Jeff Swanson & Case-fitter, Fathoms album review on Slow Culture

ALBUM REVIEW #15 – Jeff Swanson & Case-fitter, Fathoms (jazz, out February 28th 2020)

Almost two years after the enchanting Case-fitter album, Chicago-based guitarist and composer Jeff Swanson comes back with Fathoms (BACE Records). In case you missed the aforementioned album, we’d advise you to listen to his versions of Graham’s before pursuing, it’s worth the half hour.

The notion of conversation is essential in Jeff Swanson’s compositional style, and Fathoms do not escape the rule, for the listener’s greatest pleasure. Gaussian, the first single (listen below) is a perfect illustration of that fact.

Be prepared: this album is heavier than what Jeff Swanson accustomed his audience to. Heavier, but also more colorful and nuanced. Let’s talk about it!

Jeff Swanson & Case-fitter, Fathoms: our review

Dancing with Jeff Swanson & Case-fitter

Tracks: Elisha, Round One.

These tracks showcase Swanson’s phrasing abilities. Sometimes beautifully odd, sometimes pleasantly traditional, these ensembles of notes help building a sense of storytelling reinforcing the sweetness of the album on the long run. The educated listener won’t fail to recognize a strong Mike Stern influence along these lines. 

On a more technical note, brass instruments are known to be hard to record, but the general rendering of these instruments is quite superb here, even when all the attention is focused on them.

Jacob Hand - Jeff Swanson 2
Courtesy of Jacob Hand

Daydreaming with Jeff Swanson & Case-fitter

Tracks: Roads, Fyra, Färvel, The Accutron.

We mentioned in the introduction of this review that Fathoms is especially heavy. This heaviness seems to be a pretext to highlight the softest parts of the album. That is where the idea of conversation finds its strongest allies.

Roads is a visual trip giving time ands space for contemplation, while Färvel’s reminds of Air’s J’ai Dormi Sous L’Eau, with some John Scofield accents. These tracks ended up being our favorites, despite the fact that we weren’t really expecting them. That is the beauty of experiencing music, and you know it.

Jacob Hand - Jeff Swanson
Courtesy of Jacob Hand

Letting go with Jeff Swanson & Case-fitter

Tracks: Gaussian, Replicant, Let the Children Play.

Replicant (the third song of the album) symbolizes the moment where the brakes are truly released. The general feeling of this Rhodes-infused piece is similar to what the first listening of Miles Davis’ Directions once gave us. Let The Children Play is a semi-controlled musical recess, marking the end of the recess for the listener, who won’t hesistate to press play again.

Jeff Swanson & Case-fitter, Fathoms (out February 28th 2020)

Personnel and technical data:

Paul Bedal – Keyboards
Matt Ulery – Electric Bass
Greg Artry – Drums and Percussion
Dustin Laurenzi – Tenor Saxophone (tracks 2, 3, 8, 10)
Greg Ward – Alto Saxophone (tracks 2, 3, 8, 10)
Jeff Swanson – Guitars, OP-1

Recorded/Mixed/Mastered by Anthony Gravino at Shirk Studios and The Drake

all songs written by Jeff Swanson, Gongsongs BMI

Written by  Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture

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