Master your instrument...
How long have you been playing the trumpet?
As far as I remember I started trumpet age 6 or 7. I was fortunate enough to come from a very musical family. My great uncle played with quite a few big names throughout his career and was pretty successful on both Sax & Trumpet. My Grandfather, great-great uncle were all musicians!
How did you get started in music?
In the UK (as I’m sure is similar in the US) we have testing within primary/elementary school to test which children are ‘musical’ and thus should be given an instrument and tuition. Although coming from a music family and having already been playing piano I was told I wasn’t musical and shouldn’t get an instrument. It took my mother complaining to the school for me to be finally given an instrument. Years later, I can’t recall any of my classmates also devoting their lives to become full-time musicians!
Who are some of your musical influences and why?
I’m always stomped when I’m asked about my influences. Of course all the expected trumpet influences apply, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval, Roy Hargrove… In terms of style I would owe a lot to Arturo who has always been a huge inspiration on my music! With this said, and as cliché as it may sound, I try not to let myself get too influenced by the style and personal attributions of others. Although I accept their value I’m opposed to the concept of working extensively from transcriptions. Aside from my instrumental influences I appreciate all kinds of music with the exception of Country. I’ve played with genres from Opera to Thrash Metal and I would like to say that it has all influenced me one way or another!
Tell me about your current gigs. Which is your favorite and why?
Currently I’m fortunate enough to have a good list of weekly residencies that cover multiple styles. Thursday I work with a DJ focusing on Jazz & Funk remixes and tracks. Friday is more focused on Nu-Disco with some slower grooved lounge-house. Saturday changes often but can range from a Jazz Quartet to current progressive House & Dance music! Sunday has two residencies; The Rick Swann Trio Live @ The Albany, Belfast alongside two of my favourite musicians in Northern Ireland. Sunday evening is another show alongside a DJ and percussionist. It is pretty progressive and a long blow, (from 9pm-2am) but it’s A LOT of fun!
In terms of a favorite I really couldn’t answer that! I’m often asked which DJ I prefer to work with, or which line-up in a Jazz setting I prefer. Again, as cliché as it may sound I enjoy working with all of them, each DJ and musician has their own unique approach to what they do and how they do it! This means that I’m constantly being pushed to work with tracks I’ve never played/heard and growing in terms of musical empathy. It would be easier to have favourite tracks yet that is constantly changing as I’m performing new tracks, most of which I’ve never heard, without charts on a nightly basis!
Is music your day job?
Yes, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to give my life to music!
How long have you been doing music full time?
My first (paid) performance with a line-up of full-tme musicians was at age 12 featuring alongside John Scott Trotter, a trombonist who having work extensively with my great-uncle had taken me ‘under his wing’ and taken me through my earliest exposure to Jazz.
Tell me about your recording project. Where do you want your music to take you in the coming years. If you could play anywhere... with anyone... who and where would that be.
I have been in the studio numerous times in recent years working on a debut album. Each of which I have scrapped! Having such high personal standards can be both a blessing and a curse. Much of the recorded tracks have been unofficially released for free yet as I still haven’t found the ‘depth of sound’ I feel inside I refuse to officially release the album until I feel enough ‘power’ in the tracks. I am now working with a new producer and will again shortly be in the studio for what I expect will be THE take! I have also lined up some phenomenal collaborations for the Album however these will be announced in due course!
Musical highlight of your year?
I’ve worked with some amazing individuals within the last year each in very different settings! In fact this time last year I was planning to move to Barcelona! Whilst working on my last cruise ship gig I started working on a list of all the Jazz festivals in Europe! Whilst Ireland was in single figures, France and Spain both hovered around the 300 marker! I wasn’t working too much and was going to take the plunge into the Spanish scene! Everything was organized with the exception of flights when I got a call that changed everything! Within a month I had a minimum of 5 shows per week! That has freed me up to work on many other projects and focus on which direction I want to go! That in itself would be the ‘highlight’ that helped facilitate all others!
What is bebopwithbeats?
Bebopwithbeats is the banner under which a lot of the production I do with many DJ’s is labeled. Soon after my introduction to club playing I found that their was a high demand and interest in Jazz fused with House. With this understanding I have collaborated on recordings with certain DJ’s and started implementing ‘bebopesque’ heads and chord changes alongside the music creating a dynamic fusion and keeping the music of Bird, Diz & Coltrane very much alive and progressive!
What should we watch for with you?
Aside from the Album and a bebopwithbeats EP on the way I am currently organizing some very exciting Orchestral dates, international appearances and collaboration with some great current names in Jazz!
You post a ton of amazing photos online... who's your photographer!
I’m lucky enough to get some great coverage from photographers! In fact I find myself at the end of many photographers lenses on a weekly basis! Some names include: Joshua McMichael, Lewis McClay, Youcef Boubetnikh & Conor Curran. Photo shoots are always fun and a great avenue of creativity and I’m looking forward to getting more organized in the near future!
If your trumpet were an animal... which animal would it be?
Swan?! No but seriously, it would have to be a lioness! Harrelson trumpets have always looked great. Easy to play at speed and in the upper register with great efficiently. Powerful yet can be ‘cute’ and ‘smooth’ when needed.
Since music is your job... do you feel like you need a lot of silence when you're at home... or in the car... or... more importantly... What's in your cd player right now.
You are right! Silence is a beautiful thing and I often find myself driving home for 2 hours after a gig in complete silence! It’s within silence than one can explore the inner realms in which the most creative and soulful music is birthed However I go from one extreme to another! When I am listening I love to crank up the music whether it’s Michel Camillo Brahms, Hans Zimmer, Amy Winehouse, And So I Watch You From Afar, Arturo Sandoval or Pavarotti! The album I’ve been soaking up for the past few days however is ‘Earfood’, The Roy Hargrove Quintet!
On a personal note... I will be traveling to Europe this summer and have a chance to meet with a few Harrelson Clients... Rick is one of the those I will have the pleasure of meeting up with. I am very excited to see him live.
For more information on Rick Swann and his music... check out his website: http://www.rickswann.co.uk/
I am the PR, Advertising, Marketing, Web and Social mind at Harrelson Trumpets. When I am not at work- I paint: