Anton Schwartz (tenor sax, composer)
Peter Bernstein (guitar)
Taylor Eigsti (piano)
John Shifflett (bass)
Tim Bulkley (drums)
On August 8, 2006, Tenor saxophonist & composer Anton Schwartz proudly releases his fourth CD as a leader, Radiant Blue--the latest in a series of compelling, highly enjoyable offerings (including When Music Calls, The Slow Lane and Holiday Time) from the New York born and raised, and Oakland based, artist.
Radiant Blue features Anton's world-class quintet, whose December, 2004 Yoshi's concert was just this month broadcast for a second time on NPR's hourlong program, JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater. The music consists of nine new originals by Schwartz and his arrangement of the Jobim classic Wave." Each of Radiant Blue's ten tracks, including Wave," is based on the blues form -- and Schwartz's compelling writing constantly stretches that form in directions that are at once creative and extremely listenable. Schwartz explains: my hope is that, regardless of your musical knowledge, with a few listenings of the CD you will be able to 'squint your ears' and make out the shape of a blues, in the same way you might recognize an old friend at a distance by just their silhouette and their walk. For jazz musicians, the blues form is such a friend." The saxophonist adds that Radiant Blue is a CD of blueses, but it is not a blues CD any more than The Who's rock opera, Tommy, is an opera CD."
Radiant Blue opens with Phantom Dance," which grabs you with its warmth, groove and Anton's simple and honest melody. Following this welcoming tune, Schwartz gets into a second-line blues ("Alligator Strut") and some odd-time Jobim with an adventurous take on Wave," including a reharmonized bridge. This version is melodic & pretty through much of the song, but slammin' by the end. And yes, that is four saxophones you're hearing in the background by the very end of the tune [all Anton]," says the saxophonist. Other highlights on Radiant Blue include Life & Times" which boasts a feel-good South African groove" and an introspective, soothing melody, that is, peaceful for much of the song, then changes gears and gets extremely energetic," explains Schwartz. Schwartz's solo on this tune is overflowing with melody and rhythm, and is nothing but pure joy to listen to. Pianist Taylor Eigsti shines, as does the rest of the band, on the Horace Silver-esque Groundsurge."
Schwartz composed Hooking Up" for two friends when they were getting married. They must be a hip, timeless couple, judging by the fascinating hard bop head and joyous, free-blowing solos from Schwartz and long-time musical partners, guitarist Peter Bernstein and bassist John Shifflett. On another Schwartz original, Marcel Marceau," the band burns while delivering a minimalist, funky drum groove with syncopated piano and bass hits. The solo sections reflect the energy and creative spark of the tune's legendary namesake. Schwartz explains the origins of the piece: I wrote this tune after hearing Marcel Marceau interviewed on NPR. He was talking about positive and negative space. It got me thinking about positive and negative space in music, and this song is the result. There are lots of spaces in the composition, and they contribute as much to the identity of the song as the actual musical phrases."
Throughout the recording the band digs in on Schwartz's original compositions with exuberance, and the kind of unified intent and virtuosity that is associated with jazz's most revered groups, making Radiant Blue a must have recording--not only for serious jazz fans, but for listeners who just love great music.
California CD Release Concerts:
August 17 - Kuumbwa (Santa Cruz)
August 19 - San Jose Jazz Festival
August 21 - Yoshi's (Oakland)
August 22 - Catalina's (Hollywood)
More about Anton Schwartz
Jazz saxophonist Anton Schwartz has been drawing listeners in with the power, spirit and subtle complexity of his music since he bounded onto the San Francisco jazz scene in 1995. At 27, Anton was answering the call of his long-standing passion for jazz, stepping away from the high-level research in Artificial Intelligence he'd carried out at Harvard and Stanford. Quite a career change. Once in action as a musician, Anton quickly gained an enthusiastic following as music fans responded to what the San Francisco Chronicle recently called his warm, generous tone, impeccably developed solos and infectious performance energy."
After taking up the clarinet at age twelve in 1979 and switching to saxophone two years later, Schwartz's passion for jazz eventually led him to come under the tutelage of jazz masters Warne Marsh and Eddie Daniels. While in high school he formed a group with future stars Peter Bernstein and Larry Goldings and got a taste of the big time, appearing in concert with both Lionel Hampton and Woody Herman. In college Schwartz held the prestigious first tenor sax chair in the Harvard Jazz Band, after Don Braden and before Joshua Redman. And inevitably, Anton's heart drew him to a full-time jazz career. In '95 he jumped feet first into the San Francisco jazz scene that has remained his home, even as he's traveled the country.
Praise for Anton's performances and recordings has been unceasing. Jazz Improv Magazine called Anton's 2004 Christmas CD, Holiday Time, A superb album, bubbling with a combination of imaginative and sweet sounding playing--enjoyable year round." Of his 2000 release, The Slow Lane, Billboard Magazine wrote, Schwartz savors the implications of each note, allowing the listener to delight in the endless melodies created by his stirring improvisations." Anton's first CD, When Music Calls (1998), inspired the San Francisco Bay Guardian to report, Anton Schwartz has everything you want to hear in a modern jazz saxophonist - an appealing, consistent tone, an abundance of ideas fueling both his compositions and his improvisations, and superb taste in musical collaborators." Perhaps famed saxophonist Illinois Jacquet put things most succinctly when he told Anton, You play the tenor sax like it's meant to be played." A well-rounded professional, Anton is also in great demand as a teacher. He is a faculty member of the Stanford Jazz Workshop and The Jazzschool, where he has designed courses ranging from Improvising Eighth Note Lines" to The Physics of Musical Sound." He is also a clinician at the Brubeck Institute.
It's especially gratifying to me to see so many people reacting so wholeheartedly to my music," says Anton. Indeed, longtime aficionados and jazz newcomers alike rave about his performances. That ability to capture hearts and minds at all ends of the jazz spectrum has made Anton a force to be reckoned with in the world of modern jazz, now and for years to come.
Media Contact: Red Cat Publicity