In 1979, trumpeter Chet Baker recorded four albums for the Steeplechase label (The Touch Of Your Lips, Daybreak, This Is Always and Someday
My Prince Will Come) in a memorable pianoless drumless trio with guitarist Doug Raney and bassist Niels Pedersen.  There were also a few later
sessions with guitarist Philippe Catherine and bassist Jean-Louis Rassinfosse (including the Criss Cross label’s Chet’s Choice) and overall these
sets contained some of Baker’s finest playing.

It is a setting well worth reviving.  “Carlos Miralles, who is one of the representatives of my horn company, is a big Chet Baker fan,” says Brian
Swartz.  “A few years ago he played me one of Chet’s Steeplechase trio sets and urged me to make a record like that.  I actually had led a trumpet-
guitar-bass trio earlier on.  It was always a challenge to play in that context because each musician is so exposed.  I liked the idea of understating
everything and having simplicity.  Without a drummer, there is one less person influencing where the group is going when we are improvising and a
lot more space.”

Although there are places during these performances where one is reminded a bit of Chet Baker, Swartz did not consciously try to copy Chet.  “This
is really an homage rather a tribute.  I performed four of my originals and I don’t sing, so there are some distinct differences in the project along with
similarities.  It has more to do with my expression of the context rather than trying to copy him.”
When one puts together an intimate trio of this sort, each musician has to not only be a master but have perfect time and listen closely to each
other.  Brian Swartz was very fortunate to have guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist Darek Oles, who not only made up for the absence of piano and
drums but give one the impression that the addition of any other instruments would have been a frivolity.  “Trust in the context of a small jazz group
is so important; trusting that the musicians will be there every time.  Larry and Darek are both so solid timewise and rhythmically.  It is just like
heaven to play with them.  Darek I met through pianist Jane Getz around 1994.  Larry I have known for five or six years and we hadn’t worked
together that often before the recording.  But I loved the way that he comps, so perfectly in time, so I knew that he was perfect for this project.”

There is a great deal of variety in the spontaneous music, particularly when one considers that only three musicians are involved, with different
players leading in different sections.  The program begins with the first of the originals, “Samba De Outono.”  “Outono” is Portuguese for autumn.  
Inspired by trumpeter Tom Harrell, Brian says, “I enjoy hearing the flugelhorn playing fast over a samba rhythm.  When I organized Tom’s big band
a few years ago, I really loved the feel of his original samba.  ‘Samba De Outono’ opens with unusual sounds with me playing through half valves,
Darek slapping the back of his bass and Larry throwing in a few odd rhythmic ideas before the song kicks in and we’re off.”  “Mi Sonita” was written
by Brian for his wife while “Father To Many” is a double dedication to his wife’s late father and Brian’s own father.  Both are very emotional
statements that show off the trumpeter’s lyricism and tenderness.  Brian’s other song, “Out Of View,” is inspired by saxophonist Phil Vieux, who lived
in Los Angeles until the late 1990s.  “It is a lament about him having moved away and not playing that often anymore.”

The other eight selections are all standards given fresh renditions both by the instrumentation and the creativity of the musicians.  “I love singer
Gretchen Parlato’s version of ‘I’ve Never Been In Love Before.’  She’s a big Chet fan and gives this innocent song such a sweetness.”  As does the
trio, which performs the tune with infectious joy.  “My Shining Hour” is taken fast, showing Swartz’s ease at rapid tempos and the light but hard-
swinging styles of Koonse and Oles.  “I Thought About You” is at a more relaxed pace, with thoughtful solos all around.

Johnny Mandel’s “Emily” starts out very tenderly.  ”Bob Florence made me aware of the beauty of this song.  It is his wife’s favorite tune, which was
a very good reason to include it on the CD.  It’s a beautiful song in 3/4 time that I have alternate between two keys, like Bill Evans would have
done.”  The 1930s ballad “Ghost Of A Chance” is turned into a bossa nova with Darak beautifully stating the melody.

Inspired by Tony Bennett’s version on his album For The Ladies and also Sarah Vaughan’s recording, Brian Swartz creates a heart-wrenching
statement on “Poor Butterfly,” taking the verse unaccompanied and interpreting the vintage song with the trio at a very slow tempo which makes this
rendition quite haunting.  The trumpeter remembered playing “The Best Thing For You Is Me,” a lesser-known standard with a quirky and
mysterious chord progression, while a member of the retro swing band, Red and the Red Hots.  Finally there is Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is The
Ocean.”  “I love Chet’s version of this song and the way he would sing it, so I vocalized it through my horn.”

For Brian Swartz, playing trumpet was part of his family’s heritage since his father played trumpet in the Air Force.  Born in Wichita Falls, Texas,
Brian spent his childhood wherever his father was stationed before his family settled in the San Francisco Bay area.  He began playing trumpet
when he was ten and knew early on that he was going to try to be a professional musician.  After performing locally, he moved to Los Angeles in
1989 to attend the prestigious music program at Cal State University at Northridge.  He studied privately with Bobby Shew and has worked in many
different settings ever since.

In addition to contracting the personnel of the Tom Harrell Big Band and playing for dancers with Red and the Red Hots, Swartz’s more important
musical associations as a sideman include the Jack Sheldon Orchestra, Diane Schuur, Michael Buble, The Jazz On The Latin Side All-Stars, Ernie
Andrews, Buddy Montgomery, Francisco Aguabella and Carmen Lundy.  However he is becoming increasingly well-known as a leader, heading
everything from a swinging acoustic jazz quintet to a free improvisation group called the No-Net Quartet and an electric project that features him on
the EVI.

Brian Swartz’s previous recordings, in addition to a variety as a sideman, include two as a leader: There’s Only Me and Live At The Jazz Bakery.  
The latter features Swartz with pianist Bob Florence in a boppish quartet.  “I’ve been getting some nice attention for Live At The Jazz Bakery.  In
recent times I have been working a lot in the studios and, believe it or not, arranging and writing in pop contexts while still playing jazz as often as I
can.  I also run a local jam session which has been well attended.  There is so much great young talent and I do my best to provide them with a
space where they have the opportunity to learn and grow.”

Young players are well advised to check out the melodic invention, interplay and subtlety of the Brian Swartz Trio.  “I’m considering doing more
recordings with this trio because I enjoy the group so much, possibly a Wayne Shorter album or a set of Thelonious Monk songs.  I’m really pleased
with how this project came out.  Rather than filling up more space and being as hot as possible, I wanted to take a step back, simplify things and
make every note count.  It came out to be a very personal statement.”

The Brian Swartz Trio is classic chamber jazz, an accessible yet consistently creative set of brilliant and memorable performances.  It is also
timeless music and belongs in every jazz collection.

Scott Yanow


Throughout his productive career, Herb Robertson has been featured in a countless number of settings with his fellow members of the who’s who of
creative jazz. But even with his long list of musical accomplishments, Parallelisms is a unique recording. “Whenever I get involved in a project,” says
the trumpeter, “I always try to have it be completely different than the one before. During the past couple of years I’ve been venturing ‘out’ even
more than before in free improvisation concepts.”

Robertson, saxophonist Evan Parker and pianist Agusti Fernandez first came together as members of Barry Guy’s New Orchestra. Operating as the
“high end” of the band, they had such a good connection that Parallelism resulted. “The concept of the album is that we are playing parallel to each
other, in addition to playing against each other, occasionally overlapping but also sometimes flying apart. We distort our instruments to the point
where they cannot be identified. Also, the music sometimes sounds like we are playing with electronics but it is actually acoustic. The ideal is to
have our instruments practically play themselves while we are merely along for the ride.”

On the opening “Spore Attic Basement,” each of the instrumentalists have brief unaccompanied sections where their instruments sound quite
unusual before they interact in colorful and passionate fashion. This is one of three “realizations” by Robertson in which he provided a guide for the
improvisations as opposed to the three completely free pieces.

“Trichotomy,” a made-up word symbolizing a three-way dichotomy, is a free improvisation that utilizes plenty of space, outbursts of emotion and
completely unpredictable interplay. “Parallelisms” has passionate upper register playing from the two horns (Parker almost sounds like a flute) and
comments from Fernandez as they create three interdependent improvisations. “Susurration” means tranquil. “For that piece, I did not want any
movement or development, wanting it to stay as a drone, creating an outer space-type sound.” “The Living Daylight” is about light and energy,
containing some relatively playful moments during the intense improvisation, while “Vim Chattering,” which has Robertson making some bird sounds
on his trumpet, is the most active piece on the album.

Herb Robertson has had a colorful life well worth several articles. The earliest music that made an impression on him were his father’s “watered-
down dance band records by Jan Garber. I identified with the trumpet section and soon enjoyed listening to Al Hirt,  Doc Severinsen and Herb Albert’
s Tijuana Brass.” As a teenager he developed very impressive high note technique and was a big fan of Art Blakey and Horace Silver while keeping
an open mind towards more adventurous music. At Berklee, it was his hope to eventually play with the orchestras of Buddy Rich, Woody Herman or
Stan Kenton, so at one point he was playing 25 hours a week with student big bands. After leaving Berklee in his senior year, he toured with
jazz/rock cover groups. “Those bands were loud and I had to play at top volume most of the time. We played six nights a week but the leader would
charge us for renting equipment and, at the end of the week I would owe the band money! I finally blew my chops out, couldn’t play a note, and had
to quit in the middle of a tour and go back home.”

Gradually recovering, he worked in the Catskills, met an older drummer who persuaded him to play freeform duets in their off hours, and was
encouraged to move to New York and work as an advanced improviser. “My whole concept of playing trumpet changed, I stopped trying to sound
like Freddie Hubbard, and I found my own voice. I was on my way.” Since then Herb Robertson, who found his initial fame playing with altoist Tim
Berne, has been a major force in the jazz world.

For the future, Herb Robertson plans to tour with Evan Parker and Agusti Fernandez but could then go in many different directions. “I hope to play
classical-oriented improvisations with Eastern Europeans, but I also have a project with Dave Ballou, Michael Formanek and Tom Rainey, and I’d
love to record a Latin album too. But as far as my future hopes go, most of the time my goal is simply to get a high C out of the trumpet!”

Scott Yanow