SSWAN is the American, ad-hoc, fiery free jazz quintet of sax player Patrick Shiroishi, double bass player Luke Stewart (of Irrersivible Entanglements and Heroes are Gang Leaders), trumpeter Chris Williams, guitarist Jessica Ackerley and drummer Jason Nazary (known for his work with Jaimie Branch, Darius Jones and Chris Pitsiokos). Shiroishi collaborated before with Williams, Ackerley and Stewart but it was the first time that these five gifted improvisers joined forces at Scholes Street Studio in Brooklyn in October 2020. The first pressing of Invisibility is an Unnatural Disaster (Invisibility Is An Unnatural Disaster: Reflections of an Asian American Woman is an essay by Japanese American activist, writer and poet Mitsuye Yamada, published originally in 1979) is a limited edition of 400 red or black vinyl, plus discs and a download option. The title of the album
The music of SSWAN is rooted in the Afro-American legacy of free jazz but embraces the musicians’ idiosyncratic voices and interests in free improvisation, noise and experimentalism, and pushes to the edges of each idiom. The opening, title piece captures this adventurous spirit. It begins with a duo of Ackerley, in a Jimmy Hendrix meets Sonny Sharrock mode, with the hyperactive Nazary, before Shiroishi adds his wailing soprano sax to contrast Ackerley’s phrasing. Then, suddenly, Stewart and Williams take the lead but keep the uplifting energy and the organic flow of the music.
The following «Pattern Phases» dives into more abstract, free regions, based on deep listening and focused on individual sonic searches and extended techniques, translated into a restless yet enigmatic texture with its very own rhythmic sensibility. The last and longest piece “A Miracle’s Worth” enjoys the close, conversational dynamics of the quintet and stresses the lyrical, more contemplative side of SSWAN. The nuanced chordal work of Ackerley who adds wordless vocals, the muted trumpet of Williams and the arco playing of Stewart are at the center of this beautiful, openly emotional piece that evokes images of a mysterious, purifying prayer or ritual.
We need more, much more of this sublime stuff.
Patrick Shiroishi (s, v), Chris Williams (tp), Jessica Ackerley (el.g, v), Luke Stewart (b), Jason Nazary (dr)