Steve Swallow

Always Pack Your Uniform on Top

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This is Swallow's third standards-derived quintet album, following in the footsteps of 1994's Real Book and 1996's Deconstructed. Here the Deconstructed quintet is captured live at Ronnie Scott's in London. (Trumpeter Barry Ries replaces Ryan Kisor.) Although there's a brand new batch of tunes, Swallow applies the same approach, using familiar progressions as the basis for clever original music.

Tenor saxophonist Chris Potter looms large, as does guitarist Mick Goodrick, Swallow's longtime compatriot, whose profound influence on John Abercrombie couldn't be clearer. Adam Nussbaum holds down the rhythm section along with the leader who restricts himself to a supportive role, never taking a single solo. (He plays short, unaccompanied intros on "Bend Over Backward" and "Reinventing the Wheel," however.)

While the breakneck "Dog With a Bone" and the herky-jerky "Reinventing the Wheel" resemble the ethos of the two previous studio records, the remaining four tracks are more subdued yet somehow more offbeat and contemporary. "Misery Loves Company," a tune with a Latin 12/8 pulse, is especially rich and dark in color.

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