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Marc Johnson – Overpass (2021) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Marc Johnson – Overpass (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96kHz | Time – 43:21 minutes | 695 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © ECM

With Overpass, Marc Johnson makes a decisive and intriguing contribution to ECM’s solo bass tradition. Johnson’s experiments with the bass and its potential as a lead voice began during his tenure with the Bill Evans Trio, where his nightly solo feature on “Nardis”, Miles Davis’s tune, inspired him to new ideas. “Nardis” is revisited on this new studio album recorded in S~ao Paulo, Brazil, alongside Alex North’s “Love Theme from Spartacus” (another Evans Trio favourite), Eddie Harris’s “Freedom Jazz Dance” and five Johnson originals including “Samurai Fly”, a recasting of “Samurai Hee-Haw”, which Marc previously recorded for ECM with his Bass Desires band and with the John Abercrombie Trio.

Before he was able to carve out his own identity, Marc Johnson was known for many years as “Bill Evans’ last bassist”, a glorious gig which boosted his reputation and enabled him to launch the excellent group Bass Desires with John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Peter Erskine, a few years after Evans’ death. What followed was a mixture of tasteful collaborations with people as eclectic as Mel Lewis, Jim Hall, Stan Getz, John Abercrombie, Michael Brecker, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Enrico Pieranunzi and, his wife, Eliane Elias… At 67 years of age, Marc Johnson brought out Overpass, recorded in January and February of 2018 at the Nacema studio in S~ao Paulo and co-produced with Eliane Elias. An entirely solo album for ECM, a label that is fond of solo records by double bassists. This is the kind of material that promotes introspection, and retrospection too. It is therefore not surprising that Overpass contains the Miles Davis standard Nardis, a cornerstone of Bill Evans’ repertoire, as well as Alex North’s Love Theme from Spartacus, another of the pianist’s favourite compositions. Marc Johnson has written five original compositions, including Samurai Fly, a sort of facelift for Samurai Hee-Haw recorded in the past for ECM with Bass Desires and with John Abercrombie’s trio. Each song follows on from the other with impressive flexibility. Johnson’s full, rounded-out sound and the finesse of his timing help save us from four-string overdose. This type of solo exercise is hard to sustain across an entire album, but the American bassist always keeps a serious sense of narrative in mind, constantly developing new ideas and high-flying improvisations. Overall, it’s impressive. – Marc Zisman

1. Marc Johnson – Freedom Jazz Dance
2. Marc Johnson – Nardis
3. Marc Johnson – Samurai Fly
4. Marc Johnson – Love Theme from Spartacus
5. Marc Johnson – Life of Pai
6. Marc Johnson – And Strike Each Tuneful String
7. Marc Johnson – Yin and Yang
8. Marc Johnson – Whorled Whirled World


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