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Eliane E and Joey D at the Bird


The Bird of Paradise was very busy with out-of-town guests in December. D.D. Jackson kicked things off, as reported in our last issue, and was followed by the trios of Eliane Elias (13–14) and Joey DeFrancesco (20–21). This provided a very healthy diversified diet for jazz fans, with Elias doling out some Latin spice and DeFrancesco some all-American funk (and Jackson something edgier).

Elias' concert on December 13 was itself a mixture of straight-ahead jazz and her own version of Brazilian jazz. Most of the audience clearly had come for the latter, but I preferred the more conventional offerings. She is a very talented pianist, but I am not a fan of her singing. Her opener, "Bye Bye Blackbird," was a brilliant, Bill Evans-like performance, which showed her wonderful touch. When she turned to material from her recent RCA release, the music became too mushy for my taste. Most of the evening was taken up by an extended piece, "The Time is Now," which was quite adventurous harmonically and rhythmically. Her bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Satoshi Takeishi are experts in this (and any) genre, but I do not think it is Elias' forte. Johnson is a very melodic bassist with great drive and Takeishi is one of the most sensitive drummers around.

Joey DeFrancesco's trio was a joy to hear from the first notes from his brand new Hammond B-3 (they are back in production after a long hiatus). He started out by tearing through "Take the Coltrane," then switched to a wonderfully playful version of "I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus." On "Fly Me to the Moon" the trio interacted beautifully to a funky Latin groove. DeFrancesco's fellows from Philly provided perfect backup — particularly drummer Byron "Rookie" Landrum, who has played with the organist for many years. Guitarist Greg Ebner treated us to idiomatic solos and had a wonderful duel with DeFrancesco on "Fly Me to the Moon."

Above: Marc Johnson, Eliane Elias and Satoshi Takeishi at the Bird of Paradise

photograph by Lars Bjorn

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