Easily the best Eliane Elias album, and the bar is set staggeringly high, since 2008's Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings & Plays Bill Evans. To be frank it's more than ''bestness'' I for one was deeply touched by the Rodby-Johnson produced Mirror Mirror not only because the album is bookended by the late Chick Corea in duo with the great Brazilian and sounding so organic and serene. But also because of the sheer democracy and lack of ego of all the players that comes over. They move into a zone that is beyond sentimentality and yet embrace its siren call. They find the sweet spot where the intricacy of highly melodic harmonic development really matters through the art of improvisation. To communicate by the sheer addictiveness of melody and motif is achieved apparently effortlessly in the flow across two mighty pianos. Tracks with the iconic Cuban Chucho Valdés are equally as engaging.
Two-piano duo albums are perhaps a specialist interest. To be honest they are not my favourite format by a long way given sometimes their tendency to blind the listener with blizzards of notes and that it is playground time to however joyously jump in and out of the sandpit of the piano. Not here to return to the starting point. There is space, there is that meeting of minds. We'll be thinking of Corea for many years to come and no better place to recall his amazing sound than here in the last part of his life in the company of Elias especially on opener Corea classic 'Armando's Rhumba'. I also love the Brazilian's version with Valdés of the 1997 Alejandro Sanz song 'Corazón partío' from the heart-throb's Más. The voicings are bliss and the way a touch of a tremolo ornamentation and the strictness of montuno snuck in are harnessed to gradually turn up the heat is inspirational. A nod in one earworm passage you'd swear recalls a Billy Joel song (say at 25 seconds in the Elias version the bit that chimes with the melody wrapped around 'New York State of Mind'. You know the line Some folks like to get away/Take a holiday from the neighbourhood?) Elias and Valdés lead meltingly reharmonised into jazz that is a world away from the Spanish language song but is faithful to its genius and is just one of the delights on an exceptional album. SG
Eliane Elias, above. Photo via EastWest Media for Candid