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Steve Swallow - So There

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So There

Steve Swallow, Robert Creeley, Steve Kuhn, Cikada String Quartet

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Language available : english

The late poet Robert Creeley was no stranger to jazz. His own work descended from Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, and he provided the link in the new American poetry between the Black Mountain school and the Beats; early on, he composed his work to the music of Bud Powell. Later he collaborated with the jazz musicians preeminent among them: Steve Swallow (whom Creeley collaborated with on numerous live occasions and on the bassist's ECM Home album in 1979, where his poems were sung by Sheila Jordan), and the late Steve Lacy. As evidenced on So There, Swallow is the perfect aural illustrator and collaborationist for Creeley because he allows the poet free reign, giving him a place to truly speak for himself. Swallow composed the music to follow the flow and rhythm of Creeley's taut, sometimes elliptical line and his rhythmic breath. The work for So There began in 2001, when Swallow got his old friend to read numerous poems into a microphone at Tom Mark's Make Believe Ballroom Studio in New York. Swallow began working his way through the poems, listening to them dozens of times to find those he most wanted to compose to. He worked on the music for years; creating compositions not only involving his bass, but also for piano. More startlingly, he began composing pieces for string quartet based on what he said were "not just the rhythms of Bob's speech, but the colors and atmospheres implicit in the poems as well." In January of 2005, Creeley died, never having heard any of the finished work. In March of 2005, along with pianist Steve Kuhn and the Oslo Cikada String Quartet, Swallow and company began recording the work with ECM producer and label owner Manfred Eicher in Norway. What is most beautiful here is the manner in which Swallow allows the seeming spontaneity in Creeley's speech and lean images to inform the music. There are places when the stop and start rhythm of the poet's cadence is simply underscored with one of Kuhn's piano lines on the right hand, and others where the entire group floats and hovers about it before digging into the groove. Swallow also picks up on the notion of counterpoint in Creeley's poems and gives the strings room to flow not so much against the words, but instead to color them with alternate meanings. And truth be told, we've seldom heard Kuhn this freely disposed to swinging, to playing this freely or this expressively. Swallow's compositions allow room for improvisation, and the sheer delight of Creeley's language seems to set this impulse to the air in the hands and ears of the musicians. Check the gorgeous swinging post-bop improvisation by Kuhn and the counterpoint from Swallow before the quartet enters in "Names." When Creeley's voice enters, the music lies low for a moment, and the poet's words almost dance above the strings. Elsewhere, such as on the piece taken from "Histoire de Florida," Kuhn's playing is elemental, not ornamental, in setting the place and mood for Creeley's voice as he cheerfully allows the melody to create a space for the poet to speak through. The strings move almost sentimentally, as he reads: "You're there/still behind/the mirror, brother face/Only yesterday/you were younger/now you/look old/Come out/while there's still time/left/to play." Swallow's voice plays a shimmering blues in the high register that is nearly pastoral as an answer, playful even, and it gently becomes elegiac, though not funereal; there is joy no matter the mood, and Creeley's sense of humor is wondrous in so few words even when he's serious: "Lift me into heaven/slowly/Cause my back's/sore/My mind's/thoughtful/I'm not sure/I even want to/go. The blues come out to dance in "Sufi Sam Christian," and Kuhn's playing is simply gorgeous, as is Swallow's. The entire exercise is one of mystery, surprise, and delight. This is a gentle kind of presentation that carries its force in the measure of astonishment that the listener feels after encountering the work. So There is an album that can be listened to over and again in a single setting, but it still won't give up all its secrets, because there is mischief here, too ("I Know a Man"), and Swallow can tease it out from the poem, or perhaps, it's vice versa. Creeley's always-twinkling eye seems to pull it from the composer, who lays it before us, tempting listeners to indulge the magic a small bit at a time. Wonderful.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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So There

Steve Swallow

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1
Oh No
Steve Kuhn
00:00:34

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

2
Names
Steve Kuhn
00:02:28

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

3
Here Again
Steve Kuhn
00:02:29

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

4
Ambition
Steve Kuhn
00:01:59

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

5
Indians
Steve Kuhn
00:03:42

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

6
From "Histoire De Florida"
Steve Kuhn
00:01:04

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

7
Sufi Sam Christian
Steve Kuhn
00:03:05

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

8
Later
Steve Kuhn
00:02:04

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

9
From "Wellington, New Zealand" / From "Eight Plus"
Steve Kuhn
00:04:08

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

10
Miles
Steve Kuhn
00:03:28

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

11
Just In Time
Steve Kuhn
00:02:46

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

12
Return
Steve Kuhn
00:04:17

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

13
Echo
Steve Kuhn
00:02:46

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

14
Sad Advice
Steve Kuhn
00:03:08

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

15
Riddle
Steve Kuhn
00:04:16

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

16
Blue Moon
Steve Kuhn
00:04:12

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

17
I Know A Man
Steve Kuhn
00:02:27

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

18
A Valentine For Pen
Steve Kuhn
00:01:16

Jan Erik Kongshaug, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Mark, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Swallow, Composer, Producer, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Kuhn, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Robert Creeley, Author, Voice, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Cikada String Quartet, MainArtist - Henrik Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Marek Konstantynowicz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Odd Hannisdal, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Morten Hannisdal, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 WATT Works Inc./ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Album Description

The late poet Robert Creeley was no stranger to jazz. His own work descended from Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, and he provided the link in the new American poetry between the Black Mountain school and the Beats; early on, he composed his work to the music of Bud Powell. Later he collaborated with the jazz musicians preeminent among them: Steve Swallow (whom Creeley collaborated with on numerous live occasions and on the bassist's ECM Home album in 1979, where his poems were sung by Sheila Jordan), and the late Steve Lacy. As evidenced on So There, Swallow is the perfect aural illustrator and collaborationist for Creeley because he allows the poet free reign, giving him a place to truly speak for himself. Swallow composed the music to follow the flow and rhythm of Creeley's taut, sometimes elliptical line and his rhythmic breath. The work for So There began in 2001, when Swallow got his old friend to read numerous poems into a microphone at Tom Mark's Make Believe Ballroom Studio in New York. Swallow began working his way through the poems, listening to them dozens of times to find those he most wanted to compose to. He worked on the music for years; creating compositions not only involving his bass, but also for piano. More startlingly, he began composing pieces for string quartet based on what he said were "not just the rhythms of Bob's speech, but the colors and atmospheres implicit in the poems as well." In January of 2005, Creeley died, never having heard any of the finished work. In March of 2005, along with pianist Steve Kuhn and the Oslo Cikada String Quartet, Swallow and company began recording the work with ECM producer and label owner Manfred Eicher in Norway. What is most beautiful here is the manner in which Swallow allows the seeming spontaneity in Creeley's speech and lean images to inform the music. There are places when the stop and start rhythm of the poet's cadence is simply underscored with one of Kuhn's piano lines on the right hand, and others where the entire group floats and hovers about it before digging into the groove. Swallow also picks up on the notion of counterpoint in Creeley's poems and gives the strings room to flow not so much against the words, but instead to color them with alternate meanings. And truth be told, we've seldom heard Kuhn this freely disposed to swinging, to playing this freely or this expressively. Swallow's compositions allow room for improvisation, and the sheer delight of Creeley's language seems to set this impulse to the air in the hands and ears of the musicians. Check the gorgeous swinging post-bop improvisation by Kuhn and the counterpoint from Swallow before the quartet enters in "Names." When Creeley's voice enters, the music lies low for a moment, and the poet's words almost dance above the strings. Elsewhere, such as on the piece taken from "Histoire de Florida," Kuhn's playing is elemental, not ornamental, in setting the place and mood for Creeley's voice as he cheerfully allows the melody to create a space for the poet to speak through. The strings move almost sentimentally, as he reads: "You're there/still behind/the mirror, brother face/Only yesterday/you were younger/now you/look old/Come out/while there's still time/left/to play." Swallow's voice plays a shimmering blues in the high register that is nearly pastoral as an answer, playful even, and it gently becomes elegiac, though not funereal; there is joy no matter the mood, and Creeley's sense of humor is wondrous in so few words even when he's serious: "Lift me into heaven/slowly/Cause my back's/sore/My mind's/thoughtful/I'm not sure/I even want to/go. The blues come out to dance in "Sufi Sam Christian," and Kuhn's playing is simply gorgeous, as is Swallow's. The entire exercise is one of mystery, surprise, and delight. This is a gentle kind of presentation that carries its force in the measure of astonishment that the listener feels after encountering the work. So There is an album that can be listened to over and again in a single setting, but it still won't give up all its secrets, because there is mischief here, too ("I Know a Man"), and Swallow can tease it out from the poem, or perhaps, it's vice versa. Creeley's always-twinkling eye seems to pull it from the composer, who lays it before us, tempting listeners to indulge the magic a small bit at a time. Wonderful.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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