Review: Elias shows off exceptional vocal, instrumental skills with sidemen
Few performers in jazz blend instrumental and vocal skills as well as Eliane Elias.
Many are well known for that effort, but generally one skill stands out. While his voice has won him Grammy awards, George Benson's guitar skills are the summit of his talents.
But Eliane Elias showed Friday evening at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, she sings as well as she plays. In doing both, she never loses track of her Brazilian heritage. Songs such as "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and even the Doors' "Light My Fire" took on a bit of Bahia.
Her musical skills were not the only element of equality on stage. The work of her sidemen, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Rafael Barata, matched hers and a times became the focus of the concert.
Johnson, who has a storied jazz career, stood out almost immediately on his upright electric bass. But Barata seemed charged by the proceedings and by the time the trio was working on the Brazilian classic, "The Frog," he was a demon. He laid down a forceful and complex solo that never strayed from the ethnic feeling of the work.
That solo seemed to propel him into one on "Light My Fire" in which he created sharp ringing tones from striking the edges of his cymbals with his sticks and then contrasting that to deep tones from his mallets.
"Light My Fire," which was done in a bluesy tint, led to the faster "Catching Fire" which gave Johnson one of his best solos of the night. With remarkable dexterity he created brisk chromatic patterns that stepped down steadily.
But Elias was the star of the two shows at the North Side site. She not only offered great piano playing both in stating the songs, but also in crafting energetic and creative solos. Her current album, "Swept Away," is an all-instrumental offering and she played from it "B is for Butterfly." That tune opens in an easy-going, Vince Guaraldi-like fashion, before becoming more demanding in her explorations.
All of her songs seemed to offer both sides of her talents. For instance, "Banana Tree" by Gilberto Gil was structured around its existence as a song. But not only did she sing the lyrics in her nicely controlled voice, but she offered a well stated piano solo that explored the melody.
Her instrumental intros into song also were inviting. In "They Can't Take That Away From Me," for instance, she offered hints of what was to come without giving it away much.
The best piece of the first set, however, was "Desifinado," which included great work form Elias and the best drum work of the evening form Barata. But the best part was on a slowed middle section in which Johnson offered a bowed solo that was as beautiful in its tone as it was its conception.
Elias's daughter, Amanda Brecker, whose father is trumpet great Randy Brecker, joined the evening for a duet with Elias on "So Danco Samba."
The concert never faltered in its wealth.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Norwin High School health teacher charged with selling heroin
- West Homestead man taken into custody after 8-hour police standoff in Hempfield
- Bodies of Kochu, Gray found in Ohio River in West Virginia
- Pirates cut 12, including outfielder Tabata and pitcher Lincoln
- Pa. woman charged with forging docs to claim she was an attorney
- Penguins’ protracted slump continues with 5-2 loss at Carolina
- State police seek info on police impersonator in Export
- Port Authority secures free North Shore light-rail service
- Aldi to open store where Bottom Dollar closed in Garfield
- Plagued by bomb threats, Yough offering $1,000 reward
- Programs keep young workers on ‘TRACK’ for local employment