Throughout her distinguished career, having recorded more than twenty-five albums as a leader, the multiple Grammy-winning pianist, singer, and songwriter Eliane Elias has consistently displayed her distinctive and immediately recognizable musical style, which blends her Brazilian roots and sensuous, alluring voice with her virtuosic instrumental jazz, classical, and compositional skills.
On April 13, 2018, Elias follows up last year’s Latin Grammy-winning Dance of Time with the all-instrumental music from Man of La Mancha, via Concord Jazz. The album features nine individualized interpretations of songs composed by the late Mitch Leigh for the legendary 1960s Broadway musical Man of La Mancha.
Elias undertook the project in 1995, and it has remained unreleased until now. The recording features Elias on piano, accompanied by two different all-star trios: one with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette, while the other with Marc Johnson on bass and Satoshi Takeishi on drums, and both with Manolo Badrena on percussion.
“I felt intrigued when Mitch Leigh’s assistant looked for me and told me that the Tony Award–winning composer of the music of Man of La Mancha wanted a meeting with me in person,” writes Elias in the album’s liner notes. “When I saw him for the first time, he entered my apartment with an unlit cigar in his hand, sporting a full beard and wearing a black velveteen lounging suit, which I soon came to realize was his first choice of comfy outfits. I immediately felt his warmth and genuine admiration for my work. He exuded the confidence of a man who knew what he wanted, and I found him to be a very ‘simpatico’ person. Mitch started the conversation by telling me how he loved my arrangements of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s music from the 1990 album, Eliane Elias Plays Jobim, and that he wanted to commission me to arrange and produce a recording of the music that he wrote for the legendary Broadway musical Man of La Mancha.”
Leigh gave Elias a CD of the original Broadway cast recording, from which she chose the songs she wanted to reimagine for music from Man of La Mancha. She then set about writing the arrangements. “Mitch and I had a second meeting in my music studio,” Elias says. “With him seated on the left side of the piano, I played the first arrangement, ‘To Each His Dulcinea,’ and I was very happy to see Mitch’s excitement, his enthusiastic approval, joy and delight. Speaking from the arranger’s chair, it is the highest praise when the composer is enamored with the reimagining of his work. I was and still am grateful for the opportunity Mitch gave me to arrange his music and for the artistic freedom to present it in this way.”
Elias’ strengths as a jazz artist, combined with her roots in Sao Paulo, make her one of the most impressive interpreters of jazz-linked bossa novas, sambas and choros.
—Los Angeles Times
Eliane Elias is of a generation of aggressive pianists who attack music like a lioness attacking its prey, at the same time expressing a tenderness within the core of her passion that at times has brought me to tears.