Eliane Elias: Something for Bill (Evans)
As for the vocals, "The last four years I have been singing quite a lot. It's interesting. I heard one of my recordings from years ago, and it sounds like a different person. It was so shy, the way I used the voice. It was so different. It was just a special project when I did Dreamer, and then I started doing more and more, and I started feeling so comfortable, the place that I got with the voice, that I thought it would be interesting to do some of the songs with singing. Bill did like singers. He recorded those LP's with Tony Bennett. A tune like â??But Beautiful,' I actually heard it first, the way I most remember it, with Bill and Tony. So to me it just made sense that I would sing that song. Then a song like â??Waltz for Debby,' although Tony also sang that song, I was first familiar with instrumental versions of that song. But I really related to the lyric. It talks about a little girl, and me being the mother of a daughter, I really liked the story. Some people don't even know those lyrics are there. They're beautiful.
"And then on others that I also liked so much, I decided to do some vocals, and I am happy and proud of the way the vocals came out. They were done simultaneously with the piano, in the momentit was integrated. I was happy to hear the voice got there, getting somewhere different."
There are already several dates lined up for 2008 to perform the music. The group seems to have great anticipation to bring the music to the public.
"We're happy and we're looking forward to bringing the music to the people. It seems like everybody who hears this...people can feel some of the emotion, the sincerity that we felt when we did this tribute. It was really heartfelt." And as much as Elias loved the sound of Evans growing up, Johnson also holds a special place, as he was in the last, and some say the best, trio from 1978 to 1980.
"There was a really golden period for that trio, which was the fall of '79. It was really peaking right then," he told All About Jazz in a 2005 interview. "I know Bill was in a good period, in a good way. Music was really central to his life again in these years that I was with him. When I joined the group, he was drug free. He was separated from his wife. I think he put a lot of his concentration and effort into the music. A survival mechanism, if nothing else. Joe [LaBarbera] and I were the happy recipients of his newfound dedication to his craft and his music. We were there to go on the journey with him. He was encouraging us to push the envelope. We were trying different things, different tempo modulations, chord modulations, different things that he hadn't been doing before. It was a lot of fun."
He adds, "I think, as a result of that association [with Evans], I had a degree of respect in the jazz community. I was still quite young, experience-wise. I had a lot to learn. I was able to keep working with really great people, great musicians."
Says Elias of the recording process, "It was really fun. It was a bit emotional too, at times. Bill's music can bring so many different feelings, you know? It touches different things. He has some fun, some joy. He has some nostalgia. Sometimes a little bit of loneliness. He brings different things, depending on the song. Of course, I get immersed into those different feeling that each song brings. We did feel them."
Great satisfaction comes from the making of great art. The fulfillment can be heard in her voice as she speaks about it. The passion, so omnipresent in her playing, is in her words. And she's appreciative of the entire voyage, almost as if she can't believe her good fortune. Did this really happen?
"About a year ago, it was just something that came into my hands. And when I look at the whole thing, like when I was a young girl and I loved his music, to know that whatever he wrote last, the last things he wrote, I had the honor and privilege of receiving that, bringing that back to peoplemarrying his bassist from his favorite triothe whole thing, the way it happened. Then I look at that cover, that I just ran out of the house and did that," she says with a smile. "And it became the favorite idea for everybodyfor all the art design people."
The music fits Eliane Elias, a player with such a beautiful emotive quality and whose phrases and musical paths have such intrinsic beauty.
"The whole thing is like a baby, a very special baby," she says, chuckling.