Plant: 2000 – Jan Klare/Bart Maris/Wilbert De Joode/ Elisabeth Coudoux/Steve Swell/Michael Vatcher (El Negocito)
Impromptus and Other Short Works – Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research (WhyPlayJazz) Carliot
Per-Åke Holmlander – It’s Never Too Late Orchestra (Not Two)
What these seemingly unrelated recordings share is that trombonist Steve Swell is an integral part of each and are all good examples of exciting developments taking place in European jazz. Swell, who has established himself as a versatile performer in his homebase of New York City and throughout the U.S. and Europe, is characteristically patient and modest throughout, letting his slide and embouchure do the talking while disdaining flashiness and adapting to the moment. As a sideman, he is analogous to the perfect houseguest, acclimating to changed environments.
On 2000, the group Plant features the quirky compositions and tight arrangements of saxophonist Jan Klare (with one by trumpeter Bart Maris), interspersed with improvised selections. Comprised of three horns, cello, bass and drums, the group shines on “Rott”, a brilliantly conceived work that sparkles with sputtering trumpet and oddly syncopated melodic thrusts, which continually switch perspectives and velocity, thanks to the magnificently complex writing, mirrored and underpinned by the focused drummer
Michael Vatcher. Swell fits in admirably and while most of the performance focuses on the collective, he is a perfect addition to the horns, his speed and dexterity adding splendidly to the mix. The entire studio recording is further bolstered by the contributions of cellist Elisabeth Coudoux and bassist Wilbert De Joode, whose underlying pulse anchors the group sound. Not all the pieces are intense, as, for example, the opening “Garden” begins at a snail’s pace, but the album is marked by considerable variety and serious musicianship, with no wasted time on these dozen utterly engaging and deceptively simple ditties.