Steve Swallow: Swallow Songs & Dedicated to Steve
Mellow, majestic, mischievoussmooth mnemonics come to mind when listening (or even thinking) about bassist Steve Swallow's music. The estimable (nay, venerable) progenitor of jazz electric bass (or is it Monk Montgomery?) has more basslines up his sleeve than Svengali had pigeons, and his sinuous sleight-of-hand with chord progressions dazzles with its deceptive "ease" of execution and a major-league modicum of merry expressiveness. These two European sessions find Swallow in divergent modes of inspiration: as guest soloist and arranger with a grand Swedish big band and as absent inspiration for an Italian acolyte of Swallow's seven-string electric bass.
Bohuslan Big Band
As session guest on Bohuslan Big Band's Swallow Songs, Swallow takes enveloping solos on tundra-scaped "Away" and easy-rocking "Thirty-five" and writes resonating, bell-clear charts. The big band oozes along manfully, its strong section work flowing boldly like oiled tectonic plates. Periodic highs are attained with solos by tenor man Ove Ingmarsson on "Ballroom" and "Belles" and bass trombonist Niclas Rydh on that 1970s fake-book humalong "Eiderdown" (the only tune common to both dates). Momentous commissions are a Monteverdean brass chorale ("Do Go On"), a profound etude over pedal point for bass clarinetist Alberto Pinton ("17 Chords") and a terrifying titillating Tehran taxi ride ("Playing With Traffic").
Dedicated to Steve
Andrea Fascetti shows his devotion to Swallow's signature axe in a univocal program of five originals on Dedicated to Steve, inspired by and programmed among six of the master's classics. Fascetti's covers of recent upbeat Swallow ditties like the two fast sambas "Outfits" (wild rising chord sequence, nimble- fingered seven-string solo) and "Muddy In The Bank" (good solos all 'round) spur him and colleagues to neat-picked solos and energized ensembles. He's at his best when his derring-doodles follow lively Swallow romps; another occurs when the skittery "Bug In A Rug" sets the stage for his own speedy "Matilda's Bop". Fascetti's band is quite present and fully accountable: Riccardo Arrighini on piano, Riccardo Fioravanti on standup bass and the understatedly crisp Massimo Manzi on drums.
If the powers that be in the jazz world strike you as overweeningly autocratic and you fancy a refreshing pick-me-up, listen up like this Swedish big band and Italian bass maven and a little Swallow will tell you cool truths.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Away; Learn to Fall; Ballroom; Do Go On; Eiderdown; Seventeen Chords; Belles; Thirty-five; Playing in Traffic.
Personnel: Steve Swallow: electric bass; Lennart Grahn, Staffan Svensson, Samuel Olsson, Jan Eliasson: trumpets, flugelhorns; Bjorn Samuelsson, Christer Olofson, Karin Hammar, Niclas Rydh: trombones; Johan Borgstrom, Joakim Rolandson, Ove Ingemarsson, Mikael Karlsson, Alberto Pinton: saxophones, woodwinds; Tommy Koller: piano; Yasuhito Mori: acoustic bass; Anders Kyellberg: drums.
Dedicated to Steve
Tracks: Mr. Steve Swallow; Eiderdown; Outfits; Mia's Blues; Wrong Together; Blues for Electric Bass; Muddy in the Bank; Falling Grace; Bug in a Rug; Matilda's Bop; Blues for Electric Bass (reprise).
Personnel: Andrea Fascetti: 7-string bass; Riccardo Arringhni: piano; Riccardo Fioravanti: bass; Massimo Manzi: drums.