Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

487

Marc Johnson: Shades of Jade

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Some would argue that it's impossible to call a recording classic until sufficient time has passed to determine its true staying power. Still, one can say that a recording has the makings of a classic—especially in its ability to be simultaneously of its time and timeless. Bassist Marc Johnson has only released a handful of albums under his own name since emerging in the late 1970s. And while they've all been very, very good, often in distinctly different ways—and experiences you can go back to time and time again, year after year—none could really be considered classic.

Until now. Returning to the ECM label as a leader for the first time since 1987's Second Sight, Johnson has turned Shades of Jade into the kind of artistic achievement that most musicians can only hope to accomplish. He's recruited a veritable supergroup, consisting of saxophonist Joe Lovano, guitarist John Scofield, pianist Eliane Elias, and drummer Joey Baron, plus organist Alain Mallet, who appears on two tracks. It's not about the playing, yet it's all about the playing. The performances on Shades of Jade could only come from a group of players so comfortable and assured that they can dispense with ego and surrender completely to the demands of the music.

The material—all but one piece written by Johnson and/or Elias—evokes a breadth of emotion, but in a subtle way that relies on players with nothing to prove yet plenty to say. Only after a full 25 minutes does the album display any sign of energy. Yet on the relaxed "Ton Sur Ton, the gentle "Aparaceu, the dark-hued title track, and the melancholy "In 30 Hours, there's still a deep emotional connection. The swinging "Blue Nefertiti —cleverly taking the signature line from Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti and subsuming it into a sixteen-bar blues—presents a strong contrast while remaining wholly in context.

Given such strong musical personalities, what's most remarkable about Shades of Jade is how everyone retains their unmistakable identity yet openly explores new directions. Both Lovano and Scofield turn in the most purely textural playing of their careers. Scofield's long swells on the title track are out of character, yet they could come from nobody else. Lovano's feathery solo on "Ton Sur Ton is distant from his normally robust tone and strong lines, sounding at times like Charles Lloyd, but with a more purposeful sense of construction. Elias' lyricism has never been so profound, Baron's ability to speak with gentlest of touches so essential. Johnson, always able to find the nexus between elegance and power, has never sounded better.

What makes Shades of Jade a contender for "classic status is its remarkable ability to bring together multitudinous musical experiences without sounding explicitly like any one of them. At times inward-looking, at others more extroverted, intrepid without losing its accessibility, Shades of Jade timelessly blends the musicians' lifetimes of stylistic breadth into an experience that's completely familiar, yet totally fresh and innovative in the most understated way imaginable.

Visit Universal Classics on the web.

Track Listing: Ton Sur Ton; Aparaceu; Shades of Jade; In 30 Hours; Blue Nefertiti; Snow; Since You Asked; Raise; All Yours; Don't Ask of Me.

Personnel: Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone; John Scofield: guitar; Eliane Elias: piano; Marc Johnson: double-bass; Joey Baron: drums; Alain Mallet: organ.

Title: Shades of Jade | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Swept Away

Swept Away

ECM Records
2012

buy
Shades of Jade

Shades of Jade

ECM Records
2005

buy
The Sound of Summer Running

The Sound of Summer...

Verve Music Group
1998

buy

Related Articles

Read We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration Album Reviews
We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
By Mark Corroto
April 25, 2019
Read Golem Dance Album Reviews
Golem Dance
By Friedrich Kunzmann
April 25, 2019
Read New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4 Album Reviews
New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4
By Dan Bilawsky
April 24, 2019
Read Open Form For Society Album Reviews
Open Form For Society
By Mark Corroto
April 24, 2019
Read Yes Album Reviews
Yes
By John Sharpe
April 24, 2019
Read Avec le temps Album Reviews
Avec le temps
By Mark Sullivan
April 23, 2019
Read Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog Album Reviews
Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019