Pianist/singer/songwriter, Eliane Elias is known for her distinctive and immediately recognizable musical style which blends her Brazilian roots, her sensuous, alluring voice with her impressive instrumental jazz, classical and compositional skills. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Eliane Elias’ musical talents began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven and at age twelve was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. By the time she was fifteen she was teaching piano and improvisation at one of Brazil’ s most prestigious schools of music. Her performing career began in Brazil at age seventeen, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and the great poet Vinicius de Moraes who was also Antonio Carlos Jobim’s co-writer/lyricist. In 1981 she headed for New York and in 1982 landed a spot in the acclaimed group Steps Ahead.
Her first album release was a collaboration with Randy Brecker entitled Amanda in 1984. Shortly thereafter her solo career began, spanning over twenty albums to date; seventeen on Blue Note Records and three on RCA Victor Group. In her work Elias has documented dozens of her own compositions, her outstanding piano playing and arranging, and beautiful vocal interpretations. All of her recordings have garnered a great deal of praise from the critics and all have topped the Billboard and Jazz Radio charts. In 1988 she was voted Best New Talent by the jazz critics poll ofJAZZIZ magazine.
Together with Herbie Hancock in their duet, she was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Jazz Solo Performance” category for her 1995 release, Solos and Duets. This recording was hailed by Musician Magazine as “a landmark in piano duo history.” In the 1997 Downbeat Readers Poll, her recording The Three Americas was voted Best Jazz Album. Eliane Elias was named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist, and Musician of the Year. Considered one of the great interpreters of Jobim’s music, Ms.Elias’ has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer, Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release Eliane Elias Sings Jobim won “Best Vocal Album” in Japan, it was the number one record in Japan’s charts for over three months and was awarded the Best Brazilian Album in Jazziz Critics Poll of 1999.
Moreover, as a testament to the quality of her writing, the renowned Danish Radio Big Band has performed and recorded Elias’ compositions arranged and conducted by the legendary Bob Brookmeyer. The CD recording of this project is called Impulsive and was released on Stunt Records. It received a Grammy nomination for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” in 2001. In the same year, Calle 54, the highly acclaimed documentary film by Oscar winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba, featuring Ms. Elias’ performance of “Samba Triste ” also received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album.
“On the Classical Side” recorded in 1993, demonstrated Eliane’s classical skills with a program of Bach, Ravel, and Villa Lobos. In 2002 Ms. Elias recorded with opera sensation Denyce Graves. For this recording, The Lost Days, Eliane arranged two Brazilian classical pieces and wrote an original composition especially for Ms. Graves entitled “Haabia Tupi”. In 2002 Ms. Elias signed to RCA Music Group/Bluebird label and released Kissed by Nature . Her second recording for the label, Dreamer, released in 2004 , is a fresh mix of tunes from the American Songbook, Brazilian Bossa Novas and two new originals, all sung in English and Portuguese, supported by a full orchestra. Dreamer received the “Gold Disc Award “and was voted Best Vocal Album in Japan in 2004. It reached #3 on the Pop Charts in France and #4 on the Billboard charts in the USA.
Ms. Elias’ cd Around The City released on RCA Victor in August 2006, merges bits of Bossa Nova, with shades of pop, jazz ,latin and rock and roll. Around The City features Ms. Elias’ vocals and songwriting in collaborations with producers Andres Levin and Lester Mendez as well as fresh takes on pop classics such as Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” and Bob Marley’s “Jammin”.
Eliane returned to Blue Note/ EMI in 2007 with her release, Something For You, a tribute to the music of pianist/composer Bill Evans. While touching the essence of the late great Bill Evans, she also brings her own unique gifts to the surface, as a composer, interpreter, outstanding instrumentalist and beguiling vocalist as well. This release received “Best Vocal Album of the Year” and the “Gold Disc Award” in Japan . This is the 3rd consecutive recording that Eliane receives these awards and her 4th all together. “Something for You” reached #1 on the USA Jazz Radio charts, #8 on Billboard and #2 on the French Jazz Charts.
“I felt a strong connection to Bill’s music throughout every phase of this project,” Elias adds, “as did Marc. But it was especially strong when we were in the studio. When the red light goes on, there are only a few moments to compose yourself and try to enter into that concentrated place where all that remains is what we hear and play together. When I find that place where I can let go and allow the emotion to pass directly from me to what you can hear on this record, that’s making my tribute to Bill in the most sincere and beautiful way that I can.”
The year of 2008 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the Bossa Nova. In celebration of this event, Eliane recorded a collection of classic bossa novas featuring some of the great landmark songs of Brazil with American classic and pop standards exquisitely performed as only Eliane can with lush romantic vocals and exciting playing accompanied by a stellar rhythm section and strings recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Bossa Nova Stories achieved the following positions: Debuted at #1 on the French Charts (2008),#1 Vocal Album - Swing Journal, Japan (May-June 2008), #1 itunes Top Jazz Album (USA January 2009), #2 itunes Top Latin Album (USA January 2009), debuted at #2 on Billboard Magazine: both Overall and Jazz Charts (January 2009). Bossa Nova Stories was nominated by the Brazilian Grammys (20th Premio da Musica Brasileira, 2009 ) for Best Foreign Album and it was the 2009 Album of the Year on Geezer Music Club. Eliane was the #2 artist in cd sales in France on the Annual Jazz Charts 2008. ”Bossa Nova Stories” is a captivating recording destined to become a bossa nova classic.
In 2009, EMI Japan released Eliane Elias Plays Live, an all-instrumental trio album with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron of a concert recorded in Amsterdam May 31, 2002. This performance demonstrates modern jazz trio playing at the highest level and spotlight Elias’s inventiveness and supreme command of the instrument on a collection of jazz standards and one original.
In 2011, Concord Records’ Light My Fire reached #1 on the French Jazz Charts, #1 on itunes France, #3 on Billboard’s Jazz Charts, #3 on iTunes and Amazon’s Jazz Charts in the USA. The cd features four compositions written or co-written by Elias herself and also includes covers of familiar works by songwriters as diverse as Jim Morrison and the Doors, pop icon Stevie Wonder and jazz saxophonist Paul Desmond. Backing Elias is a crew of twelve high-caliber players, including special guests such as guitarist/vocalist Gilberto Gil and trumpeter Randy Brecker. On Light My Fire, Elias wears many hats – as singer, pianist, composer, arranger and producer. Eliane’s song “What about the Heart” (Bate Bate) received a Grammy nomination for Best Brazilian Song.
Her latest release for Concord Records “I Thought About You” A Tribute to Chet Baker, offers her personalized spin on the work of a key American jazz artist while spotlighting her connection to the singer-instrumentalist tradition. It fully demonstrates the range of interests that Elias’ art now boasts, and arrives with a statement of purpose: jazz repertoire can sound totally fresh when delivered with ingenuity and passion. As a singer, Elias’s emotional candor and deep sense of time are part of I Thought About You’s main attractions. Elias’ charm, swing and charisma are right up front, and united with her incisive piano playing, they make a peerless package. It’s one of Elias’ most thoughtfully constructed albums, and shows just how adroitly she moves around the bossa-jazz-blues nexus.
In the first month after its release “I Thought About You” has already received significant notice and achievement, including #1 Pop Tributes, Amazon USA, #1 Amazon Jazz, France, #1 Most Wished For, Amazon USA, #2 iTunes Jazz, USA, #2 iTunes Jazz Charts France and Brazil, #4 Billboard Jazz Charts and Current, Jazz Charts USA.
With this impressive, varied body of work, Eliane Elias takes her place in the pantheon of music giants. Demonstrating her unique gifts as a pianist, singer, composer and arranger as well as melding her immense talents in jazz, pop, classical and Brazilian music, she is as Jazziz magazine has called her, “A citizen of the world” and “an artist beyond category.”