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Cassandra Wilson & Eliane Elias

Eliane Elias, from a publicity photo  

Eliane Elias

Antonio Carlos Jobim, the most widely known Brazilian songwriter in the world, discovered Eliane Elias playing piano in a night club in Sao Paolo. She was barely old enough to be working there.

Elias had grown up studying classical piano, transcribed solos by Art Tatum and Bud Powell to teach herself jazz, and soaked up the Brazilian music that was the heartbeat of life in the huge city of Sao Paolo. In fact, she's said that after growing up in Sao Paolo, New York City looked small to her.

In her early 20s, Eliane moved to the United States, where she came to jazz fans' attention as the pianist in the Brecker Brothers' very hip new band, Steps Ahead. Eliane has mingled jazz and samba, piano and vocal, English and Portuguese, ever since. On this JazzSet, she is at the 2005 Tanglewood Jazz Festival with Marc Johnson, bass; Satoshi Takeishi, drums; Ruben De la Corte, guitar. Eliane's performance follows on the release of her CD, Dreamer.

Cassandra Wilson, from a publicity photo  

Cassandra Wilson

From Tanglewood, we go to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in downtown Newark. A sold-out crowd is on hand at Prudential Hall to hear one of the most distinctive vocal stylists in jazz -- Cassandra Wilson.

Glamoured is the Gaelic word for being "whisked away." Cassandra says it conveys the enchanted sense of reverie she felt while recording her CD Glamoured in her hometown of Jackson, Miss. Cassandra says that down south, "Musicians have to be able to play in different contexts. They have to play jazz, and integrate the blues, and they have to know country. And the lines are kinda blurry sometimes."

She moves with ease from Bob Dylan to Patsy Cline (composer Willie Nelson) to Sting, and her musicians keep things real sparse around Cassandra's gorgeous alto. They are Brandon Ross on guitars, Gregoire Maret on harmonica, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, and Jeffrey Haynes on percussion.

"Dobrado" and "Fato Consumado" (Djavan)
"Call Me" (Tony Hatch)
"Fotografia" (Jobim)
"Chega de Saudades" (Jobim and de Moraes)
"Clarksville" (Boyce & Hart)
"Lay Lady Lay" (Dylan)
"Crazy" (Nelson)
"Fragile" (Sting)


  • Cassandra Wilson Interview on NPR's The Tavis Smiley Show
  • NPR Review of Glamoured


  • Cassandra Wilson Web Site
  • Eliane Elias Web Site

    Copyright 2007 NPR