Marc Johnson/Eliane Elias – Swept Away
(ECM 279 4574. CD Review by Chris Parker)
The working trio of bassist Marc Johnson, pianist Eliane Elias and drummer Joey Baron is one of the most subtly interactive, mutually sensitive units in the music at present, and with the addition, on this recording, of saxophonist Joe Lovano, they have produced a consistently elegant, often downright ravishing album.
Elias immediately draws the ear with her trademark combination of delicacy and robustness, building (courtesy of the artistic process referred to in the album’s title) to rapturous earnestness at the music’s climaxes; Johnson is all deft, purring propulsiveness, Baron discreetly muscular and taut, in Johnson’s words ‘bobbing and weaving … but never losing that beautiful sense of implied time’, and so Lovano’s smoky warble, skilfully textured to incorporate everything from the odd tasteful rasp to dying flutters, is the perfect complement to the band’s sound.
The material, which ranges from lyrical and romantic to vigorously rhythmic, is composed by both Elias and Johnson (the last solo-bass contribution, ‘Shenandoah’, aside) and has been intelligently programmed to produce a wholly enjoyable gem of an album, refined, even restrained at times, yet always (quietly) powerful.