Monday, May 4, 2009

Steve Swell's Magical Listening Hour

When you have a Free Jazz lineup of trombone (Steve Swell), tenor saxophone (Louie Belogenis), alto saxophone (Michael Attias) and trumpet (Nate Wooley), you do not have any preset compositions or heads, and you are playing live, the challenges to create meaningful music are enormous. Yet that just is what occurs on the Magical Listening Hour CD "Live @ The South Street Seaport," a new release on Cadence Records.

There isn't a rhythm section to establish a groove or a kinetic barrage, no harmony instrument to lay down a tonality, nothing but the creative collective listening and responding skills of four very creative and accomplished improvisers.

For 70 minutes at the South Street Seaport, the musicians did indeed create a kind of magic. It's a free improv textbook example of mutual musical sympathy. Motifs, textures and sound colors appear spontaneously, evolve, and get juxtaposed with or superseded by other musical events throughout the set. Each instrumentalist has full control of his instrument and engages with the others as easily as one engages in a good conversation (although perhaps the art of conversation isn't what it once was, but that's another matter). The dialog is inspired. The CD is highly recommended.

Go to and click on Cadence Jazz Records to find out about ordering this CD.

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