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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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MARC JOHNSON /
ELIANE ELIAS

Swept Away

ECM 279 4574

 

 

1. Swept Away
2. It's Time
3. One Thousand and One Nights
4. When the Sun Comes Up
5. B is for Butterfly
6. Midnight Blue
7. Moments
8. Sirens of Titan
9. Foujita
10. Inside Her Old Music Box
11. Shenandoah.

Eliane Elias - Piano
Marc Johnson - Double bass
Joey Baron - Drums
Joe Lovano - Tenor sax
 

 

Bassist Marc Johnson is listed before his wife, pianist Eliane Elias, on this new ECM release. But Elias turns out to be the star of the album, even though Marc Johnson's sturdy bass often holds the music together. Elias has a radiant, crystalline style at the piano which often lets light into what might otherwise be fairly gloomy tunes. One example is Marc Johnson's composition Midnight Blue, where her playing lets in light after the almost funereal melody stated by guest saxist Joe Lovano.

Lovano appears on five tracks, but I'm afraid I find his rather hard, often mournful tone unappealing. For instance, Eliane Elias's Moments sounds as if it is meant to be uplifting, but Lovano's tenor drags it down until Eliane's piano comes in to brighten things up. One exception is Sirens of Titan, an almost funky tune, where Lovano seems to let himself go. But mostly I prefer the piano trio tracks, like B is for Butterfly, an Elias composition where the pianist somewhat resembles Keith Jarrett in his more tuneful days.

Although the music generally has a gentle, wafting mood, drummer Joey Baron sometimes injects some punch into the proceedings, although his contributions are not always appropriate - such as the rimshots in One Thousand and One Nights. This tune has hints of Eastern promise along with a certain amount of doodling Again, it is Elias who supplies much of the momentum, using the sustain pedal to create liquid but compelling phrases.

Marc Johnson shines particularly in the two last tracks. Inside Her Old Music Box uses his strong bass - both pizzicato and arco - to good effect, while he plays Shenandoah as an emotive solo. ECM's characteristically clear recording is particularly useful here, as bass solos often leave me cold because they lack clarity.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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