|Being a jazz producer I have often noticed that not all outstanding musicians know other outstanding musicians or their music. And why should they. It’s their mission in life to create music and not to study what their colleagues are doing.|
When I suggested to Bob Brookmeyer for the first time in 1996 that he should make arrangements of Eliane Elias’ music it therefore came as no big surprise to me that he was unaware of her music. But I wasn’t surprised either at his reaction to two events that occurred immediately after: first his smile when he saw a picture of Eliane, and then his even bigger smile and delight when he heard her music and understood there is a striking accordance between this and her personal charisma.
What both he and Eliane Elias knew of already was the existence of the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra. Eliane because she had often heard the orchestra in Copenhagen, and because it had been discussed several times that we should do a project together; Brookmeyer simply because he was its chief conductor (in 1998 leaving that chair to Jim McNeely), thus adding his name to a list of chief and guest conductors whose merits make us able to immoderately claim that this Danish orchestra is perhaps the finest of its kind in the world.
Already in New York in the ‘60s Brookmeyer—today considered the Dean of Orchestrated Jazz—had made brilliant arrangements for large orchestra in a modified Brazilian style, and his rhythmically free way of playing the valve trombone made it seem obvious to me that he would feel home in the classically trained Eliane Elias’ universe, which is among the most complex and fascinating syntheses of Brazilian tradition and jazz.
The Brookmeyer-Elias-DRJO alliance made possible a fusion of Brazil, European romanticism and modernism, The Kansas City tradition (Brookmeyer’s home ground) and post-Gil Evans/Thad Jones big band style. And the result was a great success in real life as on paper. Those of us who were present on the first day of rehearsals will never forget Eliane’s infectious and spontaneous delight when, for the first time, she heard how Brookmeyer had voiced the wind instruments on the piano piece “So In Love”; and nobody will forget the subsequent tours with this rich music. It has been played in the Danish provinces, in the rain forest of Brazil, and among the sky scrapers of New York and everywhere it was received as what it was and is: a natural and organic synthesis of many genres, personal influences and temperaments. And the response made us believe that even more people would want to listen to it.
So that made us tape the music in the Danish Broadcasting Corporation studios in Copenhagen, where director of recording Lars Palsig had the toughest job of all: he had to gratify the differently tempered artists and their many detailed wishes with respect to the sound of the recording, while at the same time remaining true to his own and radio producer Fin Kragerup’s opinions. Now six of the studio recordings have been turned into this CD. Having participated in the creation of this music so full of complexities and bold ideas, yet also so melodious and captivating, I cannot but recommend it warmly. Eliane Elias is the centre of interest, both as a composer and soloist, together with Brookmeyer’s marvelous versions of her tunes and some soloing on his valve trombone, but there is also room for impressive contributions by several of the DRJO’s esteemed musicians. Notice e.g. a furious battle between the two tenor players Uffe Markussen and Tomas Franck in the title tune.
With its Brazilian-American-Danish roots this music tears down most of the walls that we, as listeners and perhaps also as music makers, tend to raise in order for us to be able to label the music. But don’t get me wrong. It’s not world music. It’s jazz with a capital J—the kind of jazz that illustrates the global scope of this music.
Peter H. Larsen
|So In Love|
|The Time is Now|
|One Side of You|
|CONDUCTOR & VALVE TROMBONE|
Henrik Bolberg Pedersen
Eliane Elias, piano
Nikolaj Bentzon, synthesizer and keyboard
Anders “Chico” Lindvall, guitar
Thomas Ovesen, bass and electric bass
Jonas Johansen, drums
Ethan Weisgard, percussion