Picks and Pans Review: The Three Americas

updated 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Eliane Elias

Pianist-composer Eliane Elias does more for hemispheric unity than the Organization of American States. The Three Americas is a parley of musical styles: Cuban montunos embrace Brazilian sambas, and both join forces in straight-ahead jazz improvisations drawn from el norte. The São Paulo-born Elias, who received a Grammy nomination for last year's Solos and Duets with Herbie Hancock, is able to shift from one genre to the next while showcasing a deft and commanding piano touch. She is the rare vocalist who is even stronger as an instrumentalist, although her singing is more than adequate, especially on the bossa-nova-laced "Brigas Nunca Mais" by Antonio Carlos Jobim. With help from such fellow musical ambassadors as guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves and percussionist Cafe (from Brazil), Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin (from New York City) and percussionist Manolo Badrena (from Puerto Rico), Elias is crossing boundaries these days with increasing élan. (Blue Note)

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