Born in Newark, New Jersey, Steve Swell has been living, working and performing in
New York City for all of his adult life. In an effort to find his own voice on his
instrument and to learn to write and arrange in a style of his own, he has sought out,
performed and recorded with many of the finest improvisers and composers in the
city. He has toured and recorded with such diverse jazz personalities as
mainstreamers Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich, to so-called outsiders like Anthony
Braxton, William Parker and Jemeel Moondoc. Swell has twelve recordings as a leader
or co-leader and is a featured artist on more than sixty other releases.
Swell first came to public attention performing with Makanda Ken McIntyre in
the multi-instrumentalist's concert at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1985 of which Herb
Boyd of The Amsterdam News wrote, "Swell possess(es) a forceful, but mature
sound...with a vibrant syncopation..." Swell came to international attention while
touring 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 Steve
also toured and recorded with Joey Baron's "Barondown" who released three CDs; one
for JMT, New World and Avant.
Even though he is identified with the "downtown scene," Swell has been
developing his style in the more so-called "traditional avant-garde" arena. Co-leading
projects such as ""Space, Time, Swing" with Perry Robinson, being a sideman in
William Parker's "Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra" and working with other similar
people has kept him on this circuit. Dave McElfresh of Jazz Now wrote in a review of
drummer Lou Grassi's CD, PoGressions, "Swell's powerful trombone zooms in and out
of 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, Unified Theory Of Sound, This Now, featuring Jemeel
Moondoc, Cooper-Moore, Wilber Morris, Kevin Norton and Matt LaVelle, was released
on the Cadence label in March 2003. A new Portuguese label called Clean Feed
released a live trio performance from Lisbon as well. Swell was a featured soloist in
Anthony Braxton's opera, "Shala Fears For The Poor," performed at John Jay College in
NYC. Steve recently taught a master class at New England Conservatory in Boston and
he is also an artist/mentor in the NYC public school system.