@ the Barbican Centre
22 November 2019
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Over the course of a distinguished career spanning nearly 30 albums,
multi-GRAMMY®-winning pianist/singer/composer Eliane Elias’
distinctive musical style has emerged as one of the most unique
and immediately recognisable sounds in jazz. With over 2.2 million
albums sold to date, Elias blends her Brazilian roots and alluring
voice with her virtuosic instrumental jazz, classical and compositional
skills, while she consistently displays her pianistic mastery and
ability to integrate the many artistic roles she takes on.
As a GRAMMY® Award winner, Latin GRAMMY®-winner, four-time
Gold Disc Award recipient and three-time winner of Best Vocal Album
in Japan amongst many other awards, Elias has taken her place in
the pantheon of music giants. Her three most recent recordings reached
the #1 position on the Billboard charts, iTunes, jazz radio charts
and Amazon best seller charts to name only a few recent accolades.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Elias’ musical talents
began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age
seven and at age 12 was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters.
By the time she was 15, she was teaching piano and improvisation
at one of Brazil’s most prestigious schools of music, CLAM.
Her performing career began in Brazil at age 17, working with Brazilian
singer/songwriter Toquinho and the great poet Vinicius de Moraes,
who was also Antonio Carlos Jobim’s co-writer/lyricist. In
1981, she headed for New York and in 1982 landed a spot in the acclaimed
group Steps Ahead. Her first solo album release was a collaboration
with Randy Brecker in 1984 entitled Amanda. Shortly thereafter her
solo career began, spanning 28 albums to date with the release of
“Love Stories”. In her work, Elias has documented dozens
of her own compositions, her outstanding piano playing and arranging
and beautiful vocal interpretations. She started winning polls in
1988 when she was voted Best New Talent in Jazziz magazine Critic’s
Together with Herbie Hancock, she was nominated for a GRAMMY®
in the Best Jazz Solo Performance category for her 1995 release
Solos and Duets. This recording was hailed by Musician magazine
as “a landmark in piano duo history.” In the 1997 DownBeat
Readers Poll, her recording The Three Americas was voted Best Jazz
Album. Elias was also named in five other categories: Beyond Musician,
Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist and Musician of the
Year. Considered one of the great interpreters of Jobim’s
music, Elias has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works
of the composer: Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release “Eliane
Elias Sings Jobim” won Best Vocal Album in Japan, was the
number one record on Japan’s charts for over three months
and was awarded Best Brazilian Album in the Jazziz Critics Poll.
Both of these albums are a part of Elias’ catalogue of fourteen
Blue Note Records recordings.
Moreover, as a testament to the quality of her writing, the renowned
Danish Radio Big Band has performed and recorded Elias’ compositions,
arranged and conducted by the legendary Bob Brookmeyer. The CD recording
of this project, entitled Impulsive, received a GRAMMY® nomination
for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2001.That same year, Calle
54, the highly acclaimed documentary film by Oscar-winning Spanish
director Fernando Trueba, featured Elias’ performance of “Samba
Triste” and also received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best
Latin Jazz Album.
“On the Classical Side,” recorded in 1993, demonstrated
Elias’ classical skills with a program of Bach, Ravel and
Villa Lobos. In 2002, Elias recorded with opera sensation Denyce
Graves. For this recording, “The Lost Days,” she arranged
two Brazilian classical pieces and wrote an original classical composition
especially for Graves titled “Haabiá-Tupi.”
In 2002, Elias signed to the RCA Music Group/Bluebird label and
released “Kissed by Nature,” an album consisting of
mostly original compositions. Dreamer, her second recording for
the label (released in 2004), was a fresh mix of tunes from the
Great American Songbook, Brazilian bossa novas and two new originals,
sung in English and Portuguese and supported by a full orchestra.
Dreamer received the Gold Disc Award and was voted Best Vocal Album
in Japan. It reached number 3 on the pop charts in France and number
4 on the Billboard charts in the U.S. Elias’ “Around
the City,” released on RCA Victor in 2006, merges bits of
bossa nova with shades of pop, jazz, Latin and even rock ’n’
roll. Around the City features Elias’ vocals and song-writing
in collaborations with producers Andres Levin and Lester Mendez,
as well as fresh takes on pop classics such as Tito Puente’s
“Oye Como Va” and Bob Marley’s “Jammin’.”
Elias returned to Blue Note/EMI in 2007 with “Something for
You,” a tribute to the music of pianist Bill Evans. While
touching the essence of the pianist/composer, she also brings her
own unique gifts to the surface, as a composer, interpreter, outstanding
instrumentalist and beguiling vocalist. This release won Best Vocal
Album of the Year and the Gold Disc Award in Japan. This is also
the third consecutive recording of Elias to receive these awards
and her fourth overall. “Something for You” reached
number 1 on the U.S. Jazz Radio charts, number 8 on Billboard and
number 2 on the French jazz charts.
2008 marked the 50th anniversary of the birth of bossa nova. In
celebration of this event, Elias recorded “Bossa Nova Stories,”
featuring some of the landmark songs of Brazil with American classic
and pop standards, exquisitely performed as only she can, with lush
romantic vocals and exciting playing accompanied by a top-notch
rhythm section and strings recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.
In 2010, Blue Note Records and EMI Japan released “Eliane
Elias Plays Live,” an all-instrumental trio album with bassist
Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron of a live concert recorded in
Amsterdam on May 31, 2002. This performance demonstrates modern
jazz trio playing at the highest level and spotlights Elias’
inventiveness and command of the instrument on a collection of jazz
standards and one original.
“Light My Fire,” released May 31, 2011, was the first
album she recorded for Concord Records. It featured four compositions
by Elias as well as covers of familiar works by songwriters as diverse
as Jim Morrison and the Doors, pop icon Stevie Wonder and jazz saxophonist
Paul Desmond. Backing Elias was a crew of 12 high-calibre players,
including Brazilian icon, guitarist/vocalist Gilberto Gil and trumpeter
Randy Brecker. “On Light My Fire,” Elias wore many hats—as
singer, pianist, composer, arranger and producer. In September 2011,
her song “What About the Heart (Bate Bate)” was nominated
for a Latin GRAMMY® in the category of Best Brazilian Song.
On May 28, 2013, Concord Jazz presented Elias’ “I
Thought About” You (A Tribute to Chet Baker), an album that
offered her personalised spin on the work of a key American jazz
artist while spotlighting her connection to the singer-instrumentalist
Long known for her native feel of Brazilian music, “I Thought
About” You truly confirmed Elias’ expertise as an interpreter
of American standards. In addition to receiving glowing critical
praise, “I Thought About You” reached number 1 album
in the U.S. and France in sales on Amazon.com, number 2 on iTunes
in several countries including the U.S., France and Brazil, number
4 on Billboard’s jazz charts and top jazz radio charts.
“Made in Brazil,” released on March 31, 2015, on Concord
Jazz, brought Elias her first GRAMMY® win in the category of
Best Latin Jazz Album in 2016, after seven previous GRAMMY®
nominations. In her long career as a solo artist, it results from
the first time she’s recorded a disc in her native Brazil
since moving to the United States in 1981.
It marked a musical homecoming for Elias. Her following album,
“Dance of Time,” which debuted at number 1 on two Billboard
charts, the iTunes Jazz Albums chart and the Amazon.com Brazilian
and Latin Jazz charts, was also recorded in Elias’ homeland
and took home a Latin GRAMMY® for Best Latin Jazz/Jazz Album.
On April 13, 2018, Elias followed up those wins with the all-instrumental
“Music from Man of La Mancha,” also via Concord Jazz.
Featuring nine individualized interpretations of songs composed
by the late Mitch Leigh for the legendary 1960s Broadway musical
Man of La Mancha, it was a project Elias undertook in 1995 that
was waiting for it’s release having been stymied by past contractual
Leigh himself tracked down Elias after hearing her ingenious arrangements
of Jobim’s music and commissioned her to arrange and produce
the recording. Honoured by the offer, she accepted and recruited
two different all-star trios - one featuring bassist Eddie Gomez
and drummer Jack DeJohnette and the other Marc Johnson on bass and
Satoshi Takeishi on drums, with Manolo Badrena joining on percussion.
This album also reached the #1 position on the Billboard Jazz Charts
and on iTunes in several countries.