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Marc Johnson/Eliane Elias: Swept Away

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Eliane Elias occasionally needs to remind us that, back in the ’80s when she was a member of Steps Ahead, before she ever laid down a vocal track, she had already established herself as a resourceful and dynamic pianist. On Swept Away, the vocal mic remains off and the Brazilian-born Elias-aligned with double bassist Marc Johnson (her husband and longtime collaborator), drummer Joey Baron (with whom both Elias and Johnson recorded a tribute to Bill Evans in 2007) and guest tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano-offers that reminder.

The trio tracks are especially riveting; Johnson and Baron erect a solid wall of support around Elias’ frequent, heady expeditions, within which they shrewdly follow her lead and goad her, often simultaneously. For her part, Elias never strays into indulgence, alternating between unadorned blues-based runs and abruptly launched forays played at dazzling tempos. Lovano’s tracks-he’s on about half the album-alter the mood, as one would expect, but the overall level of compatibility remains intact.

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