3 Jazz Chanteuses Steam up the Emerald City: Elias, Peyroux and Topferova

Madeleyne Peiroux
Madeleyne Peiroux
Seattle, Washington (USA) – Brazilian pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias will appear at Jazz Alley on September 26 and 27th, show time 7:30 p.m. Prior to a European tour promoting her latest recording, Around the City, (Bluebird/RCA Victor), Elias will play 10 North American dates this September. Her touring band includes, Ruben de la Corte, (guitar), Marc Johnson (bass), and Satoshi Takeishi (drums and percussion).

Elias has come a long ways since appearing in Fernando Trueba’s Latin music documentary, Calle 54 (2000). “Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the daughter of a pianist, Eliane started playing piano as a teenager and she trained with Vinicius de Moraes until his death. In the documentary she is a barefoot blonde wild child dressed in an elegant black dress. When she plays piano, her whole body sways to her syncopated rhythms–she closes her eyes, throws her head back in ecstasy and performs with total abandonment. Her performance is so mesmerizing that I wished I could have been her for the duration of her performance and feel that musical bliss. After she plays her final note, the camera zooms into her face and she looks as if she just touched God.” (Cranky Crow Whole Music)

Fast forward 6 years, Elias ventured into the realm of jazz vocalists, has explored musical territories both inside and outside of the jazz realm, such as Bob Marley‘s “Jammin'” and Beck’s “Tropicalia” which appear on her latest recording, Around the City. This album leans heavily towards the pop-rock genre, but still retains Elias’ signature expressive piano playing, which she highlights on the tracks, Segredo (part 2) and the Tito Puente penned Santana classic, “oye como va.” And her bossa nova and jazz arrangements also shine here.

American jazz diva, Madeleine Peyroux returns to Seattle’s Moore Theatre on September 29, 9:00 p.m. in support of her album, Half the Perfect World, (Rounder Records). The first time I saw Ms Peyroux, she appeared on a double bill with Lila Downs at the Moore Theatre. She teetered on high heels, fussed with her guitar strap and seemed as nervous as a child on her first day of school. Yet, she delivered classic after classic, sliding from note to note in a Billie Holiday fashion, leaving quite an impression on me.

Since that time, her sophomore release, Careless Love sold over a million copies worldwide and I have heard Peyroux’s repertoire graces the airwaves of commercial and public radio stations. Peyroux exudes an understated charm and effervescence while performing her own compositions, early jazz classics and the work of contemporary performers such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen which she arranges to sound like old fashion jazz from the days of our parents youth.

I do not have any information on the musicians touring with Peyroux, but you can probably find that information at http://www.rounder.com. Certainly this is an artist you want to see in concert before she gets too big. A big-time promoter is handling this tour and is not giving complimentary tickets to online music journalists. But I highly recommend that folks with disposable income to purchase Peyroux’s latest recording, half the perfect world and see her in concert.

Czech cuatro player and vocalist Marta Topferova returns to Jazz Alley for two dates, October 10 and 11, 7:30 p.m., in support of her latest recording, Flor Nocturna, (World Village). Supporting musicians include, bassist Pedro Giraudo and wind player Adam Kolker. I have seen Topferova perform as a trio once before at Jazz Alley and I highly recommend attending one of these concert dates. The intimate setting and acoustics of Jazz Alley compliment Topferova’s chamber Latin folk-jazz music and her sedate vocals.

You can expect to hear plenty of South American style poetry sung in perfect Spanish and accompanied by the shimmering sounds of the cuatro, a small Venezuelan lute, flute, clarinet and bass. Be prepared to be swept away by Neruda-esque poetry that reflects on the natural world and the angst of living in an urban environment. Originally from Prague and currently residing in New York City, Topferova brings the allure of South America and other Latin American regions to her audiences.

Jazz Alley which celebrates its 21st year in business, is located at 2033 6th Avenue in downtown Seattle. Visit http://www.jazzalley.com or call (206) 441-9729 for reservations. Jazz Alley offers both the best of live jazz music and ethnic cuisine. I recommend the hummus appetizer for vegetarians.

The Moore Theatre is located at 1932 2nd Avenue, in downtown Seattle. (206) 467-5510

Reviews of Marta Topferova’s Flor Nocturna, Madeleine Peyroux’s half the perfect world and Eliane Elias’ Around the City can be found on geocities.com/pherlevi, Cranky Crow Whole Music.

And reviews for Marta Topferova’s La Marea and her previous Jazz Alley concert can be found on World Music Central: Existentialist Tides: Marta Topferova and High Tide: Marta Topferova in concert. A review of Calle 54 can be found both on WMC (Calle 54: Taking it to the street) and CCWM.

Tour dates:

Eliane Elias:

September 16 2006 – Zanzibar Blue, Philadelphia, PA
September 19-24 2006- Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC, NY
September 26 2006- Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA
September 27 2006- Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA
September 28 2006- Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, CA

Madeleine Peyroux:

September 28 Vancouver Center for the Arts, Vancouver BC, Canada, 8:30 p.m.
September 29 The Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA, 9 p.m.
September 30 Aladdin Theater, Portland, OR 8 p.m.
October 3 The Paramount Theatre, Oakland, CA, 8:30 p.m.
October 4 University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, 8 p.m.
October 6 Royce Hall, Los Angeles, CA, 8 p.m.
October 7 4th & B, San Diego, CA, 9 p.m.
October 10 Paramount Theatre, Denver, CO, 9 p.m.
October 13 State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN, 9 p.m.
October 14 Vic Theatre, Chicago, IL, 8:30 p.m.
October 16 Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI, 8:30 p.m.
October 18 Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ONT, CAN, 9 p.m.
October 20 Outremont Theatre, Montreal, PQ, 9 p.m.
October 21 Hart Theatre, Albany, NY, 9 p.m.
October 22 Flynn Theater, Burlington, VT, 7:30 p.m.

Marta Topferova:

September 12 Joe’s Pub, New York, NY
September 27 Scullers, Boston MA
October 10 & 11 Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA
October 12 Norman Rothstein Theatre, Vancouver BC, Canada
October 13 Mississippi Studios, Portland, OR
October 14 Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts, Olympia, WA
October 15 Cayuga Vault, Santa Cruz, CA
October 16 Yoshi’s, Oakland, CA
October 18 & 19 Te Coffee House, Altadena, CA
October 20 Acoustic Music, San Diego, CA
November 29 Mechanic Hall, Worcester, MA