Marc Johnson - Shades of Jade


Release date: October 2005

Shades of Jade

This is an intriguing development in Marc Johnson's music making.

We are close here to the core line up of John Scofield's excellent 1990 offering "Meant to Be" (where John Scofield, Joe Lovano and Marc Johnson were joined by Bill Stewart on drums) except that here Joey Baron replaces Bill Stewart. There is also close synergy with the personnel and approach of Peter Erkine's brilliant but underrated album "Sweet Soul".

But with that first piano solo on the opening track, "Ton Sur Ton", it is clear that something very special is happening. The difference is Eliane Elias, pianist, co-writer and co-producer of this wonderfully evocative and fulfilling music that is high on harmonic depth and subtlety.

That Eliane Elias could play a little was clear from the opening tracks of her album "Everything I Love" - "Bowing to Bud" and "Nostalgia In Times Square" - but she had previously reverted to her better known role as vocalist in Antonio Carlos Jobim mode. Yet here in a straight ahead, purely instrumental, context her playing is a revelation. The repeated descending piano phrase in "Shades Of Jade" is one of those juxtapositions that stays with you and makes you want to returen to listen again and again.

The whole album is filled with an openness and space that is quite vivid, surpassing the ECM trademark laid-back stereotype,
and making this one of the key albums of the decade.

Inventive, uplifiting jazz, understated but with a restrained tension that stays in the mind.

Highly recommended.

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