Reviews » Steve Swell's Nation of We - Live at The Bowery Poetry Club

Steve Swell's Nation of We - Live at The Bowery Poetry Club

Swell expands his horizon on Live at the Bowery Poetry Club, featuring his Nation Of We big band, also known as the NOW Ensemble. The larger instrumental format provides room for three trumpets, four trombones, three altos, two tenors, two basses, piano and drums to fill the room with free action. The album consists of one long composition by the leader, "Declaration of Interdependence , which is divided into four parts. The music takes no noticeable divisions, however, as the improvising baton is passed around the room seamlessly. Suite-like, the mood changes from dramatic and intense to quiet and serene; however, the album's forceful portions outnumber those with less intensity. Alto saxophones wail and cry while basses and drums provide a steady stream of undercurrent pulses. Swell and Taylor stand out for their radical trombone outpouring, as they both reach for the creative edge. Another trombonist, Dick Griffin, stands out for his intriguing soliloquy that stops the orchestra cold. The big band balance that Swell achieves produces an accessible solution for improvised jazz soloing while demonstrating the full power of a large ensemble in its creative throes.

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