Jazz CD Reviews

Marc Johnson/ Eliane Elias – Swept Away – ECM

An appealing outing by some highly sympathetic players.

Published on October 30, 2012

Marc Johnson/ Eliane Elias – Swept Away – ECM

Marc Johnson/ Eliane Elias – Swept Away – ECM B0017358-02 [9/25/12] 68:32 ****:

(Marc Johnson – doublebass; Eliane Elias – piano; Joey Baron – drums; Joe Lovano – tenor sax)

In Lina Wertmüller’s classic 1974 cynical comedy called Swept Away, the story revolves around the conflict between a wealthy spoiled woman and a Communist sailor both of whom are stranded overnight on an island in the Mediterranean, and was a metaphor for the ongoing social and economic disparity between Northern and Southern Italy. No such incongruity exists between Marc Johnson and Eliane Elias in this appealing outing of the same name by these two highly sympathetic players.

This release utilizes the composing talents of the two principals, either separately or together for ten tracks, and the final track is an old American folk song, “Shenandoah,” offered by bassist Johnson as a solo which is no challenge for this authoritative musician. The over-arching theme for the album is one of restraint, peacefulness, and breathing space. Starting with the title track “Swept Away” we get a taste of Elias’s erudite pianism and the always-poised Johnson bass. Joe Lovano on tenor sax joins the fray on “It’s Time” one of the five tracks on which he is featured with his usual great effect. Lovano is one of those improvisers of harmonic fluency which is showcased on the blues-tinged “Midnight Blue”. He also gets a chance to convey his shadowy depths on “When The Sun Comes Up”.

This partnership of Johnson and Elias along with Lovano and Baron is a continuation of a musical adventure begun with the release in 2005 of Shades Of Jade and which enjoyed much critical success.  Johnson had come to prominence in the late 1970s as a member of the final Bill Evans Trio.  Brazilian–born Elias came to the US in 1981 and launched her career as a pianist, vocalist and interpreter of Brazilian music. On the trio selections Elias brings her stellar keyboard runs and choice chord changes to her own composition “One Thousand And One Nights” and Johnson’s “Foujita”. The Elias/Johnson tune “Inside Her Shoe Box” gives rise to Johnson’s distinctive arco bass voice.

Swept Away is a sparkling collaboration from a resourceful and highly adaptable group.

TrackList: Swept Away; It’s Time; One Thousand And One Nights; When The Sun Comes Up; B Is For Butterfly; Midnight Blue; Moments; Sirens Of Titan; Foujita; Inside Her Old Music Box; Shenandoah

—Pierre Giroux

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