On a San Francisco foray from his base in Seattle, Anton Schwartz plays Bird & Beckett in the company of Adam Shulman on piano and Robb Fisher on bass in drummer Vinnie Rodriguez’s quartet.
Schwartz committed himself to music at age 27, when he decided to step away from high-level research in Artificial Intelligence. Since then heâ€™s forged ties with some of jazzâ€™s heaviest hitters, including pianists Russell Ferrante, Taylor Eigsti, Randy Porter, Josh Nelson, Art Lande and Eric Reedâ€¦ guitarists Peter Bernstein, Bruce Forman, Ed Cherry, Julian Lage and Dan Balmerâ€¦ Trumpeters Dominick Farinacci, Thomas Marriott and Scott Wendholtâ€¦ and vocalists Ed Reed, Jackie Ryan, Denise Donatelli and Rebecca Kilgore. His recent album Flashmob earned a four-star review in Down Beat.
Born in 1967 and raised in New York City amidst a family known for intellectual ferment, Schwartz began playing clarinet at 12 and switched to the saxophone at 14. Enthralled by jazz, he found invaluable mentors early on, studying with reed masters Warne Marsh and Eddie Daniels. In high school he had the chance to perform with the likes of Lionel Hampton and Woody Herman.
In college, however, Schwartz pursued other passions. He earned a B.A. in Mathematics and Philosophy at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude in 1989. Despite his demanding studies, he played first tenor sax in the Harvard Jazz Band, a chair he held after Don Braden and before Joshua Redman. As a National Science Foundation fellow at Stanford, Schwartz dove into doctoral research in Artificial Intelligence, but after several years he couldnâ€™t resist the pull of music, plunging headlong into the Bay Area jazz scene in 1995.
His 1998 debut album When Music Calls earned national attention, and established Schwartz as a captivating new voice. Focusing on his engaging original compositions, the album earned effusive praise, with The San Francisco Bay Guardian declaring that Schwartz â€œhas everything you want to hear in a modern jazz saxophonistâ€”an appealing, consistent tone, an abundance of ideas fueling both his compositions and his improvisations, and superb taste in musical collaborators.â€
He followed up in 2000 with The Slow Lane, a project that displayed his growing confidence as a composer while also including jazz standards by Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson and Billy Strayhorn. The album also earned rave reviews, with Billboard leading the way: â€œSchwartz savors the implications of each note, allowing the listener to delight in the endless melodies created by his stirring improvisations.â€
Schwartz relocated to Seattle in 2010, but maintains a strong presence performing and teaching in California. Heâ€™s a longtime faculty member of the California Jazz Conservatory, where he has designed courses ranging from â€œImprovising Eighth Note Linesâ€ to â€œThe Physics of Musical Sound.â€ He is also a clinician at the Brubeck Institute, and has been Artist in Residence at Harvard University and the Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony, in addition to numerous jazz festivals and workshops.
â€œItâ€™s especially gratifying to see so many people reacting so wholeheartedly to my music,â€ Schwartz says. Indeed, longtime aficionados and jazz newcomers alike rave about his performances.
A consummate self-starter, he hosts popular loft jazz concerts in Oakland and Seattle in which he performs with masters such as Julian Priester, Ken Peplowski, Taylor Eigsti and Lorraine Feather. He is also the author of a popular blog about jazz and music theory and has released five albums on his own Antonjazz label.
Over the past two decades Schwartz has performed at jazzâ€™s most prestigious clubs and festivals, from the Blue Note in New York City and Yoshiâ€™s in Oakland to Washington D.C.â€™s Blues Alley and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Recent highlights include two sold-out shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center and a feature as soloist with the Boston Pops in Boston Symphony Hall.
Minding his muse has led Schwartz to verdant musical fields, but heâ€™s earned his avid following by heeding E.M. Forsterâ€™s timeless imperative, â€œOnly connect!â€¦Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.â€ Marrying probing intelligence to a soulful and celebratory spirit Schwartz meets listeners where they live and takes them on an enthralling journey.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
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Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.
Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site