For those who have seen The Sway Machinery in action, little explanation is needed. The band’s combination of rhythmic power and potent folklore takes no prisoners. On stage the energy of submerged worlds is torn out into the light of day. And indeed, the historical tradition of Cantorial music, which is the focus of the band’s work, is very much a lost world. The music of The Sway Machinery invites the listener to become like children wandering in the forest, discovering something mythic and wonderful.
The band boasts an unusually accomplished line-up of musicians, featuring guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood formerly of Balkan Beat Box, drummer John Bollinger of Barbez, bass guitarist Nikhil Yerawadekar of Antibalas, and the trumpet and tenor sax horn section, Jordan McLean and Stuart Bogie, who have made their unique voices heard with artists ranging from TV on the Radio, to the much loved Broadway production of Fela! This powerful combination of musical personalities yields an unassailable force of excitement.
The Sway Machinery began its work in 2006, a product of a long collaboration between Jeremiah Lockwood and Israeli percussionist Tomer Tzur, joined by a battery of heavy hitting horn players. In 2007, Tomer moved back to Israel, and the band was joined by Brian Chase, one of the best known and loved drummers in the underground rock music scene, who played with the band until 2009. During its initial years and on all recordings to date, virtuoso bass saxophonist Colin Stetson, of Arcade Fire and Tom Waits’s band, was a featured and powerful presence. The band continues to expand and contract, including in its extended family saxophonist Matt Bauder, violinist Sarah Neufeld, trumpeter Kenny Warren and sousaphonist John Altieri.
In September 2007, the band premiered Hidden Melodies Revealed, a secret celebration of Rosh HaShana (the Jewish new year) at Angel Orensanz Foundation. This multi-media concert celebrated the power of the Cantorial music tradition in an event that blurred the line between rock show and ritual. In 2009 the band brought this unique concept to Los Angeles and San Francisco, playing to enthusiastic standing room only crowds.
The band’s debut full-length album, also entitled HIDDEN MELODIES REVEALED, was released on JDub Records in 2009 to critical acclaim.
In January of 2010, The Sway Machinery travelled to Mali to perform at the legendary Festival of the Desert. While in Africa, the group recorded a new album featuring collaborations with luminaries of Malian music, including Vieux Farka Toure and Khaira Arby. The album that resulted from this remarkable intersection of worlds is called The House of Friendly Ghosts, and came out on JDub in March of 2011. The band has toured nationally and in Europe in support of the album, including numerous appearances with Khaira Arby.
courtesy of The Sway Machinery