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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.