Eliane Elias

LEDA CATUNDA, A Vitrine, 1984, acrylic without artificial fur, 200x400cm


Commentary on the recent presentation of the pianist and singer

Last Saturday, March 18, pianist and singer Eliane Elias, accompanied by bassist Marc Johnson, kicked off the 2023 International Piano Festival at Sala São Paulo. Brazilian based in the United States, Eliane Elias returns to Brazil as one of the most prominent pianists in contemporary jazz. With a career that totals 31 albums, the artist has performed in more than 75 countries and won several international awards. Recently, she was awarded the Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album, with the work Mirror mirror (2022), a partnership with Chick Corea and Chucho Valdés.

For more than an hour, the stage at Sala São Paulo gave way to a pianistic practice that turns its aversion to closed forms into its greatest virtue – in the words of the artist herself, a show of “improvisational character”. Eliane Elias, with the essential support of Marc Johnson, glided through different genres, temporalities and geographies of jazz. Although she is commonly described as an artist who carries the legacy of bossa nova, the so-called “Latin music” and North American jazz, we must go beyond such a characterization: Eliane Elias demonstrates how this constellation of multiple influences only makes sense when the The very separation between one style and another is abolished.

See, for example, the unclassifiable The Time Is Now, which excited the audience. As in an agitated river, everything is mixed up there without resulting in a loss of musical meaning. On the contrary: a bossa-nova theme, seasoned with typically Caribbean accents, performed through the most agile jazz improvisation set the tone of a song that makes the constant shift between styles its virtue, which puts it in a position opposed to the hegemonic musical standard. . Eliane Elias demonstrated this kind of “good daring” very well in the excellent performance of B Is For Butterfly, a unique composition in which the partnership with Marc Johnson is one of its highlights. In his partner's double bass, the intense glissandos are associated with Eliane's sliding gesture, an example of a kind of ideal mutualism between the two.

In her extensive career, Eliane Elias has albums where she combines her vocal interpretation with the piano, as is the case of Made in brazil (2015) and Dance of Time (2017). On the other hand, the strength of his pianistic practice comes out most prominently on bolder instrumental albums, where we find his improvisatory freedom to surface. In Holding Together (1999), from the time he was part of the group step ahead, we noticed how the pianist also feels very comfortable in jazz that is more open and uncompromised with shortcuts and clichés.

Em Music from Man of La Mancha (2018), in turn, Caribbean influences run through many of the tracks. Already in Solos And Duets (1994), a four-hand album with Herbie Hancock, we are faced with one of the best moments of his career. In White wing, the famous passage that opens Luiz Gonzaga's music sometimes serves as a distant, almost unrecognizable reference. Gradually, however, she reaches the musical surface. In the next instant, it is already submerged again in a complex improvisational plot, which honors the theme by submitting it to the test of continuous artistic elaboration.

On Saturday night, the public could witness the same modus operandi in the execution of I Love My Wife, in a long-winded reinterpretation of the Bill Evans version. In such music, the old songs are mediated at every measure by an anti-formalist work whose sole intention is to produce something new and unstable., that makes performance an act of reinvention of tradition, that is there to be turned upside down.

The presentation was crowned with an excellent performance by out of tune, especially in Eliane Elias' long introductory improvisation on Tom Jobim's famous theme. At the end, Marc Johnson's brief switch from pizzicato to arco is also worth mentioning, in a lyrical moment in which the rapport between the two artists reveals itself even deeper – a language without strings attached, a kind of musical conversation without the interdictions of standardized music. .

On their latest album, Stillness (2022), Eliane Elias already anticipated her return to Brazil mixing her voice with the piano, reinterpreting bossa nova classics. At a certain point of No more fights, the opening verse serves as a glove for the pianist's return to Brazil. On that stage in São Paulo, Eliane Elias “arrived, smiled, won and then cried”.

*Lucas Fiaschetti Estevez is a doctoral student in sociology at USP.

The A Terra é Redonda website exists thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.
Click here and find how

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • A myopic logicRED MAN WALKING _ 12/06/2024 By LUIS FELIPE MIGUEL: The government does not have the political will to make education a priority, while it courts the military or highway police, who do not move a millimeter away from the Bolsonarism that they continue to support
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives