All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

172

Steve Swell: Steve Swell's Slammin' The Infinite

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
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 is presumably evaluated. In the event that all the pieces fit, the musicians, listeners and critics alike are wowed, and the process of creation goes on. Perhaps the act of creation goes on, irrespective as it might take a substantial body of work to find the music with heart. Thus, Swell's group, Slammin' The Infinite, and 5000 Poems.

Swell is certainly aware, of course, that infinity itself is finite somewhere along the time-space continuum, even though mathematics once suggested otherwise. Still, it is safe to use this proposition, or hypothesis, at least for the purposes of this album. So, tracks are seemingly interminable, soli intertwine like excruciatingly energetically charged particles of a constantly changing whole. Swell's growling and painterly smears bleat and splat at low or high velocity, as the trombonist bobs in and out of his solo, dancing around the saxophones or clarinets that Sabir Mateen might wield like a medieval apothecary, casting a mysterious spell with harmonic intensity. And both instruments are swathed in the dense ocean of rhythm and harmony from pianist John Blum, or bassist Matthew Heyner's and Klaus Kugel's rapid rumbling drums and shimmering cymbals.

The music is deeply exploratory. Titles may sound cold and dripping with irony, as in "Not Their Kind, " which is actually quite emotionally charged and accessible; "Sketch #1" and "Sketch #2" plunge into the infinite with vast tonal palettes that converge in mighty squiggles, as amorphous as complex cellular animals reproducing on a canvas. "Where Are The Heartfelt" is a dark almost forlorn cry, a kind of woodwinds and reeds chorus baying at the moon in agony. "The Myth of Perfection" dives into the heart and soul of the song itself as it searches, yet debunks the idea that there could be any such thing at all. But as it emerges from its musical expedition, a song as imperfect, yet beautiful as a natural gem could be is exposed. "The Only Way...Out" and "The Darkness Afoot" bend even further back than Whitman; possibly even as far back as Dante and the proverbial Inferno, a constant reminder of the circle of life, perhaps.

And yet, despite its bleak suggestiveness, Steve Swell's Slammin The Infinite works to quell negativity and make out as if the only thing that matters is the creation of something positive; something that might stand out and become what Whitman ended up creating: a song of epic proportions.

Track Listing: Not Their Kind; Sketch #1; Where are the Heartfelt?; My Myth of Perfection; The Only Way...Out; Sketch #2; The Darkness Afoot.

Personnel: Steve Swell: trombone; Sabir Mateen: alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet and alto clarinets, flute; John Blum: piano; Matthew Heyner: bass; Klaus Kugel: drums.

Title: Steve Swell's Slammin' The Infinite | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Not Two Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Return to the Future CD/LP/Track Review
Return to the Future
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Telepathy CD/LP/Track Review
Telepathy
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 17, 2018
Read The Whole Thing Is Just There CD/LP/Track Review
The Whole Thing Is Just There
by John Bricker
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Haydn: Symphony No. 39, Symphony No. 87, Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante CD/LP/Track Review
Haydn: Symphony No. 39, Symphony No. 87, Mozart –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Rogue Star CD/LP/Track Review
Rogue Star
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Out in the Open CD/LP/Track Review
Out in the Open
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 16, 2018
Read "Any Day Now" CD/LP/Track Review Any Day Now
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read "Essential Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Essential Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 24, 2017
Read "Light Of Love" CD/LP/Track Review Light Of Love
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 23, 2018
Read "Fukushima" CD/LP/Track Review Fukushima
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 1, 2017
Read "Departures" CD/LP/Track Review Departures
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Presence" CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 26, 2018