The Tyrell Sweeten Element
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The Tyrell Sweeten Element

Sedona, Arizona, United States

Sedona, Arizona, United States
Band Rock Funk


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self produced CD "Professor Big Swinger"



The Tyrell Sweeten Element (formerly Professor Big Swinger)

Since their first performance at the 2009 Gumption Fest in Sedona, Arizona, Professor Big Swinger has been building an enthusiastic following with their frequent appearances in Sedona and Flagstaff.

Band leader Tyrell Sweeten’s phenomenal guitar playing punctuates his original songs with a nuanced sonic barrage, blending gritty funk grooves and searing jazz/rock licks with blazing bluegrass and honky tonk hooks. His heartfelt, soulful singing and songwriting, along with his masterful guitar playing, make Tyrell a triple threat, and true original talent, evoking comparisons to guitar greats as wide-ranging as John Scofield, Jerry Garcia, and Junior Brown.

The band’s powerhouse rhythm section--brothers Ivan and Mike Leibowitz on bass and drums--are the driving backbone of Professor Big Swinger, laying down a rock solid foundation with telepathically tight precision. Locally they are best known for their work with guitar virtuoso Anthony Mazzella. They’ve performed in bands openening for the likes of Duran Duran and Terence Trent D’Arby, and recorded with Grover Washington Jr. and contemporary R&B sensation The Roots.

“Tyrell is a prodigy,” remarks bassist Ivan Leibowitz. “I am truly honored to be playing with him. He carries a certain true depth, integrity and appreciation for the roots behind what it means to be a musician. He lives it, breathes it, and shares it every time he plays.”

In July Professor Big Swinger tore through three of their nearly 20 original songs at the ApplAz singer songwriter competition in Sedona, garnering this enthusiastic response from panelist Tim Shields:“Wow! Incredibly tight! Awesome sound, awesome playing…You guys are major league material, all you need is a great recording and you’re on your way. It’s good stuff.” Shields addressed Sweeten, “I don’t know where all that funk comes from but you got it flowing through your blood. I can feel it. You’re from somewhere in the Deep South I’d imagine…”

Well, sort of. Sweeten, 26, was born in Malad, Idaho and raised by his single mom in Ogden, Utah but did spend some formative years south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

“My real dad was pretty much out of the picture by the time I was two, but not before he fully immersed me in an atmosphere infused with the great rock and roll that he listened to constantly. It had an impact on me musically I’m sure,” says Sweeten. “My mom still loves to tell the story about me rocking out to the boombox in my diapers screaming ‘DOO, DOO, DOO’ (lookin’ out my backdoor) along with Creedence Clearwater Revival.”

A huge impact on the development of Sweeten’s musical development was a move, at age eleven, to music hot spot Austin, Texas.

“My mom married my step dad when I was eleven and we ended up living in Austin for a few years,” Sweeten recounts. “My step dad is a big music fan--he taught me the guitar basics.” Sweeten continued “I just absorbed all the funky, soulful music that I heard during those years in Austin—Texas Blues, all kinds of jazz, rock, folk and country, bluegrass, honky tonk, classic funk and soul, Texas Swing, conjunto… it was great…”

Returning to Utah for most of his high school years Tyrell spent countless hours exploring the guitar. He also studied piano and music theory informally with friends who were highly accomplished musicians. By the age of fifteen he had systematically acquired the style of a succession of blues legends, digesting them and incorporating their elements into his growing, already robust original sound. At sixteen he formed a band which promptly unleashed an authoritative, explosive rendition of Hendrix's “Voodoo Chile” on a High School talent show audience, leaving many kids stunned and bewildered, while some parents stood amazed, shouting and applauding wildly.

He went on to absorb the lessons of popular funky jazz combos like Medeski, Martin and Wood, and the Greyboy Allstars; traditional jazz; experimental and progressive rock and jazz; and vintage funk. By the time he left Utah, weeks before his twentieth birthday, Tyrell Sweeten was a veteran of the open mic, a confident rock and roll front man, and a formidable guitar slinger in possession of flawless musical instincts and chops well beyond his years.

Seeking broader musical horizons, Sweeten relocated to Seattle in 2002 where he promptly fell in with a funky fusion piano trio which provided a strong foundation for his emerging original compositions. His group, “Message Machine”, played regularly at Spot’s Chai House in Seattle’s Ballard district and recorded an impressive CD of original music.

The rat-race lifestyle necessary to survive in Seattle prompted Tyrell to move to Eugene Oregon two years later where he immersed himself in that city’s bustling blues scene.

“There are at least half a dozen weekly blues jams at clubs in Eugene and a deep pool of talented, veteran pla