An Evening of Music with Eliane Elia at The City Winery on April 1, 2015

Concert Review:  Eliane Elias at The City Winery on April 1, 2015
by Maja Rios
The day before her performance in Chicago.   Eliane EliasMade in Brazil, came out on March 31, which marks the first time the Grammy-nominated pianist/keyboardist/singer/composer has recorded a disc in her native Brazil since moving to the United States in 1981.

Made in Brazil focuses on three different eras of Brazilian music beginning with two compositions from the 1930s written by Ary Barroso (a composer first popularized by Carmen Miranda), moving to Bossa nova with music written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Roberto Menescal in the ‘60s and ‘70s , then traveling through the evolution of Brazilian pop music and the modern music of today, represented by six of Eliane’s compositions. 

Made in Brazil also features Take 6, guitarist/vocalist Roberto Menescal and vocalists Mark Kibble and Ed Motta, with seven orchestral arrangements by Rob Mathes recorded at Abbey Road Studios.

At the performance,  at the Chicago City Winery Brazilian pianist/signer Eliane Elias was a real treat.  Consisting of Eliane on piano and vocals, longtime music partner/husband Marc Johnson on acoustic bass and two Brazilian musicians on guitar and drums, Eliane  sashayed through terrific, tight, arrangements of jazz standards (musical compositions which are an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners. There is no definitive list of jazz standards, and the list of songs deemed to be standards changes over time. Songs included in major fake book publications (sheet music collections of popular tunes) and jazz reference works offer a rough guide to which songs are considered standards). and Brazilian bossa nova (a genre of Brazilian music, which developed and was popularized in the 1950s and '60s and is today one of the best-known Brazilian music genres abroad. The phrase bossa nova means literally "new trend") and samba (a Brazilian musical genre and dance style originating in Brazil, with its roots in Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions, particularly Angola and the Congo).

Her light, airy vocals, similar in many ways to Brazilian singer Astreed Gilberto, was a perfect compliment to her outstanding piano playing, which was both energetic and at the same time never over-powering.

She opened her set with an up-tempo instrumental samba by Gilberto Gil, and then sang a great rendition of "Chega de Saudade" which she said was one of the song that launched bossa nova worldwide.

Backed up by authentic Brazilian Bossa guitar playing, I was totally transported back to Rio de Janeiro, 1958, when the tune was written.

Next she song a jazz standard.  "I thought about you" bass with a great samba flair.  She mentioned that the song was from her album of the same name (I thought about), which is a tribute to the American jazz trumpet/vocalist Chet Baker.

The remainder of her set, consisted of mostly vocals of classic bossas like “So Danço Samba”, “Desifinado”, “Brasil (Aquarela do Brasil) ”, and a few originals “Butterfly” an instrumental which she co-wrote with Marc Johnson.  And an lesser known tune by Brazilian composer Miniscao on “Você”.

She sang a great rendition of “Embraceable You”, as a slow bossa, but frequently she mentioned laryngitis, though I could not tell, as she very whispering tone.

Toward the end of the set, she changed tempos to a funk beat which I feels reflects her versatility as a pianist.

My favorite part of her performance was when she got up to sing with the trio, as she danced around the club in a tight black dress and heels.

She called herself “The Blonde Morena” {which means dark) as she sung a tune,  Rosa by  Jobim’s favorite compose, Dorival Cayimmi from Bahia via the very cool venue of City Winery for the evening.
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