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Steve Swallow Article

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by dylanjohnson, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. Just wanted to recommend the article on Steve Swallow in this month's Bass Player mag. Very inspiring on many counts. He discusses his switch to electric, composing, and how much he loves Percy Heath.... He discusses how he was a gut string/high action holdout till his switch to the plank. I didn't know that. Whether you are into him or not, he sure deserves props for really searching for his own voice, even if it estranged him from some of his collegues (by playing the electric exclusively). Sounds like a certain trumpet player we know....

  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    woo thanks for the hedzzup!
  3. msw


    Aug 21, 2003
    He really did not "sell out". If you read his reasons for the switch you will see why it made sense for him. Beyond that check out anything he did with Art Farmer or Chick ( Tones for Joan's Bones )when he was a double bassist and you'll see why he warrants all bassist's attention. Then when you examine his writing, his talent and contributions to music, they seem to me to be MAJOR no matter which bass you prefer.
  4. I will disregard strongbow's question and reiterate my recommendation. After reading the article it made me think how rare it is that something really strikes me as being really inspiring. It sure beats reading another discussion on strings (although i dig those too:D ). Swallow's achievements are something that i (and probably many others) really aspire to. Solid supportive sideman work, a distinctive composing style, a n original approach to his instrument (whether electric bass or acoustic... who cares..), and a sense of humor (apparantly) are all things I am striving for. Ironically, I really rarely listen to Steve's music but I really appreciate his work. He really has written some beautiful music.

  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    You can say all that stuff - but I still find him uninspiring as I just can't stand his tone on electric...:meh:

    It's like fingernails on a blackboard for me and has spoiled several CDs I've bought...and now can't bear to listen to!
  6. I once met him personally, many years back in Dresden, Germany, where Steve was with Carla, as a visiting leader for the local junior big band. I was there for business and we were staying in the same hotel. I just ran into them in the lobby, so I introduced myself and told I admired his work.
    They were both very nice, and Carla Bley told me about her visit to Finland.
    We had a chance to talk a little more next day, and they even invited me to watch the rehearsals. What a couple!
    No matter what Steve Swallow plays, he´s one great musician, composer AND conductor.
  7. mburd


    Aug 20, 2004
    My dentist, Peter Swallow, is Steve's first cousin.
    I just asked Pete a couple weeks ago to see if Steve would be into doing a little "master class" next time he's around for a bit. I'll post it here somewhere if I get any more info.
  8. msw


    Aug 21, 2003
    As I see it,the study of music is a bassist's first priority. He or she is going to have to pursue all of the avenues to learnining about music: ear training, studies with many teachers (bass and non bass specific), lots of keyboard harmony, many transcriptions , and something that seems to be missing in our current youth obsessed culture...study of successful practitioners (read apprentice) from all eras of music, regardless of instrument.
    What has made so many of the greats great? Certainly one factor was they were not locked into any narrow preconceptions as they developed.They paid attention to anyone who played well or composed well. Swallow is oprerating on a very high level, if nothing else listen to him enough to understand him. That alone will not be easy. I sure can't say I do. But just by seeing who he was chosen by to record with (Chick,Burton,Farmer,Scofield, Getz, George Russell etc.) is enough proof he matters to this and all forums dealing with bass.
    Read the article. Swallow discusses the metronome, organizing practicing time and his technique for composing, among many other things. NONE of this is applicable to just bassguitar. All of it is important to any musician wishing to gain important information from an established inovator.
  9. JPBass


    Aug 31, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    Back to the article. I savored every word of it just as I savor every note that he plays, every tune he composes and every album he comes out with. Hes one of my favorite musicians who just happens to play be a bassist. Insightful stuff about practicing, and his regret about not being regimented in his practice routine earlier in his career. Also an in depth look at how he goes about composing and how he treats it like a factory job!! One of Bass Player's better articles.
  10. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    is it possible to post a copy of this article? i'd love to read it.


    Aug 26, 2005


    No, no no...please DO bring up Patituci and Bromberg because I think they perfectly illustrate the crux of my argument. As opposed to Steve Swallow, both Patituci and Bromberg are deeply committed to the double bass They play bitching electric, to be sure, but they remain deeply committed to our wood instrument. This is evident in every appearance, most of their recordings and their work as composers, pedagogues, teachers. They never lost the faith in double bass. But I believe that Steve Swalllow, for whatever reason, did lose faith in it. Maybe it was an image deal, maybe it was inconvenient for his road situation (it takes sacrifice to lug the bass on the road). Whatever reason, he abandoned the instrument. Now I am suppose to get excited by some article in "Bass Player" magazine of all places, about some story on Swallow? Come on! "Bass Player" rarely if ever features an acoustic story. And when they do, the articles are mostly shallow and turgid. That's not the magazine of choice for double bassists, or at least it should not be. Who takes Bass Player magazine seriously?
  12. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I believe we strive to be musicians first. Our choice of instruments comes second.
  13. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    i'd love to read the article, although i'm afraid i have to agree with strongbow's assesment of bass player magazine. i stopped buying it long ago. most the articles seem to be "look how fast this guy can play" or very basic theory articles, but maybe it's changed. anyway, i'd love to read the swallow article.
  14. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I used to subscribe to Bass Player, when there was a short time when it featured DB articles more than usual. But now I check it out on the news stand, and if it has John Goldsby's woodshedding article in it, and if that article is relevant to my 'journey' then I buy it, otherwise I pass.
  15. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    i could be wrong, but i seem to remember steve swallow saying that he approaches the instrument more like a guitar than a bass. i remember the first time i heard him i wasnt sure if the solo occurring at the moment was guitar or bass, until i heard him go down low. i like his playing alot, and i'm a double bass player...
  16. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York

    There you go stirring the pot again... Don't you know that real jazz can only be performed on the double bass and if you don't have four complete and equal quarter notes in each measure you're a hack? Haven't I taught you anything!? Stop playing in seven dammit!;)

    PS: Nice to see you coming out of your shell, Marco. Tough love!:D
    abaguer likes this.
  17. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Bravo. I have read the article and agree with your assesment. I haven't listened to Swallow for quite some time (used to love his acoustic and electric playing long ago), so I think that I'll reserve my opinion of his current style until I can hear him in a live setting. I'll be looking for him!
  18. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    You know, I'm hoping 'Bow just hit a little bump or something, and got temporarily twisted out of shape. That's happened to me quite a few times. He's posted a lot of interesting things here in the past.

    Re: Swallow....did anyone see that bit of video of him with Carla, just the two of them, from a few years ago? Steve's hands were amazing, and yeah, they looked pretty "guitarish". He seemed to have no intervallic limitations whatsoever. Does anyone know the clip to which I'm referring?
  19. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I've always wondered about that hair actually. It's kinda disturbing sometimes. It looks like a wig, but then I've seen photos from their road trips that she's got that hair everywhere she goes. Anybody know the story? Even her daughter has that 'do.

    Does it give some super-hero type musical abilities or something? :confused:
  20. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I'm not really a Steve Swallow fan. People keep saying that his contribution is too large to be ignored, but I find myself ignoring it. The sound of his electric playing bothers my ears enough that I cannot listen to it for more than 3 consecutive minutes.

    Still, he apparently has a very specific idea of how he wants to make music, and a lot of people seem to appreciate it. Mad props to him for that....

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