Steve Swell Quartet featuring Steve Swell, trombone, Rob Brown, alto saxophone, William Parker, bass, Michael T.A. Thompson, drums, Northampton Center for the Arts, 33 Hawley St.Single tickets ($15) at www.jazzshares.org and at the door. This performance is made possible with the support of Jazz Road, a national initiative of South Arts, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Steve Swell has been an active member of the New York scene since 1975. He has toured and recorded with a wide array of musicians, ranging from legendary jazz traditionalists like Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich to renowned avant-gardists such as Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, William Parker, and Cecil Taylor. His discography consists of over 50 albums as a leader or co-leader and over 100 appearances as a sideman.
After studying in the mid-1970s with trombonist Roswell Rudd (as well as Grachan Moncur III and Jimmy Knepper), Swell joined Makanda Ken McIntyre’s band which resulted in subsequent tours and recordings with myriad creative music luminaries including Joey Baron, Jemeel Moondoc, and Ken Vandermark, among many others. As a bandleader Swell has led a number of projects, including Slammin’ the Infinite, Fire Into Music, Unified Theory of Sound and his large ensemble Nation of We (aka NOW Ensemble).
Swell has received numerous awards, commissions, and grants over the years and has been included in the Downbeat Critics Poll in the trombone category every year since 2010. In addition to running workshops around the world, he also teaches in several capacities: as a teaching artist through the American Composers Orchestra, Healing Arts Initiative, Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center (Bronx), the Jazz Foundation of America, Leman Manhattan Preparatory School, and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
Rob Brown was born in 1962 in Hampton, Virginia and moved to New York in 1984, where he established the musical relationships that came to define his career. He reestablished ties with pianist Matthew Shipp whom he met in Boston in 1982 and made their first album in 1988 on Cadence. He then met William Parker and began a 30-year collaboration, touring Europe and the US, and recording more than 18 albums, in ensembles ranging from quartet to big band. The most most prolific and steadily working of those groups is Parker’s quartet, formed in 2000 with Lewis Barnes and Hamid Drake. Rob has also been playing with William Parker’s Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra since its inception in the early 1990’s. Brown also has important ongoing relationships with drummer Whit Dickey and cellist Daniel Levin. Brown has recorded 26 albums as a leader or co-leader and many more as a sideman.
William Parker is a bassist, improviser, composer, writer, and educator from New York City, heralded by The Village Voice as, “the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time.” In addition to recording over 150 albums, he has published six books and taught and mentored hundreds of young musicians and artists. Parker’s current bands include the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, In Order to Survive, Raining on the Moon, Stan’s Hat Flapping in the Wind, and the Cosmic Mountain Quartet with Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan, and Cooper-Moore. Throughout his career he has performed with Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Milford Graves, and David S. Ware, among others.
Michael TA Thompson was born in Miami in 1955 and moved to the US Virgin Islands when he was nine. There he started the process of learning music and how to play the drums, studying, listening and playing all kinds of music from Caribbean to Jazz and everything in between. After high school, he attended Berklee School of Music, before moving to New York where he met the late Roy Campbell, Jr. and soon established a prolific career. Over the years, Thompson has shared bandstands and recording studios with a wide variety of artists including Charles Gayle, Nels Cline, Jason Hwang, Vinny Golia, Joe McPhee, Oliver Lake, Kidd Jordan, Fay Victor, Matthew Shipp, Uri Caine, Henry Grimes, Marc Ribot, William Parker; The Shadow, Becket, reggae artist Owen Gray, as well as artists from classical to rap and beyond.