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Neil Swainson: Fire In The West

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Neil Swainson: Fire In The West
It's hard to believe that 35 years have flown by between the release of bassist Neil Swainson's debut album, 49th Parallel (Concord Jazz), and his second, Fire in the West, recorded in November 2021 and released nine months later. But Swainson was hardly in hibernation during those years, as he has been one of Canada's busiest and most sought-after sidemen, traveling the world while working with the likes of George Shearing, Woody Shaw, Marian McPartland, Sonny Stitt, Slide Hampton, James Moody, Lee Konitz, Jay McShann, George Coleman, Diana Krall, Joe Henderson, Roberta Gambarini, Joe and Pat LaBarbera, Mel Torme and a host of other notable headliners.

When the time came to record again, Swainson wanted to make sure he had everything right, from the compositions (he wrote and arranged every number) to the sidemen: trumpeter Brad Turner and tenor saxophonist Kelly Jefferson on the front line, pianist Renee Rosnes and drummer Lewis Nash blending with Swainson to comprise the quintet's blue-chip rhythm section. If there are any seams in that garment, they are imperceptible to the eye and inaudible to the ear.

Turner and Jefferson are impressive soloists, as is the always-enchanting Rosnes, while Swainson and Nash have their shining moments as well. As for Swainson's charts, they are post-bop archetypes, giving everyone a broad range of material on which to focus. Tempos are generally moderate to medium with three notable exceptions: the nimble opener, "Fire in the West," the lighthearted "Cascades" and fast-paced finale, "Silver Mine" (dedicated to the legendary hard-bop pianist Horace Silver). Needless to say, the rhythm section is sharp at any tempo, while Turner and Jefferson are never at a loss for a felicitous phrase or two.

To suggest that 35 years between recordings is a touch too long would be an understatement. On the other hand, Swainson's second go-round as leader is so perceptive and pleasing that it was almost worth the wait.

Track Listing

Fire In The West; Fool's Gold; Cascades; Standing Back; Fell Among Thieves; Kyushu; Late Afternoon; Near North; Gone Away; Silver Mine

Personnel

Neil Swainson
bass, acoustic
Brad Turner
trumpet
Kelly Jefferson
saxophone, tenor

Album information

Title: Fire In The West | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Cellar Records


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