Eliane Elias – Dance Of Time
(Concord Records. CD Review by Peter Jones)
As smooth as a smoothie made of liquid silk, singer and pianist Eliane Elias has spent the last three decades flying the flag for the kind of Brazilian music that first became internationally popular in the late 1950s. But far from being a mere nostalgist, she keeps it alive and kicking with her bold, contemporary arrangements. As a member of Steps Ahead back in 1983, she also got her fusion chops together early, working with the Brecker Brothers, one of whom she married, and founder member Mike Mainieri, who had produced her first demo recording a couple of years earlier. All this has given her subsequent work real depth and a fund of experience to draw upon.
On this new album she focuses on the samba, with a side order of bossa nova. But what makes it the best collection of hers that I’ve ever heard (and I must admit, I haven’t heard all 23 albums) is the inclusion of some astoundingly good sidemen. Most notable is the contribution of the great Mark Kibble from Take 6, closely followed by those of Eliane’s ex-husband, trumpeter Randy Brecker, pianist Amilton Godoy, guitarists João Bosco and Toquinho, and vibraphonist Mainieri.
Kibble’s soaring multi-tracked vocal harmonies inject real fire and passion into songs like Copacabana, By Hand (Em Mãos), and a radically modernized version of Kurt Weill’s Speak Low, the latter also featuring some great Brecker trumpet. Eliane’s own arranging and playing – always spectacular – sounds better than ever, on tunes like Sambou Sambou, replete with her usual cascading key modulations. The mood is generally upbeat, as are the tempos, but there’s also a gorgeous Elias-penned ballad called Little Paradise, with some sweet, understated vibes. And Ary Barroso’s languid Na Batucada Da Vida bathes the ears in that warm, slow bossa nova style that Elias so excels in.
On the sweet and charming Not To Cry (Pra Nao Chorar) we hear another vocalist in the shape of the 70-year-old Toquinho, who started writing the song (then titled Eliane) in 1978 but didn’t finish it until given a helping hand by Elias herself for inclusion on this wonderful album.
LINKS: Live review from 2009
Inteview from 2011
CD Review of Made in Brazil
Live review from 2015
Dance of Time is released on 24th March. (LINK TO EPK)