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January/February 2005

Steve Swallow-Ohad Talmor Sextet
L'Histoie du Clochard (The Bum's Tale)
Palmetto Records

The outstanding composer/bassist Steve Swallow deletes drums and percussion from his instrumental array on L'histoire du Clochard: The Bum's Tale (Palmetto), a seven-song suite whose selections range from morose, somber numbers to pieces marked by frenetic exchanges, dashing orchestration and shifting themes. While the CD embraces the symphonic more than the swing tradition, the improvised sections are excellent and the overall work very moving and memorable.

Originally an outstanding acoustic bassist, Swallow went electric during the '60s and has developed a style and concept just as revolutionary as that of Jaco Pastorius. On L'histoire du Clochard Swallow consistently delivers thoughtful and stunning solos, ranging over the instrument while exploiting its rhythmic potential. While Ohad Talmor ably contrasts Swallow's bass phrases on tenor sax, the other group members-violinist Meg Okura, trombonist Jacob Garchik and clarinetist Greg Tardy-complement and contrast the patterns established by Swallow and Talmor. While the tunes are folded into a unified project, "Sweeping Up," "Some Echoes" and "I'm Your Pal" rank among the disc's highlights.

Originally published in January/February 2005
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