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07/08/11

Eliane Elias
Light My Fire
Concord Picante

Bright as August along the Costa de Sol and breezy as an Hawaiian lanai, the latest from Brazilian pianist-vocalist-arranger Eliane Elias is possibly the most refreshing summertime jazz album since Getz met the Gilbertos. Blending Brazilian classics, original compositions and pop and jazz standards, Elias plays and sings exquisitely on all 12 selections, surrounding herself with the same number of exemplary artists, including her ex-husband Randy Brecker on trumpet, bassist Marc Johnson, drummer Paulo Braga, guitar greats Oscar Castro-Neves and Romero Lubambo and legendary guitarist-vocalist Gilberto Gil.

Elias’ slow, sensual treatment of the Doors’ title track is a masterpiece of musical foreplay, her dusky reinterpretation of “Take Five” and gossamer cover of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” equally enticing. Her lilting exploration of Gil’s farewell valentine to Rio, “Aquele Abraço,” complete with a whispered nod to the composer, positively shimmers, and she shapes her own billet doux to her native country’s joyful resilience with the vibrant “Isto Aqui O Que É.” Also new is “What About the Heart (Bate Bate),” a mellow wish for rekindled romance. Dipping into her own history, Elias includes the two-decade-old (though never previously recorded) “Turn to Me (Samba Maracatú),” sculpted, with vocal assistance from Gil, as a sparkling tribute to her co-writer, the great Luiz Gonzaguinha do Nascimento Jr.

Originally published in July/August 2011
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