Many musicians play swing, but few can swing with as much authenticity as Don Stiernberg. This man doesn't play in the swing style occasionally. No, for Stiernberg, music means swing. The expression, "dig your well deep," comes to mind. On Swing 220 Stiernberg is joined by Jeff Jenkins on guitar and Rusty Holloway on acoustic stand-up bass. Stiernberg met Jenkins at one of Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Camps, where Butch Baldassari introduced them. Jenkins then introduced Rusty Holloway to Stiernberg, and the rest was a simple matter of musical compatibility. For this session Jenkins uses a venerable 1949 Epiphone Emperor while Stiernberg plays his 1996 two-point Nugget and Holloway plays a 19th century Collin Mettzin double bass.
The songs on Swing 220 all come straight from the great American songbook. Old standards including "Night and Day," "All of Me," "Pennies From Heaven," "Lady Be Good," "Stardust," "Honeysuckle Rose," "How High the Moon," and "Limehouse Blues" populate the disc. The arrangements aren't flashy – they begin with a statement of the original melody and then the trio is off to the races with multiple solos for all. As the leader, Stiernberg takes the first improve solo pass followed by Jenkins' guitar. Both have the swing sensibility so thoroughly ingrained that while they go out on improvisational limbs, they never step outside the melodic and harmonic conventions of traditional swing music.
The production values on Swing 220 are worth a special mention. This disc sounds so natural that with any decent stereo it will seem as if the three players are in the room with you. Kudos for the sound goes to recording engineer Ben Mcamis at AMG Media, mixer Steve Rashid, and mastering engineer Randy Leroy. The final result is a lovely album of beautifully played traditional American music.