268

Steve Swell: Slammin' the Infinite

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Swell: Slammin' the Infinite By Ken Waxman

A note from New York's Lower East Side underground, this fine session shows that the spirit of experimentation still shines brightly whether the sounds are called avant-garde, the new thing, or ecstatic jazz.

Two Little Huey Creative Orchestra members, trombonist Steve Swell and reedist Sabir Mateen, are featured on Slammin' the Infinite. Matt Heyner, the bassist on the date, is in the TEST collective with Mateen. Only German-born drummer Klaus Kugel isn't a regular downtowner. In Europe, however, he has long-time associations with other progressive Continental musicians, such as trumpeter Markus Stockhausen and saxophonist Michel Pilz.

Heir to the avant tailgate style of Roswell Rudd, trombonist Swell, who wrote all the tunes on Slammin' the Infinite, is his own man, adding bop articulation and speed to classic smears and shouts in his solos. Broken counterpoint involving his horn and Mateen's helps focus "For Frank Lowe," a hushed threnody for the recently departed first-generation new thinger. It also shows that these musical explorers know the tradition as well as the neo-cons that claim a monopoly on it. "Box Set," a stop-and-go piece, confirms this.

Built on a free bop theme from both horns, walking bass, and the Kugel press rolls, it could have been played by the New York Art Quartet in '66. As it is, the episodic theme recapitulations give plenty of room for Mateen and Swell to open up. The latter offers a double-tongued set of rubato slurs, while the former is in irregularly vibrated Aylerian tenor mode with upper-pitched squeaks. The title track is more of the same, although it features legato blowing from Swell. Also notable are Heyner's long, loping lines at the beginning and his slurred focused bowing that plucks out individual notes, amplified with a burst of spiccato at the end.

"Dresden Art Maneuvers," at a second less than eighteen minutes, is the set's tour de force. Commencing with a throbbing ostinato bass line plus hunt-and-peck martial drum action, it eventually redefines itself into a series of orchestral miniatures. A cappella, Mateen twists out obtuse clarinet timbres, Swell slides out muted and open-horn blats, growls and plunges; Kugel contributes door-knocking raps and a double-quick rush over elevated toms; and Heyner creates a resonating tuning peg-scraping bass line.

If the recording does have a modest downside, it's when Kugel gets overexcited and threatens to mask one or another of the others' work. When everything is taken into consideration, though, the CD is a fine example of how four in-tune musicians can accompany and complement one another. It's another stellar achievement for Swell and company. If you can't afford the time and expense to hang out in Manhattan's East Village or Lower East Side, this recording will give you an authentic picture of the free-form music thriving there.


Track Listing: With the Morning, Hope; East Village Meet and Greet; Box Set; Dresden Art Maneuvers; Slammin' the Infinite; Voices from the Asphalt; For Frank Lowe.

Personnel: Steve Swell: trombone, Sabir Mateen: alto, tenor saxophone, clarinet, alto clarinet, flute; Matt Heyner: bass; Klaus Kugel: drums.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: CJR | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Plays The Music Of Alvin P. Buckley" CD/LP/Track Review Plays The Music Of Alvin P. Buckley
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 16, 2016
Read "Supernovae" CD/LP/Track Review Supernovae
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "OUTgoing" CD/LP/Track Review OUTgoing
by Budd Kopman
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "How to Build a City" CD/LP/Track Review How to Build a City
by Jim Olin
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Recondita Armonia" CD/LP/Track Review Recondita Armonia
by Phillip Woolever
Published: March 12, 2016
Read "Long After Midnight" CD/LP/Track Review Long After Midnight
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!