Not halfway into the first track, Swept Away resonates as a perfectly suitable title for this event, Marc Johnson’s first ECM album since 2005’s Shades of Jade. This time around, he shares the bill with one of today’s truly great pianists, Eliane Elias, a key collaborator for many years, and a musical companion who also happens to be his wife. They’ve been together for 20 years, though Elias expresses the relationship could actually be valued at 85 years when accounting for the amount of time spent working side by side, traveling, and being married. Both individuals exuded greatness from the moment they broke ground on their respective career foundations – Elias with Steps Ahead, and Johnson making history with the Bill Evans trio. What thrives as a vibrant and hedonistic partnership continues to speak volumes about the current project, much of which was conceived in the beauty of their New York home in the Hamptons.
All About Jazz
Swept Away is certainly a collaborative effort—co-led by Eliane Elias and bassist Marc Johnson—but it seems more like the pianist’s set. The Sao Paolo-born pianist penned five of the disc’s eleven tunes, and co-wrote two more with her musical/life partner, Johnson. The duo, in league with drummer Joey Baron and, on five tunes, saxophonist Joe Lovano, has produced the most sumptuous music imaginable, beginning with the Elias-penned title tune—a floating trio effort, a sensual haiku to unadorned beauty.
The Jazz Breakfast
Double bassist Marc Johnson, from the US’s mid-west, was in Bill Evans last trio; pianist Eliane Elias, from Sao Paulo in Brazil, first came to wide attention in Steps Ahead. They have been a couple for a long time now, and the near-telepathic interchange of the bass and piano throughout this album, their rising and falling at one to heighten the tension of a phrase and then to release it, is a joy to hear.
Bassist Marc Johnson and pianist Eliane Elias sound so complete as a duo that you might think even one extra player would be too many. Then, after the first number, in come the discreet Joey Baron on drums and that matchlessly inventive tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and it all sounds – not better so much as deeper, more resonant.