Primary Instrument: Piano
Pianist Nelda Swiggett is an active performer and composer on the Seattle music scene. Whether swinging hard with her jazz trio, grooving to salsa and Afro-Cuban rhythms at the Latin club, or laying down soulful gospel riffs at her local church, you can count on Nelda’s strong musicality and creative rhythmic sense.
Nelda entered the University of Washington as a classical piano performance major and a serious downhill ski racer -- an unlikely combination that ended abruptly with a major ski accident and two months of traction in a hospital bed at Harborview. Piano was out of the question, but a guitar and flute helped wile away the hours. One day, an internist on his rounds picked up her flute and began to improvise. He brought in recordings of jazz rhythm sections that he could play along with, and her hospital room became a jazz venue for passing doctors, nurses and patients. Soon Nelda was learning to improvise herself.
In 1990, Nelda formed the Room to Move Sextet, with a three- horn front line featuring trumpet, tenor sax, and trombone. The band’s CD recording of original compositions, No Time for Daydreams, received extensive airplay on Seattle's jazz stations as well as national and international airplay.
In 1998, her talent for composition was recognized by an Artist Trust Fellowship from the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her second release as a leader followed -- Nelda Swiggett | Hands On.
In 2000, Nelda became intrigued by the rich instrumentation of the big band orchestra, and has since arranged several of her original compositions for the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra. In 2001, she joined one of the Northwest’s top salsa bands, Cambalache, and immersed herself in the rhythms of salsa, Afro-Cuban, and Peruvian music. As self-anointed “montuno queen,” Nelda toured extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
After her foray into big band and salsa music, Nelda chose an intimate setting -- the piano trio -- to present her original compositions. Her third CD, This Time (OA2 Records), features herself on piano and vocals with her band mates Chris Symer on acoustic bass and Byron Vannoy on drums. In addition to performing and composing, Nelda keeps a busy schedule teaching jazz and classical piano.
Awards:Artist Trust Fellowship 1998
“Inspired arranging . . . infectious rhythms . . .” -- Earshot Jazz Magazine
“Swiggett impressed the selection panel with her unquestionable talent for tight arrangements and natural ability to compose big band music.” -- Artist Trust Journal
Moving Room Productions
Tracks: The Odyssey; Moon Boy Revisited; For the New Year; Dog Food; Then Came Dylan; Miles High; Last Laugh; Venus Girl; Fast Track Jack; I Spy Love; Bossadilly; Tra La La.
Personnel: Nelda Swiggett: piano/vocal; Brian Kent: tenor and soprano saxes; Cuck: Bergeron: bass; Steve Hill: drums. Special guests -- Jeff Busch: percussion (6 & 11); Jim Sisko: trumpet (6 & 12).
No Time for Daydreams
Moving Room Productions
Tracks: Obsidian Blade; Hot Turnover; Drizzle Bop; Simple Things; Muhal's Moment; For C.S.S.; The Path; Signs of Life; The Optimist; Chemo Receptor; Daydream/No Time for Daydreams.
Personnel: Nelda Swiggett: piano/vocal; Brad Smith: trumpet/fluegelhorn; Clif Swiggett: trombone/bongos; Dean Mochizuki: tenor/alto saxes; Rick Leppanen; electric bass; Chirs Monroe: drums/percussion. Special guest -- Tamara Wimer: vocals (1 & 7).
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