Among stage musicals of the 1960s, only Fiddler on the Roof and Hello, Dolly! achieved longer runs. In the decades since, it has had four successful Broadway revivals and remains a staple of stock and amateur troupes worldwide. Yet Man of La Mancha, dually based on the sagas of 16th-century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes and his tilting-at-windmills hero Don Quixote, produced only one instantly recognizable hit, “The Impossible Dream.” Which perhaps explains why its music, though rich and compelling, is so rarely reinterpreted.
Due to long-ago contractual tangles, the release of this stellar appreciation by Eliane Elias has been delayed nearly a quarter-century. The original Broadway orchestrations eschewed violins, violas and cellos in favor of flamenco guitars. When Elias arranged and recorded these instrumental tracks in 1995—nine in total, representing about one-third of La Mancha’s score—she opted for no guitar. Featuring herself at the piano, she alternates between two dynamic bass/drums pairings, Eddie Gomez with Jack DeJohnette and Marc Johnson with Satoshi Takeishi, augmented by guest percussionist Manolo Badrena.
Across both configurations, it is an immensely lush album, a vibrant fusion of Elias’ Brazilian verve and the music’s Latin-meets-Broadway zest—from a shimmering “Dulcinea,” gently roiling “It’s All the Same” and stirringly contemplative “The Barber’s Song,” to a fiery, passionate “To Each His Dulcinea” and the Carnaval-esque rumpus of “A Little Gossip.” And, yes, “Dream” is here: freed of the bombast pop vocalists have typically lent it, masterfully reimagined as a spirited samba.
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