Made In Brazil – Elaine Elias

Elaine EliasIt has been almost 35 years since pianist/singer/songwriter Eliane Elias moved from her homeland in Brazil to New York City She quickly began making waves as the pianist in the jazz fusion powerhouse band Steps Ahead, which included the late, great tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker. After a joint album with Randy Brecker, she began recording solo albums in the mid 80s and has been a prolific recording artist ever since. Most of her albums are on the Blue Note label, but she recently moved over to Concord. As the title suggests, she went back to her roots and recorded this album in her hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil. While she took along her husband, bassist Marc Johnson (who has been on most of her albums), she hired some top Brazilian musicians for the session. Johnson plays bass on half of the songs, while Marcelo Mariano plays electric bass on the others. Also on the album is the multi-Grammy winning Christian vocal group Take 6, appearing for only one track, and their lead vocalist Mark Kibble sings on two others. Brazilian R&B star Ed Motta is on another. Elias and her singer/pianist/daughter Amanda team up for a duet on “Some Enchanted Night,” and she pairs up with Marc Johnson for a duet on “A Sorte do Amor.” Seven of the 12 cuts include orchestral arrangements which were later overdubbed at Abbey Road Studios, performed by members if the London Symphonic Orchestra. But they are perfectly done and never detract from the music – note how things cook along just nicely over the strings on “Voce.” From the opening moments of “Brasil,” a famous Brazilian ‘anthem’ from 1939, to the closing moments of “No Tabuleiro da Baiana,” we are all treated to a top shelf program of infectious music from Brazil, much of it permeated with a definite sexiness the likes of which I have not heard in an album in quite some time. Eliane Elias shines brightly throughout with her multifaceted piano work, and her always-wonderful vocals, on which she alternates between English & Portuguese. Not only is she at the top of her game here, the musicians she chose for the homecoming recording are right up there with her. An absolutely outstanding set of music from Eliane Elias and friends. I want to go to Brazil.
Bill Wahl


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