Eliane Elias: Waltz for Debby


Waltz for Debby


Eliane Elias (piano, vocals)


Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings & Plays Bill Evans (Blue Note 11795)

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Eliane Elias (piano, vocals), Marc Johnson (bass), Joey Baron (drums).

Composed by Bill Evans and Gene Lees


Recorded: Avatar Studios, New York, no date given (CD released in 2008)


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

This song is inevitably included on every Bill Evans tribute recording - as familiar as "Round Midnight" when the acolyte followers of Monk gather in homage - and everyone from the Kronos String Quartet to Jean-Yves Thibaudet has dished up a version. But this is not as easy a song to play as might seem from first glance. Yes, the chord changes are not very challenging, and the tempo typically a gentle medium-tempo waltz. No one will get bruised here. But the song demands a certain childlike quality on the part of the performer. The composition was written, after all, for Evans' niece, and evokes the innocence of the nursery. Over-play this song and you kill it. Sometimes even Evans pushed it too hard.

Eliane Elias gets it just right. She starts with a vocal, drawing on Gene Lees' sweet lyrics, and sings the words with absolute fidelity to the spirit of the composition. She takes the opening chorus with just her own piano accompaniment, and when bassist Marc Johnson (a member of Evans' last trio) and drummer Joey Baron enter, they push the energy level up a notch, but not too much. The whole performance is quite graceful, and will remind you why this song became a standard in the first place.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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  • 1 ariadne // Sep 28, 2008 at 08:05 PM
    Completely agree about Elian Elias's sung version of Waltz for Debby, Just heard her at Tanglewood Jazz Festival (2008). Never heard the lyrics before; it was beautiful from first to last note, the vocal, the piano, the group. My search for the lyrics brought me to this site.