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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Into The Woodwork

ECM RECORDS XtraWATT/13 2798380



Sad Old Candle

Into The Woodwork

From Whom It May Concern

Back In Action

Grisly Business

Unnatural Causes

The Butler Did It

Suitable For Framing

Small Comfort

Still There

Never Know

Exit Stage Left

Chris Cheek (tenor sax), Steve Cardenas (guitar), Carla Bley (organ), Steve Swallow (bass), Jorge Rossy (drums)

rec. November 16-16, 2011 at Studios La Buisonne, Pernes-Les-Fontaines, France. [56:21]

Right from the early 1970s when he turned his back on acoustic bass and became one of the few jazz musicians to concentrate solely on electric bass Steve Swallow has carved himself an enviable position in that field. This is the eighth disc he has made together with his partner Carla Bley and all the compositions are his. From Whom It May Concern and Back In Action each feature some nice moments, especially from Chris Cheek’s sax while Steve Cardenas’ guitar shines brightly on Unnatural Causes. Those two musicians in fact are the saviours here for my main problem with the disc is that I find it all too bland for my tastes with tunes that meander along pleasantly enough but with ‘no particular place to go’. Some of the tracks are almost in the category of ‘middle of the road’ or ‘cool jazz’ and I found myself longing for something to be grabbed by the seat of its pants and given a proper blast. A fast and furious tune followed by a gentle ballad is normal but the majority of these tunes are so laid back it was difficult at times not to get the feeling of them all blending into each other and indeed they frequently do segue that way. Having just reviewed a record of Gerry Mulligan may have spoiled me somewhat but surely jazz in the 21st century should be carving itself some new territory and not be too outshone by something recorded nearly 40 years ago. Next up for review is a four disc box of Wayne Shorter with recordings spanning the years 1959-62 which will be a welcome change after this.

Steve Arloff

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