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Eliane Elias: Music from Man of La Mancha (Concord)

Review of album by pianist/singer performing songs from the famous musical

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Cover of Eliane Elias album Music From Man of La Mancha on Concord
Cover of Eliane Elias album Music From Man of La Mancha on Concord

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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Preview, buy or download songs from Music from Man of La Mancha by Eliane Elias on Amazon.



Originally Published