Steve Swallow - 'Damaged in Transit'

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by DaveBeny, Feb 5, 2004.

  1. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    I have just ordered this new release and wondered if anyone else has it yet?


    The two reviews I have read (Allmusic and the BBC's jazz site) are both glowing. Apparently the pieces are written around melodies rather than chord structures. I'll be interested to hear this.

    Here's the BBC review:
  2. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    I enjoy Swallow's compositions and his playing in general. However, I think his tone is a little quirky . It's not what I'd call a bad tone or anything, just a little diffrent...and IMO sometimes I think it , for lack of a better word..lacks balls ;) , a bit too thin for my taste..

    I'll definately be checking out this recording though.

  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I agree entirely - it make his stuff "unlistenable", for me!! :meh:
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I agree...hate to say it, I haven't bought anything by Swallow on account of that.
    He does sound good playing URB on Corea's Tones For Joan's Bones.

    This new album is sax-drums-bass only?
    If so, very cool...I will check it out.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I just read the BBC review and in one sentence, it captures my misgivings about his sound :

    "Playing with a plectrum, his fluid, rippling lines and resonant chording celebrates the instrument's, er, 'guitarness'. " :meh:
  6. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I have the album. It is pretty interesting. Sax/bass/drums live in a club setting. None of the songs are titled. They are all just numbered.

    He also includes charts for all of the songs in the CD booklet. He has done that on a few other records.

    i personally like swallow's approach to the instrument. Not wild about his vibrato, but he can swing and I can recognize him in two notes. There are not too many others like that.
  7. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    I haven't given it an in-depth listen yet - but it seems very good. Swallow's bass sounds quite warm and well-rounded to me on this one. The only other records I have with him on are the duet albums with Carla Bley, where he sticks mostly to the high notes - his role is mostly supportive here.
  8. Even if you don't like his tone, it's hard to deny it's uniqeness. There's never been nayone that sounds like him.

    Personally I like his tone. I think it works really well in a Jazz context. I also think he's great at soloing. It always seems to be kind of understated, and very tasteful.
  9. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I could not agree more.....
  10. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I put "Deconstructed" on my iPod the other day, great stuff.

    "Realbook" is highly underrated....
    Swallow and Dejohnette make quite the section......
  11. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I'll be looking out for that disc.

    I love Swallow's playing, composing, and even tone. His sound is highly personal and instantly recognizable. I do think on some discs (e.g., Scofield's "Bar Talk") he hasn't been that well recorded, and when that happens his sound does go kinda thin. I personally have no problem with celebrating the instrument's "guitarness"--it's a bass *guitar* after all (not that I really want to get into THAT discussion again). The whole point of playing one instrument rather than another is that the one offers certain possibilities that the other doesn't. The bass guitar facilitates some things that are much harder or sound worse on the upright (and vice versa of course). That's not a problem, it's an opportunity. Swallow makes use of some of those guitaristic possibilities, and in what I think is a very musical way, without ceasing to play *bass*.

    Any Swallow fans ought to look up his 1980 record "Home", which is settings of Robert Creeley poems, with Dave Liebman, Steve Kuhn, Bob Moses, Sheila Jordan, and Lyle Mays.
  12. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    I just went back and revisited the first Swallow/Bley duets album tonight. I've just been absolutely floored by the third track, 'Utviklingssang' - I don't know how I missed this tune, but it contains one of the most beautiful melodies ever played on an electric bass.

    I have a video of Bley/Swallow in concert from this period (1988) - Swallow is playing a 4-string bass with only what I assume is a piezo bridge. I have good pic of it the book 'How The Fender Bass Changed The World' - it has an F-Bass headstock, but a rather unique body shape. Does anyone know anything about this instrument?
  13. it's mentioned in his interview in the Bass Heroes book-
    made by Froc Fillipetti, with Zeta systems piezo bridge + individual preamps for each string in a bridge Swallow designed, spruce top, through-neck, Schaller machineheads.
  14. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I believe he had two of those basses. One tuned to standard and another tuned to A to C.

    He said he eventually tired of having to switch basses and that led to him having the Parker Fly 5 string constructed.
  15. the Bass heroes interviews says one was through-neck, the other (the A to C one) had a 1959 Fender Precision "C" neck.
  16. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    thanks. I thought my recollection might have been a little clouded....
  17. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    SS has been seeking "that sound" for a long time. I have seen pix of that one-off Fly bass, but I don't think it lasted all that long. I don't know if he has changed things in the last 3 years, but here is an interview he did at the end of 2000, talking about his custom Citron. The Citron website also has more info about this instrument.
  18. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Thanks very much for that information.

    Just checked out the F Bass website: George Furlanetto says that working with Froc Filipetti led to him starting F Basses - the headstock on the bass in the above black&white pic seems to have the F Bass logo.

    Anyway, here's a link to some more info on Swallow's current Citron bass - there are some soundclips on the site as well:
  19. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I worked with Froc -- in the shop and on the bandstand -- at the time that Swallow came by. Coupla points:

    a) Froc and George Furlanetto were great pals and had, essentially, a long-distance collaboration. George was a superior woodworker; Froc was the wild idea-man. Good ideas, too. For example, Froc was building humbuckers using one coil with loaded-slugs and one with bottom-magnets, like on the original PRS guitars, before Paul Smith was. Wigged the crap out of Smith when he first met him, too: Smith was worried that Froc was gonna invade his business model. As if.

    b) The first Swallow body was a more-or-less fender-shaped thang, maple back mostly hollowed out with a router & spruce top. Back in 1982 that was a REMARKABLY novel idea. Nowadays, of course, this is quite commonplace.

    c) Froc was, shall we say, an idiosyncratic business-operator. In other words, fame and money were not really on his radar screen (and still aren't). The first Swallow body sat around the shop for months, collecting dust. I picked it up one day and said, 'Hey fellas, what do we have to do with this thing?' At that point, Froc realized that he could buy more food if he finished it up, so he did, using magnetic pickups. At that point Swallow started talking to Froc about the piezo idea. It's no surprise to hear that the eventual product was neck-through, because that was another critical part of the Fillipetti/Furlanetto concept.

    d) I got to hear Swallow in relatively intimate settings a few times at that point. Among other things, he swings like a monster. He can walk -- on a plank, with a pick -- like a mother****er. And of course, he does all those other things so well, too . . .