Jazz pianist Eliane Elias recently received the fourth Grammy nomination of her career for her latest album, Mirror Mirror. The album was a collaboration with jazz fusion legend Chick Corea, his last studio session before passing away just over a year ago.
It was Elias’s first instrumental album in two decades, since Solos and Duets (1995), a collaboration with yet another fusion luminary, Herbie Hancock. But Elias, who is not only a virtuosic and versatile pianist and one of the best bossa nova pianists of our time but also an accomplished vocalist and songwriter, is a legend in her own right.
Now, after a long couple of years, which has included the recording, production and release of a successful album, a severe foot injury and, of course, a pandemic, Elias is ready to be back on the road and performing. One of her first stops is Kansas City, where she’ll play the fortieth Folly Theater Jazz Series later this month.
Elias last came to KC in 2017 to headline another concert in the Folly Jazz Series, nearly selling out the house. “My favorite part of music is actually performing for people,” Elias says. “I’m very excited to come back to perform after this pandemic.”
Elias will be joined by her husband, Marc Johnson, on bass, and Brazilian drummer Rafael Barata to form an outstanding trio. “They’re great musicians,” Elias says. “Everyone is a virtuoso, and with great rhythm. We have a lot of fun.”
Representative of her wide-spanning influences and training, Elias will perform a well-rounded setlist featuring everything from classic Brazilian songs, Latin jazz, Elias’s own original music and a couple of tunes from Mirror Mirror arranged for the trio.
“Whenever I come to play a show, I try to bring with me the essence of what I do,” Elias says. “I expect to have a really good time.”
If Elias were solely a pianist, her intricate voicings and technical prowess would be reason enough to see her live. But her songwriting and alluring, sultry vocals weaving together will take you on a journey, capturing that essence effortlessly, and, most of all, authentically.
GO: An Evening with Eliane Elias. Saturday, April 16. 8 pm. The Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St., KCMO. $20–$55.
Nina Cherry is a local jazz historian, journalist, and vibraphonist. Her specific interest is in swing era women in jazz and the Kansas City jazz scene’s rich history. Nina resides in a former speakeasy from the Pendergast neighborhood with her dog, Daisy.
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