Eliane Elias – Light My Fire – Concord Picante – 54:34 [5/31/11] *****:
(Eliane Elias – vocals & piano; Gilberto Gil – guitar & vocals; Amanda Brecker – vocals; Randy Brecker – trumpet; Lawrence Feldman – flute; Oscar Castro-Neves – guitar, Romero Lubambo – guitar; Ross Traut – guitar; Marc Johnson – bass; Paulo Braga –drums; Rafael Barata – drums; Marivaldo do Santos –percussions)
I first ran across Eliane Elias’ music early in my stint as a DJ-host on a jazz radio station in the early 2000s. The first item of business was to learn how to pronounce her name which in the language of Brazil, Portuguese is much different than English. It is pronounced eh-lee-AH-neh eh-LEE-ahs. This amazing artist was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her talents as a musician surfaced early and at seven years of age she was studying piano. At age fifteen she started teaching piano and improvisation at one of Brazil’s most prestigious schools of music. At seventeen she was working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and Vinicius de Moraes who was a co-writer/lyricist with Antonio Carlos Jobim. Having come from these roots she came to New York City in 1981. She has had a startling career as a pianist/vocalist with her warm, sensuous and rich voice and distinctive music style. She has over 20 albums to her credit, and has been a Grammy nominee.
Light My Fire has a mixture of Brazilian and English vocals. Four of the songs are compositions written or co-written by Elias. There are some interesting covers she presents such as “Light my Fire”, “My Cherie Amour”, and the jazz classic “Take Five”. Eliane says of this album, “I’ve made more than 20 records in my career. I’m proud of all of them, but I’m especially excited about this one. It feels like it has a life and an energy all its own”.
I had the opportunity to listen to an advance copy and it is impressive. The album opens with “Rosa Morena”. It starts with Latin-style percussion. Eliane lays down a chord rhythm for a few bars on piano and it builds. She then brings that rich warm sensuous voice singing in Portuguese accompanied by chording acoustic guitar, and I was hooked! Shivers went up my spine as I so love this style of music. “Stay Cool” sung in English has that certain sound I recall from the mid-60s when bossa nova hit the USA. “Aquele Abraço brings Eliane and Gilberto Gil together singing this composition of his in Portuguese. A delightful sounding song of inspiration described as sending out love to others in spite of his difficulties having been exiled from Brazil after spending some months in jail over political issues. “Light my Fire” is a slow and sexy version of the Jim Morrison and the Doors hit sung by Eliane in English. “My Cherie Amour”, a Stevie Wonder hit, is sung by Eliane who accompanies on piano. This song rendering is very sexy and sultry. “Toda Menina Baiana” is a very pleasant fast moving tune and has great rhythm through the vocals by Eliane, Gilberto Gil, and some back up vocalizing by Eliane’s daughter Amanda Brecker who is a singer-songwriter. “Take Five” is a slower version of Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” which Eliane lightly scats the melody accented by the muted trumpet of Randy Brecker. Eliane closes the album with “What About the Heart”. Sung in Portuguese she has a friendly sound. It is her composition speaking of “rekindling the passion and romance in a relationship that has become routine and complacent”
Light My Fire is to me a great presentation of the music of living life as lived in Brazil. Elaine Elias is a top-class artist and a joy to listen to. The recording is high quality and clear. It is a kaleidoscope of sounds, rhythms and expressions of life.
TrackList: Rosa Morena; Stay Cool; Aquele Abraço; Light My Fire; Isto Aqui O Que É (Silver Sandal); My Cherie Amour; Toda Menina Baiana; Bananeira; Made In Moonlight; Turn To Me (Samba Maracatú); Take Five; What About the Heart (Bate Bate).
— Tim Taylor