Eliane Elias is a Brazilian-born jazz pianist who started her career as a teen prodigy, touring in the late 1970s with the MPB/bossa duo of Vinicius De Moraes and Toquinho before making the move to New York, where she became a rising star in the international jazz scene. She continues to work Brazilian themes into her work, notably her interpretations of bossa nova standards, as well as new and original material in both styles. Here's a quick look at her work...
Steps Ahead "Steps Ahead" (Elektra, 1983)
With Michael Brecker and Eddie Gomez...
Eliane Elias & Randy Brecker "Amanda" (Passport, 1985)
Eliane Elias "Illusions" (Denon, 1987)
Eliane Elias "Cross Currents" (Denon, 1988)
Eliane Elias "So Far So Close" (Blue Note, 1989)
Eliane Elias "Eliane Elias Plays Jobim" (Blue Note, 1990)
Eliane Elias "A Long Story" (Blue Note, 1991)
Eliane Elias "Fantasia" (Blue Note, 1992)
Eliane Elias "Paulistana" (Blue Note, 1993)
Eliane Elias "On The Classical Side" (EMI-Angle Classics, 1993)
Elias performs works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Chopin and Ravel...
Eliane Elias "Cross Currents" (1995)
Eliane Elias & Herbie Hancock "Solos And Duets" (Blue Note, 1995)
Eliane Elias "The Three Americas" (Blue Note, 1997)
Eliane Elias "Eliane Elias Sings Jobim" (Blue Note/Somethin' Else, 1998)
(Produced by Elaine Elias & Oscar Castro-Neves)
An elegant, soulful homage to Antonio Carlos Jobim, with compact backing by Paulo Braga, Oscar Castro-Neves, Michael Brecker... With the heavyweight mainstream jazz line-up I wanted to get all up on my high horse and dismissive about it, but this album is pretty nice. The band keeps things understated and low-key, and Elias shoes away from the lush excesses that Jobim himself was noted for... At sixteen tracks, the set list is pretty generous, and includes a number of fairly less-well known compositions. Mostly sung in Portuguese, with her voice and piano work generating a breezy, mellow cool. If only all "smooth jazz" was this nice!
Eliane Elias "Everything I Love" (Blue Note, 2000)
Eliane Elias & Bob Brookmeyer "Impulsive!" (Stunt, 2001)
Eliane Elias "Kissed By Nature" (RCA, 2002)
Eliane Elias "Brazilian Classics" (Blue Note, 2003)
Good lord, what the heck is she wearing on the album cover? A Tron jumpsuit??? Oh well, still nice to hear her concentrating on her Brazilian roots...
Eliane Elias "Dreamer" (BMG/Bluebird Jazz, 2004)
(Produced by Eliane Elias, Steve Rodby & Marc Johnson)
A beautiful, if somewhat conventional, jazz-standards session, with pianist-vocalist Elias fronting a full orchestra for the first time in her decades-long career. Along with her are accompanists Paulo Braga on percussion and guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, who keep her solidly anchored to her bossa nova roots. The album opens with a marvellously restrained, torchy version of Tony Hatch's "Call Me," and moves into more standard Brazilian fare by composers Antonio Carlos Jobim, Marcos Valle and Dorival Caymmi, balanced by North American material by Johnny Mercer, Burt Bacharach, and others. Elias herself offers a couple of fine originals, including the gospel-tinged "Movin' Me On" and the more introspective "Time Alone." The music is quite glossy and commercial, not the kind of thing I normally go for, except that Elias's voice is just so pristine, calm and understated; she packs a lot of feeling into her performances, yet does it without any hint of showiness or strain. The tone -- both musical and emotional -- is always perfect. This is a very mellow, but very substantive, album, one that surprised my by its growing hold on my imagination. Recommended!
Eliane Elias "Sings And Plays" (EMI-Toshiba, 2005)
Eliane Elias "Around The City" (RCA-Bluebird, 2006)
Eliane Elias "Something For You: Eliane Elias Sings And Plays Bill Evans" (Blue Note, 2007)
Eliane Elias "Bossa Nova Stories" (Blue Note, 2008)
Lushly arranged versions of various bossa nova classics and a few North American standards, sung in both English and Portuguese... As with much of her work, this is swank and occasionally a bit overripe, yet appealing throughout. For the "smooth jazz" set, this record will be a real treat.
Eliane Elias "Light My Fire" (Concord, 2011)
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