Steve Swallow: Deconstructed (XtraWATT/9)


Steve Swallow

Ryan Kisor trumpet
Chris Potter tenor saxophone
Mick Goodrick guitar
Steve Swallow bass
Adam Nussbaum drums
Recorded, mixed, and mastered December 1996 at Grog Kill Studio, Willow, New York
Engineer: Tom Mark
General co-ordination: Ilene Mark
Produced by Steve Swallow
Release date: June 2, 1997

On Deconstructed, bassist Steve Swallow treats listeners to a set of relatively straight-laced bebop with an outstanding new quintet. Flanked by trumpeter Ryan Kisor, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, guitarist Mick Goodrick, and drummer Adam Nussbaum, he composites a new species around the chordal DNA of Tin Pan Alley, and from those rafters hangs a tangle of original melodic vines.

Swallow sets up the picnic table of “Running In The Family” before introducing the full band spread, which hits you with padded gloves before setting loose the session’s first major solos from Potter and Goodrick. Equally sanguine developments abound in “Babble On,” for which Swallow and Nussbaum pave the way, leaving Kisor to run as far as his horn will allow (as he also does on the closing title track) while Potter stands firm, reeling with joy. “Bird World War” is another upbeat gem, this time with a blazing solo from Goodrick.

Not all is fun and games, however, as Swallow turns down the lights one click at a time between the unassuming “Another Fine Mess” (a tune so aching it begs for words), the smoldering “I Think My Wife Is A Hat” (a highlight for me), and the bluer “Viscous Consistency.” Even “Bug In A Rug,” a calypso-inspired slice of life, soothes as much as it titillates. As Swallow locks step with himself, Goodrick and Potter harmonize synergistically with Kisor. The same description might just as easily apply to “Lost In Boston,” which moves from uncertain to frantic in “Name That Tune.” In each of these, as he is wont to do, Swallow reminds us that every exhale needs a deep inhale to say everything it needs to say.

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