@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festival
12 May 2007
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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 McKay).
“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.