Steve Swell – Planet Dream (CF 148)
The trio led by trombonist Steve Swell, share some common ground within New York City’s infamous free and progressive jazz scene, as solo performers and members of various ensembles. Moreover, they’re well represented on a global basis, due to their respective output for a variety of record labels. Hence, this outing is partly about layers, contrasts, expressive dialogues and a high-impact mode of delivery. They leave no stone unturned, so to speak.
Brown and Swell complement each other with extended note underpinnings, fragmented mini-motifs, and feverish call and response mechanisms. But it’s cellist Daniel Levin who dishes out the rhythms while serving as the common bond via his nimble plucking and buoyant metrics. The soloists’ slice and dice time, amid a few start and stop based passages, where they often rejuvenate a given theme, then go for the proverbial jugular.
They mix it up rather heartily and loom as busy bees during the largely changeable movements, but converge with a rebellious attitude on “Not Necessarily This, Nor That.” In essence, the hornists perpetuate a humanistic element.
The trio’s bump and groove workout on “Airtight,” is accelerated by Swell’s raspy-toned and melodic, free-jazz solo as the musicians segue into a riotous finale. Therefore, Planet Dream is based upon a musical agenda that is periodically softened, but rarely sweetened. It’s a curiously interesting endeavor, indeed.