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Rob Schwimmer’s Heart of Hearing

12:16, 19th March 2020

Review by Andy Hamilton

Polymath Rob Schwimmer’s intriguing and enjoyable second solo album features originals, jazz standards and Americana.

Schwimmer is clearly a fine jazz pianist, but he’s not content with being that. The album includes his arrangements – or maybe derangements – of Chopin, Nikolai Obukhov and Adam Guettel. ‘Obsession No 1: cChHoOpPiInN’ takes the closing Presto of Chopin’s Sonata No 2 and staggers right- and left-hand lines, displacing the unison octaves to vertiginous effect. ‘The Russian Mystic: Obukhov’s Prelude No 1’ is a duet for piano and Haken Continuum, a polyphonic synthesiser with keyboard. Herrmann’s ‘Prelude and Scene d’Amour from Vertigo’ begins with distant piano against a chorus of scratchy vinyl before turning into a lush, late-Romantic interpretation.

Standards include a plangent ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning’ and a moving ‘Lost In The Stars’, where Schwimmer plays the melody on theremin – a consciously melodramatic tribute to cabaret singer Mary Cleere Haran, whom he accompanied. Paul Simon’s ‘Sounds of Silence’ is recast, and made almost unrecognisable, with flatted intervals. (Schwimmer toured with Simon and Garfunkel in the early 2000s.)

Photo and design: Steve J ShermanSchwimmer’s own compositions include two movements of Terra Firma and selections from Sonic Ginger. The finale, ‘Accepting It’, is an eventful jazz workout, recorded in 1989. Highly recommended.

Rob Schwimmer (piano, theremin, Haken Continuum) – featuring Jay Anderson (bass) and Jeff Hirschfield (drums) on ‘Accepting It’

Sunken Heights Music SHM 2018

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