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Neil Swainson: Fire In The West


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Neil Swainson: Fire In The West
It hardly seems possible, but it took thirty-five years for Canadian bassist extraordinaire Neil Swainson to lead a sparkling quintet in this new recording of Swainson original compositions entitled Fire In The West. His prior recording from 1987 was called 49th Parallel and received little attention at the time. However it was re-released as an LP in 2020 by Reel to Real Records and it generated some welcomed critical reviews. Accompanying Swainson in this outing was a blue-chip rhythm section of pianist Renee Rosnes and drummer Lewis Nash, with a first rate front line of trumpeter Brad Turner and tenor saxophonist Kelly Jefferson.

The session opens with the title track "Fire In The West" which was inspired by a flight over the forest fires which were raging in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia at the time. This up— tempo tune begins with some Turner and Jefferson unison playing which states the theme, before each of the principals takes a solo turn, working out their ideas. All of this was nicely done, while Swainson's sturdy hand maintained the composition's rhythmic pulse. As will be evident throughout the album, Swainson was a fan of the front line pairings that predominated in the '50s, with the bands of Miles Davis, {Art Blakey}} and {Horace Silver}} so, accordingly, his compositional structures reflect this dynamic.

Some of the charts Swainson created have implied dedications to a variety of influences and influencers. "Fell Among Thieves," which could be classified as a lament, is carried throughout by Jefferson's compelling mournful tenor saxophone with Rosnes providing support in a svelte linear style. The title is meant to convey how good people often fall into difficult company. "Kyushu" is a musical reflection on time the composer spent on the Japanese island of the title. Laid out in a relaxing swinging tempo, the band delivers a straight ahead rhythmic feel which supports the improvisations offered by Turner, Jefferson and Rosnes. Finally, in an acknowledgement to Horace Silver, one of his musical influences, Swainson penned "Silver Mine." The bop-fashioned line charges out of the gate in a full-fisted attack. The solos taken by Turner and Jefferson are down the center and Rosnes delivers a single note excursion which is filled with Silver nuggets. In summation, a musical excursion well 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


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

Album information

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



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