Last week I had to make an impromptu trip to Brazil, and not for particularly pleasant reasons (illness in the family, but things seem to be heading in the right direction now). As always, I visited a cd shop looking for the latest releases (I know, how old-fashioned!), and stumbled upon the latest album by Eliane Elias. She is a Brazilian pianist, singer and composer (in this order, I’d say) who has been active in the US jazz scene since the 1980s, building a solid and consistent career. She mixes a more traditional approach to jazz with her Brazilian background, and the results are usually very interesting (I must say that I like her as a pianist more than as a singer). Eliane Elias is yet one of those Brazilian artists who have more recognition abroad than in Brazil (for example, she is a regular at the Dutch Arrow Jazz FM, the official radio station in my car), so it was a nice surprise to see her cd prominently displayed at the shop in São Paulo.
Perhaps one of the nicest things about her latest album, Light my Fire (yes, that song…) is the participation of Gilberto Gil in three of the songs (guitar and voice). Two of these songs are classics of Gil’s repertoire, and the combination of the two of them singing, Eliane Elias’ piano and a bunch of other awesome musicians (including her daughter, ex-husband and current husband) is really neat. So here you are: ‘Aquele abraço’, Gil’s tribute to Rio de Janeiro (“Rio de Janeiro remains beautiful…”), and ‘Toda menina baiana’, Gil’s tribute to the girls from Bahia (very political of them to include both songs). I particularly like the piano in ‘Toda menina baiana’ – Eliane Elias and Gilberto Gil are clearly a good match for each other.