62

Ricky Sweum: More Than Imaginable

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
Ricky Sweum: More Than Imaginable West coast saxophonist Ricky Sweum grew up in Eugene, Oregon, and spent many years as a freelance musician in New York before embarking on a military career, joining the Air Force Academy Band in 2003. After a stint with prestigious jazz big band The Falconaires as lead tenor, in 2011 he moved on and now works with the Air Force Band of the Pacific in Anchorage, Alaska where he tours the U.S., Japan and Australia. Still, Sweum manages a professional career separate from his military commitments, where an extensive résumé finds him as a sideman as well as dabbling with some independent material dating back to 1994. On More Than Imaginable, Sweum reveals more of his own work, on his own label and with a first-rate lineup—altogether resulting in a surprisingly top-notch recording.

More Than Imaginable represents Sweum's second major release as leader since his 2009 Origin Records debut, Pulling Your Own Strings. Piloting a quartet featuring Venezuelan-born piano wonder Edward Simon, drumming sensation Clarence Penn and Southern California bassist Dave Robaire, Sweum takes to the air with ten sophisticated and varied originals, continuing his exploration of modern jazz in creative fashion. The innovative new sounds start in electrifying style with the hard-driving "Earth Squid," a high-flying energetic piece capturing strong performances from both the saxophonist and drummer Penn. Simon and Robaire take their turn on the intricate "Barry's Barnacle Blues," which features Sweum on soprano.

Though there are plenty of solid solos and other highlights on this fine disc, the title track and subsequent "Canyon Dance" provide special moments, delivering the best solo spots from both Simon and Sweum. "Belonging" and "Kiva" are similar in texture—both clearly gems of modern music, though the latter has a more percussive feel. Sweum's tender tenor leads the music on a brief but beautiful "Things You Think You Have To Do," a deliciously light ballad featuring brushes, a soft touch from Simon and Robaire's delicate bass lines.

While Sweum's dazzling statements on both tenor and soprano saxophones remain a key feature, it is his skill as a composer that may leave the most lasting impression. This ten-piece repertoire of originals concludes with his most ambitious composition, engaging the band on "Kerabag's Trance," its mesmerizing sound enduring long after an almost ten-minute duration. Serving as a natural vehicle of modern jazz, More Than Imaginable captures Sweum's penchant for modern grooves and melodic playing in a highly accessible album that's far better than can be imagined.

Track Listing: Earth Squid; Barry's Barnacle Blues; Sleeping Man; More Than Imaginable; Canyon Dance; Belonging; Kiva; Things You Think You Have To Do; Chekhovian Circus Song; Kerabag's Trance.

Personnel: Ricky Sweum: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Clarence Penn: drums; Dave Robaire: bass; Edward Simon: piano.

Title: More Than Imaginable | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Ninjazz Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Cantos Invisíveis" CD/LP/Track Review Cantos Invisíveis
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Together, As One" CD/LP/Track Review Together, As One
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "The Book of Transfigurations" CD/LP/Track Review The Book of Transfigurations
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Morph" CD/LP/Track Review Morph
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 2, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.