I have eclectic musical tastes and this record hits so many "jazz fusion" highlights for me. But there's so much more bredth and dept here. with great melodies and rythmns. Oh and Flugelhorn! Best thing I've heard for a while. On repeat.
Favorite track: Two Steps.
This album really demonstrates the ‘evolution’ of a musician demonstrating how experience, maturity in years and a will to produce and perform what feels right and not just conform. Heart Full of Grace has musical intellect in bucket loads whilst giving us the listener an experience that genuinely feels like it’s come from the heart and soul.
It is a pinnacle album yet I don’t believe Al Swainger has peaked yet and I look forward to sharing his future projects with great anticipation.
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This is an album of states of mind, written in strange and unusual times. A meditation on our place in the universe and how we strive to bring meaning to it.
“All we need to serve... is a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love”.
I come back to those words by Martin Luther King again and again. They help remind me that however invisible and inadequate we feel at times, we never lose the power to enrich each other’s lives. No positive action is too small.
A few short notes to send you on your journey and guide you home:
The Way Back is an overture to nothing, and everything, that comes after. The many and varied experiences that make up our lives never really fit neatly into that innocent question ‘so, what have you been up to?’. What if we tried to answer that question honestly?
Sunship Travelling / Pause to Breathe / The Shrug / Stir Crazy / Existential Blues / Hour of the Wolf and Two Steps all represent narrative fragments of my reactions to the 2020 pandemic but also echo feelings I’ve had for much of my life. Navigating isolation is a huge theme amongst those experiences but there’s catharsis to be found in embracing our feelings sincerely.
Remember the Sky, inspired by the poem ‘Remember’ by Joy Harjo, is a final invitation to be at peace. An invitation to remember the value of community. An invitation to look beyond ourselves and feel freed.
Feb 4th 2022
'Swainger has a knack for writing catchy melodies with great rhythmic hooks...blown away...highly recommended' - Nick Lea (Jazz Views)
'An eclectic range of jazz styles...musically adventurous...' - London Jazz News
'...easeful interplay...gentle strengths and spiritual uplift. What's not to like?' - Andy Robson (Jazzwise)
"The loss of the minutest detail would be a flaw... a parcel of gizmo goodness" - Nigel Jarrett (Jazz Journal)
'A beautiful collection of musical delights. Blissful listening!’ - Chris Hyson (Snow Poet)
'Joyous...an alluring landscape that transcends its influences' - Roger Beaujolais
'A compelling mix of melodic solos, tasteful accompaniment with enough danger and unpredictably to demand repeated listens.' - Rob Palmer (Soundcellar / Echo Engine)
'Musically ambitious, adventurous and imaginative...played with style and panache' - Theo Travis (Soft Machine)
released June 1, 2022
Al Swainger - Bass (1-10) Synths (1,2,4,6)
Jon Clark - Drums (1-6,8,9,10)
George Cooper - Piano (1-5,9,10), Rhodes (2,4,6), Synths (3,9,10)
Ant Law - Electric Guitar (3-6, 9-10) / Acoustic Guitar (2, 10)
Gary Alesbrook - Flugel (1,2,3,5,10) / Trumpet (4,6,8,9)
All compositions, arrangements, production, original photography, artwork and sleeve design by Al Swainger
Recorded by Al Swainger at Other Compass Studios (August 2020 to 2021) Damon Sawyer at Crescent Records Studio (May 24th to 27th 2021)
Mixed by Alex Killpartrick (1,2,4,5,6,9,10) and Al Swainger (3,7,8)
Mastered by Alex Killpartrick