Marc Johnson • Eliane Elias

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Marc Johnson • Eliane Elias
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Swept Away
WORKS: Swept Away
PERFORMER: Eliane Elias (piano), Marc Johnson (bass), Joey Baron (drums), Joe Lovano (sax)
CATALOGUE NO: 2794574

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This album’s somewhat formulaic in certain respects, but it’s hard to argue with the formula itself and the gentle subversiveness of Lovano’s sax runs and Baron’s puckish drumming. These are pearl-seeding specks of grit in what might otherwise have been a nacre-smooth set from the two composers. That’s not to say, though, that there aren’t a few pleasing twists and turns, including a tickly, recursive quasi-blues piece that Baron punctuates with aplomb. Elias does tend towards Oscar Peterson-style mellifluousness, which you either appreciate or can do without, but on this outing at least this is usefully grounded by the cleanly modern balladeering that dominates the set.

ECM’s quietly detailed recording style is often a subject of debate. I’ve never been entirely convinced about how well it serves spikier performers like (saxist) Evan Parker and his colleagues – but it does support this music particularly well.

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Roger Thomas