CD REVIEW: Jeff Swanson - Case Fitter
Jeff Swanson - Guitar, electronic samples
Lane Beckstrom- Electric Bass
Greg Artry - Drums
Quentin Coaxum- Trumpet
Paul Bedal – Fender Rhodes
Greg Ward – Alto Saxophone
Dustin Laurenzi – Tenor Saxophone, OP-1
Artie Black - Bass Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
On his, exceptionally mature, debut Case-fitter guitarist Jeff Swanson greatly expands his working band to interpret seven of his intricately constructed originals. The synergistic ensemble, consisting of a four-person frontline and a rhythm quartet, seamlessly goes from individual expressions to collective performances and blurs the boundaries between spontaneous and written music.
The ethereal “The Crashing Wave” opens with Swanson stating the haunting theme as bassist Lane Beckstrom and drummer Greg Artry lay down a percolating backdrop. The musicians create a melancholic ambience with their languid and emotive refrains and they weave a dense and dynamic melody full of lyricism. Altoist Greg Ward takes center stage with a wistful, yearning and poetic solo that is eloquent, intelligent and far reaching yet remains within the composition’s spirit.
Although not one to hog the spotlight, Swanson himself shines as an improviser on such tunes as “2.19”. His suave soliloquy and his passionate exchanges with tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi and are both intriguing and soulful. The ebullient piece also features keyboardist Paul Bedal’s enchanting Fender Rhodes and Ward’s erudite and ardent saxophone.
Swanson deftly balances inventive and cerebral ideas with visceral energy. For example, the funky and elegant “Little Big Run” swings with swagger. The members of the octet trade hypnotic vamps as trumpeter Quentin Coaxum blows fiery lines and burnished tones. Coaxum and woodwind player Artie Black engage in a gripping dialogue with the latter playing muscular and warm phrases on his bass clarinet. The group sound is delightfully riotous with a touch of exciting dissonance.
Recorded over the month of April 2017 at the unique venue The Whistler, this inventive and well-rounded first outing is a poignant showcase of Swanson’s multifaceted talent. On it Swanson excels as a bandleader, composer and performer. The album is an auspicious beginning to a promising career.