Jazz CD Reviews
Eliane Elias – Bossa Nova Stories – with orch. arr. & conducted by Rob Mathes – Blue Note Eliane Elias – Something For You (Eliane Elias sings & plays Bill Evans) – Blue Note
Published on January 13, 2009
Eliane Elias – Bossa Nova Stories – with orch. arr. & conducted by Rob Mathes – Blue Note 50999 2 28103 2 8 ***** [Release date: Jan. 13, 09]:
Eliane Elias – Something For You (Eliane Elias sings & plays Bill Evans) – Blue Note 50999 5 11795 2 6 *****:
(Artists on Something For You: Elias, piano & vocals; Marc Johnson, bass; Joey Baron, drums; tr. 17, Bill Evans)
Here are the latest two CDs from one of the finest jazz pianists and vocalists performing today. They spell each other off in interesting fashion. The brand new album is a tribute to the bossa nova genre, which was launched about 50 years ago in Brazil when Joao Gilberto recorded one of the tunes Elias does here: Chega de Suadade. The album released last year is not bossa nova but a tribute to the art of Bill Evans, and even concludes with a track from the late pianist playing the introduction to his tune Here Is Something for You, which Elias also sings. There are six tunes by Evans among the 17 on the second disc, mixed with tunes of the sort Evans frequently performed. Elias’ light and unforced voice is heard on about every other track, and her piano chops are impressively displayed in the piano trio selections. There is a single non-bossa nova Brazilian song sung in Brazilian by Elias. Marc Johnson’s bass work is exemplary in tunes such as A Sleepin’ Bee and may remind Evans fans of that of Scott Lafaro in Evan’s original trio.
Back to Bossa Nova Stories: Elias was brought up in Sao Paulo in the 1960s and says she lived and breathed bossa nova. After the first recording by Gilberto, the 1959 film Black Orpheus introduced bossa nova to the rest of the world. There were the watershed U.S. releases by Bud Shank and Laurindo Almeida, followed by the 1962 Charlie Byrd/Stan Getz hit Jazz Samba, with The Girl From Ipanema. Bossa nova became part of the mainstream.
Several classic bossa nova favorites are here: Desafinado, Estate, The Girl from Ipanema, but also unexpected tunes such as Stevie Wonder’s Superwoman, and a bossa nova treatment of Day By Day. Some lesser-known bossa tunes by Gilberto, Donato and other Brazilian song writers round out this delicious album. Elias’ beautifully swinging treatments are fresh and don’t sound as dated as some of the recent resurrections by other vocalists in keeping with the current reinterest in bossa nova. One of my favorite bossa nova tunes has long been Estate (along with The Waters of March). Imagine my surprise to read that Estate is an Italian song about lost love and sung in Italian! 85-year-old Toots Thielemans does a lovely harmonica solo in this one, as well as on the Stevie Wonder track. The quiet voice of Brazilian singer/composer Ivan Lins joins Elias on I’m Not Alone. Other members of the great band (Elias wrote all the arrangements, by the way) include guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, drummer Paul Braga and again Marc Johnson’s bass. The sessions were recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios. Not much info in the note booklet but Elias fans probably won’t complain about the performer’s very sexy photos in it.
TrackList: The Girl From Ipanema, Chega de Saudade, The More I See You, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Desafinado, Estate (Summer), Day In Day Out, I’, Not Alone, Too marvelous for Words, Superwoman, Falsa Baiana, Minha Saudade, The Frog, Day By Day.
– John Henry