Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

342

Steve Swell: Magical Listening Hour & Planet Dream

By

Sign in to view read count








Magical Listening Hour

Live @ Southstreet Seaport

Cadence Jazz Records

2009


Steve Swell

Planet Dream

Clean Feed

2009


While these two new discs from trombonist Steve Swell may exhibit elements of contrasting methodology, at the root of both projects is a somewhat utopian idealism, wherein humanity's collective process of identifying with sound leads us closer to more harmonious coexistence.

The Magical Listening Hour is the collective improvising quartet of Steve Swell, trumpeter Nate Wooley and saxophonists Louie Belogenis and Michael Attias. Live @ The South Street Seaport documents the ensemble's first public performance and consists of two lengthy tracks, one just under a half-hour and the other just past the 40-minute mark. The performances are not so much two distinct pieces as related views into a collaborative dynamic that allows for sound to exist in a space with other sounds. Ideas come and go and form is not a matter of executing a distinct architecture as it is a question of allowing sounds to dictate their own life span.

Wooley and Swell have worked together quite notably in Blue Collar, which has released two discs and has a third on the way. Here they continue their inquiry into the sonic extremities of brass instruments, allowing their attention to rest on the various incidental sounds that listeners, and often performers, tend to overlook. Belogenis and Attias are both masters of manipulating reed instruments to conjure new sonic intrigue.

Swell has worked with cellist Dan Levin and saxophonist Rob Brown before in various contexts, but a tightly woven trio environment provides for a very exposed look at how three distinct identities can contribute to a meaningful whole while maintaining individual directionality. Planet Dream forgoes Magical Listening Hour's concept of experiencing the gradual passage of sound and time in favor of a pursuant drive towards an abstract goal. In this charged trio, the true meaning of the quest is not to reach a finish, but rather to continue to coexist. An excerpt from the liners is illustrative: "One person may have his or her own dream, but when it's shared and acted upon by others, it no longer belongs to one person alone, it belongs to everyone who shares in it."

The improvisations are intense, whether on a microscopic plane like the one that opens the title track or the densely maximalist polyphony of Swell's tune "Juxtsuppose". The disc is balanced between fully improvised pieces and Swell's compositions, the ensemble dynamic making for a free-flowing liquidity that ties everything together. The improvisation "City Life" illustrates the conundrum of maintaining one's distinct identity while contributing to a meaningful group dynamic: Levin's dynamic solo introduction gradually is overtaken by a forceful ensemble statement, only to reveal a sublime duo for Swell and Brown. The trio returns, transformed, yet with the same ubiquitous consideration for balance and cooperative development.

Tracks and Personnel



Live @ Southstreet Seaport

Tracks: MLH-1; MLH-2.

Personnel: Steve Swell: trombone; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Michael Attias: alto saxophone; Louie Belogenis: tenor saxophone.



Planet Dream

Tracks: Out of the Box; Not Neccessarily This, Nor That; Planet Dream; Juxtsuppose; #2 of Nine; Airtight; And Then, They Wept; City Life; Texture #2.

Personnel: Steve Swell: trombone; Dan Levin: cello; Rob Brown: alto saxophone.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jan21Mon
Artists for a Free World
Nublu Club
New York, NY
$15
Feb23Sat
Just Music '19 - Beyond Jazz Festival Wiesbaden
Kulturforum Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden, Germany
€29,49
Apr13Sat
2000
Plusetage
Baarle-Hertog, Belgium
€15

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Stephan Thelen and Sonar: Minimal Grooves at Maximum Volume Multiple Reviews
Stephan Thelen and Sonar: Minimal Grooves at Maximum Volume
By Geno Thackara
January 12, 2019
Read Meeting of the Minds and Sounds: The Clarinet and The Oud Multiple Reviews
Meeting of the Minds and Sounds: The Clarinet and The Oud
By Doug Collette
January 12, 2019
Read Two major releases from Ferran Fages Multiple Reviews
Two major releases from Ferran Fages
By John Eyles
January 11, 2019
Read Music Matters: SRX Vinyl Multiple Reviews
Music Matters: SRX Vinyl
By Greg Simmons
January 10, 2019
Read Tim Motzer: Late-Night Soundscapes Multiple Reviews
Tim Motzer: Late-Night Soundscapes
By Geno Thackara
December 26, 2018
Read Drummers As Leaders Multiple Reviews
Drummers As Leaders
By Jerome Wilson
December 23, 2018