@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festival
12 May 2008
Click an image to enlarge.
New York based jazz saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart
was born in the suburbs of Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, December
22, 1962. He grew up between Switzerland and Guadeloupe. The son
of two award-wining novelists, Schwarz-Bart followed an original
and sinuous path that speaks volume about his identity.
At age 4, he was offered a Gwoka drum set and was
tutored by Anzala (one of the all time greats along with Velo and
Carnot). Anzala would show him how to play the 7 fundamental rhythms
-Toumblak, Graj, Lewoz, Kalagya, Padjanbel, Mende, Woulé.
At age 6, while living in Switzerland, Schwarz-Bart discovered Jazz
music through his best friend’s dad record collection. Fascinated,
he taught himself the guitar by playing along with records. At 11
he started gigging with the players of the local Lausanne scene,
but soon after, his family relocated to Guadeloupe. There, without
a jazz scene, he concentrated on school. Schwarz-Bart would soon
find employment at the prestigious School of Government called Sciences
Po as a Senator’s assistant in Paris. At 24 he seemed on his
way to social success, until the music bug came back with a vengeance
when he picked up a friend’s tenor saxophone. He would find
the time to practice between his long hours at the senate, and 3
years later, he left his job as a Senator’s assistant to attend
Berklee School of Music.
After practising into exhaustion for 4 years, Schwarz-Bart
graduated and developed a reputation by playing with the big guns
of the Boston scene such Danilo Perez, Bob Moses and Giovani Hidalgo.
Schwarz-Bart moved to New York where a brave impromptu
appearance on stage at Bradlee’s Jazz Club with Chucho Valdes,
Roy Hargrove and Randy Brecker led him to a permanent position in
Roy Hargrove’s Latin Jazz band ‘Crisol’ (replacing
David Sanchez). In early 2000, Schwarz-Bart has since progressed
to record sessions and concerts. He has been given the nickname
‘Brother Jacques’ by neo-soul star D’angelo, who
praised Schwartz-Bart for his contribution to his band. Schwarz-Bart
has also worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Eric Benet, Meshell
N’degeocello, John Legend, Mario Canonge, James Hurt, Danilo
Perez, Soulive, Ari Hoenig and David Gilmore to name a few.
Jacques Schwarz-Bart has also produced several
personal projects such as the album “Immersion” and
“The Brother Jacques Project” (a mixture of soul and
Jazz, with layers of Caribbean rhythms featuring the voice of Stephanie
“There is no such thing as one Black
Culture, says Schwarz-Bart. There is a multitude of Black Cultures”.
It is within this wide spectrum of musical choices,
that Jacques has found what sets him apart from other Jazz musicians:
The marriage of Jazz and Gwoka.