I had reason to write out this nice tune recently, so here is a chart in piano trio format. It’s the jazz standard “Broadway” in a nice, sparse and very swinging arrangement. The source is an album by Hans Ulrik that I got into while hunting down Steve Swallow material. Here’s the track. Here’s the score. Below I’ll discuss briefly what attracted me to it.
Things I enjoyed:
- Begins with a very well-sold deceptive half-feel drum fill, straight into full-speed-ahead blowing.
- Tasteful use of power chords in the hits.
- The walking bass lines…
There are lots of characteristic Swallow tricks in the uptempo walking, including a walked solo section that makes them really easy to spot. Look out for:
- Slurs (hammer-ons, pull-offs and both) within the quarter note lines. These are used much more extensively than you’d normally hear on a double bass, and it works well because the electric bass does not lose much of the note during the hammer-on/pull-off process. Also, the plucked notes have less attack than on a double. These factors combined mean that the plucked and slurred notes sound rather more similar to one another than they could on the double bass, so they don’t “upset” the flow of the walking line as much. On the contrary, this technique and the fuzzy bass tone give a liquidy, synth-y vibe that is as much reminiscent of the organ as of the double bass.
- Swallow is unafraid to occasionally shorten his quarter notes, often out of technical necessity (repositioning the hand, string skipping, etc.), which breaks up and adds contrast to the extensive legato lines.
- Not many repeated quarter notes at all, but many examples of chromatic stepping or enclosure around a target note, sometimes repeated twice or three times in succession. This adds a lot of motion to the line for minimal technical outlay, which is handy for such uptempo walking.
- A very striking example of the above occurs around 1:07. A simple chromatic up-and-down is repeated three times, over a transition from the second A section to the B. The repetitious chromatic “see-sawing” here is wonderfully disorienting — to me it sounds like a computer malfunction, in keeping with the synth-like tone of Swallow’s bass. The repetition creates a glitchy sort of tension, which is resolved as we enter the B section, the glitch corrected, and the walking flowing freely again.
A nice arrangement of a great tune and it swings like mad, in my opinion. Enjoy!