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Tomchess & Zach Swanson Ghost Narratives

by Tomchess / Zach Swanson



Zach Swanson and I met through a referral by upright bassist/Composer Will McEvoy to me in the context of finding a bassist for Nima Farzeneh's No-Lands Band concept to raise awareness about the tribulations in Syria. Right from the start he was easy to work with, had prodigious skills and ears to match. I asked him to play in my Strange Ornament and Moonship Quartet and Trio configurations as well as the groove-oriented Worldwide Tuning Society where his playing always deepened and elevated the music. At one point we started to get together at my apartment to play duo in a mostly improvised composition direction. These are some selections from those sessions spanning 2018-19. Since music truly does speak louder than words I don't want to say too much, except that I'd like to thank Zach for his time, creative energy and enthusiastic support towards exploring this collaboration.

Being a large body of work, we suggest a way to approach this work is to think of it as a book of short stories, hence: Narratives. One doesn't read a book of short stories in one sitting, so in this spirit we suggest you listen to a few cuts or even just one cut at a sitting and enjoy the unique musical world and story created in that cut before moving on; each piece truly has it's own logic, feeling, sound world, narrative and specific musical cadences and considerations.

Improvised music to me doesn't mean one can just play whatever one wants; good improvisation has all the elements of composed music with the added spirit of being ineffably created spontaneously together.

I'm grateful to have made these sounds with Zach and we hope you enjoy them!

"...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.

“If Going Again” opens the record by probing experimental ways that are also very communicative. ....“Liberation of the Mirror”, where shades of light and dark coexist. Swanson sets the mood...while Tomchess (playing Oud), in certain passages....evokes the eloquence of flamenco through flurries of notes sequenced with chromatic invention.

However, my favorite pieces are “Tapestry of Evidence”, where the duo drops down into a dark shimmer before leading their instruments into a contrapuntal dance, and the title cut, a flexible conjugation of Eastern classical moods where the musicians alternate roles as the leading voice and accompanist. Amidst pensive reflections and racing progressions, there are well-defined cadences.

....each piece reflects the enthusiasm of these musicians for improvisation and free form. The nearly 19-minute “The Innocent River” is more cinematic and no less tense either.

Tomchess (also) plays Ney, as well as morsing, an instrument commonly associated with Carnatic Indian music. Vocals are also added as a percussive element.

Ney also appears at the center of “Wilderness Harmony”, where Tomchess takes the bulk of the lead by throwing beseeching chants. Yet, Swanson’s woody bass plucks stand out, complemented with feathery harmonics, robust two-note intervals, and keening arco laments.

...totally rideable for lovers of improvised music and alternative sonorities.

-Jazztrails, NYC


released December 17, 2019

Tomchess-Oud, Ney, Morsing
Zach Swanson Upright Bass

These are live recordings, there are no overdubs. There may be unavoidable sound artifacts i.e. small extraneous sounds due to environmental circumstances.

Recorded at 100 Sullivan st. #1C NYC, NY by OutByTheTree Mobile 2018-2019. Produced by Lolomel Productions for Wildbeautiful inc.. Mixed and Mastered by Tomchess. All songs Wildbeautiful Music ©2019


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Tomchess New York, New York

"...seriously: exquisite, introspective and exuberant, masterful and humble, funky & abstract, global and galactic ........... et f'n cetera."

-Charles Blass, Sun Radio, Zurich.

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