Marc Johnson’s jazz album Shades of Jade has consistent musicianship through-out, and would be an enjoyable listen on a rainy day. It’s slow and cool without becoming muzak, and the saxophone soloist is very good. The pianist is creative without becoming pounding.
Johnson, who plays the bass, doesn’t allow himself to occupy the fore-ground until the last couple tracks, and these are by far the strongest on the disc.
The last track, ‘Don’t Ask Me’ has Johnson playing a haunting classical melody over an organ drone. I would be a lot more satisfied with this disc if they hadn’t included ‘Don’t Ask Me,’ simply because it puts the rest of the disc to shame. The jazz was proficient, but ‘Don’t Ask Me’ makes me wish that Johnson would put out a classical album.
Perhaps I’m spoiled by Jaco Pastorius, but I wish that Johnson would be less polite to his fellow musicians and spend some more time in the spotlight. ‘Don’t Ask Me’ shows that he has exceptional skill, and the fact that he can play both jazz and classical so well shows that he has exceptional range.