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Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans by Eliane Elias

From the days of Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, jazz musicians who could also warble a tune have found their instrumental prowess overshadowed by their singing. Pianist Eliane Elias almost wound up on that same path. What a relief, then, to hear Something for You, a new disc that puts focus back on her playing...though, of course, she still sings too.

This Bill Evans tribute works on many levels. Not only was Elias strongly influenced by him in her formative years, she's married to Marc Johnson, Evans' last bassist and a member of her working trio. Making this even more special, two previously unrecorded Evans compositions, including the title track, were gleaned from a cassette given to Johnson by Evans weeks before his passing in 1980.

Something for You also marks a return to jazz form for Elias after three solid but more commercial efforts for the Bluebird label (including Around the City, the best smooth jazz album you never heard on smooth jazz radio.) Though she shares elements of Evans' style a listener could hardly mistake one for the other. Elias stays on the lighter side of her mentor, using a gentler tough on the keys and some unique flourishes throughout. (Don't be fooled, however; she can also pound the ivories with the best of them, especially live or in a Latin-jazz setting.) She and Johnson get a lively workout on Miles Davis' "Solar," but all the instrumental tracks here all have their charms.

Elias also gives us a bit of her resonant voice on just under half the tracks here. Think Astrud Gilberto but without the vulnerability and wide-eyed innocence. She adds knowing wistfulness to the touching "Waltz for Debby," and takes a turn in her native Brazilian on "Minha (All Mine)". Elias also added a set of thoughtful lyrics to the newly-discovered Evans song that serves as this disc's title cut.

One minor quibble: The disc ends with the original cassette recording of Evans playing "Here's Something for You," segued into Elias' own rendition. It's a nice touch, but the poor sound on the cassette is too grating and harsh a way to wind up an otherwise splendid disc of solid trio and vocal jazz.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eliane Elias
  • CD Title: Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Blue Note
  • Rating: Five Stars
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