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Steve Swell

Born in Newark, NJ, Steve Swell has been an active member of the NYC music community since 1975. He has toured and recorded with many artists from mainstreamers such as Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich to so called outsiders as Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor and William Parker. He has over 30 CDs as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artists on more than 100 other releases. He runs workshops around the world and is a teaching artist in the NYC public school system focusing on special needs children.

Steve was nominated for Trombonist of the Year 2008, 2011 & 2022 by the Jazz Journalists Association, was selected Trombonist of the Year 2008-2010, 2012, 2014-2021 & 2023 by the magazine El Intruso of Argentina and received the 2008 Jubilation Foundation Fellowship Award of the Tides Foundation. The Downbeat Critics Poll selected him for the Trombone category in 2010-2018 & 2020-2023.

Swell first came to public attention performing with Makanda Ken McIntyre inthe multi-instrumentalist's concert at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1985 of which HerbBoyd of The Amsterdam News wrote, "Swell possess(es) a forceful, but maturesound...with a vibrant syncopation..." Swell came to international attention whiletouring in Europe and recording with altoist Tim Berne and his group "Caos Totale."There are two studio recordings of this band on the JMT label. During this time Stevealso toured and recorded with Joey Baron's "Barondown" who released three CDs; onefor JMT, New World and Avant.

Even though he is identified with the "downtown scene," Swell has beendeveloping his style in the more so-called "traditional avant-garde" arena. Co-leadingprojects such as "Space, Time, Swing" with Perry Robinson, being a sideman inWilliam Parker's "Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra" and working with other similarpeople has kept him on this circuit. Dave McElfresh of Jazz Now wrote in a review ofdrummer Lou Grassi's CD, PoGressions, "Swell's powerful trombone zooms in and outof the music like a plane diving at a target. Players like himself - and music like this- are to be thanked for the revival of interest in the instrument."

Swell's newest CD, "Swimming in a Galaxy of Goodwill and Sorrow" featuring JemeelMoondoc, William Parker and Hamid Drake, was releasedon the RogueArt label in May 2007. Slammin' The Infinte's new release "Live at the Vision Festival" withSabir Mateen, Matt Heyner, Klaus Kugel and featuring John Blum is also now available. Swell was afeatured soloist in Anthony Braxton's opera, "Shala Fears For The Poor," performed at John Jay Collegein NYC.

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Album Review

Steve Swell: Dances With Questions

Read "Dances With Questions" reviewed by John Sharpe

American trombonist Steve Swell plays to the strengths of his talented cast of improvisers on the sprawling multifaceted Dances With Questions, a three-CD box set which documents his three day residency at the 2019 Krakow Jazz Autumn. The center piece is the 70-minute title cut for a dozen musicians, but the album also includes two discs of small group encounters captured in the city's legendary Alchemia club during the previous evenings. Swell, a veteran of the New York ...

Album Review

Steve Swell's Fire Into The Music: For Jemeel: Fire From The Road

Read "For Jemeel: Fire From The Road" reviewed by Alberto Bazzurro

Oltre tre ore di musica catturate in altrettante esibizioni live fra Texas (due, ottobre 2004) e Canada (la restante, settembre 2005) e oggi rese opportunamente disponibili sono ciò che ci offre questo triplo album composito ma per altri versi assolutamente monolitico. Lo firma un superquartetto, sempre quello, che attraversa i sette ampi brani (il primo occupa l'intero primo cd) con fare deciso, ottima capacità di gestire l'evolversi della musica prodotta, i suoi spazi intestini, felicemente bilanciati fra parti corali e ...

Album Review

Steve Swell’s Fire Into Music: For Jemeel: Fire From The Road

Read "For Jemeel: Fire From The Road" reviewed by Mark Corroto

If listeners only had the one recording, Swimming In A Galaxy Of Goodwill And Sorrow (Rogueart, 2007) from Steve Swell's Fire Into Music, and did not have the pleasure of hearing the quartet live in person, there certainly would be a large blank spot in their metaphorical dance card. The trombonist Swell, bassist William Parker, and drummer Hamid Drake must also mourn the loss of the fourth member of the quartet, alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc (1946-2021). Much like Ornette Coleman, ...

Radio & Podcasts

Steve Swell, Asher Gamedze, Dan Rosenboom & Fergus Quill

Read "Steve Swell, Asher Gamedze, Dan Rosenboom & Fergus Quill" reviewed by Maurice Hogue

An energetic episode this time around on One Man's Jazz! There's plenty of punch from South African drummer and composer Asher Gamedze, trombonist Steve Swell's Fire Into Music (featuring the late Jemeel Moondoc), L.A. trumpeter Dan Rosenboom with a killer band, New Zealand mates drummer Edward Ware and saxophonist Jeff Henderson reunion, the quirky Imaginary Big Band from England led by bassist Fergus Quill, and the French quartet Plume. Grounding it all is the excellent trio of pianist Eva Novoa, ...

Album Review

Gebhard Ullmann / Steve Swell / Hilliard Greene / Barry Altschul: We're Playing In Here?

Read "We're Playing In Here?" reviewed by John Sharpe

For musicians, one consolatory by-product of lockdown was the chance to reappraise the archives, which led to a subsequent bonanza of deserving material reaching the marketplace. Whether that was the genesis of the limited edition LP We're Playing In Here? is a moot point, but this 2007 studio recording by the Gebhard Ullmann / Steve Swell Quartet certainly more than justifies release. It is the fourth album by what was a cracking band, although it actually predates the outfit's second ...

Album Review

The Chicago Plan: For New Zealand

Read "For New Zealand" reviewed by John Sharpe

German reedman Gebhard Ullmann and American trombonist Steve Swell, front line comrades for over 15 years in a variety of outfits, reunite on For New Zealand for the second release from their joint led initiative The Chicago Plan. Rounding out the foursome and providing some allusion to the band's moniker are the Windy City pairing of drummer Michael Zerang and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (although the latter decamped to Kingston, NY in 2017 following a 22-year stay). They share deeper connections ...

Album Review

Warriors of the Wonderful Sound: Soundpath

Read "Soundpath" reviewed by Mark Corroto

If we alter President John F. Kennedy's 1962 moon spaceflight speech just a bit, it easily fits the big band adaptation of Muhal Richard Abrams' magnum opus Soundpath, “We choose to perform this composition not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept." Accepting the challenge was band leader Bobby Zankel and ...

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Performance / Tour

Jazz this week: Grace Kelly, Steve Swell Quintet, Kevin Eubanks, a benefit for Puerto Rico, and more

Jazz this week: Grace Kelly, Steve Swell Quintet, Kevin Eubanks, a benefit for Puerto Rico, and more

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

The fall presenting season is gathering some momentum this week, as the calendar of jazz and creative music for the next few days in St. Louis includes three significant touring headliners- two of whom are making their local debuts- plus a benefit raising money for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, and more. Let's go to the highlights... Wednesday, October 4 Saxophonist and singer Grace Kelly makes her St. Louis debut in the first of four nights at Jazz at the ...

Video / DVD

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Spotlight on Steve Swell

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Spotlight on Steve Swell

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

This week, let's take a look at some videos featuring trombonist Steve Swell, who will be making his St. Louis debut and kicking off New Music Circle's 2017-18 season with a concert on Saturday, October 7 at at The Stage at KDHX. Swell will be joined by an all-star assemblage of avant-gardists, including pianist Dave Burrell, known for his solo work and as an associate of major free-jazz artists such as Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders; alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, ...



APAP JazzConnect Session: Crowdfunding for Jazz Projects @ Hilton New York: January 7

APAP JazzConnect Session: Crowdfunding for Jazz Projects @ Hilton New York: January 7

Source: Michael Ricci

The Association of Performing Arts Presenters features jazz—its leaders, masters and music—at annual performing arts industry conference in New York City. Topic Crowdfunding for Jazz Projects Where Hilton New York Concourse E New York, NY 212-586-7000 When Sat, January 7, 2012 3-4:30 PM Admission Free About the event Fan-funding platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are gaining traction as more jazz artists and organizations ...



Trombonist Steve Swell Interviewed at AAJ

Trombonist Steve Swell Interviewed at AAJ

Source: All About Jazz

Trombonist Steve Swell captures the energy of a big band in the close quarters of a small group. An alumnus of Buddy Rich's and Lionel Hampton's bands on the one hand, and collaborator with Anthony Braxton on the other, he seems bound to have fixed upon such a hybrid configuration at some point.But how an artist could exhibit such stylistic range and adaptability to begin with, and on top of that reconcile them in a career that has already spanned ...



Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite - 5000 Poems (Not Two)

Steve Swell's Slammin' the Infinite - 5000 Poems (Not Two)

Source: Master of a Small House

One of the frequent recent criticisms of free jazz argues that there's just too much of it available on record. Musicians who work within the idiom are accused of placing fecundity above quality control. Trombonist Steve Swell candidly cops to the charge in the brief notes accompanying this fourth release by one of his working bands. Employing a Walt Whitman essay as inspiration, he uses the analogy of sowing many seeds in the hope that at least a fraction will ...

"Remember Now is (Slammin’ The Infinite’s) second release and as good as the first one was, this one is light years beyond that. Every track has something to offer. It’s almost hard to take this disc off once one puts it on. Remember Now makes a good case for Slammin’ the Infinte being one of the most exciting working groups in jazz/improvised music today." -Robert Iannapollo, All About Jazz, NY, September 2006
“...the session opens with a Swell cadenza that features 50 seconds of the most achingly lyrical playing the trombonist has committed to record...This music makes me feel like I’ve been somewhere even though I haven’t left my yard.” —David Dupont, Cadence Magazine, June 2005

Primary Instrument



New York City


Steve has been a Teaching Artist in NYC public schools for the past 7 years. He has done festival workshops while on tour in the US, Canada and Europe (New England Conservatory, University of Michigan, Tulane University, Hoschule fur Musik, Dresden, Guimares Festival Workshop, etc.) Full teaching bio availabe at www.steveswell.com.
Rates—$100 per hour (negotiable)




Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Dances With Questions

Not Two Records


For New Zealand

NotTwo Records


We're Playing In Here?

NoBusiness Records


More Music for a Free...

Mahakala Music



Ictus Records


Welcome to the Red Island

From: For New Zealand
By Steve Swell



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