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INTERVIEW

Steve Swell: Appreciating the Avant Garde Today

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6[This is the third of an All About Jazz series of interviews and articles on “The Many Faces of Jazz Today: Critical Dialogues" in which we explore the current state of jazz around the world with musicians, journalists, and entrepreneurs who give us their own unique perspectives. In the first interview of the series, saxophonist Bobby Zankel spoke about his efforts to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Swell - Gebhard Ullmann - Fred Lonberg-Holm - Michael Zerang: The Chicago Plan

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The Chicago Plan equates to a strategic plan, evidenced by these magnetic and invigorating works by reedman Gebhard Ullmann (Berlin), trombonist Steve Swell (New York City) and Chicagoans, drummer Michael Zerang and cellist / electronics-ace Fred Lonberg-Holm. Recorded in Chicago, the musicians were seemingly immersed in the Windy City's cutting- edge jazz and improvisational forces that may have hovered over the studio like a guiding spirit. Here, some of the best and brightest live up to, or perhaps ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Swell: Kanreki: Reflection & Renewal

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To mark his sixtieth birthday (December 6, 2014), trombonist Steve Swell, long the pre-eminent trombonist on the NYC free jazz scene, invokes the Japanese custom of Kanreki. Although it is said to signal both a rebirth and a handing on of responsibilities, Swell shows no signs of allowing the occasion to inhibit his ambition. Over the course of two discs, Not Two proffers a broad survey of recent outlets for his expression, encompassing seven distinct line ups recorded between 2011 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Burrell / Steve Swell: Turning Point

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Although firmly associated with the avant-garde, pianist Dave Burrell often harkens back to pre-bop styles in his execution. On Turning Point he explicitly acknowledges such sources in his writing too. Perhaps that's appropriate in a sequence inspired by the American Civil War -what Burrell terms a war to end slavery. While composer in residence at Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum where this recital was performed, Burrell researched the people and events of the conflict. The collection here is actually the third in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Burrell / Steve Swell: Turning Point

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Distinguished jazz and improvisation artists, pianist Dave Burrell and trombonist Steve Swell have crafted one of the most exciting and unique duo presentations I've heard in quite some time. The album moniker Turning Point is the third in a series of five suites honoring the individuals and events of the American Civil War. Here, Burrell ruminates upon Civil War era Americana, integrated with a progressive jazz flair amid lofty improvisational sequences and humbly stated melodic choruses via the artists' respective ...

INTERVIEW

Steve Swell: Unlimited Musical Possibilities

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"Free Jazz" and “Avant-Garde Jazz" are catch phrases often associated with musical pioneers such as Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor but more broadly refer to music that goes outside of the mainstream of melody, harmony, rhythm, and structure. When that happens, opinions and emotions abound. Reactions vary from disgust to excitement and enthusiasm, and it is rare to find a balanced view on the subject. The question arises, why does the same music so strongly attract and repel? To seek ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Swell: Steve Swell's Slammin' The Infinite

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Using something that Walt Whitman said about prolific writing, trombonist Steve Swell posits that the more he creates--the more he writes and therefore performs--the more likely he is to produce something worthwhile. Although he does not mention it, this also suggests pushing the boundaries and being nonjudgmental about any of his work until he arrives at something of substantive value. What this might be is impossible to predict, until it is actually created and performed, and the response to it ...

INTERVIEW

Steve Swell: Sound Miracles

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Trombonist Steve Swell captures the energy of a big band in the close quarters of a small group. An alumnus of Buddy Rich's and Lionel Hampton's bands on the one hand, and collaborator with Anthony Braxton on the other, he seems bound to have fixed upon such a hybrid configuration at some point. But how an artist could exhibit such stylistic range and adaptability to begin with, and on top of that reconcile them in a career that has already ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Swell's Slammin' The Infinite: 5000 Poems

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There was a time when the addition of a chordal instrument such as piano to a horn-led free jazz quartet would have been viewed as a nod to the mainstream. But not the case now and especially not when the pianist in question is John Blum and the group is trombonist Steve Swell's Slammin' The Infinite. Underground legend Blum stays on board for their fourth outing after his guest appearance on Live At The Vision Festival (Not Two, 2008) and ...


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