisational jazz instincts run, referencing piano influences ranging from Art Tatum to McCoy Tyner.
More curious was the new album’s title tune, delivered in a form that made little reference either to The Doors’ swaggering original or Jose Feliciano’s flamenco remake. For Elias, it was an opportunity to turn Jim Morrison’s sweaty come-on into a jasmine-scented seduction, followed by a raucous instrumental coda (including a positively heroic run by bassist Marc Johnson) that told you everything you needed to know about what happens once the fire is lit.

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