Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

11

The Swallow Quintet: Into the Woodwork

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
In the press sheet for Steve Swallow's Into the Woodwork, the award-winning electric bassist is quoted, saying: "Good humor before and after the red light goes on is very important. Music-making should be fun, after all." Those fortunate enough to see Swallow with Steve Kuhn and Joey Baron this past summer—including a memorable stop at the 2013 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival—experienced this ethos first-hand, as smiles and outright laughter defined a performance that was, indeed, great fun, but just as deep musically—the ultimate consequence of musicians so relaxed with each other that nothing can get in the way.

Into the Woodwork may lack the visuals, but it's clear that this quintet is having just as much fun, and is comfortable enough together to allow anything to happen—albeit within the structures of Swallow's writing. Other than life/music partner Carla Bley—focusing solely on organ and begging the question why she doesn't do so more often—this is a new constellation under the Swallow marquee, but guitarist Steve Cardenas and saxophonist Chris Cheek have intersected before, both with each other and with Swallow and Bley, in Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band and Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, respectively. Drummer Jorge Rossy—best-known for his decade-long tenure with Brad Mehldau—was a late addition, writing Swallow after hearing of the nascent quartet to ask if he might join in, and his melodic approach makes him the perfect choice to drive this book of 12 new Swallow compositions.

Swallow's has already achieved a place in the history books for memorable compositions like "Falling Grace," "Olhos del Gato" and "Como en Vietnam," but it's too early to tell if any of Into the Woodwork will join that rarefied group. Still, the through-composed, dark-hued "Sad Old Candle," vivacious title track, balladic "From Who It May Concern" and drum-heavy "Back in Action"—Rossy's call-and-response with the rest of the group occupying a full half of its five-minutes before a quirky, dissonant theme resolves into Cheek's fiery solo, driven by Swallow and Rossy's effortless, unrelenting swing—are individually memorable while, segued together as a 21-minute suite, contribute to Into the Woodwork greater continuity. The same approach links the blues-drenched "Grisly Business," brighter "Unnatural Causes" and ambling "The Butler Did It," before a brief pause leads into the album's closing tracks, joined together for 25 episodic minutes. In the midst of these five tunes, following Cardenas' warm-toned, melody-centric solo, "Still There" features Bley liberally—and mischievously—quoting the American folk song "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and the military "Taps."

That's just one example of Into the Woodwork's relentless spontaneity ... and good humor. The writing may be deep and the playing even deeper—Swallow's bass rarely feeling this rich or filled with ideas—but at its heart is a group that more than likely shares the same onstage smiles and laughter that Swallow did with Kuhn. It's been 13 years since Swallow last recorded with a full-sized quintet, but Into the Woodwork represents a new group and repertoire that easily stands amongst his best work in a career now entering its sixth decade.

Track Listing: Sad Old Candle; Into the Woodwork; From Whom It May Concern; Back in Action; Grisly Business; Unnatural Causes; The Butler Did It; Suitable for Framing; Small Comfort; Still There; Never Know; Exit Stage Left.

Personnel: Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone; Steve Cardenas: guitar; Carla Bley: organ; Steve Swallow: bass; Jorge Rossy: drums.

Title: Into the Woodwork | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: XtraWATT/ECM

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Swallow Songs

Swallow Songs

Vara Konserthus
2009

buy
So There

So There

XtraWATT/ECM
2007

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Apr16Tue
Jamie Saft Trio
Laeiszhalle
Hamburg, Germany
€9
Apr19Fri
The New Standard Trio: Saft / Swallow / Previte
12on14 Jazz Club
Warsaw, Poland
210 PLN
Apr19Fri
The New Standard Trio: Saft / Swallow / Previte
12on14 Jazz Club
Warsaw, Poland
210 PLN

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Octopus Album Reviews
Octopus
By Jack Bowers
March 21, 2019
Read Pinch Point Album Reviews
Pinch Point
By Mark Corroto
March 21, 2019
Read Crosswinds Album Reviews
Crosswinds
By Don Phipps
March 21, 2019
Read Colors Album Reviews
Colors
By Mark Sullivan
March 21, 2019
Read The Grey Album Album Reviews
The Grey Album
By Mike Jurkovic
March 21, 2019
Read WHENUFINDITUWILLKNOW Album Reviews
WHENUFINDITUWILLKNOW
By Troy Dostert
March 20, 2019
Read Path Of Totality Album Reviews
Path Of Totality
By Jerome Wilson
March 20, 2019