1. I’ve Never Been In Love Before * (Frank Loesser) 4:23
2. Elis * (Don Thompson) 5:26
3. Cold Comfort + (Neil Swainson) 5:08
4. Niteroi Night Sky ** (Reg Schwager) 4:35
5. The Alchemist’s Dream * (Reg Schwager) 5:08
6. Sir George + (Reg Schwager) 5:22
7. Slauerhoff At Sea * (Reg Schwager) 6:59
8. All Right By Myself ++ (Pat Collins) 4:29
9. In a Mind’s Eye ** (Dave Young) 6:31
10. If I Should Lose You + (Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin) 5:58
11. Shadow Waltz + (Harry Warren, Al Dubin) 4:36
12. Judge’s Row ++ (Pat Collins) 5:19
13. Walk These Blues Away ** (Reg Schwager) 4:22
Reg Schwager - guitar
Don Thompson - bass *
Neil Swainson - bass +
Dave Young - bass **
Pat Collins - bass ++
Recorded and mixed by Reg Schwager in Toronto, January/February 2002
Mastered by Jesse Capon
Artwork by Agatha Schwager
Design by Jeannette Lambert
January is the coldest month of the year in Toronto so I was looking for something productive to do without leaving the house. I fired up my new (used) DA-38 recording machine, connected a few mics and phoned a few of my friends - who happen to be excellent bass players - to come over and play. We would play a couple of my tunes, a couple of theirs, and a couple of standards.
Don Thompson and I have been playing guitar/bass duo gigs for over 20 years now - often at Mezzetta, which is a favourite venue for many musicians in Toronto. He has played with many of the guitarists I’ve been most influenced by, including Ed Bickert, Sonny Greenwich, Lenny Breau and Jim Hall. Don wrote “Elis” for the great Brazilian vocalist Elis Regina, on the 20th anniversary of the day she passed away. He brought it over and we recorded it in one take.
I first met Dave Young on a Sunday brunch gig with vibraphonist Peter Appleyard, about thirty years ago. Since then I have played in several of Dave’s bands, touring across Canada and recording “Inner Urge” (which features Gary Burton) and “Aspects of Oscar” (dedicated to Oscar Peterson). Dave’s beautiful ballad “In a Mind’s Eye” was written for his mother.
Along with Neil Swainson, I toured and recorded with the great pianist George Shearing for 10 years. Although he was known for his incomparable ballad playing, Mr. Shearing also liked to play tricky bebop tunes like “Moose the Mooche” and “Donna Lee”. In 2007 Mr. Shearing was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, so “Sir George” is dedicated to him. I hope that maybe he would have enjoyed it.
Pat Collins played on my trio CD “Border Town” along with drummer Michel Lambert. We have worked countless jobs together with Rob McConnell, Peter Appleyard, Moe Koffman and many others - and also in Pat’s own quartet, which is documented on his CD “In The Moment”. Included here are two of Pat’s tunes - “Judge’s Row” and “All Right By Myself”. They showcase his very individual compositional style that combines strong melodies with unpredictable chord sequences.
“Slauerhoff At Sea” was written for Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936) who was a Dutch poet and novelist who travelled the world as a ship’s doctor. I felt some connection with him at a time when I was trying to teach myself the Portuguese language by working on translations of Brazilian popular songs. Slauerhoff had been fascinated with the sixteenth century Portuguese poet Luíz Vas de Camões and had translated some of his sonnets. I mentioned this to my mother Agatha and she remembered doing a project about Slauerhoff when she was in highschool in Holland. She even managed to find her old notebook and scanned the drawing she had done of a ship to accompany her work. That drawing is on these pages, and when I told her I was making this cd she created the cover painting for me.
- Reg Schwager
a review - http://www.criticsatlarge.ca/2012/03/articulate-conversation-duets-by-reg.html
Articulate Conversation: Duets by Reg Schwager
Duets (Jazz for Rant, 2011) is the latest from guitarist, Reg Schwager whose been carving a musical niche for himself since the early 80s. I’ve seen Schwager play on a number of occasions through the years in Toronto and his technique and musical vocabulary is second to none. It’s for this reason alone that Duets is the best showcase for his remarkable sound and articulation. It is a thoughtful and introspective album of standards and original compositions, with four of Canada’s finest bass players: Pat Collins, Neil Swainson, Don Thompson and Dave Young.
A lot of cross-pollination has taken place between the performers. Thompson and Swainson have played and recorded with George Shearing. Young has played with Oscar Peterson and Pat Collins is a teacher, bandleader and accompanist to musicians and singers, such as Maureen Kennedy, in Toronto. Schwager has also earned the experience of playing with everybody on the scene in Canada by forging a career of constant one-nighters. His commitment has paid off: Duets captures a musician at the top of his game.
The litmus test for any musician is the duo performance because it requires a technique that fashions itself as a conversation. An idea is expressed and the players either argue or agree by making complementary points. In the history of jazz, duo performances were in abundance in the early 1920s as a singer or piano-player laid down a traditional blues number or a cabaret song. Some of Bessie Smith’s earliest recordings featured only a piano accompanist. Then the larger, more accessible sound of groups filtered into the scene and duo recordings were fewer in number.
After the Second World War, as jazz evolved and recording techniques improved, the duo performance came back into fashion, as it were, particularly in the 1970s. Sackville Records, the Canadian label established by Bill Smith and John Norris inToronto, had served the format well artistically and economically. They had very little money, but just enough to produce solo and duo recordings by upcoming American and Canadian musicians. Some exceptional recordings by Jim Hall and Ron Carter have marked duo recordings featuring guitarists and bass players, though it’s rare. Their work offered an intimate and introspective sound garnished with swing, bebop and modal compositions. In fact, guitarist Jim Hall has probably recorded the most duo recordings than anyone in jazz. Last year Guido Basso released a strong album of duets with individual sessions with a guitarist, bass player or pianist. The leader played flugelhorn on most of the sessions that were unrehearsed. It was a bright record full of invention and straight-ahead playing.
The music on Duets is a mix of standards and original compositions, usually featuring a work by the bass player in question. “Sir George,” written by Reg Schwager, is an up-tempo bop tune. It was written for George Shearing capturing his harmonic sensibility with an impossibly difficult melody. But Schwager and Swainson swing the tune beautifully. I particularly like another Schwager composition, “Slaueroff at Sea,” for its graceful sway. It’s the best of the four duos with the esteemed musician, who’s considered one of the most important composers in jazz. Pat Collins gets the feature spot on his composition, “All Right by Myself.” The music swings hard and Schwager and Collins easily move back and forth in the piece. The pair also take a nice run at the Latin tune, “Judge’s Row,” also written by Collins.
Dave Young is featured on only three tracks, but they’re impressive. Schwager first played with Young’s band 30 years ago. Their long-time musical friendship is nicely displayed on the closer “New Delft Blues.” Duets is an album of good music. It’s not trying to be inventive but as a result of the respect musicians have for the other, including their excellent listening skills, the ideas flow easily making this album one of the finest of the genre.
-John Corcelli is a musician and broadcaster. He's currently working on a radio documentary, with Kevin Courrier, for CBC Radio's Inside the Music called The Other Me: The Avant-Garde Music of Paul McCartney.
jazz, eh? - September 2012 Print
Current Reviews - Jazz and Improvised
Written by Stuart Broomer
Saturday, 01 September 2012
Reg schwager is a consummate guitarist, as skilled an accompanist as he is a soloist and an imaginative improviser at bop tempos and ballads, continuing the special lineage of Toronto guitarists that includes Ed Bickert and Sonny Greenwich. On Duets (Rant 1142 www.jazzfromrant.com) Schwager plays with four distinguished bassists, each of whom he has worked with extensively: Don Thompson, Neil Swainson, Dave Young and Pat Collins. Each duet has some special quality: there’s the boppish Sir George with Swainson, dedicated to their former employer George Shearing; the cool Niterói Night Sky with Young’s propulsive use of glissandi; and the understated Latin rhythm that floats Collins’ own Judge’s Row. The sense of dialogue is always strong, but Schwager’s exotic The Alchemist’s Dream is a highpoint, a probing, expansive discussion between the guitarist and Don Thompson, frequent duo partners.