Andrew Swift – Swift Kick – D Clef Records DCR 155, 76:32 ****:
(Andrew Swift, drums, timpani, electric guitar; George Cables, piano; Dwayne Burno, bass; Wycliffe Gordon, trombone; Ryan Kisor, trumpet;
Eric Alexander, tenor sax; Sharel Cassity, alto and soprano sax, flute; Michael Dease, trombone, flugelhorn, tenor sax; Tim Mayer, soprano sax, alto flute; Evan Sherman, percussion; Yotam Silberstein, electric guitar; John Lee, electric bass; Jeb Patton, Fender Rhodes; Michael Thomas, alto flute; Curtis Stewart, violin; Matt Garrison, baritone sax; Vanessa Perea, vocals on #2, 7)
They say you can begin to judge the talent, and character of a musician by the company that they keep. Well if that is the case, Australian transplant drummer Andrew Swift has a lot going for him. For his debut CD for D Clef Records, he certainly has an all-star cast to send him off in the right direction. Just take a gander at the talent roster above to see who believes in the talent of Andrew. You occasionally find a guest artist helping out a newcomer to the scene, but on Swift Kick, Andrew has an “A team” of major talent helping out.
Swift is not a youngster at age 35. After completing his graduate studies in Australia, he moved to New York City to take a bite out of the Big Apple jazz scene, the premier testing ground for all jazz artists. Since arriving he has been a member of Sharel Cassity’s Quintet, as well as Matt Garrison’s Projection.
On Swift Kick, Andrew has composed six out of the twelve selections. Band members, John Lee and Sharel Cassity, have a composition each, and Swift shows his good taste and knowledge by choosing a Jimmy Heath, and Duke Pearson track.
Ryan Kisor is featured on Cassity’s tribute to him on “Kisor the Despiser.” It is a strong swinger and Sharel herself gets some solo time. The interplay between Cassity and Kisor is impressive. Vocalist Vanessa Perea, who brings to mind Flora Purim, sings on Jimmy Heath’s “The Rio Dawn.” Her vocal style is winning, and Yotam Silberstein’s guitar solo is first rate, while Michael Dease, (more known as a trombonist) has several choruses on both the tenor sax and flugelhorn. George Cables shows his piano chops have not diminished in the least.
Swift’s “Soldier” brings Dease back on trombone, and he and Ryan Kisor blend effortlessly. Swift propels the band with some deft stick work. On “Song for Sherin,” written for Andrew’s wife, Swift mixes some avant lines from Eric Alexander set off with a pretty melody, laid down by Dease on flugelhorn and Cables’ sparkling piano.
Duke Pearson’s “Is That So?” is hard bop heaven given a samba treatment. Dease and Alexander shine in their simpatico blend. “Alfie,” which can wear out its welcome easily, has vocalist Perea again winning converts, aided by Wycliffe Gordon’s sympathetic backing on trombone. Swift’s own “Baptized by Fire” lets Andrew step up to the plate to show his drumming skills, backed ably by bassist Dwayne Burno. Dwayne seems to be showing up everywhere lately, proving he has reached the upper echelon of Big Apple-based bass players.
Andrew’s “Goodbyes” has a lovely melody highlighted by George Cables, and Tim Mayer on soprano sax, as well as a well-recorded bass solo by Burno. I dug Sharel Cassity’s alto sax on “As the Deer,” where she brings to mind Phil Woods. Swift’s cymbal work drives Sharel along.
The closer, “Understanding” by John Lee, pulls out all the stops with jazz rock rhythms brought out by violinist, Curtis Stewart, the Fender Rhodes of Jeb Patton, and Michael Dease’s plunger on the trombone. A well-placed gong from Evan Sherman adds to the effect.
Swift Kick deserves radio play and exposure for Andrew Swift. His maiden voyage as a band leader is well recorded, the arrangements are solid, and his guests artists elevate this CD to a high level. Well done….
Tracklist: Kisor the Despiser, The Rio Dawn, Soldier, Slit Drum Interlude, Song for Sherin, Is That So?, Alfie, Baptized With Fire, Brandy, Goodbyes, As the Deer, Understanding
This is an accessible album from a virtuoso harmonica player.