A living bridge is constructed by patiently guiding the growth of trees over time to create a pathway that strengthens naturally as it develops. Found mostly in India, living bridges have been built over hundreds of years as a solution to periodic flooding in the region. These structures are an inspiring example of what happens when humans work together with nature to create a practical and beautiful solution to a problem.
Chicago saxophonist Artie Black and guitarist Jeff Swanson formed the group Living Bridge in 2013 to connect their experiences as composers, improvisers, and people. This release through ears & eyes Records marks their debut recording as a group.
Black and Swanson first collaborated in a trio inspired by recordings of Jimmy Giuffre and Jim Hall, and they quickly began to develop the musical rapport that led to Living Bridge. “From those playing experiences, I felt our writing and playing styles had an intangible connection that just felt right and fit very well together,” said Swanson. “In such an exposed setting there wasn’t anything to hide behind and we grew a lot closer, both musically and personally, with that project.”
The first performances of the band Living Bridge happened at a weekly Chicago jam session in 2013, where the group worked as the house band for around 6 months. “This was the first time we played with Marcus Evans on drums, and it was clear right away that he fit into this developing ensemble sound we had in mind,” Black remembered. “Ideas that had been ruminating for a while in our trio project came to life with Marcus’s input, and the way to move that music forward became a lot clearer.” Swanson added: “dynamically there is so much room in Evans’ playing that it allows the music to do new things each time we play.”
John Sims provided the final piece of the puzzle on bass. “We brought John in at the last minute to play on a demo recording, and the music took another step forward,” Black said. “He brings a different type of intensity than the rest of us, which was just what we needed. Our music has a simmering quality that thrives on the underlying pulse, and John has the right approach to make that work”
The major impetus for this recording was a Midwest tour the band completed in early 2015. Playing together each night and traveling together for an extended time brought new energy and natural growth to the music. After returning to Chicago, the recording process was smooth and documented the music that had been happening during the tour. The album features eight new compositions from Swanson and Black, and presents the simmering intensity that characterizes Living Bridge’s music. A concentrated energy, rather than an outward spread, is a defining trait of the sound they continue to develop.
“Bringing these ideas together takes time to distill into something concrete,” says Black, “but our goal in this group isn’t to fit into a style that’s already there. Just as the name Living Bridge implies, we’re patiently adding to and refining the sound we’ve started to create, and we will continue to watch it grow. I think this recording is a big step along that path.”
releases February 12, 2016
oder through livingbridge.bandcamp.com
Artie Black - tenor saxophone
Jeff Swanson - guitar
John Sims - bass
Marcus Evans - drums
Recorded and Mixed by Nick Broste at Strobe Recording and Shape Shoppe in Chicago, IL
Mastered by Peter Andreadis, All City Mastering in Chicago, IL
Album artwork and layout by Marine Tempels
Released on ears&eyes Records.
Living Bridge’s tracks