All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

243

John Swana & The Philadelphians: Philly Gumbo Vol. 2

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
The sequel to a memorable 2001 release, Philly Gumbo Vol. 2 consists of pleasurable hard bop by John Swana and a band of mainstays from the fertile Philadelphia jazz scene. Despite the familiar stylistic trappings, the music stands up to repeat listening for several reasons. The original material (nine of ten tracks) transcends the tired, derivative tunes often written in homage to masters of the genre. Swana's compositions, especially "Sid's Dilemma, "Three Of A Kind, and "Quasimodo's Uncle, are catchy and substantial. The band executes themes like tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna's sprightly "It's Over Your Head with gusto and precision. Played by Swana's muted trumpet over sparse bass and drums accompaniment, the somber, introspective "In Memory Of... is the only track that doesn't fit the mold.



An unassuming leader, Swana clearly enjoys creating opportunities for the others to showcase their strengths. The arrangements are often structured so that McKenna and tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes trade solos and portions of choruses. On tracks like "Sid's Dilemma and the standard "Everything Happens To Me, these exchanges point to the contrast between McKenna's fleet lines and Barnes' burly phraseology.



A rhythm section consisting of bassist Mike Boone, pianist Sid Simmons, and drummer Byron Landham cooks at various tempos and provides incisive support to the soloists. The ever alert Simmons jumps into a gap during Swana's "Sid's Dilemma solo and lands a telling remark. An attentive player who picks up on everything that goes on around him, Landham weaves punchy snare drum accents and the dry ping of the ride cymbal around Swana's pointed triplet phrases on "Quasimodo's Uncle. During nearly every track, Boone intensifies his walking lines by unexpectedly moving from lower to higher registers of the instrument.



Each of the four primary soloists has something arresting to say, and they all succeed without making the listener immediately start thinking about their influences. First out of the gate on "Sid's Dilemma, McKenna leaves little space for the rhythm section to fill, stringing together extended, bustling lines that possess a momentum of their own. Throughout Simmons' turn during "Three Of A Kind, performed over the bass and drums in swift 3/4 time, his jutting chords and short penetrating single note runs overlap and smack into one another. Barnes' solo on the same track is firmly planted in a slow-to-medium 4/4 groove. Treading heavily over the pianist's animated accompaniment with soulful, melodically concise lines, he doesn't need histrionics to make an emotional impact.

It's a pleasure to hear the ease in which Swana handles the horn, rides the rhythm section, and maneuvers the chord changes to "Ortlieb's. Inside of a limited arc, there's substantial movement in terms of timbre and phrasing. Utilizing various registers of the horn, Swana either builds to brief, taut climaxes or gradually goes slack.


Track Listing: 1. Sid's Dilemma 2. 127 W. Wilt Street 3. Three Of A Kind 4. Ortlieb's 5. Quasimodo's Uncle 6. Everything Happens To Me 7. Mingus And Jaco 8. It's Over Your Head 9. Bootsie's Bolero 10. In Memory Of...

Personnel: John Swana--trumpet; Bootsie Barnes--tenor sax; Larry McKenna--tenor sax; Sid Simmons--piano; Mike Boone--bass; Byron Landham--drums.

Title: Philly Gumbo Vol. 2 | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Criss Cross

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Bright Moments

Bright Moments

Criss Cross
2017

buy
 

Smooth End Of Summer

Challenge Jazz
2013

buy
 

Abohm

Challenge Jazz
2012

buy
Brigh Moments

Brigh Moments

Criss Cross
2008

buy
 

Philly Gumbo

Criss Cross
2001

buy

Related Articles

Read Half Light CD/LP/Track Review
Half Light
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2018
Read The Groove Hunter CD/LP/Track Review
The Groove Hunter
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Powered by Life CD/LP/Track Review
Powered by Life
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Seymour Reads The Constitution! CD/LP/Track Review
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Mephiti CD/LP/Track Review
Mephiti
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Seymour Reads The Constitution! CD/LP/Track Review
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
by Doug Collette
Published: May 23, 2018
Read "Rain or Shine" CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Sunrise" CD/LP/Track Review Sunrise
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 29, 2018
Read "Thought You Knew" CD/LP/Track Review Thought You Knew
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 5, 2018
Read "Avant-Garde Party Music" CD/LP/Track Review Avant-Garde Party Music
by John Sharpe
Published: January 1, 2018
Read "Leon" CD/LP/Track Review Leon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Nightfall" CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 11, 2017