Nov 19 2013
An under-the-radar album that has caught my ear is the debut recording by the septet going by the name of SWS. Their new release SIWTD provides a little bit of it all… Jazz, chamber, indie-pop, free improv, a general kind of folk music, little hints and whiffs of other influences… and, yet, instead of becoming a hodgepodge of indiscernible traits, they’ve created the roots of a sound that could develop into something original only to them, and beholden to none of the influences that served as ingredients in the first place.
Also, it’s music with the disposition of a warm smile, and a warm smile goes a long way in my book.
Your album personnel: Baiju Bhatt (violin), Pierre Pothin (tenor & soprano saxes), Francesco Geminiani (tenor sax), Alessandro Hug (vibes), Martin Perret (drums), Sébastian Pittet (electric bass), and Simon Blanc (guitar).
It’s a suite of five pieces, with interludes interspersed throughout. “Part 1” gets things started with a little Nordic jazz sleight of hand… entering with the soft murmur of rustic guitar, hinting at the possibility of an album immersed in serenity, but then handing the baton to the saxophones, who lead them into a swirling bit of intensity.
The second part of the suite situates things more sturdily in jazz territory. The ensemble starts bopping right along. Bass, drums and sax set the pace while guitar divides the distances. They maintain a brisk clip throughout, and it contrasts nicely with “Part Three” of the five part suite, which advances with a more determined, careful gait. The third part also really sheds some light on how this sound might develop as they continue as a working unit. Violin has a folkloric quality that blends in the loveliest way with the skip and hop of drums and bass, while guitar and vibes send indie-rock notes glittering across the expanse of the tune. Sax shadows the other players, providing a harmonic lift where necessary, adding some color to the melody when the mood strikes. An alluring tune.
The fourth part of the suite lends all kinds of intrigue, too, as a softly swaying ballad is repeatedly interrupted by sudden surges of improvisational fury. And each time the shifts in tempo and volume occur, the enchantment of the one never shatters that of the other. Captivating, at times.
The last of the five part suite switches between one of post-rock meandering to a finale of straight-ahead post-bop cheerfulness. The track isn’t as successful as its predecessors, but it does illustrate the ensemble’s willingness to take risks… especially at a point so early in their creative development.
There are three interludes interspersed throughout the album, giving guitar, vibes, and drums the opportunity to get in some peaceable solo action. The interludes don’t add a whole lot to the entirety of the project, but at the same time, they also don’t interfere with the album’s flow and cohesion.
Overall, it’s a nice little album. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but the glimpses of originality and the promise of what might come next provide all the reason to start listening today, on the ground floor.
Released on Unit Records.
Jazz from the Lausanne, Switzerland scene.