Into the Woodwork

Bass players generally draw less attention from audiences than that granted to lead guitarists. In the jazz realm, bassists seldom get the spotlight reserved for trumpet and sax guys. But Steve Swallow has been making jazz fans sit up and take notice of the bass since 1960, the year he first met Carla Bley. Bley, as jazz fans know, is an esteemed keyboardist who has recorded with Swallow since 1978. You can hear the benefits of their long association on Into the Woodwork, a 12-song set of Swallow compositions that features Bley on organ, Chris Cheek on tenor sax, Steve Cardenas on guitar and Jorge Rossy on drums. All the players shine here on songs that feature some fine post-bop grooves and evoke pathos, and even some humor. There’s a little experimentation going on, but with a bassist like Swallow at the helm, the ensemble never loses its groove. From his days with the legendary horn player Eric Dolphy right down to this current recording, Swallow continues to command the kind of attention often denied to those unsung heroes of the rhythm section.