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Steve Swallow ‘Swallow Tales’ Audio Interview

Bob Bakert, Editor

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JGT’s Bob Bakert talks to Steve Swallow about playing with John Scofield on their new project, ‘Swallow Tales’ .

Steve Swallow: I think that’s what John has done is to just dispense with the possibility of playing like a piano player, and really is zeroed in on the guitar. He’s in embraced the fingerboard … and he’s done this not only in his playing, but I think significantly in his writing as well. His writing is the product of what’s of possibilities that present themselves on the guitar fingerboard… and of course, that’s the that’s an advantage to him the guitar player he’s able to negotiate what he’s written… without having to make compromises and cut corners and to use sleight of hand. You know that at any rate, I’ve always urged John to play his own music. I love his own music dearly and so I was a little taken aback when he proposed doing an album of my tunes… but, the truth is, I was just moved that he wanted to do it and I love what he’s done.

John is more faithful than anybody I know to the emotional content of what I’ve written – if that’s not too pretentious.

Steve: What he’s done is to to to really drastically rework the songs… and that’s exactly what I hoped for I’ve kind of gone through parental stages as a songwriter… (laughter)I think initially I was really protective of my “children” and didn’t want them exposed to the real world at all… I just wanted to keep them myself… you know, to keep them in the house and then to exert control over every performance that was made of them… And over the years I’ve been able to loosen up to the point I understand that your children are going to leave the nest… that they are going to go out and become and assume their own identity send their own lives in the real world and if I ever needed that lesson reinforced dramatically, this this this recording did just that.

I mean John has really reworked these songs and he’s done exactly what was needed to make them work in the context of a good guitar trio. He’s paraphrase the heads, he’s analyzed and reworked the way the harmonies moved… not so much the harmony themselves but the way they moved where the voice leading … it is a really ingenious application of the possibilities and the restrictions inherent in the guitar “keyboard”. You know he’s made use of all of that in the fact he’s kind of turn my songs into guitar music… I’m thrilled by that! … and, then you know incidentally as the bass player on the recording, I’m seeing these songs transformed in a way that makes me see new possibilities. That makes me play my instrument differently because I’m dealing with essentially the same fingerboard he is except without that pesky leap of 1/3 between the two extra strings… (laughter) God, I don’t have to deal with that…!

MORE ON JOHN SCOFIELD AND ‘SWALLOW TALES’

John Scofield Makes ECM Debut with Longtime Friend and Mentor Steve Swallow on ‘Swallow Tales’, Available Now!

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