Brian Swartz
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Brian Swartz

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE | AFM

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE | AFM
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"The Brian Swartz Quartet featuring Bob Florence Live at the Jazz Bakery"

Swartz's support comes from the power-in-reserve rhythm section of Bob Florence's big band. There is something about Florence's piano playing that attracts adventurous young trumpet players. His occasional partnership with Ingrid Jensen has produced memorable moments. He and Swartz also meld well and strike sparks. When Swartz goes on risky little harmonic side trips away from the changes, as he does on "All the Things You Are" and "Star Eyes," a less calm and assured pianist would be tempted to go off into space with him, and neither might get back alive. Florence gives Swartz plenty of slack but keeps him tethered to the ship.

Bassist Trey Henry and drummer Dick Weller fit the modus operandi, swinging freely but firmly. Henry gets plenty of solo space. Henry deserves plenty of solo space. Florence's soloing here is on a level with his best recorded playing. As for Swartz, he goes for unorthodox sequences of notes without sacrificing a sense of melodic line that is reminiscent of Art Farmer's or Tom Harell's. His vehicles for these adventures are standards, giving his audience something familiar to hold on to. He and Florence give them a nearly unalloyed "Stardust," and a fine gift it is.
- JazzTimes


"The Brian Swartz Quartet Featuring Bob Florence"

Los Angeles based trumpeter Brian Swartz has an extensive resume as a sideman that has performed with many top of the line jazz artists and big bands throughout his long career. After playing with the Bob Florence Big Band and again with his "Limited Edition" quartet that included bassist Trey Henry and drummer Dick Weller, Swartz convinced Bob Florence to record a collection of standards for a new CD. Thus was born the Brian Swartz Quartet Featuring Bob Florence.

Recorded live at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles in August of 2004, Live At The Jazz Bakery is a recording of six old standards played in a straight-ahead soft and mellow style with many improvisational phrases done with elegance and grace by Swartz, punctuated by the classy piano playing of Bob Florence and supported by a rhythm section that claims their own portion of each tune with style.

You will find that the music on this CD generally runs from low to medium tempo. There are few fast paced riffs and no real loud banging high notes stuff here by either Swartz or Florence. That's not to say that you won't hear some power playing from both of these guys. Florence plays with his usual trade mark cool and when the music calls for it, he plays with force and clarity.

The first track, the familiar Mancini/Mercer composition, "Days of Wine and Roses," is characterized by a lot of improvisations from both Swartz and Florence. Swartz sets the pace on the first verse followed by Florence on the second verse and bassist Henry with a solo on the next verse. This tune does not really highlight any instrument and becomes a shared musical arrangement.

"My Romance" begins with a fine flugelhorn-bass collaboration that sets up the entry by Florence who takes over the music with an excellent piano solo that you knew was coming. "Never Let Me Go," the third track and the only number arranged by Swartz, is in my opinion, clearly the best cut of the album. One of the best renditions of this standard recorded. It's an upbeat catchy number that will have you humming the music in the shower. Swartz plays this tune with passion and fire while Florence starts off slowly and then builds up to a key pounding climax. There's great interplay between the band on this one.

The fourth track, "Stardust," is all Bob Florence on piano with a short burst of brass from Swartz. Interestingly enough, time wise, it is the shortest track on the album with a playing time of seven minutes. Florence is magnificent on this piece in which he once again hits those keys hard as if he were making a musical statement. "Star Eyes" and "All The Things You Are" are the two cuts that feature some hot trumpet solos by Swartz as he stamps his style on the music and this CD.

As a jazz lover you can appreciate the music, musicianship and the harmony you'll find on this album. If there is any criticism from my part of this recording, it would be the playing time length of the tracks. I believe that each number could have been shortened without sacrificing quality. Five of the tracks ran from eleven to fifteen minutes in playing time. A bit much for the average listener. In all, Live At The Jazz Bakery is one excellent CD that I enjoyed listening to. Great job Brian Swartz. I look forward to his next project. - www.jazzreview.com


"Brian Swartz Trio"

Brian Swartz’s new album, Three, features the drumless trio of Swartz on trumpet and flugelhorn, Larry Koonse on guitar, and Darek Oles on bass. In Three, Swartz is paying homage to trumpeter Chet Baker and his trio of the late 70s. Even though Swartz is honoring Baker’s trio he and his group are by no means copying the exact sound of Baker’s group. The trio plays eight standards and four originals by Swartz all with a unique sound and great musical interplay.

There are many differences between Swartz’s trio and Baker’s recordings from the late 70s. First of all, Swartz does not sing. Another difference is that Swartz plays at more relaxed tempos. Even though there are many differences between the two groups, Baker’s influence on Swartz shows up in his playing. Swartz and Baker both have wonderful mellow tones, and both play harmonically intriguing notes. However, as he says in his liner notes, Swartz chooses to play more simple lines. “Rather than filling up more space and being as hot as possible, I wanted to take a step back and make every note count. It came out to be a very personal statement.”

Knoose and Oles provide good, stable support for Swartz. Knoose’s comping is rhythmically sound and he does a nice job at filling in the holes. His soloing is lyrical and relaxing. Oles has a well defined sound and plays bass lines that keep a steady pulse going through the group.

The most impressive quality of the group is the interplay between all three musicians. They listen to each other making the group unified which produces a magical sound. An example of this is on the track “A Ghost of a Chance” when Knoose and Swartz are having a guitar and trumpet battle. At the end of the battle when they are playing simultaneously Knoose plays a lick and Swartz plays the lick back.

Three is an admirable homage to the old Chet Baker trio. It is filled with simple but yet melodically intriguing playing and great interplay. - www.jazzreview.com


Discography

Brian Swartz has released three jazz CD's as a leader: "There's Only Me" (2000 Noir Records); "Live at the Jazz Bakery" (2005 Summit Records); "Three" (2006 Summit Records). He is currently in production on his fourth CD, "Portraiture." "Down With Downs" is featured on the compilation CD produced by the Los Angeles Jazz Collective.

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Bio

Brian Swartz is a diverse musician. Trumpeter, composer, arranger and producer. His music also has a wide range, from jump swing to funky soul to heartfelt jazz. His band, The Gnu Sextet sprung out of the imagination of trumpeter Swartz in 2005 when the band began it's regular Tuesday engagement as the house band at the weekly jam session at the Club 1160 in Hollywood, CA. Swartz sought just the right mix of players that had mastered their respective instruments but were pliable enough to make Swartz's music their own. What they've come up with is a highly personal and intensely expressive style of performance. Since the band has played together since 2005, they have developed a palpable chemistry. In 2008, the band recorded a live DVD at Wave Street Studios in Monterey, California. Swartz's composition "Down with Downs" was selected as the Grand Prize Winner for the Jazz Category in the 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Session 1.