Short Artist Biographies :
Al Swainger is a musician who happens to be a bassist. His eclectic tastes have led to making music in a wide variety of genres. Covering ground from pop to progressive rock , traditional to modern jazz and world music to fully improvised soundsculpture, Al is always keen to explore new musical territory.
Al Swainger has been a member of Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen since 2011. Througout his career he has gigged and toured extensively with his own project 'The Art Trip' featuring Alan Barnes, the Craig Milverton Trio and Tomasso Starace amongst many others.
Longer Artist Biography :
Al Swainger is a musician who happens to be a bassist. He is also a composer, improviser and FX enthusiast. His eclectic tastes have led to making music in a wide variety of genres over the years with literally hundreds of musicians. Covering ground from pop to progressive rock, traditional to modern jazz and world music to fully improvised soundsculpture, Al is always keen to explore new musical territory. Currently he is focusing his unique style on his own experimental composition project Pointless Beauty. The album 'After & Before' featuring Neil Yates, Mike Outram, George Cooper & Mark Whitlam was released in June 2017.
Other projects have included recordings with omnifusion trio Snow Giants – UN (Mike Outram, 05Ric), the Art Trip – The Music of Art Pepper (Alan Barnes, Craig Milverton, Nick Millward), The Gary Bamford Trio - God, Love & Other Myths (Gary Bamford, Rob Brian) and art-rock band GRICE – Alexandrine (featuring Grice, 05Ric, Luca Calabrese, Richard Barbieri, Steve Jansen, Hossam Ramzy, Steve Bingham, B.J.Cole).
New recordings with the Al Swainger Quartet, Snow Giants, Annika Skoogh Quartet & Becky Brine are all in the pipeline for release over the coming year.
Al continues to perform live regularly with Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen, The Annika Skoogh Quartet, Ed Leaker's Swing Machine, The Blue Vanguard House Trio, The Tomasso Starace Quartet, King Kong Trio and as a solo bassist with FX in an all improvised context.
Past tour highlights include working with Roger Beaujolais, Scott Hamilton, Peter King, Steve Lawson, Tina May, P.P. Arnold, Ken Peplowski and Steve Waterman.
Full Biography :
Born in 1972, Al began playing the cornet and piano at the age of 6; he also tried the trumpet & tenor horn before finally settling on the french horn at 11. His teen years were spent in a wide variety of ensembles and stylistic settings – classical, jazz, pop and rock – often 4 or 5 days a week throughout his schooling. Mainly performing on french horn at this time but also on piano and self taught electric guitar and bass. He also developed an enthusiasm for computer music, composing & arranging extensively using sequencing software and home recording equipment.
Al earned his degree in music from Colchester institute in 1993 and a teaching certificate the following year from Bretton Hall. Whilst studying for his degree he held the piano chair in the university big band as well as continuing to play orchestral french horn.
After completing formal studies Al became a part time instrumental teacher for Devon Youth Music. At the same time he started to build a reputation as an electric bass player, musical director & arranger amongst the local soul & big bands, spent several years with world music improv band Rifiki and a short spell with heavy rock band Aesculus Hipp. With the collapse of the teaching arm of the music service in 2004 Al took the opportunity to become a full time self-employed musician and to expand his skills into playing double bass as well.
Since then Al has run a jazz jam session at the Globe in Exeter for 3 years, an improvisation / composition workshop called The Other Compass, the E.S.P. jam session in Bristol and the successful Blue Vanguard Jazz Club with Coach York & Craig Milverton since 2011. His own bands (Monkey’s Uncle, Time Wasters, Power of Time Monkeys, Mother Popcorn, the Art Trip and most recently The Al Swainger Q'tet) have always met with critical approval and delighted audiences.
Al's reputation as a sideman is formidable and is well known as someone able to slip easily into any context and sound like he's been doing it all his life at a moment's notice. He has been awarded 5th place in the British Jazz Awards three times from 2012-14. See below for a full rundown of collaborations through the years.
He continues to break new ground as a freelance artist and has released albums with the Art Trip (Music of Art Pepper), art rockers Grice (Alexandrine), omni-fusion trio Snow Giants (UN) and his own solo project Pointless Beauty (A Lonely Vigil / After & Before / Shall Brothers Be).
Pointless Beauty - After & Before (2017)
Pointless Beauty - Shall Brothers Be (2017)
Snow Giants – UN (2015)
Al Swainger / Naomi Hart - In Winter (2015)
Pointless Beauty – Vol. 1 (A Lonely Vigil) (2014)
The Art Trip – The Music of Art Pepper (2012)
Time Wasters – Welcome to Wasteland (2007)
Monkey’s Uncle – Lost In Limbo (2005)
Gary Bamford Trio - God, Love & Other Myths (2018)
Grice - The Grey of Granite Stone EP (2017)
Grice – Alexandrine (2015)
Fowler / Ashworh / Milverton – On A Misty Night (2015)
Craig Milverton Trio – Bopularity (2013)
Louise Parker – Live at the Flavel (2012)
Roger Marks & His Mainstreamers – Autumn Leaves (2011)
Roger Marks & His Mainstreamers – Easy Living (2011)
The Session 8 Band – Mood Swings (2010)
Becky Brine – Almost (2009)
Toby Williams – The EP (2009)
The Session 8 Band – Girl In Blue (2009)
Exe City Big Band – Leave Us Leap (2007)
The Jesse Molins Trio – EP (2007)
Toby Williams – Just Want To Say (2005)
Jerri Hart – The Nightless Night (2005)
Aesculus Hipp – Master of Illusion (2000)
Al Swainger Quartet (2017 - Present)
King Kong Trio (2017 - Present)
Snow Giants (2014 – Present)
Pointless Beauty (2014 – Present)
Ben Cumming’s Tribute to Gerry Mulligan (2014 – Present)
Grice (2012 – Present)
Annika Skoogh Quartet (2011 – Present)
Ed Leaker’s Swing Machine (2010 – Present)
Kick Ass Brass (2010 – Present)
Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen (2010 – Present)
James Harris’ Beatbelt (2008 – Present)
The Threadbearz (2012 – 2015)
The Art Trip (2011 – 2014)
Brian Moore’s Wind Machine (2010 – 2013)
The Artemis Allstars (2010)
Mother Popcorn (2009 – 2011)
Tony Harris Quartet (2008 – 2012)
Roger Marks’ Honiton Armada (2007 – 2016)
Swing 3 (2007 – 2012)
Cantaloupe (2007 – 2008)
Louise Parker Trio/Quartet (2006 – 2014)
Killer Whale (2006 – 2008)
Power of Time Monkeys (2005 – 2008)
Harry Mundy Band (2004 – 2005)
Craig Milverton Trio (2005 – 2015)
Monkey’s Uncle (2004 – 2009)
Time Wasters (2003 – 2008)
Soul Station (2001 – 2008)
Sam Elliott Big Band (2000 – 2007)
Aesculus Hipp (1999 – 2001)
Rifiki (1998 – 2002)
Dodgey Practice (1995 – 2001)