Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Elias, Eliane

Elias, Eliane, keyboard player, pianist; b. Sao Paulo, Brazil, 19 March 1960. Her mother played classical piano, and that side of the family was musical; her mother's Italian grandparents sang opera, and her maternal grandmother played the guitar and wrote chorinhos, all kinds of Brazilian songs; one that she wrote at the age of 12, "Coming and Going," appears on Elias's album Cross Currents. She got deeply interested in the piano at age seven, and by age twelve she knew she was going to be a musician. Her mother also collected jazz records and Elias listened to and by age 12 began transcribing Art Tatum, Wynton Kelly, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Nat King Cole, Red Garland, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett. She was also influenced by Antonio Carlos Jobim. She played and studied music by Chopin, Bach, Ravel, Bela Bartok, Stravinsky, and Villa-Lobos.

By age 15 she was gigging and teaching master classes at Sao Paulo's Free Center of Music Apprenticeship, which had a jazz program, where she studied for six years. Her formal career as a professional musician began in 1978 working in a bossa nova group with Jobim's co-writer Vinicius de Moraes in the show "Ten Years with Toquinho and Vinicius" She met Jobim as well before the show ended when Moraes died in 1980.

The following year, she decided to move to N.Y. She wanted to record a demo tape and Eddie Gomez, who knew her music, suggested Peter Erskine and Michael Brecker. Then Michael Manieri heard about it and wanted to produce it, and she was offered a job with  "Steps Ahead." She remained with the group for one year. She married Randy Brecker in 1983 (they divorced in the early 1990s) and became pregnant and also got her work visa (up to that time she was on a tourist visa) so she decided it was time to leave the band and start her solo career. Jack DeJohnette appears on most of her albums. She teaches at the Manhattan School of Music, and is IAJE's International Interest Chair for piano.

Illusions (1986); Cross Currents (1987); Eliane Elias Plays Jobim (1989); So Far So Close (1989); A Long Story (1991); Fantasia (1992); Paulistana (1993); On the Classical Side (1993); Solos and Duets (with Herbie Hancock; Grammy nomination, 1995); The Three Americas

Eliane Elias: In the Moment By Sunny Wilkinson (IAJE 1996 and online)

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