A decidedly soggy audience took their seats in the Royal Danish Playhouse with a near-audible squelch. Whilst so many of Copenhagen Jazz Festival’s open-air concerts had escaped the forecast rain, justice was swiftly served with a torrential downpour shortly before Elias’ performance. Thankfully, sodden socks quickly dried out in the hot Brazilian rhythms that lit up the stage. Eliane Elias’ trio opened with an Antônio Carlos Jobim number and her São Paolo heritage and pride continued to blaze throughout the concert.
Eliane Elias is not one to hide her credentials. She paused between songs for anecdotes describing her flare for transcription as a teenager, the Grammy she won for 2015 album Made in Brazil, and her latest output Dance of Time reaching number one in seven different countries. Such boasts are not without good reason though and Elias’ fingers blistered across the keyboard with a pace and percussion too often missing from the genre. Her voice no longer carries the breathy purity of Stan Getz’s sax on a ballad, but swift tempo selections kept the Brazilian melodies charged with irresistible hip jiggles.
A brief departure from Brazil offered opportunity for Elias to show greater diversity to her playing, and a solo performance of Bill Evans’ Something For You (incomplete upon his death, but finished by Elias) displayed sensitivity and a devastating touch. Evans’ bass player of three years, Marc Johnson, was perfectly placed for a solo on Show-Type Tune and his pairing with Elias felt the closest that 2017 can reach for in experiencing the breath-catching beauty of a Bill Evans performance.
Drummer Rafael Barata near-stole the show on the encores, deftly dancing around the kit to create the lightest of footsteps-on-beach patterings to thundering Samba street parties. Eliane Elias and her trio’s passion for the culture of Brazil was infectious and, whilst the audience might have largely turned down their offer of a singalong to Girl from Ipanema with a consensus of hesitant murmurings, we basked in the sunshine of their performance.
The Copenhagen Jazz Festival runs from 7th to 16th July. You can view the whole programme here.