Steve Swell Quintet
This configuration of world-class musicians who are all part of the legacy of the ongoing tradition of adventurous music whether it is called free jazz or improvised music have all worked together in various groupings of their own for several decades. The formation presented here has been together in this configuration since 2015 when they recorded for the Rogue Art label of France. That recording was chosen as a Best of 2016 recording in the New York City Jazz Record. They have performed in St. Louis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Buffalo, NY; and New York City.
The amalgam of decades of experience makes this ensemble unique in their ability to blend the many current improvising strategies with intelligence and energy that make for exciting performances. The compositions are by Steve Swell which are artfully realized by these legendary musicians.
Résumé Steve Swell: trombone
Steve Swell studied trombone in the 1970s with Roswell Rudd in New York City after attending Jersey City State College. He then moved into professional music life in NYC joining Lionel Hampton’s Band in 1983 then Buddy Rich’s Band in 1984. After leaving the Rich band he joined Jaki Byard and the Appollo Stompers and Makanda Ken McIntyre’s small ensemble. He then joined Jemeel Moondoc’s Jus Grew Orchestra in 1989 and has been a leading voice on the trombone in the downtown scene, playing with numerous outstanding artists on this scene such as Elliot Sharp, Butch Morris, and William Parker. Swell leads several projects of his own such as his Unified Theory Of Sound, Fire Into Music, Nation of We and Slammin’ The Infinite which recorded for the Cadence label, as well as other projects on the Clean Feed, NotTwo, Silkheart and RogueArt labels. Steve's "Music for Six Musicians: Hommage à Olivier Messiaen" was released by Silkheart Records in the Fall of 2017.
Résumé Jemeel Moondoc: alto saxophone
Résumé Dave Burrell: piano
Dave Burrell was a key collaborator to many of the revolutionary voices of the 1960’s “New Thing” and appeared on some of the most important recordings by the likes of Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Sonny Sharrock and Sunny Murray. His own work as a leader is equally vital. He is a composer with a distinct and thorough vision. As free as his improvisational spirit is, his work displays a determined intellect that may be most explicit in his operas and research-based projects made in collaboration with writer Monika Larsson. Dave masterfully operates in a realm where rooted tradition and avant-garde freedoms function as poles of a single vision. From the craftsmanship of rag through free jazz’s radical peaks, his mastery and range through the music’s vernacular and history is unforced. It’s almost as if he is unaware these distinctions and categories, and by false designations of “inside” and “outside” that limit the rest of us.
Résumé William Parker: double bass
Résumé Gerald Cleaver: drums, percussion
Although jazz drummer Gerald Cleaver has been known in the Detroit area as a great musician and educator since the early '90s, he was not so well-known to listeners outside of the Midwest until an explosion of recordings released starting in 1999 brought his powerful and tasteful drumming to the attention of jazz listeners everywhere. Born and raised in Detroit, Cleaver became deeply involved with the jazz scene there, working with respected area musicians including trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, guitarist A. Spencer Barefield, reedsman Wendell Harrison, and many others. An NEA fellowship allowed Cleaver to study with drummer Victor Lewis; Cleaver then earned a music degree from the University of Michigan. Splitting time between Detroit and N.Y.C., where he subsequently moved, Cleaver has worked with a long list of great jazz leaders including Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, and Reggie Workman among others. Farmers by Nature, with William Parker and Craig Taborn, appeared from Aum Fidelity in 2009.
Current tour datesAvailable for Festivals and Special Events
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Steve Swell Quintet
Soul Travelers (Rogue Art)
Steve Swell: Appreciating the Avant Garde Today
— All About Jazz Interview by Vic Schermer, July 2017
Steve Swell: 5049 Podcast, Episode 96
— Episode 95 by Jeremiah Cymerman, December 2016