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Swallow Quintet, The: Into the Woodwork

Into the Woodwork is the latest ECM Records release from The Swallow Quintet, the longstanding jazz act led by legends Steve Swallow (bass) and Carla Bley (organ). For this album, the duo are joined by Chris Cheek on tenor sax, guitarist Steve Cardenas, and drummer Jorge Rossy. Featuring 12 all new Swallow compositions, Into the Woodwork runs the gamut from slow, brooding templates to more upbeat & raucous jaunts, and it's an exciting ride from start to finish.

Opener "Sad Old Candle" kicks things off with some melancholy organ from Bley, as the piece bubbles and boils with pent up energy which eventually explodes on the raging title track, complete with some furious rhythms from Swallow & Rossy and sizzling lead lines courtesy of Cheek's saxophone and Cardenas' guitar. Each track seems to just segue into the next here, as the band dives right into "From Whom It May Concern", slowing down the tempo a bit but the tune is no less a vehicle for more soaring sax & guitar melodies. Rossy takes a solo spot on the upbeat "Back in Action", supported nicely by Swallow's nimble electric bass, while "Grisly Business" features some positively haunting organ tones from Bley. The closest the quintet comes to jazz-rock is heard on the frantic "Unnatural Causes", as Cardenas delivers some wild electric guitar alongside Cheek's soaring sax all the while the rhythm section just cooks underneath. The smoldering "Small Comfort" has a smoky, lounge jazz feel to it, while "Still There" reminds a tad of the early Pat Metheny Group, with tricky rhythms, textured organ, and robust, fleet fingered guitar lines flying about the mix. Bley leads the show on the quirky closer "Exit Stage Left", another satisfying jazz-rocker that lets the whole band shine.

Those looking for adventurous jazz that is both accessible yet intricate, Into the Woodwork is a safe bet to provide much enjoyment. Mixing both traditional jazz with elements of jazz-rock fusion, this CD once again shows why Steve Swallow and his band have remained such a force to be reckoned with for so many years.

Track Listing
1. Sad Old Candle 5:19
2. Into The Woodwork 5:03
3. From Whom It May Concern 5:35
4. Back In Action 5:02
5. Grisly Business 4:43
6. Unnatural Causes 2:49
7. The Butler Did It 2:53
8. Suitable For Framing 4:26
9. Small Comfort 5:29
10. Still There 5:33
11. Never Know 5:35
12. Exit Stage Left 3:47

Added: August 4th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: ECM Records
Hits: 1872
Language: english

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