Tales Episode 04: Jacques Schwarz-Bart

Let’s take a different route this month and go by way of a great player that I’ve known from a past life. Now that can be taken in a couple of ways and that’s exactly my intention. Jacques and I go way back… back to the days when you played gigs for little or nothing, wait, it really hasn’t changed all that much, not really.

In the liner notes on that same CD “The Art of Dreaming” which was released in the United States in 2012, Jacques states that a group of musicians essentially dreams collectively while playing together. Yes, indeed and when I recall each wonderful and incredible occasion that I’ve worked with Jacques, it has always been a deep spiritual awakening that welcomed openness to explore and to free oneself of any tags or labels.

Jacques Schwarz-Bart’s music is undefinable because it is pure evolution, organic truth. His music embodies perpetual change, built upon beauty and acknowledgement of the mysteries of the eternal self.

Jeff Tamarkin in a Jazz Time review of Jacques Schwarz-Bart’s “The Art of Dreaming” wrote “Schwarz-Bart is a sensitive and fluid player who proffers a hearty, brash tone and clever ideas and whose soloing is never less than noble.

About Jacques Schwarz-Bart

Jacques Schwarz-Bart was born of mixed races. His early experience as a man taught him that one can be a harmonious receptacle for several cultures, as long as each one is given its value and importance. After graduating from the French School of Government (Sciences Po Paris), Jacques has been working for the French Senate. While his first instrument is the Gwoka Drums from Guadeloupe his native country, he discovers the tenor saxophone at age 24, and three years later, quits his career to go and study at the Berklee College of music.

After playing alongside such luminaries as Roy Hargrove, Danilo Perez, Ari Hoenig, Meshell n’Degeocello, D’angelo or Chucho Valdes, Jacques finally decides to follow his own vision as a band leader. He then leaves Roy Hargrove’s band in 2005 and finalizes his Gwoka Jazz Project, gathering some faithful and talented musicians such as Sonny Troupé, Olivier Juste or Milan Milanovic. Jacques and his Gwoka Project record two albums for Universal, “Soné Ka La” and “Abyss”, which have built his current career as an internationally acclaimed jazz band leader.
In 2010, he releases “Rise Above”, which revives his long lasting collaboration with singer – and spouse – Stephanie McKay. As Bob Davis puts it: “This album sounds like what might have happened if John Coltrane and Minnie Riperton were to make an album together”.

More recently, Jacques, whose fertile brain seems to never rest, has launched three new projects, ranging from straight jazz to Caribbean roots music. The first one is a free trio with guitar, drums and saxophone. The absence of bass, while freeing the music from the ground, provides an aerial almost ethereal – quality to the music. The wide open space becomes a formidable launching pad for the multi-dimensional playing of Gilad Hekselman and Obed Calvaire.

During these last years, Jacques had the opportunity to play with drummer Leon Parker, pianist Baptiste Trotignon and bassist Thomas Bramerie. From these encounters, a Quartet came up. The music takes off effortlessly. The players soar with unpredictable but purposeful creativity, while showing an unbreakable sense of unity. All the members of the band contribute in the writing and direction of the music. After playing extensively with Baptiste Trotignon, Thomas Bramerie and Hans van Oosterhout over the course of the last four years, Jacques decided to document their very special chemistry on CD. This quartet recording is entitled “The Art of Dreaming”. It came out in Europe in February 2012 and in the USA in September 2012. It has been received everywhere with critical acclaim.

Last but not least, Jacques has created a project that synergizes modern jazz and ritual voodoo music from Haiti. It features two Voodoo priests: the great singer Errol Josué, and percussionist Gaston Bonga, as well as some of the finest Jazz musicians: Etienne Charles, Obed Calvaire, Luqies Cutis, and Milan Milanovic. While remaining a jazz project, the music is lifted by the powerful spirituality of voodoo music. Band members and audience seem to be sailing together on a sea of light. The music has been presented as the headliner for the opening day of the famous Banlieues Bleues festival in Paris, early 2011. Jacques then has extensively been touring with this project, including concerts in Morocco (Essaouira Festival), France (la Rochelle), Guadeloupe (IloJazz) among others. The Jazz Racine Haiti project has finally been recorded and released by Motema Music in January 2014.

Taken from Jacques bio page on his website: http://www.brotherjacques.com

Tales from the Jazzside