All About Jazz
by C. Michael Bailey 2014
Pianist Nelda Swiggett follows her confident and successful This Time (OA2 Records, 2010) with an expansion of her original piano trio into a piano-string quintet, minus the violin plus a drummer. This expanded format suits Swiggett’s orchestral compositional leanings well and provides an intriguing and successful combining of nightclub jazz and concert stage classical. This is no more “Third Stream” than it is pure classical or jazz. We are so far beyond these characterizations that we have yet to give definition to such art. “Hewett’s Blues” blends the strings and rhythm section, each anchored by the bass, into a sound that makes perfect sense: what begins as a delicate ballad introduced by bass pizzicato, evolves into a Horace Silver throb full of funk and fun. “Now or Never” has a slightly churchy, gospel feel and sports an incisive bass solo by Chris Symer. Swiggett keeps everything at a simmer, never letting the piece boil over. It is a great example of suspending a piece in tension and allowing it to continue to a calm release. Swiggett is included here as she sings with an no-nonsense alto on several pieces: the title cut is svelte and humid, almost aromatic. The additional strings soften the song, giving it its breezy component. A fine follow up to a fine debut recording.