Review by John Stevenson
With vocals that simply drip sensuality, and a polished piano technique that has established her as one of the most talented practitioners on today’s jazz scene, Sao Paulo-born Eliane Elias is a formidable artist.
Her latest recording points in parts to a predilection for 1960s pop, with a molasses slow and oddly funereal take on Robby Krieger’s Light My Fire (Jim Morrison and The Doors). Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amour is coated in an attractively gentle bossa, alongside an innovative cover of Paul Desmond’s Take Five.
Legendary singer-guitarist Gilberto Gil’s guest spot on this session is definitely one of its sunniest highlights. On the 1969 hit song Aquele Abraco, Eliane and Gil relive the feverish tempo of Brazilian art and political engagement. And they push the funk quotient skyward with their infectious rendition of Toda Menina Baiana.
The musicians accompanying Elias all turn in stellar performances. They include guitarists Romero Lubambo and Oscar Castro-Neves, husband and bassist Marc Johnson, ex-husband Randy Brecker, veteran drummer Paulo Braga, percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos and young daughter Amanda Brecker. Following closely on 2009’s Bossa Nova Stories (Blue Note), Light My Fire accomplishes a delicate balance between the connected worlds of ultra-cool jazz, sexy bossa nova pieces and timeless pop anthems.