Steve Swallow: Damaged In Transit (XtraWATT/11)

Damaged In Transit

Steve Swallow
Damaged In Transit

Steve Swallow bass
Chris Potter tenor saxophone
Adam Nussbaum
Recorded December 2001 by Bill Strode
Mixed by Tom Mark and Steve Swallow at The Make Believe Ballroom, West Shokan, NY
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York City
Produced by Steve Swallow
Release date: October 7, 2003

Following two successful quintet outings, bassist Steve Swallow pared down his traveling show to a trio with tenor saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Adam Nussbaum. Recorded live during a December 2001 tour in France, the present tunes are numbered as a series of nine “Items,” each marked “D.I.T.” (per the album’s title), allowing listeners more than the usual freedom to interpret them as they will. The same holds true of the performers themselves, who answer the call to interpretation with layer upon layer of phenomenal exposition. Not to say that such impulses weren’t already there in the larger band, but like a finely distilled spirit the clarity of notes speaks to the palate more directly.

The shedding of guitar and trumpet means Potter is left to bear that much more weight as melodic and improvisational leader, and he takes to the role without so much as a hiccup. The verve of “Item 1” is duly representative of all to follow, organically mixing the studious and the unchained. That same creative spirit abounds in “Item 5,” for which he unravels two knots for each one tied. And while Potter is known for his ability to navigate the most kinetic environments, he really stretches his wings in the blues of “Item 2” and downhome sweetness of “Item 7.” Nussbaum’s breadth of coloration ranges from the incendiary (“Item 5”) to the delicately supportive (“Item 6”), and indicates a deeply listening ear behind every choice at the kit. As for Swallow, he shows depth of character as setter of boundaries (cf. “Item 8”), soloist (“Item 4”), and painter of dreams (“Item 3”). In each capacity, and beyond, he proves the value of preparing for one’s journey to ensure that nothing gets damaged along the way.

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