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Steve Swell Trio: Flurries Warm and Clear

The liner notes for Flurries Warm and Clear state that this is Swell’s fifth recording as a leader for free-jazz-oriented CIMP. Why this Newark-born brass master is not better known outside New York trombone and free-jazz circles is a fair question, because he deserves to be. His sound is well supported and flexible, with a songful upper register, somewhat like Julian Priester’s.

Swell is never at a loss for twisting, turning melody, a quality that is shared by alto saxophonist, clarinetist and bass clarinetist Ned Rothenberg. Rothenberg, a passionate woodwind expert whose contribution has been partly overshadowed by the likes of Tim Berne, John Zorn and the sorely missed Thomas Chapin, is deserving of wider recognition. Tomas Ulrich, with bow in hand, holds his own amid the group-improv fray, while bestowing on the ensemble a certain orchestral gravity. The 11 diverse compositions are credited to Swell. Several of them are so-called instant compositions, made up on the spot as the tape rolled. Very well recorded, and thoroughly recommended.

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