Andrew Swift: Swift Kick (2012)
Currently the drummer for saxophonist Sharel Cassity and her quintet, the Matt Garrison Project as well as being the drumming voice for many nationally syndicated television commercials, Australian drummer Andrew Swift unveils his debut with Swift Kick, a remarkably engaging piece of musical mastery. There's no doubt about this outing, critics and audiences alike will devour this with pleasureand why not? The compositions and arrangements are sophisticated, the cast of all-star veterans first rate, and the artist himself, gifted with the pen, the slit drum, timpani and guitar. Delivering a powerful kick sure to resonate, Swift's first effort is a jewel of an album containing that certain blend of excellent music, great players and performances putting a shine on every piece.
Produced by New York trombonist Michael Dease for D Clef Records, the album cover alone provides a clue of what is in store listing only a handful of the musicians gracing this recording. Aside from Dease, Cassity and Garrison, pianist George Cables, trombonist extraordinaire Wycliffe Gordon, bassist Dwayne Burno, saxophone great Eric Alexander and guitarist Yotam Silberstein are but a few of the stars appearing here. Contributing five modern originals along with new treatments of several uncommon standards and covers, Swift gathers a terrific selection of material designed to maintain interest and engagement.
The program opens up with "Kisor The Despiser," penned by Cassity specifically for this album as a tribute of sorts to trumpeter Ryan Kisor, with whom she exchanges competing solos on an aggressive hard-bop starter. Vocalist Vanessa Perea appears on two wonderful songs, sharing the limelight with Silberstein on "The Rio Dawn" and Gordon on Burt Bacharach's pop classic "Alfie." A trombonist of the first caliber, Gordon lends his gruff vocals on "Brandy" which also features a fine solo from Burno.
Swift's talents as a composer come to the fore on "Soldier" and "Song For Sherin," two dynamic charts revealing a funky swing on the first and an intricate somewhat avant-garde tone on the latter. The Helio Alves arrangement of Duke Pearson's "Is That So?" features Dease , Alexander and the crashing cymbal accents of the drummer in an sizzling nod to the hard-bop genre. "Baptized With Fire" is another hot number and clear highlight of the album burning with torrid solos from several members of the group. Cables, Burno and saxophonist Tim Mayer heat up Swift's last original, "Goodbyes," which starts out slow and mellow then develops its own bop texture.
The set winds down on the sprite "As The Deer" and the ambitious John Lee composition "Understanding," a tribute to the jazz-rock music of the '70s featuring Jeb Patton on Fender Rhodes and one last solo encounter for both Dease and Cassity, in an enchanting finale to a truly enchanting Swift Kick.
Track Listing: Kisor The Despiser; The Rio Dawn; Soldier; Slit Drum Interlude; Song For Sherin; Is That So?; Alfie; Baptized With Fire; Brandy; Goodbyes; As The Deer; Understanding.
Personnel: Andrew Swift: drums, timpani, electric guitar; Sharel Cassity: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, flute; Michael Dease: trombone, alto trombone, electric trombone; flugelhorn; George Cables:piano; Dwayne Burno: bass; Ryan Kisor: trumpet; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Wycliffe Gordon: trombone, vocals; Tim Mayer: alto flute, soprano saxophone; Evan Sherman: percussion, gong; John Lee: electric bass, composer; Jeb Patton: Fender Rhodes; Yotam Silberstein: Electric guitar; Curtis Stewart: violin; Matt Garrison: baritone saxophone; Tony the Hawk: hawk; Vanessa Perea: vocals.
Record Label: D Clef Records