Music From Man of La Mancha debuted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz Chart – let’s keep the momentum rolling! Thanks to all the fans and congratulations to Eliane, Concord Records and the whole team!
Eliane Elias’ latest release, “To Each His Dulcinea,” has been added to Spotify’s State of Jazz playlist in the #1 position!
Eliane’s Dance of Time is nominated for a A2IM Libera Award for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year.
“Since Edison invented the phonograph, independent music labels have defined American musical culture and disseminated it to the world,” said A2IM CEO Richard James Burgess in a statement. “The Libera Awards is the first platform to celebrate and honor the entrepreneurial spirit, creative independence, and cultural diversity that undergirds these genre-defining American artists and businesspeople.”
This is Eliane’s second consecutive Grammy Award. Congratulations to Eliane and her team!
Congratulations to Eliane and her team!
The sounds of Brazil swept into Evanston on Friday evening, though imbued with the character of American jazz.
Brazilian singer-pianist Eliane Elias has been intertwining the two, to varying degrees, through most of her career, and during her first set at SPACE she very nearly erased lines separating them. For whether she was playing up-tempo fare (most of the time) or occasional ballads, she combined the rhythmic lilt of Brazilian samba and bossa nova with the robust spirit and harmonic intricacies of contemporary jazz improvisation.
True, Elias worked within mainstream expression, leaving experimentation to others. But perhaps it’s best to regard her as a longtime champion of the music of her native country, proselytizing for it around the world, and quite effectively so.
Indeed, the youthful enthusiasm and unabashed ebullience of her show at SPACE ran counter to what one might expect from an artist who has been touring the world for decades. Judging by this night, Elias still brings a sense of discovery to her Brazil-meets-jazz metier.
Much of the evening’s repertoire came from “Dance of Time,” Elias’ latest album, starting with the joyous “Sambou Sambou” (which Elias translated as “You Dance to the Samba”). Its composer, the prolific Brazilian songwriter-pianist Joao Donato, made a belated Chicago debut as a septuagenarian in 2007, leading a trio in a buoyant performance at the now-long-gone HotHouse; and he returned the following year to participate in singer-guitarist Paulinho Garcia’s massive bossa nova concert in Millennium Park.
“Sambou Sambou” captures the puckish, playful facet of those Donato appearances, Elias emphasizing the point with the bright timbre of her vocals, the silvery tone of her pianism and the easy bounce of her rhythms. It was impossible not to smile during this performance.
Elsewhere in the program, Elias answered her throaty vocals with melodic piano commentary in the Gershwins’ “Embraceable You,” produced an avalanche of keyboard sound in “Coisa Feita” (“Silver Sandal”) and provided an all-too-rare moment of quiet in her own “By Hand” (“Em Maos”).
The tour de force came toward the end, in Jobim’s “Desafinado,” reconceived here as a vast fantasia built on multiple sections and several tempo changes. Elias’ lush opening piano solo revealed her conversance with the musical vocabularies of two stylistically far-flung masters: Art Tatum and Bill Evans. Once Elias’ collaborators joined the instrumental texture, the trio offered rigorous jazz improvisation, with Johnson’s cellolike bass solo as surprising as it was poetic.
Asking the audience to sing “ahhh” at the appropriate moments in Jobim’s “The Girl From Ipanema,” which Elias offered as an encore, may not have been the most original idea of the night. Yet there was something disarming about hearing a packed house deliver that famous sigh in unison, as if to underscore the universality of Brazilian sounds of a certain era.
Ultimately, this music never goes out of date. In Elias’ hands, it can seem almost new.
Howard Reich is a Tribune critic.
Two years ago, Eliane Elias released Made In Brazil (Concord, 2015) and all it did was win the 2016 Grammy for Best Latin Album. It’s a great album and with Dance of Time, Elias hasn’t repeated a successful formula; she’s perfected it. This is an opulent recording, rich in its authenticity and lavish in its glorious accomplishments.
Elias’ voice is a bit delicate and she compensates for her lack of sheer power by choosing material that best compliments her, a trait she shares with Sade, another vocalist who doesn’t overwhelm with raw power and substitutes expertise in knowing her limits and wisely choosing material which best suits her. Elias’ assured voice breathes new life into standards like “Speak Low” and “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me” and her assured confidence as a songwriter makes her own original composition, “Little Paradise” seemlike something you’ve heard before even though you haven’t.
For nearly an hour Elias, deftly crafts a record that seems like a live performance augmented by a white-hot band of supporting musicians. Dance of Time fills the listener with joy as it soothes one moment on a sexy ballad like “Little Paradise” one moment and irresistibly swaying to “O Pato.” Among the guest players Mike Mainieri, a compadre from Steps Ahead and ex-husband, Randy Brecker sit in adding their contributions on vibraphone and flugelhorn respectively. Mark Kibble lends his tenor vocalizations to the affair and stands out on the “Copacabana” (no relation to the cheesy Barry Manilow song, thank you very much) where he harmonizes with Elias’s beguiling lead and as she lays out, Kibble brings it home with an euphoric closing.
Special attention should be directed to “Samba De Orly ” and “Not To Cry (Pra Nao Chorar)” two collaborations with Brazilian singer/songwriter/guitarist Toquinho who worked with Elias when she was seventeen. “An Up Dawn” is a spirited duet with Elias’ piano teacher, Amilton Godby. “I wanted to include musicians who were very important in the start of my career,” Elias says. “Dance of Time represents the spectrum of my career from the very beginning until now.”
Recorded in Brazil and produced by Steve Rodby and Marc Johnson, the musical and marital partner to Elias, the idea is to pay homage to 100 years of samba music and it more than delivers on that score. As Elias has transitioned from a pianist/vocalist to a vocalist/pianist (yes, there is a difference), some fans and certainly critics have wondered if she has wavered too close into crossing over into Diana Krall territory and leaving the jazz behind in pursuit of reinventing hereself as a sultry chanteuse. That’s a suspicion born out in part to how many glamour shots of Elias clad in a slinky black dress seem to be showing up in the CD booklet. Not to worry. Elias remains first and foremost a jazz musician whose piano playing precision is impeccable. Whether she is singing in English or Portuguese, Elias remains as far from being a pop singer as a hot dog is from being prime rib.
There is a certain degree of frustration that comes with Dance of Time and that is despite how good it is it will struggle to find the audience and attention it so richly deserves. The sad truth is one would think—one would hope—scoring a Grammy award win would herald an awakening and a rediscovery of Brazilian jazz in general and Elias in particular. That probably won’t happen. Further, the fact that Dance of Time is neither as non- disposable as much of the music on smooth jazz stations is or as staid and safely escondened in the dusty past as some of the programming on contemporary jazz stations, where is this terrific album’s natural niche?
The immediate answer is it belongs in the record collection of anyone who loves honest and authentic Brazilian jazz and Dance of Time is as honestly authentic as it gets. Eliane Elias has been one of the genre’s most consistently masterful virtuosos and even when she’s looking back fondly, she is still moving forward confidently. Needless to say this is top shelf material and highly recommended.
Track Listing: O Pato; You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me; Copacabana; Coisa Feita; By Hand (Em Maos); Sambou Sambou; Little Paradise; Speak Low; Samba De Orly; Na Batucada Da Vida; An Up Dawn; Not To Cry (Pra Nao Chorar)
Personnel: Eliane Elias: vocals, piano; Marcus Texiera: acoustic guitar (1-3, 5-10); Conrado Goys: electric guitar (4); Marcelo Mariano: electric bass (1-10); Edu Ribero: drums (1-3, 5-10); Celso de Almeida: drums (4); Marivaldo dos Santos: percussion (2, 3, 9); Gustavo di Dalva: percussion (2, 3, 9); Amilton Godoy: piano (4); Joao Bosco: vocal, guitar (4); Mark Kibble: background vocals (3, 5, 8); Mike Mainieri: vibraphone (2, 7); Randy Brecker: flugelhorn (8); Toquinho: vocal (9, 12), guitar (12)
Title: Dance of Time | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Concord Records
Eliane Elias’ Dance of Time is the #1 Album on Amazon.com Brazilian, Latin and Cool Jazz Best Seller Charts.