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Andrew Swift, Swift Kick

Andrew Swift -][- Swift Kick – [D Clef Records, 2012 | Review] –

Where do I begin? Let’s get right to it, imagine this a young kid with chopsticks, pots and pans with a sense of rhythm was the interlude, vision and seed planted by drummer, composer, and educator Andrew Swift. With his debut “Swift Kick,” you’ll find this body of music immersed in the womb of traditional jazz yet it’s intertwined with the integral musings of modern jazz unveiled by the folks at D Clef Records.

Like many aspiring musicians Andrew started his quest off at an early age. In fact, as a fifth grader he began in a new school and joined the school’s band program. Andy pursed his gift with persistence and paid off for him after a conversation with the band director Swift ultimately decided that he wanted to play drums and of course the rest is history.

A native Australian, Swift completed his undergrad studies to eventually continue music performance classes at the Australian Nation University. As any good steward of his craft Swift eagerly set sail and landed in music mecca of the world New York. Fortunately from him Andy shared the stage with a variety of incredible musicians including George Cables, Wycliffe Gordon, Bob Stewart, Peter Bernstein and many more.

“Swift Kick” is produced by trombonist Michael Dease it features the usual suspects and principle players in today’s jazz: George Cables, Eric Alexander, Wycliffe Gordon, Ryan Kisor, Michael Dease, Sharel Cassity, Dwayne Burno, Tim Mayer, Evan Sherman, Jeb Patton, Matt Garrison, Curtis Steward, Tony the Hawk and Yotam gave their undivided attention to twelve sterling compositions which equals just over seventy minutes of pure jazz.

The sonically intense “Kisor,” pen by saxophonist Sharel Cassity also features one the New York’s hottest trumpet players Ryan Kisor. The ensemble jump starts the session and swings with absolute authority. Out of the box, it dawn on me if this gem is any indicator of what this album is about these guys are about the business of driving it home by properly layering the colors of bop, jazz and swing.

Swift and company switches gears in tempo with a Jimmy Health tune called “The Rio Dawn,” at the second spot features vocals by Vanessa Perea and guitarist Yotam. If you’re hip to Latin or Brazilian jazz this song surely adds the right combo of color and texture to the mix.

“Swift Kick” is aurally washed, dipped and stirred with respectable timbre and attitude grounded in classic jazz. The accessible bounce of “Soldier” speaks volumes as these gate keepers featuring Kisor, Yotam and trombonist Michael Dease preserve the right to keep the color of jazz alive and should I say kicking?

At the five spot, the impassioned “Song for Sherin” possesses the spirit of jazz in order to retain the bravado inhabited in these prophetic and prominent voices. As featured soloist saxophonist Eric Alexander and Dease on trombone effectively compliment the fruits of this gem by influencing this song with their skills and expertise.

The sweet tone of the horns are syncopated by featured soloist Alexander and Dease, together they generate an exhilarating swag that beckons the ensemble to never abandon the possibility of taking a jewel like this to the next level on the samba induced tune originally pen by the legendary Duke Pearson titled “Is That So?”

It’s always great to hear young musicians delve into and re-invent the image of classic sounds and do it with a few surprises entrenched on “Baptized with Fire,” compose by Swift. In this collaborative effort the fabulous interplay by the ensemble burns with brute force and melodic intensity features the gifted Kisor, Cassity, Dease and Swift’s fiery solo on skins swings with spontaneity.

With four remaining selections in store, Swift and the crew continues to amaze. “Swift Kick” is compositionally and artistically executed with precision as articulated on the sassy “Brandy” a vocal piece features Mr. Wycliffe Gordon. “Goodbye” is another song authored by Swift this gorgeous ballad features the incomparable George Cables on piano with Dwayne Bruno and Tim Mayer.

Impressive musicianship is the stable and most meaningful in this relationship is their ability to compose meaningful compositions an allow themselves (others) to unleash their very souls in the song makes it all worthwhile. Saxophonist Sharel Cassity the leader of her own band that Andrew plays and tours with clearly states her case on “As The Dear,” if you haven’t heard her play you’re in for a treat.

To my surprise, I was totally amazed that Swift summon songwriter and bassist John Lee to the project. A power player from back in seventies, Lee wrote a harmonically rich composition and make it relevant for a new generation of listeners. My, my, my this is no doubt one of my favorite tunes it features violinist Cutis Steward, Dease and Cassity. The ensemble unites to preserve the essence of this movement with an electrifying voice on “Understanding.” This song is a tribute to the era when jazz-rock ruled and gave cats like Gerry Brown [drummer] and John Lee opportunity and ample space to evolve as composers and musicians.

Perhaps in this age of imperfection in our society jazz in itself dwells in the valley of optimism. Jazz to me is always a road worth-traveling, discovering, and exploring the possibilities revealed in new music. In this case, I find jazz communicated with excellence while in concert this ensemble navigates they’re way through the poignant details, passages and harmonics in this collection impressively as we expect skilled musicians do. “Swift Kick” by Andrew Swift is undoubtedly a great find that’s if you adore classic jazz with a twist of modern jazz underscored throughout then I’m sure this one will quench your thirst.

Rob Young | Urban Flux Media | Music Review