Marc Johnson & Eliane Elias – “Swept Away”


There can be a sublime eloquence to the perfect expression of restraint.  Complex statements can be simply said, and the friction exerted between the expansive and the succinct can pack a hell of a punch.  On Swept Away, four of the vanguards of the jazz scene come together and illustrate exactly that point.

These are artists with a strong familiarity with one another.  Wife-Husband team of Eliane Elias and Marc Johnson are partners in music too, and Joey Baron has manned the drum set on recent Eliase recordings Something For You and Plays Live.  And Joe Lovano first worked with this quartet as part of the ensemble on Johnson’s 2005 release Shades of Jade.

This is music for late night clubs in the classy part of town.  This is music for evenings home alone, a drink, and standing by the window and looking out over the city.  This is music that illuminates the darkness with shimmering lights, making it easier to embrace.  If the silence is thick, then here is an album to break it apart and make it safe to breathe again.

Your album personnel:  Marc Johnson (double bass), Eliane Elias (piano), Joey Baron (drums), and Joe Lovano (tenor sax).

Calm discussions, tunes in a state of repose that feature intelligent statements delivered by pro musicians with equanimity and consideration.  Title-track “Swept Away” opens the album exactly that way, and its even-handed approach to collaboration informs much of the tone for the rest of the album.  “Foujita,” near the end of the album, reinforces it.  The ballad “Moments” features a velvety turn on sax by Lovano, who gives lullaby treatment to a love song.  “It’s Time” takes a handful of crisp pirouettes across a tune of stately elegance.

A few tracks break from that mold.  There’s “B Is For Butterfly,” which has a Vince Guarldi lightness and bounce to it, a childlike euphoria for simple things like falling leaves in Autumn.  Johnson’s arco on “Inside Her Old Music Box” melts into the cool moonlight of Elias’s piano phrasings, emitting a comforting warmth with brooding sound.  “When the Sun Comes Up” is perfectly titled, killing any need to utilize a metaphor of a composition slowly waking from sleep and springing to life.  “One Thousand and One Nights” simmers some bubbling phrases to start, then rises to a boil and brings some necessary up-tempo feistiness to an album that might’ve become too comfortable just coolly hanging back.

But when it all gets summed up, this is night time music, performed by musicians who provide every reason to stay awake and keep the moon company.

Released on the ECM Records label.

Jazz from the Hamptons, New York.

Available at eMusic.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3