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Jacques Schwarz-Bart (born December 22, 1962 in Les Abymes) is a New York-based jazz saxophonist. His mother is the Guadeloupean novelist Simone Schwarz-Bart, author of The Bridge of Beyond. His father was French-Jewish author André Schwarz-Bart. The two published a joint novel, Un plat de porc aux bananes vertes, in 1967. The family traveled widely, living in Senegal, Switzerland, and Goyave, Guadeloupe. Jacques Schwarz-Bart is dubbed "Brother Jacques" and his music has incorporated rhythm and blues as well as hip hop influences.
His musical path is atypical. At age four, he was offered a Gwo ka drum, and Anzala (one of the all-time Gwo ka greats, along with Velo and Carnot), showed him how to play the seven fundamental rhythms: Toumblak, Graj, Lewoz, Kalagya, Padjanbel, Mende, Woulé.
At age six, while living in Switzerland, he discovered jazz music through his best friend’s father's record collection. Fascinated, he taught himself guitar by playing along with records. By age eleven, he was sitting in with the players of the local Lausanne scene, but soon after, his family relocated to Guadeloupe. There, without a jazz scene, he concentrated on his studies, most notably at the prestigious School of Government called Sciences Po, and eventually landed a job as a Senator’s assistant in Paris. At the age of twenty-four, he appeared poised for a more conventional success, until by chance he tried a friend's tenor saxophone. He practiced between his long hours at the Senate, and three years later, he abandoned his nascent career to attend Berklee School of Music, in Boston.
After a grueling practice schedule that spanned four years, he graduated from Berklee and developed a reputation by playing with acknowledged leaders of the Boston jazz scene such as Danilo Perez, Bob Moses, and Giovanni Hidalgo before leaving for New York City. One week after arriving there, he went to hear Chucho Valdes, Roy Hargrove and Randy Brecker perform at Bradley’s, the former renowned jazz club. In a moment of boldness he pulled out his horn, jumped on stage and joined in. A month later he got a call from Roy Hargrove to replace David Sanchez in his Latin jazz band, Crisol. By early 2000, he had earned his nickname, "Brother Jacques," given to him by musician D'Angelo, in praise of Schwarz-Bart's musicianship. In addition to his work with Hargrove and D'Angelo, Schwarz-Bart has done session work and performed live with Erykah Badu, Eric Benet, Meshell N’degeocello, James Hurt, Danilo Perez, Soulive, Ari Hoenig and David Gilmore, among others. His tune “Forget Regret” was the single on Roy Hargrove’s 2003 album "Hard Groove."
Jacques Schwarz-Bart has produced several personal projects. After a straight-ahead CD entitled "Immersion" came The Brother Jacques Project: a mixture of soul and jazz, with layers of Caribbean rhythms, featuring vocalist Stephanie McKay. With his 2007 album on Universal, "Soné Ka-La," Schwarz-Bart became one of the first musicians to fully explore the connection between Gwo ka and jazz, two musical styles of the African Diaspora. The project features musicians such as Admiral T and Jacob Desvarieux of Kassav'. It is his oldest project, and yet the one that took the longest to achieve.
The Bridge of Beyond, Simone Schwarz-Bart, Heinemann, 1982