Review: Singer-pianist Eliane Elias enjoys musical homecoming on new CD, 'Made in Brazil'

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Eliane Elias, "Made in Brazil" (Concord Jazz)

Eliane Elias displays her full range of talents as a pianist, singer, composer, arranger and producer on her first recording in her native Brazil since moving to the U.S. to play jazz in 1981. She celebrates several generations of Brazilian composers, respecting the tradition while remaining thoroughly modern.

The album opens and closes with songs by Ary Barroso, the first samba composer to gain international acclaim. "Brasil (Aquarela do Brasil)," with its infectious samba beat, combines Elias' sensual vocals and electric piano with Marcus Teixeira's delicate guitar and a silky string orchestral arrangement. The upbeat "No Tabuleiro da Baiana" blends percussive jazz piano with the hot rhythms of Brazil's Bahia state.

Bossa nova pioneer Roberto Menescal joins her to perform his compositions "Rio" and "Voce." The latter features a charmingly romantic vocal duet, with Elias stretching out on an improvised piano solo.

Bossa master Antonio Carlos Jobim is represented on two tracks, including "Aguas de Marco (Waters of March)," which Elias makes over by infusing some funky elements and singing with the gospel-jazz vocal group Take 6.

Half of the 12 tracks showcase Elias' considerable skills as a songwriter. These include smoothly blended vocal duets with daughter Amanda Brecker on "Some Enchanted Place," Mark Kibble of Take 6 on "Incendiando" and Brazilian R&B singer Ed Motta on "Vida (If Not You)."

Seamlessly switching from Portuguese to English, and blending American jazz with her Brazilian musical roots, Elias proves she's right at home in both her native and adopted countries.

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