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  • Anton Schwartz (2001)

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    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."

    In the years since, Anton has won over listeners and critics at high-profile jazz venues across the country, including the Blue Note in New York, Washington D.C.'s Blues Alley and the Monterey Jazz Festival. His frequent appearances at Yoshi's in Oakland draw sellout crowds; one such concert was broadcast nationwide on NPR's JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater in December, 2005. Each of his four CDs has earned sterling reviews and strong airplay, with his most recent Radiant Blue landing Top Five on the national jazz radio charts. While his own writing earns consistently high praise, Anton remains as much at home with the great jazz standards as he is with his own compositions.

    "What I require for music to really captivate me," Anton says, "is groove and intellect working in tandem. Music that gets into your bones, into your head and into your heart. I want to create music that conveys something intriguing--through the rhythm, the structure, the interplay of melody and harmony--and distill that down into something clear and beautiful."

    Anton was born in 1967 and raised in New York City. He began playing clarinet at twelve and switched to the saxophone at fourteen. He quickly became enchanted with jazz, and his early development got a jump start when he came under the tutelage of jazz masters Warne Marsh and Eddie Daniels. While in high school, Anton 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, however, Anton pursued other passions. He earned a B.A. in Mathematics and Philosophy at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude in 1989. Next came Stanford, where, as a National Science Foundation fellow, Anton performed doctoral research in Artificial Intelligence. But all the while, Anton continued to play music. He 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's a faculty member of the Stanford Jazz Workshop and The Jazzschool, where he has designed courses ranging from "The Physics of Musical Sound" to "Improvising Eighth Note Lines." 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." 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.
    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Warne Marsh A Ballad Album I Can't Give You Anything but Love (Criss Cross)
    # 2 John Coltrane Coltrane's Sound Liberia (Atlantic)
    # 3 Eddie Harris The "In" Sound / Mean Greens The Shadow of Your Smile (Rhino)
    # 4 Kenny Kirkland Kenny Kirkland Anna Maria (GRP)
    # 5 Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Ugetsu One by One (OJC)
    # 6 Abdullah Ibrahim No Fear, No Die (S'en Fout, la Mort) Calypso Minor (ENJA)
    # 7 Stanley Turrentine West Side Highway Walkin' (Fantasy)
    # 8 Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina Elis and Tom Águas de Março (Verve)
    Book Daniel Defoe, "Robinson Crusoe"
    Luxury Item A grand piano
    Alternate Picks/Not Broadcast
    Alt 1 Wayne Shorter Phantom Navigator Mahogany Bird (Columbia)
    Alt 2 Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced? The Wind Cries Mary (MCA)
    Alt 3 Frank Zappa Civilization, Phase III Amnerika (Barking)
    Alt 4 Earth, Wind and Fire The Best of Earth, Wind and Fire, Vol. 1 Can't Hide Love (Columbia)
    Alt 5 Ray Charles My World Still Crazy after All These Years (Warner Bros)
    Alt 6 John Coltrane Crescent Wise One (Impulse)
    Alt 7 Stevie Wonder Innervisions Don't You Worry `bout a Thing (Motown)
    Alt 8 Ben Webster Stormy Weather My Romance (Black Lion)
    Alt 9 Eastern Rebellion Eastern Rebellion Bolivia (SJP)
    Alt 10 Joe Henderson Page One La Mesha (Blue Note)
    Castaways by date
    George Cotsirilos
    09 Feb
    Ed Klitsch
    05 Jan