Eliane Elias – Dance Of Time – ConcordJazz CJ A00027 56:16 ****

Samba Olé

(Eliane Elias – vocals , piano; Marcus Teixeira – acoustic guitar 1-3, 5-10; Conrado Goys – electric guitar 4; Marcelo Mariano – electric bass – 1-10; Edu Ribeiro – drums 1-3, 5-10; Celso de Almeida – drums 4; Marivaldo dos Santos – percussion 2, 3, 9; Gustavo di Silva – percussion 2, 3, 9; Special Guests: Amilton Godoy – piano 11; João Bosco – vocal, guitar 4; Mark Kibble – background vocals 3, 5, 8; Mike Mainieri – vibraphone – 2, 7; Randy Brecker – flugelhorn 8; Toquinho – vocal 9, 12 – guitar 12)

It may be unusual to use a Spanish expression to describe  Brazilian  music, but the term Olé  in the above noted tag line is meant to be used in the (sports) context when one person performs a great feat of skill. A more appropriate recognition could not be found to acknowledge Eliane Elias’ latest release Dance Of Time as it is a superbly performed, constructed, and engineered homage to that particular Brazilian musical form, the samba.

With her pianistic skills firmly in the forefront, accompanied by a tight rhythm section and interspersed with several special guests, Elias dives into a wide range of vocal interpretations of recognizable samba numbers along with several of her own compositions, plus a couple of American standards for good measure.

The sambas offered here follow two principal traditions: the slower choro style with such numbers as “O Pato”, “Sambou Sambou” and “Samba De Orly” and the upbeat flavoured samba-canção as evidenced by “By Hand”, “An Up Dawn”, and “Coisa Feita”. Regardless of the antecedents, Elias covers the ground with her own arrangements that reflect her strong pianistic skills, vocal harmonies, and rhythmic sensibilities that are a gratifying earful. The “Copacabana” performed here is not the popular ear candy version by Barry Manilow , but the samba number written by João de Barro and Albert Ribiero. Offered with animation and a frisky identity it transcends popular culture for authenticity.

The two American songbook standards “ You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me “ and “Speak Low” are transformed into easy-going sambas with the former arranged with a lovely back beat and some tasteful background vibraphone from Mike Mainieri. On the latter number Randy Brecker sets the stage with his elegant flugelhorn and Mike Kibble’s multi-track background vocals support Elias’ affecting vocal interpretation.

With  her quietly suggestive voice, Eliane Elias has delivered a musical paean to her native Brazil and the samba tradition.

O Pato
You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me
Coisa Feita
By Hand
Sambou Sambou
Little Paradise
Speak Low
Samba De Orly
Na Batucada Da Vida
An Up Dawn
Not To Cry

—Pierre Giroux