Since the mid-1980s, pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias (pronounced eh-lee-AH-neh eh-LEE-ahs) has grafted various elements of jazz, pop, soul and other styles to her deep Brazilian roots to create a hybrid groove that exists comfortably on any hemisphere. Borrowing from an array of sources and singing in a variety of languages, Elias consistently forges a sound that appeals to listeners of every geographic locale and cultural persuasion.
Her new album, Light My Fire, wields this universal sound to explore the various corners of the human heart – from romance and passion to the shared joy of being alive and embracing everyone into the dance of life. Along with four compositions written or co-written by Elias herself, the album 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. Elias weaves it all together into a cohesive whole by injecting each of the twelve songs with distinctly Brazilian grooves that alternate effortlessly between the fiery and passionate to the cool and sophisticated.
“Some of the tunes are cool and laid back, but others are quite rhythmic and joyful,” says Elias. “And they have some different grooves. I tend to gravitate toward romance – beautiful melodies, beautiful harmonies and rhythms with a great feel. But more than anything else, I’m singing about love on this record in its different aspects and dimensions.”
Backing Elias on Light My Fire is a crew of twelve high-caliber players, including special guests guitarist/vocalist Gilberto Gil and trumpeter Randy Brecker. The rhythm section – which has accompanied Elias on several of her most recent recordings – includes guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Paulo Braga. Also on hand to sing with Elias and Gil on “Toda Menina Baiana” is Elias’ daughter, singer-songwriter Amanda Brecker. New to Elias’ team is percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos, drummer Rafael Barata, guitarists Romero Lubambo and Ross Traut, and flutist Lawrence Feldman.
“I’ve made more than 20 records in my career,” says Elias. “I’m proud of all of them, but I’m especially excited about this one,” says Elias. “It feels like it has a life and an energy all its own. With very few exceptions, nearly all of the songs were first takes. Everybody in the studio was so focused, and it was such a fun record to make. The music was really flowing, and we all felt very relaxed. From the very first day, not a note was wasted by anyone. It was an amazing experience.”
Says Elias, “I’m very excited about the music on this album. I think it’s cool, sexy and fun. This recording is the truest expression of what I’m doing right now, and it represents very closely what people hear me doing live in concert. I hope this music brings some romantic, joyful and heartfelt moments to those who hear it.”