I spoke briefly today to Brazilian-American pianist-singer-composer Eliane Elias about her forthcoming visit to Ronnie Scott’s. She was last here in September 2009. Here’s our (ecstatic) review of a great gig. Eliane Elias needs, demands to be heard.
There’s just one difference in personnel on this visit versus 2009: guitarist Rubens de la Corte is replaced by the 26 year old Brazilian Berklee alumnus Ricardo Vogt. On bass is Elias’ husband Marc Johnson, on drums again Rafael Barata.
The 2009 visit was themed around the fiftieth anniversary of the bossa nova. Elias sums up her development since then as having “expanded rhythmically,” incorporating samba and baião rhythms. I’m sure that’s true, but it understates the level at which Elias functions in Brazilian music. Just as Elias, who now describes New York as home, has worked with many of the greats of (North) American jazz, she also operates at the highest level in Brazilian music. Her associations with Jobim and Joao Gilberto are well known, and from the evidence of gigs and records she truly inhabits their music.
Less known perhaps are her collaborations with other composers and singers. The February gig will feature a composition which she co-wrote in the 1980’s with one of the greats of baião, Luis Gonzaga Jr, known as Gonzaguinha, who was killed in a car accident in 1991. That tune, Samba Maracatu, is on a new album which has just been recorded. And the guest singer on it is none less than national icon Gilberto Gil. Elias told me that she and Gil – and indeed Caetano Veloso and Maria Bethania…- go back a long way. Indeed for a time she was Gilberto Gil’s Musical Director.
I also took the opportunity to get up to date about her current discography.
Something for you (Blue Note / EMI). In 2007 Elias did a tribute to Bill Evans. There is a fascinating story (thanks KW) about an unrecorded Bill Evans tune, which came to light on a cassette tape which Bill Evans gave to Elias’ husband and bassist Marc Johnson in the weeks before he died. Elias tells the story HERE on an interview with Bloomberg (after 2:00)
Bossa Nova Stories (Blue Note / EMI) In 2008 she celebrated the (official, Brazilian) 50th aniversary of the Bossa. Half of the tracks are with string orchestra.
Eliane Elias Plays Live (Somethin’Else- Japan EMI 2009-above) A live instrumental set with Marc Johnson and Joey Baron at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam from May 2002, recorded for Dutch radio, is her most recent release. It seems quite hard to track down in the UK.
See text above for details of the forthcoming CD on Universal (France).
At Ronnie Scott’s February 21st-23rd