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.