This album poses two problems. First: the electric organ. Even when played by a master like Jimmy Smith
, monotony can easily set in. It's something to do with the way the instrument dominates so completely, leaving no space.
Problem No.2: funk, the dominant genre on Slow But Fast
. The idea is to hit a groove, preferablyas US DJ Pete Fallico explains in his sleeve note, one of the "in-the-pocket" varietyand then do it to death. Again, monotony hovers.
Pierre Swärd's way out of this double impasse is to incorporate more interesting musical numbers into his book and make frequent changes of style and tempo. Sometimes, as in the case of John Coltrane's "Mr. Syms," he is strikingly successful.
From the 1962 Atlantic album, Coltrane Plays The Blues
, this is a haunting minor blues with a bridge reminiscent of "Summertime," one of the tenor player's favorite pieces. After an uncertain intro with Joakim Ekberg's drums sounding rather like coconut shells imitating horses' hooves, Swärd and guitarist Jan Ottesen come up with a laid-back, lyrical treatment to make it the stand-out track.
But at the other end of the scale, Swärd crucifies Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia On My Mind," ruining the melody of that "old, sweet song" with a lot of flashy, pseudo-dramatic flourishes and embellishments, something else the electric organ seems designed to encourage.
Swärd aimed at a relaxed feel for this album, recording it not in a studio, but in an ordinary rehearsal room in the Swedish university city of Uppsala. He explains, "We decided to record one or two tracks there to see how it worked. We got such a great feeling that we wound up doing the whole thing there."
The session kicks off with Kenny Barron's "South Street Stroll," a number the pianist wrote for Freddie Hubbard
. Swärd's version never quite settles down and ends in an over blown climax. The deceptively simple "Chicago Swing," which follows, vies with the title track as the most successful of six Swärd originals.