/

Elias in homage

by Eriko Arita

Brazilian jazz pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias will perform songs from her latest album, “Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans,” when she visits Tokyo this month.

Elias, a Grammy-nominated artist, recorded the album in homage to jazz piano legend Bill Evans (1929-1980). The album, released in Japan in Oct. 2007, won the Gold Disk Award in November from Japanese jazz magazine Swing Journal.

As a tribute to Evans’ artistry, Elias mirrored his serene playing style, adding lyrical expression with the passion and color that is her gift.

One of the tunes, “Waltz for Debby,” a cover of Evans’ most famous song, displays Elias’ deep affection for Evans. In contrast to her swing-inflected piano, she sings in a velvet-toned monologue, which matches her romantic playing.

For her version of “Here is Something for you,” Elias wrote some lyrics, singing in a warm voice over calm instrumentation that gives way in the interlude to a passionate flourish.

The album contains 18 songs, including one composed by Evans and Miles Davis.

Born in Sao Paulo in 1960, Elias started playing piano aged 7, encouraged by her classical-pianist mother and opera-singer grandparents. Elias was into bossa nova and was playing the tunes of Antonio Carlos Jobim by the age of 12.

She became a professional pianist at 17, and at 21 she moved to New York, where she joined jazz-fusion group Step Ahead within a year. In 1986, Elias released her first solo album, “Illusions.” She was nominated for Grammy awards in 1995 and 1997.

At the Tokyo show, Elias will be backed by Marc Johnson on bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums. Johnson played in Evans’ trio from 1978 until Evans’ death in 1980. Johnson, who is Elias’ husband, also appears on the new album.

Elias will play twice a night at Blue Note Tokyo in Aoyama, Feb. 21-23 (7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.) and Feb. 24 (6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.). Tickets are ¥8,400. For reservations, call Blue Note on (03) 5485-0088.