Born in Newark, New Jersey, Steve Swell has been living, working and performing in New York City for all of his adult life. In an effort to find his own voice on his instrument and to learn to write and arrange in a style of his own, he has sought out, performed and recorded with many of the finest improvisers and composers in the city. He has toured and recorded with such diverse jazz personalities as mainstreamers Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich, to so-called outsiders like Anthony Braxton, William Parker and Jemeel Moondoc. Swell has twelve recordings as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artist on more than sixty other releases.

Swell first came to public attention performing with Makanda Ken McIntyre in the multi-instrumentalist’s concert at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1985 of which Herb Boyd of The Amsterdam News wrote, “Swell possess(es) a forceful, but mature sound...with a vibrant syncopation...” Swell came to international attention while touring in Europe and recording with altoist Tim Berne and his group “Caos Totale.” There are two studio recordings of this band on the JMT label. During this time Steve also toured and recorded with Joey Baron’s “Barondown” who released three CDs; one for JMT, New World and Avant.

Even though he is identified with the “downtown scene,” Swell has been developing his style in the more so-called “traditional avant-garde” arena. Co-leading projects such as “Space, Time, Swing” with Perry Robinson, being a sideman in William Parker’s “Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra” and working with other similar people has kept him on this circuit. Dave McElfresh of Jazz Now wrote in a review of drummer Lou Grassi’s CD, PoGressions, “Swell’s powerful trombone zooms in and out of the music like a plane diving at a target. Players like himself - and music like this - are to be thanked for the revival of interest in the instrument.”

Swell’s newest CD, “Slammin’ The Infinite” featuring Sabir Mateen, Matthew Heyner and Klaus Kugel was released on the Cadence label in November 2004. CIMP also released a duo led session with Gebhard Ullman as co-leader with Barry Altschl and Hill Greene. Swell was a featured soloist in Anthony Braxton’s opera, “Shala Fears For The Poor,” performed at John Jay College in NYC. Steve recently taught a master class at New England Conservatory in Boston and he is also an artist/mentor in the NYC public school system.

Steve’s 2004 release "Suite for Players, Listeners and Other Dreamers" featuring Roy Campbell, Charles Burnham, Will Connell, Francois Grillot and Kevin Norton was ranked Number 2 on the 2004 Cadence Reader’s Poll.

Steve’s home page is

Updated on Apr 04 ’05