Steve Swallow

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Steve Swallow
Steve Swallow.jpg
Photo by Natalia Dobryszycka
Background information
Birth name Steve Swallow
Born (1940-10-04) October 4, 1940 (age 74)
Fair Lawn, New Jersey, United States
Genres Jazz, cool jazz, jazz fusion, avant-garde jazz, free jazz, post-bop, hard bop
Occupation(s) Electric bassist, composer, educator
Instruments Electric bass, double bass
Years active 1960-present
Labels Palmetto, RCA, RCA, Atlantic, Watt, Blue Note, Winter & Winter, Verve, Impulse!
Associated acts Jimmy Giuffre, Art Farmer, Carla Bley, John Scofield, Gary Burton, Michael Mantler, Pat Metheny, Paul Motian, Stan Getz, Roy Haynes, Paul Bley, Steve Kuhn, Joe Lovano, Pete La Roca, Jim Hall
Website http://www.wattxtrawatt.com/
Steve Swallow, Moers Festival 2012

Steve Swallow (born October 4, 1940, Fair Lawn, New Jersey) is a jazz bassist and composer noted for his numerous collaborations.

Swallow is noted for collaborations with Jimmy Giuffre, Gary Burton and Carla Bley.[1] He was also one of the first double bassists in jazz to switch entirely to electric bass guitar, on which he has a distinctively nimble sound.

Biography[edit]

Steve Swallow in San Francisco 1981 (photo: Brian McMillen)

As a child, Swallow studied piano and trumpet before turning to the double bass[1] at age 14. While attending a prep school, he began trying his hand in jazz improvisation. In 1960, he left Yale, where he was studying composition, and settled in New York City, playing at the time in Jimmy Giuffre's trio along with Paul Bley. After joining Art Farmer's quartet in 1964, Swallow began to write. It is in the 1960s that his long-term association with Gary Burton's various bands began.

In the early 1970s, Swallow switched exclusively to electric bass guitar, of which he prefers the five-string variety. Along with Monk Montgomery and Bob Cranshaw, Swallow was among the first jazz bassists to do so (with much encouragement from Roy Haynes, one of Swallow's favorite drummers). He plays with a pick (made of copper by Hotlicks), and his style involves intricate solos in the upper register; he was one of the early adopters of the high C string on a bass guitar.

In 1974-76 Swallow taught at the Berklee College of Music. It is often speculated that he had an influence on the contents of the Real Book, which includes a fair number of his early compositions. He later recorded an album of the same name, with the picture of a well-worn, coffee-stained Real Book on the cover.

In 1978 Swallow became an essential and constant member of Carla Bley's band. He has been Bley's romantic partner since the 1980s. He toured extensively with John Scofield in the early 1980s, and has returned to this collaboration several times over the years.

Swallow has consistently won the electric bass category in Down Beat yearly polls, both Critics' and Readers', since the mid-80s. His compositions have been covered by, among others, Jim Hall (who recorded his very first tune, "Eiderdown"), Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Stan Getz and Gary Burton.

Partial discography[edit]

As leader or co-leader[edit]

  • Hotel Hello with Gary Burton (ECM, 1974)
  • Home - music to poems by Robert Creeley (ECM, 1980)
  • Carla (Watt, 1987)
  • Duets with Carla Bley (Watt, 1988)
  • Go Together with Carla Bley (Watt, 1992)
  • Real Book (ECM, 1993)
  • Deconstructed (ECM, 1996)
  • Are We There Yet? with Carla Bley (Watt, 1998)
  • Always Pack Your Uniform On Top (ECM, 2000)
  • Damaged in Transit (Xtra Watt, 2003)
  • L'Histoire du Clochard with Ohad Talmor (Palmetto, 2007)
  • Playing in Traffic with Ohad Talmor and Adam Nussbaum (Auand, 2009)
  • Into the Woodwork (Xtra Watt, 2013)

As sideman[edit]

With Carla Bley

With Paul Bley

With Gary Burton

With Don Ellis

With Art Farmer

With Jimmy Giuffre

  • 1961 (ECM, 1992 – re-issue of the 1961 Verve-albums Fusion & Thesis) - with Paul Bley
  • Emphasis, Stuttgart 1961 (hatArt, 1992)
  • Flight, Bremen 1961 (hatArt, 1993)

With Steve Kuhn

With Pete La Roca

  • Basra (Blue Note, 1965)

With Joe Lovano

With Michael Mantler

  • The Jazz Composer's Orchestra (JCOA, 1968)
  • The Hapless Child (WATT, 1976)
  • Movies (WATT, 1977)
  • More Movies (WATT, 1980)
  • Something There (WATT, 1982)

With Gary McFarland

With Pat Metheny and John Scofield

With Paul Motian

With George Russell

With John Scofield Trio

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Steve Swallow: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Category Yale alumni