Following her 2017 Latin Grammy-winning Dance of Time, pianist, singer and composer Eliane Elias returns with Music from Man of La Mancha, set for release on April 13, 2018, via Concord Jazz.
Recorded with two different trios—one with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette and the other featuring Marc Johnson on bass with Satoshi Takeishi on drums, (with Manolo Badrena joining on percussion), the nine-track collection is an all-instrumental reinterpretation of songs from the legendary Broadway musical.
Although Elias has, in the past, recorded tributes to such giants as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Chet Baker and Bill Evans, Music from Man of La Mancha marks the first time she has put her own spin on a specific set of songs from a Broadway musical.
Music from Man of La Mancha was actually recorded in 1995 and produced by Elias with co-production by Mitch Leigh, the late composer of the music for the original Broadway production. Man of La Mancha premiered in 1964 and was inspired by an earlier, non-musical stage production, I, Don Quixote, itself inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th-century masterpiece Don Quixote. Among the classic songs authored by Mitch Leigh for the musical was the oft-recorded “The Impossible Dream,” reimagined by Elias for this project.
The concept for the album came about, Elias recalls, when she was asked out of the blue to meet with the Tony Award-winning Leigh. The composer came to the musician’s New York apartment with a proposition: that he commission Elias to arrange, perform and record a new album of songs from the show. The Brazilian pianist, who had already been living in the United States for more than a decade, immediately warmed to the idea.
Upon re-familiarizing herself with the material, Elias ultimately focused on nine pieces including “The Impossible Dream,” as well as the show’s title track and such favorites as “A Little Gossip,” “The Barber’s Song” and “It’s All the Same.” “This record is Brazilian/Latin/jazz,” she says. “It has all the elements together, which felt like a natural blend to me.”
Due to contractual circumstances, the album was not released at the time of recording, and Leigh has since passed away. Elias says that she was gratified to see how much Leigh enjoyed what she had done, saying, “I was thrilled to see Mitch’s excitement, enthusiastic approval, joy and delight with these arrangements and interpretations. Speaking from the arranger’s chair, it is the highest praise when the composer is enamored with the reimagining of his work.” Leigh’s children have stated, “Our dad loved this album, playing it for guests, with pride, but also when he was on his own, listening to it again and again. We all feel sure he’d be very proud it’s being issued for the public.”
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