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Steve Swallow wins JazzTimes: Critics Poll for 'Best Electric Bassist'

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For this annual companion poll to our Top 50 Critics' Picks, our regular contributors participated in this survey based on our yearly Readers' Poll. Contributors were asked to focus on artists' achievements during 2020 rather than assessing entire careers. Steve Swallow wins for 'Best Electric Bassist.'

A lauded bassist and composer, Steve Swallow is an influential performer who helped define the sound of post-bop, fusion, and modern creative jazz. An individualist on his chosen instrument, Swallow is known for emphasizing high notes and often approaches the electric bass as if it were a guitar. Following his initial emergence in the 1960s playing progressive jazz with Jimmy Giuffre and George Russell, he established long associations with pianist Paul Bley, trumpeter Art Farmer, vibraphonist Gary Burton, and others. Swallow has issued albums under his own name, including 1987's Carla, 1991's Swallow, and 1996's Deconstructed. He is also a longtime member of a trio with his partner, pianist Carla Bley, and saxophonist Andy Sheppard, issuing albums like 2013's Trios, 2016's Andando el Tiempo, and 2020's Life Goes On. A gifted composer, he is also recognized for writing such songs as "Eiderdown," "Falling Grace," and "Hotel Hello."