Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Handful Of Covers

I recently got sent a promo of Brazilian jazz pianist Elaine Elias' latest LP. Called Around The City, it is her 18th album and a more pop oriented record. No, it isn't pop like Xtina or Britney, but it has added some electronics and loops into the mix - dare I use the dreaded "trip hop" tag? There is still plenty of jazz flavor, and she is still playing some fierce piano, but now her vocals are just as much a focal point. There is of course much Brazilian flavor too, with several tunes sung in Potuguese. There are also a handful of covers, and the choices are so interesting that they really grabbed my attention. Tito Puente's Oye Como Va is a monster classic of Latin music, and best known as one of Carlos Santana's earliest hits. This is a fairly faithful rendition, full of smooth, sultry vocals and a smoking key solo. Her arrangement of Bob Marley's Jammin' is a radical departure from the original. Instead of a laid back reggae vibe think St. Germain's 2000 hit Rose Rouge. It has rolling, rumbling beats and shuffling percussion - there are two drummers at work here, plenty of piano vamping and a nice trumpet solo and hand claps all adding up to a very unique take on a classic song. Finally, a cover of Beck's Tropicalia brings it all back to Brazil - the original being a tribute to the Brazilian music scene of the mid to late '60s. A slightly mellower rendition that works very well.

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