CHARLES J. GANS
Eliane Elias, "I Thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker)" (Concord Jazz)
Brazilian pianist-singer Eliane Elias offers an inspired tribute to cool jazz legend Chet Baker, a major influence on bossa nova pioneers like Joao Gilberto. Unlike other recent tributes, which focused on slow ballads reflecting the sadness in Baker's music, Elias covers a wider spectrum of the trumpeter-singer's repertoire by including up-tempo and mid-tempo tunes with a certain swagger and seductiveness on "I Thought About You."
Elias' background as a top-flight instrumentalist who also sings gives her particular insight into Baker's music. She takes after him by not using a drummer on half of the tracks -- including the blisteringly paced "Just in Time" and "Blue Room," a duet featuring playful interplay with her husband, bassist Marc Johnson.
Elias uses a Brazilian rhythm section, including famed guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, to give a sensual bossa nova flavor to "Embraceable You" and "Let's Get Lost," while other tunes are more in a straight-ahead jazz vein, such as "That Old Feeling," on which ex-husband Randy Brecker recreates Baker's opening trumpet solo.
Brecker also adds a strong solo to "There Will Never Be Another You," which switches flawlessly between Brazilian and swinging jazz grooves, reflecting Elias' ability to bridge both musical worlds.
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