Guitarist Eric Swinderman has been playing in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area for the last 25 years. Known primarily for his work with singer Brenda Boykin, Swinderman steps out on his own with this self-released CD, In Pursuit Of The Sound. This collection of tunes takes in a wide variety of styles. From the soulful blues-inflected versions of "Dede" and "Georgia," to Latin tinged solo work on Louis Bonfa’s "Recado Bossa Nova" and with the ensemble on the Jobim standard "Dindi," to the Miles Davis modal infused workout "All Blues," Swinderman works to show his versatility on all.
In being all over the map stylistically Swinderman allows us to see his good and still developing sides. Where Swinderman really excels is on his blues work. Without having to force technique or develop improvisations within mental harmonic boundaries, Swinderman’s soul comes out in spades when he just lets his heart take over. "Dede" is truly excellent and gets down to the nitty-gritty, allowing his axe to sing out strong and true. Likewise, he turns "Georgia" is a down-home all-about-the-feel number that shows the guitarist to have ample depth of bluesy tenacity. There’s a lot of skill in knowing how to take one note and bend it just the right way.
Marty Williams is an excellent pianist and does his best playing in support of the guitarist, but there isn’t much he can do with a slightly out of tune piano.
Vocalist Joyce Grant’s original number "Speak To Me" is great. Swinderman provides perfect accompaniment and just the right chordal voicings at just the right moments. This is not a skill to be taken lightly. It comes only after years of trial and error as well as a lot of careful listening, to not just other great guitarists, but also to the singer in order to find the best tessitura for laying out the harmonic building blocks behind and with her voice.
Swinderman’s great abilities on the blues numbers contrast strongly with his still developing improvisational skills on tunes like "Minor Crisis." You can hear him working out ideas. The horns also sound a bit stilted at times. They never really swing on "Sugar Baby’s" melody or lock into the groove on "The Bandit." These are minor problems however as each, Charles McNeal on sax and Wayne Wallace on trombone, turn in blistering solos throughout.