162

Peter Schwebs: Stories From Sugar Hill

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Bassist Peter Schwebs may have only completed his graduate studies in 2008, but he is already an experienced sideman with some major jazz figures, including Dave Liebman, and Chris Potter. On the evidence of Stories From Sugar Hill, his first album as leader, he is more than ready to take center stage. Schwebs composed all of the tunes, inspired by his three-year stay in the Sugar Hill area of Manhattan, their positive and optimistic nature reflecting his obvious love of the area.

Schwebs' early years as a musician in his native Germany gave him a solid grounding, and his studies at Hanover University led to a Fulbright Scholarship to New York University in 2006. For Stories From Sugar Hill, Schwebs brings together a group of talented young musicians, including the fine pianist Julian Waterfall Pollack, augmented by veteran tenor saxophonist George Garzone and highly-regarded drummer, Ari Hoenig.

Schwebs' compositions are strong—not yet invested with a clearly personal and unique signature, perhaps, but blessed with a genuine humanity. The title of "Crisis '08" suggests a problem time, a period of uncertainty, perhaps, but is belied by the music; there are moments that hint at anxiety or hesitation, but it's the tune's drive and energy that are communicated most clearly. "Swedish Friend" is another mid-tempo tune that still delivers a real sense of drive and positivity, with guitarist Douglas Bradford and tenor saxophonist Ben Kraef taking lead roles and demonstrating rich, warm tones.

The quieter, more reflective pieces show that Schwabs is as capable of composing ballads as he is of writing more up-tempo tunes. "Larissa" is a beautifully languid number. Garzone plays tenor saxophone with consummate ease, delivering a solo that has a real emotional connection to Schwabs' theme. Pollack adds color to the tune, complementing Garzone's tenor with his own delicate solo. "In-between Seasons and Places" is equally lovely, but has its own distinct atmosphere—a duet on which Schwabs and Bradford skilfully—and almost imperceptibly—swap their positions as lead and supporting players.

Garzone also plays on the bop-style "Cat Bites Dog," trading short, jagged phrases with Kraef before the rest of the band kicks in. From that point on, the track swings terrifically, thanks to Hoenig and Schwebs: Pollack makes the most of this, constructing a deftly-played piano solo. "NE Exit" has its own quiet beauty—a slow to medium tempo tune, with a funky rhythm courtesy of drummer Nick Anderson. His style is more solid and straight-ahead than Hoenig's—less subtle, perhaps—but it suits perfectly the tune's groove and Schwebs' bass lines.

Stories From Sugar Hill is yet another demonstration of the wealth of talent to be found in the younger generation of jazz musicians. Schwebs can play, write, and lead a tight, talented combo, and this excellent debut as a leader marks the young bassist as one to watch.

Track Listing: On Sugar Hill; Swedish Friend; Autumn-ish NY; Crisis '08; Larissa; Cat Bites Dog; In-between Seasons and Places; NE Exit.

Personnel: Ben Kraef: tenor saxophone; Douglas Bradford: guitar; Julian Pollack: piano; Peter Schwebs: bass; Ari Hoenig: drums (1-7); George Garzone: tenor saxophone (4-6); Nick Anderson: drums (8).

Title: Stories From Sugar Hill | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: LAIKA-Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Lattice" CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Prog Noir" CD/LP/Track Review Prog Noir
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "A Cry For Peace" CD/LP/Track Review A Cry For Peace
by Geannine Reid
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "On Parade In Parede" CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Dedication" CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Into a Myth" CD/LP/Track Review Into a Myth
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 17, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.