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Steve SWALLOW – Damaged In Transit 2001

Posted in JAZZ, Steve SWALLOW on November 18, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Steve SWALLOW – Damaged In Transit 2001


Damaged in Transit, recorded live in France in 2001, is a decided move away from Steve Swallow’s obsession with harmony. His earlier bands, particularly over the three recordings or so following Deconstructed, were built with two-horn front lines and usually a guitar as a harmonic anchor to provide a large chromatic palette and harmonic base for soloists. Here, working with tenor man Chris Potter and drummer Adam Nussbaum, Swallow uses the gig forum to explore that preternatural jazz monster: counterpoint. A series of nine numbered items are edited together to sound more or less like one piece; these different selections offer varying sides of the contrapuntal equation. There is the bluesy swing in “Item 2,” where Potter’s soloing brings the rhythm section toward him against the beat in his legato phrasing. There’s the slippery but beautiful swing in “Item 3,” where the intertwining of all three players creates a soft, lyrical beauty that is almost songlike. In “Item 5” Potter quotes Thelonious Monk and the piece takes on a neo-bop angle that allows Nussbaum and Potter to go head to head, stretching rhythmic and melodic notions to the breaking point before Swallow enters and, in his warm, velvety tone, takes charge, turning the exercise into something else altogether by introducing a scalar notion that moves in direct opposition to Potter’s phraseology. And lest anyone think this is just loose jamming in order to get a record out, check out the CD booklet  each piece is scored in order to provide the maximum opportunity within the melodic structure of a tune for ideas to flow freely as the trio members engage one another. A fine effort.
By Thom Jurek.
An innovator on the bass guitar, a gifted composer, producer and bandleader, Steve Swallow’s maintained a low key, yet consistently engaging presence in jazz over the last forty years or so.

Swallow describes the music on this record as resulting from a compositional challenge he’d set himself. His aim was to write relying more on melody than chord structures, and has teamed up with saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Adam Nussbaum to play them. You can play them as well, as the composer has included the sheet music for all nine tunes in the CD booklet.

Swallow’s spare,elegantmelodies have some of the clarity of Ornette Coleman’s or Thelonious Monk’s, spiced with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. He writes that it was a much more positive experience to play them than compose them; certainly the trio throw themselves into tackling them with gusto. Potter’s tenor gobbles up all of Swallow’s harmonic implications like Pac Man on steroids; his devotion to Sonny Rollins shines through in his ability to improvise at length and at speed without resorting to recycling ideas, though his ballad playing gives some of his best moments (particularly “Item 3”).

Unlike many of his peers who plugged in and switched on, Swallow treats the electric instrument as an entirely different proposition from its acoustic daddy. Playing with a plectrum, his fluid, rippling lines and resonant chording celebrates the instrument’s, er, ‘guitarness’. It’s made him one of the few electric bassists to be worth much as a soloist, but Swallow’s not really interested in grandstanding. Instead. he concentrates on carving out cool, architecturally beautiful lines (or as he terms them, ‘exercises in spontaneous counterpoint’).

Long term sparring partner Nussbaum offers tireless support. His light, inventive touch gives the music an airy, infectious groove. Like Dave Holland’s band, Swallow’s trio engage the head, heart and feet with their unpretentious yet cerebral swing.Unreservedly recommended.
By Peter Marsh.
Steve Swallow- Bass,
Chris Potter- Tenor Saxophone,
Adam Nussbaum- Drums.
01. Item 1, D.I.T. 6:24
02. Item 2, D.I.T. 7:15
03. Item 3, D.I.T. 6:08
04. Item 4, D.I.T. 6:35
05. Item 5, D.I.T. 7:19
06. Item 6, D.I.T. 6:04
07. Item 7, D.I.T. 4:49
08. Item 8, D.I.T. 4:56
09. Item 9, D.I.T. 5:50

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