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.
Al Swainger is a musician who happens to be a bassist. He is also a composer, improviser, producer, digital artist 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 twin passion projects Pointless Beauty & Biophosmos.
While both projects embrace both the sonic and visual Pointless Beauty is the chief vehicle for his own compositions and digital art where Biophosmos is dedicated to exploring and reinterpreting the works of Chick Corea. Pointless Beauty 'After & Before' (featuring Neil Yates, Mike Outram, George Cooper & Mark Whitlam) was released in June 2017 and Biophosmos : the Music of Chick Corea (with Tom Berge, Joe Northwood and Jon Clark) in March 2018. A solo ambient album 'Outer Planets' has also been added to the Pointless Beauty canon in 2019.
Other recent projects have included recordings with omnifusion trio Snow Giants – UN (Mike Outram, 05Ric), Mahatmosphere - Beautiful Dirt (Mark Lawrence, Marco Anderson), 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), Annika Skoogh Quartet - Waters of March (Annika Skoogh, Matt Carter, Coach York), art-rock band GRICE – Alexandrine (featuring Grice, 05Ric, Luca Calabrese, Richard Barbieri, Steve Jansen, Hossam Ramzy, Steve Bingham, B.J.Cole), Becky Brine's Catharsis (Becky Brine, Jean-Paul Garde, Jon Clark) and singer songwriter Siobhan McCrudden - Icarus Girl.
As well as his own projects Al continues to perform live regularly with Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen, The Annika Skoogh Quartet, Ed Leaker's Swing Machine, Kick Ass Brass and The Blue Vanguard House Trio.
Some past tour highlights include working with Roger Beaujolais, Scott Hamilton, Peter King, Steve Lawson, Tina May, P.P. Arnold, Ken Peplowski and Steve Waterman.
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), his own solo project Pointless Beauty (A Lonely Vigil / After & Before / Shall Brothers Be) and Biophosmos : The Music of Chick Corea.
Mahatmosphere - Beautiful Dirt (Due 2019)
Pointless Beauty - Outer Planets (2018)
Al Swainger Q*tet - Biophosmos (2018)
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)
Grice - One Thousand Birds (2019)
Siobhan McCrudden - Icarus Girl (2018)
Becky Brine - Catharsis (2018)
Annika Skoogh - Waters of March (2018)
Gary Bamford Trio - God, Love & Other Myths (2018)
Grice - The Grey of Granite Stone EP (2017)
Grice - Alexandrine (2015)
Fowler / Ashworth / 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)
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)
WhailTale (2019 - Present)
MIchele Drees Jazz Tap Project (2018 - Present)
Mahatmosphere (2018 - Present)
Al Swainger Q*tet / Biophosmos (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)
Everyone has their own ideas of who is famous and who isn't so here's a big list of everyone I've ever performed with on a paid gig just to be thorough. I'm sure you'll have heard of at least one of them!
Accordion: Mirek Salmon, Karen Street
Banjo: Eddie Edwards, Pete Sumner, John Whitlock
Drums/Percussion: Paolo Adamo, Gemma Allen, Miguel Andrews, Lee Beards, Will Beavis, Richard Blanchard, Sebastian Boleslawski, Stan Bourke, Tommy Bradascio, Robert Brian, Matt Brown, Rod Brown, Sam Brown, Steve Brown, Neil Bullock, Richie Burns, Ric Byer, Nick Carter, Tim Carter, Dave Cartwright, Pete Cater, Gordon Clark, Jon Clark, Mattia Collu, Craig Connet, George Cooper, Pete Cox, Scott Craig, Steve Crossen, Steve Douglas, Ted Draper, Michele Drees, Gary Evans, Jim Ferris, Matt Fishwick, Nick Good, Simon Gore, Tony Gullis, Andy Hague, Scott Hammond, Steve Hanley, Harry Harding, Dennis Harris, Mark Hayward, Colin Hedworth, Carl Hemmignsley, Arthur Hollingrake, Denny Hutchinson, Eddie John, James Keefe, Gary Kroll, Miles Levin, Holly Madge, Dave Mayne, Ben McCabe, Paul Magrath, Ursula Tuca Milan, Dusty Miller, Nick Millward, Tim Powell Morris, Roberto Nappi, Jim Newton, Chris Nickolls, Eva Redman, Tony Orrell, Kevin O'Rourke, Chris Pope, Ed Raynham, Jay Robertson, Steve Rushton, Keith Russell, Kristian Sharpe, Dave Sheen, Romain Siegel, Jonathan Silk, Graham Smith, Jamie Smale, Charlie Stratford, Roger Telford, Clark Tracey, Andy Tween, Steve Wads, John Watson, Billy Weir, Jon Whitfield, Mark Whitlam, Coach York
Flute: Greg Abate, Gareth Lockraine, Ruth Molins, Amy Roberts, Theo Travis
Guitar: Charlie Allen, Dominic Ashworth, Andrew Barrett, Nick Boyd, John Broad, Neil Burns, Tim Carter, Bill Chugg, Dan Chugg, Graham Clow, Leigh Coleman, Nicholas Dover, Steve Dow, Steve Down, Ian Emby, John Etheridge, Matthew Grigg, Adam Holgate, Clive Hooper, Denny Ilett, Steve Jenner, Andy Hulme, Ant Law, Mark Lawrence, Andy Mackenzie, Katie Marie, Tony Marshall, Jesse Molins, Jim Mullen, Harry Mundy, Mike Outram, Trefor Owens, John Parricelli, Gary Potter, Nigel Price, Phil Robson, Alex Roth, James Shipway, Mike Smith, Phil Smyth, Sean Snook, Rob Sporle, Jay Stapley, Andy Stevens, Roger Stiles, Adam Stokes, Antony Stylianou, Hugo Montgomery Swan, Marc Taylor, Joe Trudgeon, Christian Walsh, Sam Webb, Fraser Weekes, Andy Wild, Ryan Williams, Dave Wood, John Worth
Harmonica: Paul Jones, Rob Paparozzi
Keys: Gary Bamford, Andrzej Baranek, Paul Barnum, Andy Barton, Tom Berge, Paul Bingham, Jim Blomfield, Toby Boalch, Matt Carter, Liz Chugg, James Clemas, Philip Clouts, George Cooper, John Critchinson, Andrew Daldorph, Louis Scott Delaney, Tom Drewett, Paul Eldridge, Jonathan Elsender, Colin Frechter, Ralph Freeman, Tim Funnell, Jean-Paul Garde, Guy Gardner, Adam Glasser, Ana Gómez, Barry Green, Ruth Hammond, Paul Harris, Frank Harrison, Keith Harrison-Broninski, Mike Hatchard, Graham Hilton, Robin Holloway, Dave Jones, James Keefe, Tom Kincaid, Pete Kelly, Brian Kirkby, Adam Lane, Steve Lodder, Alex Maguire, Gav Martin, Rob Maxwell, Craig Milverton, Colin Mitchell, Tim Moore, Dhevdas Nair, Rebecca Nash, Ian Navran, Dave Newton, Dan Nicholls, Andy Nowak, Anders Olinder, Greg Painter, Will Penney, John Pierce, Graham Pinkney, Alfie Pugh, Tom Quirke, Justin Randall, Matt Rattcliffe, Jason Rebello, Louis Riley, Viv Rodd, Elliott Rooney, Dennis Rossi, Terry Seabrook, Pete Searle, Daryl Sherman, Gerry Swainger, Al Terry, Max Turnbull, John Turville, Tom Unwin, Jonathan Vinton, Andy Wild, Gareth Williams
Saxes/Clarinet: Greg Abate, Julien Alenda, Brandon Allen, Pete Allen, Gilad Atzmon, Iain Ballamy, Alan Barnes, John Barnes, Ray Beavis, Ned Bennett, Chris Biscoe, Peter Bradley, Frank Brooker, Steve Buckley, Chris Bundy, Pete Canter, Sue Capey, Otto Caretta, Gordy Carter, Benn Clatworthy, George Comer, Joel Corden, Craig Croften, Mark Crow, Renato D'Aiello, Martin Dale, Sarah Dean, Don Donally, Ian Ellis, Richard Exall, James Evans, Jonny Faull, Jo Fooks, Mick Foster, Robert Fowler, Harry Fulcher, Jade Gall, Alex Garnett, John Gilbert, Fliss Gorst, Chris Gradwell, Chris Gumbley, Steve Hacking, John Hallam, Scott Hamilton, Roz Harding, James Harris, Charlie Hearnshaw, Jonny Herbert, Graham Hilton, Jeremy Huggett, Claire Hurst, Daniel Janota, Andy Keenan, Peter King, Duncan Lamont Jnr, Adam Lane, Ed Leaker, Pete, Long, Pete Lowe, Ben Lowman, Stephen Mathers, Neil Maya, Dave McKeown, Jake McMurchie, James Morton, Joe Northwood, Yasmin Ogilvie, Dave O’Higgins, Dave Murphy, Al Nicholls, David Parr, Ken Parr, Dave Parsons, Roy Pellett, Mark Pembury, Ken Peplowski, Jamie Phippen, Hoagy Plastow, Terry Quinney, Raph Ravenscroft, Ken Rennison, Amy Roberts, Nick Robinson, James Russell, Zoltan Sagi, Matthias Seuffert, Karen Sharp, Dave Shepherd, Martin Speake, Simon Spillett, Greg Steland, Karen Street, Julian Marc Stringle, Carol Sudhalter, Art Themen, Jean Toussaint, Theo Travis, Lisa Tregale, Andy Tweed, Dimitri Vassilakis, Ben Waghorn, Chris Walker, Don Weller, Bobby Wellins, Geoff Westcott, Ric White, Andy Williamson, Trevor Whiting, Mike Wills, Laura Wright, John Wurr, Vassilis Xenopoulos
Tap Dancers: Scott Cripps, Will Gaines, Adele Joel, Annette Walker
Trombone: Callum Au, Emma Bassett, Mark Bassey, Ian Bateman, Gordon Cambell, Bob Cronin, Andy Dore, Jamie Dove, Andy Fawbert, Andy Flaxman, Bobby Fox, Jim Fryer, Luke Gilbert, Tom Gill, Chris Gower, Dave Hankin, Andy Hillier, Pat Hogan, Jon Hopes, Graham Hughes, Terry Kelly, Richard Leach, Andy Letten, Dan Long, Roger Marks, Ron Milford, Dave Smallwood, Bob Martin, Paul Munnery, Mark Nightingale, Julian Pinn, Io Pugh, Sam Smith, Scott Stroman, Keith Thomas, Bill Watrous, Alistair White, Tom White, Roy Williams
Trumpet: Bruce Adams, Yazz Ahmed, Alan Bateman, Roger Bibbins, Mike Brewer, Jamie Brownfield, Jonny Bruce, Tim Carlstone, Guy Collins, Quentin Collins, Mike Cotton, Ben Cummings, Kev Cunningham, Paul Denegri, Andy Dickens, Callum Dowd, Digby Fairweather, Gabriel Garrick, Mark Gillbanks, Andy Hague, Duke Heitger, Dave Holdsworth, Martin Holland, Graham Hutton, Pete Judge, Noel Langley, Corben Lee, Gethin Liddington, Mike Lovatt, Nick Malcolm, Dave Martin, Jon Moakes, Brian Moore, Phil Nicholas, Dick Pearce, Robin Pengilley, Sue Richardson, Tim Sayer, Martin Shaw, Bobby Shew, John Shillitoe, Gareth Smith, Andy Stark, Pete Taylor, Becca Toft, Enrico Tomaso, Graham Treworgie, Steve Waterman, Neil Yates
Vibes: Roger Beaujolais, Ken Church, Tony Harris, Jim Hart, Nat Steele
Vocals: Jason Abrahams, P.P. Arnold, Jilly Banks, Belinda Rose Barnett, Zac Bauman, Charlotte Benson, Adam Binney, Gemma Bott, Rachel Brand, Becky Brine, Jeff Brown, Michael Campari, Leigh Coleman, Cate Cody, Linzi Collard, Sara Colman, Phillipa Cookman, Emma Cox, Scott Cripps, Joanna Eden, Lotty Ellery, Michaela Fedeczko, Tracey Germain, Phoebe Gorry, Maxine Green, Tiu de Haan, Katie Hamilton, Jacqui Hicks, Kai Hoffman, Claire Hoinville, Emma Hughes, Phoebe Ions, Debbie Jones, Helen Jones, Paul Jones, Wayne Kennedy, Suzie Kennedy, Molly King, Victoria Klewin, Sally Knight, Patrick Kumah, Steve Laister, Roman Marek, Katie Marie, Claire Martin, Tina May, Hilda Monaghan, Lucy Moon, Adam Moran, Harry Mundy, Tim Murray, Penny Neilson, Annie Noel, Joy Parke, Louise Parker, Maggie Reeday, Sue Richardson, Noelle Rollings, Ella Rooke, Nick Roll, Ruth Royall, Sam Scott, Russell Shaun, Daryl Sherman, Annika Skoogh, Phil Smyth, Rob Sporle, Jay Stapley, Roger Stiles, Hugo Montgomery Swan, Nicky Swann, Clare Teal, Lynn Thornton, Alex Walker, Ruby Washington, Heather Wensley, Jim Whitley, Toby Williams, Dean Winters, Val Wiseman, Kitsun Wolf
If I’ve missed you out, and I do have a fairly shoddy memory at times, I apologise. There’s no slight intended so please just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to add you in.
Groups: Aesculus Hipp, Agent Funk, A.J.’s Big Band, The Art Trip, The Artemis All-Stars, Jeremy Huggett’s Band Of Gold, The Bateman Brothers, Ben Cummings' Big Beat, Blue Harlem, The Bone Supremacy, Rachel Brand Trio, Becky Brine Trio, Neil Burns Trio, Michael Campari and the Solar System , Cantaloupe, City Steam Jazz Band, Martin Dale Quartet, Dave Can't Dance, Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra, Dodgey Practice, The Dratpack, Michele Drees Tap Project, Dysfunktional, Exe City Big Band, Format, Funkty Dumpty, Grice, Harry Fulcher Trio, Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen, Charlie Hearnshaw Quartet, Roger Marks’ Honiton Armada, The Jazz Company, The Jazz Worriers, Jivestar, Kick Ass Brass, Killer Whale, The Late Shift, Ed Leaker Trio, Lush Life, Mint Julep, Craig Milverton Trio, Harry Mundy Band, Monkey’s Uncle, Dave Murphy Quintet, Paper Moon, Louise Parker Quartet, Mother Popcorn, The Organisation, Paper Moon, Power Of Time Monkeys, Puravida Y Acustica, Rifiki, Sam Elliott Big Band, Scream Machine, James Shipway Quartet, Sketch, Snow Giants, Solar, Soul Station, Soul Vortex, South West All-Stars, The Supers, Swing 3, Ed Leaker's Swing Machine, Tipitinas, Threadbearz, The Tritone Subs, Brian Moore’s Wind Machine
Shows: Children Of Eden, Fame, Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, My Baby Just Cares For Me, Seussical, Songs For A New World
Touring Productions: P.P. Arnold - First Lady Of Soul, Bachelor Boy, Ego Mania, Ella & Louis, My Winehouse, The Rat Pack – Vegas Spectacular, Rocking In Rhythm (with Paul Jones), Rocking With Laughter, A Tribute To Matt Monro, Unforgettable
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