Across a recording career now entering its third decade, Eliane Elias has often strayed from her Brazilian roots, but never terribly far. Still, it’s been a while since the sensuous vocalist and pianist has released an album quite as musically patriotic as Made in Brazil. The title refers to both the music, with half of the dozen tracks devoted to classic compositions from Ary Barroso, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Roberto Menescal, and to Elias herself. A child prodigy in her native São Paulo, she studied and worked with Brazil’s best before moving Stateside in 1981. With the other six tracks, all written by Elias, and with its spectrum of top-flight Brazilian musicians young and old, the album embraces three generations of craftsmanship.
And what a warm embrace it is. The orchestral arrangements, recorded at Abbey Road with the London Symphonic Orchestra and featured on seven tracks, are as dense and lush as the Amazon. The remaining tracks, though less dramatically verdant, are utterly luxuriant.
Elias opens, appropriately, with Barroso’s landmark “Brasil,” transforming the typically boisterous, brassy anthem into a hazy exercise in laidback satisfaction. United with Take 6 for a bilingual meander through Jobim’s intoxicating “Águas de Março,” Elias also twines beautifully with Menescal on his intensely romantic “Você” and shimmering “Rio.” Impressively, Elias’ originals prove equally seductive, particularly two pairings with Take 6’s Mark Kibble: the intensely passionate “Incendiando” and the playfully titillating “Driving Ambition,” which doubles as a cunning nod to Lennon/McCartney.