About Anton

…accessible and groovy, yet deep and consistently surprising.— Jazz at Lincoln Center

You'd expect a brainiac like Schwartz to make brainy jazz, and indeed he does. What surprises are the upbeat vibe, strong melodies, and unflagging sense of swing that he brings to this music.— Ed Kopp, JAZZIZ Magazine

You play the tenor sax like it's meant to be played!— Illinois Jacquet

Tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz is a guiding light of both the Bay Area and national jazz scenes.— SFJAZZ

Good saxophone players can make their instrument
talk to you. Anton goes a step farther... his music
communicates with your soul.— Ray Redmond, Jazz USA

Schwartz plays with an appealing grace and sophistication
that allows him to say very much with very little.— Marc Greilsamer, Jazz Editor, Amazon.com

Schwartz has a classic clear-throated tenor sound and kicks like a mule. His zeal to communicate is fervent yet sophisticated.— Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times

“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.”

From Louis Armstrong and Lester Young to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, jazz’s greatest improvisers create music that carries an emotional wallop. It’s a lesson that tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz learned well. Like the giants from whom he draws inspiration, Schwartz approaches jazz as a vehicle for reaching the heart and the head. At a time when many of his contemporaries seem to be making music more for their musical colleagues than a wider audience, Schwartz stands out as a player determined to communicate with his listeners. Tenor sax legend Illinois Jacquet summed up Schwartz’s artistry succinctly when he told him, “You play the tenor sax like it’s meant to be played.”

His latest album, Flash Mob, surged to the sixth spot on the jazz radio charts and earned a coveted four-star review in Down Beat magazine, reinforcing his reputation as a passionate but poised improviser and smart purveyor of well-wrought melodies. Schwartz credits an upbringing immersed in jazz and adventurous popular music with shaping his approach to improvising, which melds irresistible rhythmic momentum with emotionally charged lyricism.

“I feel lucky because the music I grew up on was Earth Wind & Fire, Jimi Hendrix, The Police, Muddy Waters and Steely Dan… as well as Charlie Parker, Stanley Turrentine, John Coltrane, Lennie Tristano and Wes Montgomery,” says Schwartz. “I’ve never really been interested in making music for other musicians. I want to create music that conveys something complex and intriguing—through the rhythm, the structure, the interplay of melody and harmony—and distill all that into something clear and beautiful.”

Schwartz comes to his populist sensibility via a heady path. He took the full-time plunge into music relatively late when, at the age of 27, he decided to step away from high-level research in Artificial Intelligence. Since then he’s forged ties with some of jazz’s heaviest hitters, including pianists Russell Ferrante, Taylor Eigsti, Randy Porter, Josh Nelson, Art Lande and Eric Reed… guitarists Peter Bernstein, Bruce Forman, Ed Cherry, Julian Lage and Dan Balmer… Trumpeters Dominick Farinacci, Thomas Marriott and Scott Wendholt… and vocalists Ed Reed, Jackie Ryan, Denise Donatelli and Rebecca Kilgore.

Born in 1967 and raised in New York City amidst a family known for intellectual ferment, Schwartz began playing clarinet at 12 and switched to the saxophone at 14. Enthralled by jazz, he found invaluable mentors early on, studying with reed masters Warne Marsh and Eddie Daniels. In high school he had the chance to perform with the likes of Lionel Hampton and Woody Herman.

In college, however, Schwartz pursued other passions. He earned a B.A. in Mathematics and Philosophy at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude in 1989. Despite his demanding studies, he played first tenor sax in the Harvard Jazz Band, a chair he held after Don Braden and before Joshua Redman. As a National Science Foundation fellow at Stanford, Schwartz dove into doctoral research in Artificial Intelligence, but after several years he couldn’t resist the pull of music, plunging headlong into the Bay Area jazz scene in 1995.

His 1998 debut album When Music Calls earned national attention, and established Schwartz as a captivating new voice. Focusing on his engaging original compositions, the album earned effusive praise, with The San Francisco Bay Guardian declaring that 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.”

He followed up in 2000 with The Slow Lane, a project that displayed his growing confidence as a composer while also including jazz standards by Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson and Billy Strayhorn. The album also earned rave reviews, with Billboard leading the way: “Schwartz savors the implications of each note, allowing the listener to delight in the endless melodies created by his stirring improvisations.”

Schwartz relocated to Seattle in 2010, but maintains a strong presence performing and teaching in California. He’s a longtime faculty member of the California Jazz Conservatory, where he has designed courses ranging from “Improvising Eighth Note Lines” to “The Physics of Musical Sound.” He is also a clinician at the Brubeck Institute, and has been Artist in Residence at Harvard University and the Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony, in addition to numerous jazz festivals and workshops.

“It’s especially gratifying to see so many people reacting so wholeheartedly to my music,” Schwartz says. Indeed, longtime aficionados and jazz newcomers alike rave about his performances.

A consummate self-starter, he hosts popular loft jazz concerts in Oakland and Seattle in which he performs with masters such as Julian Priester, Ken Peplowski, Taylor Eigsti and Lorraine Feather. He is also the author of a popular blog about jazz and music theory and has released five albums on his own Antonjazz label.

Over the past two decades Schwartz has performed at jazz’s most prestigious clubs and festivals, from the Blue Note in New York City and Yoshi’s in Oakland to Washington D.C.’s Blues Alley and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Recent highlights include two sold-out shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center and a feature as soloist with the Boston Pops in Boston Symphony Hall.

Minding his muse has led Schwartz to verdant musical fields, but he’s earned his avid following by heeding E.M. Forster’s timeless imperative, “Only connect!…Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.” Marrying probing intelligence to a soulful and celebratory spirit Schwartz meets listeners where they live and takes them on an enthralling journey.

Read Schwartz’s Resume

iTunes Store

Editors’ Review: Flash Mob - July, 2014
Official editorial review by the iTunes Store.
“… thoughtful, exceptionally detailed, and just plain fresh-sounding.” Read More

DownBeat Magazine

Artist Profile - April, 2014
“I don’t know an alternative to emphasizing melody,” Schwartz says. “The most fundamental question one can ask of any music is, ‘Why was it created?’ You can answer that by saying, ‘to break with tradition,’ ‘to reference tradition’ or ‘to show the socioeconomic hypocrisy of society’—and those are all valid answers. I’m writing for the sake of pure enjoyment and pleasure—for the listeners and the players—and that starts with melody.” Read More

L.A. Jazz Scene

CD Review: Flash Mob - March 2014
A superior tenor-saxophonist from Northern California, Anton Schwartz has his own sound and a fresh conception of forward-looking hard bop… Schwartz has created a CD worthy of the best of 1960s Blue Note… there are several songs on this set that deserve to become future standards. Read More

Earshot Jazz

Feature Article - March 2014
“The music is imbued with spontaneity, precision, and fun. Schwartz’s thick tenor tone pairs warmly with Farinacci’s dark brass. Melodic clarity trumps technical fireworks. Wide grooves set a jubilant vibe.” Read More

DownBeat Magazine

CD Review: Flash Mob - March, 2014
★★★★… Just about all of these songs have the kind of shapely themes you can imagine other players wanting to cover. Read More

Rochester City Newspaper

CD Review: Flash Mob - February 12, 2014
The most powerful aspect of Anton Schwartz’s new album, “Flash Mob,” is the manner in which it manages to evoke the greatest jazz quintets of the past while simultaneously stretching toward the future. Read More

San Jose Mercury News

Feature Article - June 13, 2013
With the Ugetsu Project, tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz turns his attention to a classic live album recorded by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers exactly 50 years ago this weekend… Although he relocated to Seattle about three years ago, Schwartz is still a regular presence on the Bay Area scene. He tours and records with the great Ed Reed, the East Bay jazz singer who is enjoying his first brush with jazz notoriety in his 80s. Schwartz continues to teach at the Jazzschool, presents loft concerts at his pad in Oakland, and is always looking for opportunities to play. Read More

Jazz Improv Magazine

Anton Schwartz Interview - Spring, 2007
Jazz Improv Magazine interviews Anton Schwartz. Questions include:
  • How did your research and work in the area of Artificial Intelligence impact your artistic development and creativity?
  • What were some of the guiding ideas that you learned from Eddie Daniels and Warne Marsh whom you credit as being some of your influential sax teachers?
  • Talk about the relevance of developing a healthy curiosity about ideas and people, in and out of music, to bolster your artistry.
Read More

JAZZIZ Magazine

Review: Radiant Blue - January/February, 2007
…Schwartz blows with a warm, fluid tone, and great economy. From his trills on the minor-blues tune “Slightly Off Course” to the simple theme on the South African groover “Life & Times,” his decisions all sound right. He and Bernstein exhibit a special chemistry reflecting a shared musical history that dates to their high school days in New York City. Eigsti also impresses with one tumbling run after another. Read More

Jazz Times Magazine

Review: Radiant Blue - November 2006
Radiant Blue could make an excellent introduction to jazz for someone on the outside looking for a way in… It is accessible. And because tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz and his capable sidemen are deadly serious about their fun, there is enough musical substance here to make sure the jazz neophyte is exposed to the real thing… Schwartz has a classic clear-throated tenor sound and kicks like a mule. His zeal to communicate is fervent yet sophisticated. Read More

San Francisco Chronicle

Feature story: “Anton Catches On” - Oct 8, 2006
Scoring a top 10 hit on the jazz charts isn’t quite the same thing as ruling the pop charts. MTV doesn’t call, and you can walk down most streets unmolested by fans. But for Oakland tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz, whose [CD] “Radiant Blue,” is cresting near the top of the JazzWeek listings, the ranking is an impressive feat by a musician who is running his own show, from booking his own gigs to overseeing the CD’s design and production. Read More


Radio Chart: Radiant Blue - October 2, 2006
Anton Schwartz’s “Radiant Blue” CD rides the Top 10 in an extended run on the American Jazz Radio Chart. Read More


Cover Story: Artist Q&A - September 25, 2006
It’s been six years since Bay Area saxophonist Anton Schwartz released an album… so JazzWeek decided to check in with him as his new CD races up the charts. Read More

All About Jazz

Review: The Slow Lane - March 1, 2000
The Harvard and Stanford University graduate exhibits style, wit and a predilection for sublime, thoughtful phrasing amid a slightly hard edge, which counters any semblance of saccharine or smooth jazz ideologies.… The beauty of it resides within Schwartz’ distinctly personalized faculties and understanding of where to go with a tune as a soloist and leader. Schwartz’ seemingly uncanny abilities and sensibilities enable him to render even the quietest or calmest of tunes with a meticulous and often understated sense of urgency. Needless to state, Anton Schwartz is a young man with a horn who delivers the goods in artful and persuasive fashion! Read More