Open Question Vol. 1 (577, 2022)
Josef Woodard, Downbeat: “The muse was with them…synchronicity and the importance of collective collusion over individual spotlighting add up to a notable project at the junction of inside, outside and some hard-to-define X factor holding it all together.” Full Review Here.
John Pietaro, New York City Jazz Record: “…Swanson’s driving, directive basslines, more machine than man.” Full Review Here.
Playfield – Volume 1 (Orbit577, 2021)
Bob Osborne, Different Noises: “The first volume offers the musical equivalent of a walk through New York, meandering through the city’s conflicts, unparalleled diversity and mutual harmony. PLAYFIELD Vol.1 glances at the music of possibility, from the shadows of systemic injustice and pandemic, to a city and an art form that remain electrifyingly resilient. The first release is a 29 minute piece called Sonar which delivers an eclectic journey through a series of styles, genres and impressions. A remarkable tour de force which leads to eager anticipation for the next two volumes.” Full Review Here.
Tom Swafford & Zachary Swanson – Scythe Paths Through The Nettles (self-released, 2021)
Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News: “The music is unlike much freely improvised music for strings. Violinist Tom Swafford and double bassist Zachary Swanson play with a strong bias toward incorporating elements of song, sometimes explicitly and sometimes not, into improvisations that are free-ranging yet remain grounded in more traditional forms of music…It’s an enjoyable listen and presents a unique perspective on unpremeditated music.” Full Review Here.
Bob Osborne, World of Jazz: “Tom Swafford and Zachary Swanson deliver a fascinating exploratory free improvisation project.” Playlist Here.
Astroturf Noise – Astroturf Noise (577 Records, 2020)
Lars Gotrich, NPR: “Fire music served up in a surrealist honky-tonk. This Brooklyn trio can clearly play bluegrass straight, but mangles its strings in ecstatic contortions…” Full Review Here.
Joseph Neff, The Vinyl District: “Here is one of 2020’s sweetest surprises. It delivers an unpredictable and consistently rich blend of jazz, Appalachian roots, and in the wildest turn into left field, electronics…this is much nearer to the avant-garde of jazz than some lame-ass library commons area yawn fest, a scenario that extends to their approach to hill roots, as the overly polite aura of contempo Americana is nowhere to be found. I’ll just say that if you’ve dug Eugene Chadbourne’s style shifting over the decades, you’re going to love this one.” Full Review Here.
Martin Schray, The Free Jazz Collective: “Sometimes it sounds as if Sun Ra had snuck into a bluegrass band’s rehearsal barn. In “Metropolitan Special“ the group combines its bluegrass drive with the destructive power of early Arto Lindsay albums, but tracks like “Blue Comet Bankruptcy“ are also reminiscent of John Zorn’s Filmworks series and Carl Stalling’s Looney Tunes melodies.” Full Review Here.
a Jazz Noise: “Things quickly get increasingly queasy and the further it goes, the tighter it twists, the fiddle blurs with electronic souonds, the bass engine staying true and driving the whole thing like an atonal hoedown for dancers with three left feet…Morning Zephyr Waltz is a stately ¾ number recorded in a 1980s video game arcade, with a subtly off-kilter bass solo at its heart. ” Full Review Here.
Daniel Carter, Aron Namenwirth, Joe Hertenstein, Zachary Swanson – Live At The Bushwick Series (Gaucimusic, 2019)
John Sharpe, All About Jazz: “Swanson’s forceful counterpoint and inspired bowing are one of the big pluses of this date and his exchanges with the novel textures and percussive clatter which emanate from Hertenstein’s hybrid kit elevate this session beyond the ordinary…Carter also enjoys a notable rapport with Swanson, and the passage on “Improvisation 2″ where the band fall away to leave his tenor and the bassist’s arco in grave colloquy is one of the high points.” Full Review Here.
Akira Saito, Sightsong: “The sound breaks down our stereotypical view on music. Highly recommended.” Full Review Here.
Tomchess & Zach Swanson – Ghost Narratives (self released, 2019)
jazz trail: “The gorgeous melding of their instruments can be heard throughout and, while tones can easily change from smooth to barbed, the intensities keep ranging according to their whims…Swanson sets the mood, which doesn’t hamper him from exploring new routes in the accompaniment, while Tomchess, in certain passages, nearly evokes the eloquence of flamenco through flurries of notes sequenced with chromatic invention….Swanson’s woody bass plucks stand out, complemented with feathery harmonics, robust two-note intervals, and keening arco laments.” Full Review Here.
Harbinger – Harbinger (self-released, 2019)
John Sharpe, New York City Jazz Record: “Swanson provides an anchoring undercurrent that welds the disparate filaments together, but also moves in effective counterpoint to both Carter and Earnshaw, especially when brandishing his bow in passages of dark poetry.” Full Review Here.
Lucid Culture: “It’s a thoughtful, conversational forty-eight minute suite…Foghorn trumpet from Carter anchored by Swanson’s long, low, bowed tones and Earnshaw’s terse, incisive lines echo kaleidescopically through the mix as the three get underway. Earnshaw introduces a lyrical, descending raga riff shadowed by Swanson, Carter switching to balmy tenor sax. Then he moves to flute, Swanson picks up his bow and the theme continues…There’s as much listening going on as actual playing, resulting in a project that’s as envelopingly enjoyable to hear as it obviously must have been to record.” Full Review Here.
Listening Group – Listening Group (577 Records, 2018)
Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz Blog: “The music is ambitious, and amazing: it creates a semi-dense and warm sonic universe in which instruments ebb and flow into a common pool of sound, in which individual voices are still identifiable, yet are irrelevant on their own. The atmosphere is open, neither dark nor optimistic, and brings to mind images of organic growth in nature, in which a wild yet seemingly organised whole comes into existence out of strangely unrelated and unpredictable components. The only thing that keeps them together is the listening…” Full Review Here.
Kevin Press, Bad Press: “This is high-brow music in all the right ways. Serious, inventive and demanding of skilled performers. Hip not stuffy…Beautiful, inspiring stuff.” Full Review Here.
Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery: “Although the there nine musicians on this session, the sound is more spacious, balanced and well-crafted. There is a dreamy, drifting quality during the first long piece here…they create their own magical audio environment…” Full Review Here.
Dogwood – Hecate’s Hounds (Nusica.org, 2018)
Raul da Gama, Jazz da Gama: “It pays to emphasise the fact that one is not likely to hear a recording that spotlights the contrabass quite like this one does…Much of what has been achieved on Hecate’s Hounds has to do with the twice purified echo of the sound of his contrabass – once as it’s sculpted sound comes off these strings and again when it bursts forth from the woody cavern of the body of the instrument, caressing every nook and cranny inside and hugging the dark varnish before leaping into the atmosphere of the room where (your) speakers are placed…All this plus a warm acoustic from an engineer, Michael Perez-Cisneros, who saw the big picture and and captured the smallest details, and a courageous boutique label that put this recording out. The result is the sound of music to die for…” Full Review Here.
Ron Schepper, Textrua: “In featuring two instruments only, the ten-track recording exudes a rather intimate and oft-introspective character. Improvisation plays a significant part, but there’s compositional structure too, which makes for both a satisfying balance and listen…In the time-honoured spirit of jazz improvisation, much of the album plays like conversations unfolding in real time, with each player attending closely to the other and responding in kind…” Full Review Here.
Chris Spector, Midwest Record: “An introspective instrumental duo that has the same feel as boundary pushing as early 70s works that you almost didn’t know whether or not to call jazz lands their debut in fine style…A worthy side trip for the open eared.” Full Review Here.
Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery: “The Dogwood duo wrote all of the pieces here…“Causes” opens this disc with an exquisite, restrained, lovely sort of ballad, rather Jim Hall-like in its gracefulness. On “It Must Have Been the Wind”, the duo play as if they were playing an old, beloved standard, soft, warm and most charming. “Aokigahara” is both haunting and breathtakingly lovely as well as stripped down to just its bare essentials…It is refreshing to hear a record that embraces a more quaint, pure, gliding on the wind, sort-of vibe. Unlike anything I’ve heard in quite a while.” Full Review Here.
Andrea Aguzzi, Neu Guitars: “A complex, difficult, almost millimeter equilibrium where every variation corresponds to a different brushstroke from the palette of an Impressionist, where every alteration can result in an error or a subtle element of style.” Full Review Here.
Fernando Dauli, La Riviera News: “Hecate’s Hounds è un lavoro introspettivo, che lascia grande spazio a momenti di lirismo e di meditazione e si lancia con curiosità in direzioni ed ambienti musicali diversi. Alcune tracce (come Aokigahara e Bassifondi) sono evocative e riconducono – attraverso l’improvvisazione – alle sensazioni suscitate dai più diversi ambienti, come le foreste orientali o i cupi angoli delle metropoli. Altri momenti del cd sono vere e proprie ricerche musicali tra diversi contesti armonici (It Must Have Been the Wind, Lonely proposition); altre tracce sono viaggi nelle strutture classiche del jazz (What Conclusions Am I left to Draw) o ancora vere e proprie esplorazioni delle diverse modalità di improvvisazione, variamente restituite in Crevasse, Causes, Gumtree Canoe ed Expanding Blue.” Full Review Here.
Trumpets and Basses – Sanctuary (pfMENTUM, 2017)
Robert Bush, NYC Jazz Record: “With steady certainty, they build toward a climax and everyone contributes to the unfolding drama…Strange and beautiful, this album requires and rewards careful listening.” Full Review Here.
David Ellenbogen, NYC Radio Live: “Zachary Swanson was on upright bass, totally right on and just amazing…how Zachary was able to think compositionally, and come in at the perfect time during improvisational parts…” Link to Podcast Here.
Doc Manning, WEAA’s In the Tradition: “Zach has that rare but should be universal approach to jazz (creative music), he studies and knows the history from where it came from. You can hear it in his playing, in an instant, not duplicated but inspired by the foundation that was left before him. This history gives him the confidence to investigate that difficult realm of creative music. As a bassist, he can create the atmosphere, in solo or ensemble for the listener to understand his consciousness, in other words he is there!”
Michael Block, Long Island Pulse: “…top-shelf sideman Zach Swanson, on stand-up acoustic bass, is largely responsible for the unwavering bottom end…” Full Article Here.