Personnel: Ricky Sweum (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Wayne Wilkinson (guitar); Henrique DeAlmeida (drums).
Audio Mixer: Bob Dawson.
Recording information: Mile High Music, Denver, CO (11/01/2008).
Pulling Your Own Strings marks the debut recording as a leader for saxophonist Ricky Sweum, one of many up-and-coming or regional musicians gaining greater exposure on the Origin label. Joining him are guitarist Wayne Wilkinson, bassist Jason Crowe, and drummer Henrique DeAlmeida, also names likely to be new to most jazz fans. The songs are all originals by the leader, a gamble that often works against new artists who want to get airplay and reviews, though curious programmers and writers will be impressed if they give this release a hearing. The brisk bop vehicle "Hot Sonny Day" burns with energy through the potent tenor of the leader, Wilkinson, and the breaks including DeAlmeida. The calypso undercurrent in "Under Sonny's Bridge" also acknowledges his debt to Sonny Rollins. Sweum switches to soprano sax for his quirky "The Dance of Ettenro," which begins as a post-bop tune but ventures into free jazz territory. The bittersweet ballad "State of Acceptance" is well-named, a powerful piece that needs no lyrics to convey its message. Sweum returns to soprano for his intricate cooker "Ben & Jerry's Delight." Ricky Sweum shows plenty of promise with his rewarding debut recording. ~ Ken Dryden