The great Eliane Elias put on a quite a show last night in NYC. Touring in support of her new album, Something For You, Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans, the pianist, singer and longtime Evans admirer lit up Dizzy's at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which is easily one of the best–sounding rooms for live music that I've ever been in. The food in there is fairly tasty and not wildly overpriced, a total rarity on the New York jazz club scene. And that behind the stage, floor to ceiling glass that adds a Central Park West backdrops to every performance is genuinely divine. Say what you want about Wynton, but the man did make the three JALC venues happen.
A New York resident since 1981, Elias, her husband bassist Marc Johnson (who was also Evans' last bass player) and drummer Joey Baron (who smiles the whole time and is a fine drummer to boot) put together a mostly melodic, upbeat set of Evans tunes that began with an obscure number, "Five" and included their versions Evans classics like "Waltz for Debby." Elias take on Evans is very strange in that she took everything at a fast pace with only brief patches where she slowed it down and sort of did Evans, before taking the pace back up. She also sings along with several of the tunes, something Evans, of course, never did. Still, the new record is well recorded, sounds good, and also for fans of Evans—"He was a God" enthused one jazz critic in attendance—who doesn't get covered as much as you might think, it's interesting to hear Elias drill down and pay tribute to his technique and then back away and fly off into wildly diverse (from him) interpretations.
After the gig, I was an interested listener and occasional participant in a conversation between artist managers and jazz critics about how the miniaturization of their record collection, i.e. having it all in their hip pocket (literally) thanks to the iPod made them less interested in their home audio system for a time but how they're now growing tired of muddy MP3 sound and are thinking of reinvesting in some new home gear. Comparing iPods, which sounds and actually in practice looks vaguely sexual, ensued, with everyone either oohhing and aaahhing about what someone had on their iPod or howling uproariously at what someone didn't. It was all little boy–esque in a perverse way. My wife supplied the bored, I–can’t–believe– what–a–bunch–of–silly–children–you–are eye-rolling and exhales of mild disgust. The old competition to see who had the best record collection, who had the coolest record collection, has now transmorphed into whose iPod is the most selective and esoteric. Music goons making a circular motion with their index finger and showing each other their little screens. Weird.