The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    Steve Swallow?

    I'm reading the real book, lol, no really I am.

    And some dude named Steve Swallow keeps appearing as the composer of many of these Jazz Standards.

    I'm embarrased to say I'm completely unfamilar with him and his work.

    But by the looks of the real book he is one of the most if not the most, prolific composer of jazz standards.

    Sung in the stylings of the cowardly lion, "not Duke, not Louie, not Miles, but Steve Swallow."

    Steve Swallow, really?


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  3. #2

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    Steve Swallow was Gary Burton's bassist in the days when Gary had Pat Metheny, Mick Goodrick, and Bob Moses in his ensemble.

    The first Real Book tended to feature tunes from these guys as Berklee/Boston's local jazz elite.

    I don't really think of Steve's stuff as "standards," but those guys developed a certain writing style, and many of them are nice to play.

  4. #3

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    I don't play any Swallow tunes from the Real Books, but I tend to favor tunes that originally had lyrics. I'll have to give his tunes a second look.

  5. #4

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    After years of looking at all the tunes by him that appear on "Hotel Hello" I decided to track down the album and give it a listen just to see the lead sheet and hear the music.

    Pretty interesting stuff and not what you would expect just looking at the RB chart

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW400
    ...Pretty interesting stuff and not what you would expect just looking at the RB chart
    Yeah, I always wondered that. To look at the chart, it looks like utter crap. I'll have to track down the recording to see what all the fuss is about.

    M-ster's explanation about his presence in the RB is the one I heard. There is a lot of stuff in the RB (especially the old illegal one) that probably shouldn't be there, IMHO, but was just popular with the guys putting it together.


  7. #6

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    Falling Grace is probably the most widely played song of his from the Real Book. Great tune.
    Both he and his wife Carla Bley are prolific composers and produce some intriguing music.

    For those who think there are not enough of his tunes, here's a link to some lead sheets that he put up himself on his website.
    Steve Swallow Lead Sheets

    I don't think the original Real Book was produced with a marketing strategy or an analysis of what are the most pivotal tunes in jazz history.
    I don't know if Reg or anyone else here was around Berklee when it was first produced with additional insight about it's origin.

    Personally I like the Chuck Sher books better for accuracy, readability and great arrangement detail, not to mention artist royalties.
    Still, the original illegal RB is the one I grew up with and probably know the most songs from.

  8. #7

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  9. #8

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    Steve Swallow is an important bassist who played with Jimmy Giuffre, Paul Bley, Gary Burton, and shame on you if you didn't know he was Art Farmer's bassist when some hack named Jim Hall was guitarist in the group.

  10. #9

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    Steve Swallow is excellent bassist and composer along with is SO Carly Bley. When I was in music school Swallow did a clinic and was really cool. He basically spent the day hanging out first with the bass players and later with everyone. He finished up playing a concert with some of the instructors.

  11. #10

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    Falling Grace is a stunning tune, beautifully constructed.

    Bill Evans loved it and played it, as does Pat Metheny, Jim Hall, John Scofield, Stan Getz, Gary Burton.. etc, all of whom regard Swallow as a seminal, unique voice.

    Oh... and check out 'Ladies in Mercedes'.... learn it.... and try to stop improvising on it once you get it down... a circular journey that you just don't want to end. A brilliant version is on "Real Life Hits' by Gary Burton.

    Swallow is the real deal.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike walker
    Falling Grace is a stunning tune, beautifully constructed.
    I love this tune

  13. #12

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    Following up on what Mike said, and talking about obscure real Book tunes, There is a CD called "Quartet Live" by Gary Burton.

    It features Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow and Antonio Sanchez. Out of the 11 tunes on it 9 or 10 are RB tunes that I'm sure most of scratched our head and wondered about.

  14. #13

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    Hullo Bolinas is a very pretty and interesting tune. 13 bar form.

    I found this interview very interesting, especially this part: "Falling grace" is such a great tune and was even played by Bill Evans. Was it actually your first tune?

    Steve Swallow: Falling Grace was my second tune. The first was called Eiderdown. I wrote Falling Grace on George Russell's piano. My wife of the time and I had sublet George's apartment on Bank Street in New York City. I've wondered if Falling Grace was in fact intended for George; maybe I just had the good fortune to be at his piano when it emerged. What was Evan's influence on you?

    Steve Swallow: Bill Evans taught me a great deal. Falling Grace was in fact written for him, but I never found the nerve to give the piece to him. Eddie Gomez actually brought it to his attention, and I was completely surprised one day to find it recorded by Bill. He played it beautifully. Bill's lessons ranged from very nuts-and-bolts information about harmony and phrasing to more abstract concepts such as intensity of focus. His entire demeanor was a positive example for me. He actually recorded several of my songs, none of which I had given to him; he just found them somehow. Finally, I called Helen Keane, got Bill's mailing address, photocopied several of my pieces, put them in an envelope, addressed the envelope. I then learned of Bill's death.

  15. #14

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    hey Fep... Steve was teaching at berklee and playing around, not the first version, but labeled as the 1st ed. Real Book's notation etc... looke just like his SS's hand writing, also PM. A lot of tunes were labeled exersizes etc... I was one of 1st wave of people bringing out to west coast, 74 or 75, I still have an original copy. Those were the the years at Berklee...Reg

  16. #15

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  17. #16

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    Swallow is very highly regarded as composer. Check out his CD Real Book. His CD Deconstructed has Swallow originals based on changes of bebop standards. The liner notes to both CDs contain the lead sheets for Swallow's tunes.

  18. #17

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    If it weren't for Swallow, there wouldn't have been the Real Book. He was the one that put it together.


  19. #18

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    The Gary Burton Quartet, 1970. Steve Swallow on electric bass; with Dave Pritchard, guitar, and Bill Goodwin, drums.

  20. #19

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    I hardly recognised Steve in that last video ^ Great image of him at around 10'23" - what a tash!

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    If it weren't for Swallow, there wouldn't have been the Real Book. He was the one that put it together.

    That's not quite the explanation he gives in the above NYU video interview.

    In it, he describes being approached by a couple of Berklee students (whose names he has vowed not to reveal, though he does state that one later became a big name music copyist in Hollywood) who were putting together the book.

    Steve agreed to give them some tunes, figuring that despite the copyright problems, it would be good publicity for him to get his tunes out there and approached several musical colleagues to invite them to contribute.

    The Real Book was itself photocopied and sold by others almost immediately after it was "released", so the students who put it together did make much money from the project.

  22. #21

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    Wonderful interview w Steve talking about the masters
    He's talking about coming to NY and asking advice from Paul Chambers, Percy Heath, Wilbur Ware.

    Got to see him at the Blue Note when he was working w Paul Bley and Lee Konitz opposite Kenny Burrell's trio.
    That guy played w everyone....

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by David B
    That's not quite the explanation he gives in the above NYU video interview.
    He did say that besides giving his songs, he took the initiative of convincing may of his peers to contribute many tunes to the Real Book, and was then involved in proofreading charts for the guys compiling the book, so in a way, he was responsible for some of what made it a reality.