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Swept Away a DownBeat Magazine Editor’s Pick

How do you improve a tremendous piano trio? Add Joe Lovano. For their new album of acoustic, original music, the husband-and-wife team of bassist Marc Johnson and pianist Eliane Elias recruited the agile drummer Joey Baron. The trio recordings included here are so strong that it’s clear the musicians could have crafted an entire album in that setting and gotten great results. But the addition of Lovano’s saxophone takes a song like Elias’ “Moments” to another level, thanks to his gorgeous tone and empathetic interaction with the pianist.


Swept Away receives glowing praise


Not halfway into the first track, Swept Away resonates as a perfectly suitable title for this event, Marc Johnson’s first ECM album since 2005’s Shades of Jade. This time around, he shares the bill with one of today’s truly great pianists, Eliane Elias, a key collaborator for many years, and a musical companion who also happens to be his wife. They’ve been together for 20 years, though Elias expresses the relationship could actually be valued at 85 years when accounting for the amount of time spent working side by side, traveling, and being married. Both individuals exuded greatness from the moment they broke ground on their respective career foundations – Elias with Steps Ahead, and Johnson making history with the Bill Evans trio. What thrives as a vibrant and hedonistic partnership continues to speak volumes about the current project, much of which was conceived in the beauty of their New York home in the Hamptons.

All About Jazz

Swept Away is certainly a collaborative effort—co-led by Eliane Elias and bassist Marc Johnson—but it seems more like the pianist’s set. The Sao Paolo-born pianist penned five of the disc’s eleven tunes, and co-wrote two more with her musical/life partner, Johnson. The duo, in league with drummer Joey Baron and, on five tunes, saxophonist Joe Lovano, has produced the most sumptuous music imaginable, beginning with the Elias-penned title tune—a floating trio effort, a sensual haiku to unadorned beauty.

The Jazz Breakfast

Double bassist Marc Johnson, from the US’s mid-west, was in Bill Evans last trio; pianist Eliane Elias, from Sao Paulo in Brazil, first came to wide attention in Steps Ahead. They have been a couple for a long time now, and the near-telepathic interchange of the bass and piano throughout this album, their rising and falling at one to heighten the tension of a phrase and then to release it, is a joy to hear.

The Guardian

Bassist Marc Johnson and pianist Eliane Elias sound so complete as a duo that you might think even one extra player would be too many. Then, after the first number, in come the discreet Joey Baron on drums and that matchlessly inventive tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and it all sounds – not better so much as deeper, more resonant.

Eliane at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle

Eliane will be performaing at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle from October 25 to 28.  If you are in the area don’t miss her exciting performance.

Rave reviews from Eliane’s summer tour!

Here are some highlights:

“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.” ~San Javier Jazz Festival/laopiniondemurcia.es

“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.” ~ Copenhagen Jazzfestival / Gaffa

“Bossa nova does not get much more beautiful than when Eliane Elias sits at the piano or holds the microphone…” ~ Copenhagen Jazz Festival / Politiken

“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?” ~ Rochester Jazz Festival / City Newspaper.

Rochester International Jazz Festival Live Review

Rochester City News

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.


Eliane headlining Wiltshire Jazz Festival this summer

Tell your boss he needs to sort out his Skype!” says jazz star Eliane Elias, pointedly but with a laugh, before she says a rushed goodbye. Skype, as you know, is a computer programme that allows you to make free video or “telephone” calls via the internet. Now, with this wonderful piece of technology, Eliane in New York and I (in Dinton) have been trying to connect for a full half hour. We resort to the telephone.

Eliane’s reputation goes before her. The sultry posters of this tousled blonde advertising her headline appearance at the Wiltshire Jazz Festival on Saturday, June 9 are scattered around our office – and the county. I know that she can sing more sexily than any other mere mortal, I know that she can really play the piano, and I know that she is a composer. I also know that she has famous feet (but more about that later). What I do not know is why she is breaking her schedule of big-time gigs in places such as Rio de Janeiro, New York, Vancouver and St Moritz to come and star at Wiltshire Jazz Festival – and why it is her only UK tour date.

“You’re right, we’re not performing everywhere. Wiltshire Jazz Festival is a special event, both for us and for you guys,” says Eliane, adding “I have heard how beautiful Wiltshire is. I haven’t visited before but I am very much looking forward to the festival.”

Eliane has not really answered my question but I suspect the persuasive powers of editor in chief Mark Allen, whose baby Wiltshire former Brazilian culture minister and guitarist Gilberto Gil. The songs are sung in English and Portuguese.

I love the music but it is not until I watch a You Tube video that accompanies the Light My Fire album that I become hugely excited that I am actually going to get to see this woman perform live. The film shows a warmly lit studio. Eliane, wearing combat-patterned trousers, sits at the piano playing the Brazilian notes of Toda Menina; her deft fingers strike at the keys with force and yet they race up and down the scales with incredible agility. This is gifted playing with an energy that you can just feel surging forth. Looking at her here, I wonder where did she come from? How did she get here?

I find that Eliane comes from Sao Paolo in Brazil. “I grew up listening to music. My mother played classical pieces and had a big collection of jazz records. This was Brazil so music was on the radio, on the television and in the streets,” remembers Eliane.

She came from an affluent background: her grandparents on her mother’s side were both opera singers and Eliane went to the best school in the country, beginning her musical studies at the age of seven and gaining access to the best music teachers. “By the age of nine or 10 I had a record player that ran on batteries; I took it everywhere. I was totally immersed in music, I loved it,” she says.

She was blessed to know exactly what she wanted to do when she grew up: become a musician. At the age of 21 she moved to New York: “It was the only place to be for the music I do. I used to look on the back of records and they would be recorded in New York, sometimes at a club; most of the musicians came from America.”

It must have seemed a scary place, I venture. “I didn’t find it scary at all,” says Eliane. “People who are born in America and speak the language are afraid to go to New York. I was a young girl who didn’t speak English but I thought New York was stylish. I was not intimidated and started going to jam sessions.”

Eliane joined the band Steps Ahead, which had a heavyweight line-up, and got international exposure. Her first album outside of the band was with trumpeter Randy Brecker, the father of her daughter Amanda. Combining American jazz with Brazilian bossa nova, her following grew and now here she is, many albums later and with many Grammy nominations, gold discs and fantastic reviews from the world’s press under her glittering belt.

Actually, it was not quite that simple. I wondered if being a woman in a man’s world had been difficult. Eliane is proud that she was the first woman instrumentalist on the cover of America’s respected Drumbeat magazine in 1982.

She recalls: “The jazz world when I started was mostly male, American and black, so as a blonde girl from Brazil I had everything wrong. I had to be more powerful, a stronger artist, to be mentioned, respected and embraced. In the end they said: “Wow! See that girl!” But when my daughter was little it was hard. I took her with me but I could not always get her out of school; there were a lot gigs I did not accept. When she went to college I said: “OK, this is it!” She keeps her family close still. Married to stellar double bassist Marc Johnson, who will perform with her at Wiltshire Jazz Festival, she also sings with her daughter Amanda on one of the tracks on Light My Fire. I ask if she has given Amanda any advice. “It is very hard to advise anyone about anything,” she says. “If she didn’t have talent I would discourage her, but she both sings and writes. I have my own doubts because in general it is a difficult life for a woman. If you do well, you are on the road a lot. I spent 190 days on the road last year.”

Luckily her constant companion, both on and off stage, is husband Marc. “I work with Mark 24/7,” says Eliane, “We have an affinity and sensibility so we work well together. People Claire Waring calls singer and pianist Eliane Elias, who is to star at Wiltshire Jazz Festival. Why this global jazz star gets cold feet… “ say ‘Why don’t you end up killing each other?’ but it’s not like that for us.”

The close to penultimate words, I feel, must be about Eliane’s feet. Journalists and fans have been fascinated by the fact that she performs barefoot. Prompted by our editor in chief, I ask why: “I wish I could give your boss a romantic answer,” she says, “but the truth is I play like a drummer. I dance to the music with my feet and move with the rhythm. It makes a noise on stage so as I wear heels I have a discreet way of taking my shoes off.” Eliane pauses to laugh, then says: “It is my trademark and photographers have even taken pictures of my feet, which they have sold.”

She tells me performing live is magical; it is emotive every time because of the nature of the music. She loves to connect and build an empathy with the audience.

Connecting with Eliane through her music is a given – and it is a lot easier than using Skype.

Eliane is featured in Valor Economico magazine, in Brazil

Eliane is in Brazil this week for the release of Light My Fire in her country. Her feature in the magazine Valor Economico  came out today.   See it here

Great singers, great songs 2011 …

A Blog Supreme

Both Eliane and her husband Marc Johnson were separately included in NPR’s top 5 recorded vocal songs of 2011: Eliane singing “Light My Fire,” and Marc’s song “Samurai Cowboy” sung by Kurt Elling. Congratulations to Eliane and Marc!

Read more @ NPR’s Blog Supreme

Paris Performance & Light My Fire…

November 13, 2011

Eliane just performed a sold out concert at the 2,000 seat theater,”Le Chatelet” in Paris . We are also happy to announce that Eliane’s new cd, Light My Fire is the #1 Jazz Album on the Jazz Charts in France.

Latin Grammy Nomination!

Eliane’s song “What About The Heart (Bate Bate)” is nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Brazilian Song (recorded on the Light My Fire album). Eliane wrote the music and lyrics. Congratulations to Eliane!!!