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Eliane Elias at Birdland Jazz Club

Ernest Barteldes By

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Eliane Elias
Birdland Jazz Club
New York, NY
April 11, 2015

On the last night of her residence at New York City's Birdland Jazz Club, pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias focused on Brazilian music and tunes from Made in Brazil (Concord, 2015), released earlier that week. The set opened with an instrumental take on "Ladeira da Preguiça," a Gilberto Gil composition popularized by Elis Regina in the early 1970s. Elias' take was fast-paced, with flurries of notes on the piano and strong drum accents from Rafael Barata.

After a brief introduction, she continued with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Chega de Saudade" that took off with a brief solo intro from guitarist Rubens de la Corte, with the band joining in after a few bars. Elias sang the lyrics in Portuguese with a traditional bossa arrangement, but for the solos the groove changed to a more straight-ahead jazz approach featuring a masterful solo from Marc Johnson that drew enthusiastic applause from the sold-out room.

Before playing Ary Barroso's "Brazil," Elias talked about how it was one of the first Brazilian songs to become an international standard and explained what the words meant—not only literally but also when it came to the depth of the country's culture. The set also included "Driving Ambition," an original tune with a chorus apparently inspired by The Beatles' "Drive My Car," in which Elias alternated between acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes. She also included Dorival Caymmi's "No Tabuleiro da Baiana," a tune that describes the street foods sold in the composer's native city of Salvador.

The set closed with "Chiclete Com Banana," a 1950s song originally recorded by Jackson do Pandeiro that argues against American influence on Brazilian music. The song has become a standard of sorts in Brazil, and Elias' take acknowledged that her country's music has borrowed from other genres, but remains authentic and unique. The tune started out as a bossa, and then evolved to a Carnaval-like samba thanks to Barata, who took the music to incredible heights with his energetic and inspiring solo.

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