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Eliane Elias – What’s on your Playlist?

Jazzed Magazine • March 2015What's on Your Playlist? • April 9, 2015

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playlist-mar-15Renowned for her ability to blend instrumental jazz, classical, and her own Brazilian roots into a uniquely distinctive musical voice, pianist/singer/songwriter Eliane Elias has been a force to be recognized on the international jazz scene since the mid 1980s.

Born in Sao Paulo, Elias quickly progressed from childhood piano lessons to studying the works of great jazz masters and, by age 15, teaching improvisation and piano at one of Brazil’s most prestigious music conservatories. Early work with singer/songwriter Toquinho and poet Vinicius de Morales (Antonio Carlos Jobim’s co-writer/lyricist) led to a move to NYC in 1981 where she became a member of Steps Ahead.

Following a collaboration with Randy Breaker in 1984 (Amanda) Elias embarked on her solo career which has, at this point, resulted in over 20 albums, a number of critics and readers poll accolades amongst all the major jazz publications, top-selling discs, and countless performances, worldwide.

The five-time Grammy nominee is just getting ready to release her latest recording, Made in Brazil (Concord Jazz), an album that marks the first time Eliane Elias has recorded a full-length in her homeland since moving to America back in ’81.

1. Miles Davis – Seven Steps to Heaven

I love the two rhythm sections on this recording, as well as the tune choices. Both pianists Herbie Hancock’s and Victor Feldman’s playing had an impact on me from the first time I heard this album when I was a teenager. I was listening to it again [recently], enjoying it on the plane back from Japan.

2. Bill EvansNew Conversations

This has some of the most beautiful and creative playing by Bill.  I love this recording, especially “I Love My Wife” and the joyful and heartfelt “Maxine.”

3. Eliane EliasMade In Brazil 

This is my brand-new recording. I am very proud and excited to share this music with the world. We have beautiful strings and some very special guests including Take 6. I composed six original songs on this album and covered some of the great classics of Brazilian music.

4. Joao GilbertoAmoroso

This is a Bossa Nova classic that has continued to inspire musicians and singers since its release in 1976.

5. Amanda Brecker   Way to Be

This is a beautiful recording featuring six compositions by my daughter, singer/songwriter Amanda Brecker. The album brings different elements of the music from Brazil, as well as a mix of contemporary folk/pop. Very cool sounds and conception.

6. Steps AheadHolding Together
(specifically the tracks “Bowing to Bud,” “The Time is Now,” and “Copland”)

This album is only available on iTunes these days. It’s a live recording of the reunion tour of 1999 in Europe. We just played another reunion tour in Japan and New York in February this year. What a fun band…

7. Swept Away

An instrumental ECM recording which I co-led with bassist Marc Johnson features all original music. I was recently arranging my tune “B is for Butterfly” from this disc for the Steps Ahead Reunion, adding vibraphone and soprano parts.

8. Shirley Horn – “It Could Happen to You” (from Close Enough for Love)

Shirley was the real deal – a swinger who gave new meaning to the term “slow ballad” and who had a way of singing that especially influenced female singer/pianists.

9. Frank Sinatra – “You Make Me Feel So Young”
(from Classic Sinatra)

 I love the way Frank sang and especially during that period of his career.

10. Herbie Hancock – “Speak Like a Child”
(from the remastered Speak Like A Child)

What a great tune and arrangement. I have always loved Herbie’s inventiveness and have enjoyed so much playing piano duets with him.

Eliane Elias’ newest album, Made in Brazil (Concord Jazz), will be released on March 31.

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