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Eliane Elias: Made in Brazil

Reviewed by Ismo Tenkanen

Rating: 7/ 10

Soul Express CD of the Month - July-September 2015

US Concorde Jazz CD, 2015
Buy this album from our CD Shop

1) Brasil (Aquarela Do Brasil) 4:39 2) Você 5:17 3) Águas De Março (Waters Of March) 5:50 4) Searching 4:49 5) Some Enchanted Place 5:02 6) Incendiando 4:49 7) Vida (If Not You) 4:37 8) Este Seu Olhar / Promessas 3:28 9) Driving Ambition 5:27 10) Rio 4:48 11) A Sorte Do Amor (The Luck Of Love) 3:45 12) No Tabuleiro Da Baiana 4:48

I had a privilege of watching Brazilian pianist and singer Eliane Elias perform live on stage at the closing show of her Made in Brazil tour in Helsinki, and I was impressed by the professional and highly entertaining performance by the quartet (Eliane, Marc Johnson (bs), Rubens de La Corte (g), Rafael Barata (ds). The quartet mainly performed songs from this album, her latest CD, which she introduced as an album that was the number one best-seller on Amazon (Jazz category) for 3 weeks. Eliane Elias has now been nominated for Grammy for seven times.

It was descriptive for the show that Eliane clearly preferred the more genuine Brazil-flavoured tracks during the show, whereas the actual CD contains also lots of English-language songs with the record company obviously trying to direct her more towards typical American smooth jazz sounds. On the latest album, Eliane has also lots of guest musicians visiting, including Mark Kibble and Take 6, London Symphony Orchestra and Ed Motta.

Of the English-language songs, my definite favourite is a song entitled Some Enchanted Place, which builds a smooth Bossa Nova rhythm over the stylish orchestrated musical setting. The song is written by Eliane together with her current husband, jazz bass player Marc Johnson, who also joined Elias on stage on her Made in Brazil tour. Amanda Brecker, the daughter of Eliane and her previous husband Randy Brecker is also singing backing vocals on this particular song.

Vida (If Not You) is a certain winner amongs more soul-oriented listeners, as with Brazilian soul hero Ed Motta singing the colourful backgrounds, the Portuguese-language ballad has a very strong soul flavour as well. In a similar way, Take 6 and Mark Kibble colour the backings on three tracks, including the Antonio Carlos Jobim cover Aguas de Marco.

Despite the obvious compromises between Eliane's Brazilian roots and American smooth jazz trends, Made in Brazil has no weak links, as also the most smooth jazz inclined tracks have been arranged with excellent real musicians and embedded with Brazilian rhythms. For more genuine Brazilian music fans, there are several highlights as well, not only two Jobim songs, but also two Ary Barroso standards and a song by the highly respected bossa nova composer Roberto Menescal, titled Rio.

Eliane Elias & Ed Motta: Vida (If Not You)

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