// christophe schweizer

– trombonist, composer, arranger, conductor, producer, educator, and curator.  Originally from Switzerland, he resided in New York for a decade and is currently based in Hamburg, Germany. 

With his music, he strives to touch his listeners both emotionally as well as intellectually.  Known to be innovative conceptualist, he has released seven albums as a leader and performs worldwide.  As an instrumentalist and improviser, his language spans the field in between modern and traditional forms of Jazz,  New Music and Free Improvisation, and Classical.  As a composer, his main area of interest lies the possible combinations of written and improvised music. The collaborative album STREAM is his second release on the Enja label

Christophe Schweizer was born on April 9th, 1968 in Berne, Switzerland, into a family of teachers and musicians. After taking first steps on the violin, he took up trombone and piano lessons at age 10 and began playing Jazz at age 14. In 1988, he was accepted as a student of Professor Branimir Slokar at Berne Conservatory and was appointed principal trombone with the Swiss Youth Symphony. 

In 1989, his band won 2nd prize at the European Jazz Competition held in Leverkusen, Germany. Two years later, he participated in the Banff Jazz Workshop  (Canada), where he was to return as a faculty member in 1999 and 2000, and performed with Paulo Moura at the Montreux and Zurich Jazz Festivals, besides playing with many groups in his native country. In 1992, he appeared as a soloist with Pro Musica Orchestra, Lausanne, playing J.G. Albrechtsbreger’s concerto for alto trombone. 

Later the same year, Christophe moved to New York, studying briefly at Mannes College with Conrad Herwig, David Taylor, Billy Hart and others, but quickly became immersed in a multitude of projects. David Taylor encouraged his interest in the bass trombone; as a consequence, in addition to the tenor trombone, today Christophe performs also on bass trombone and contrabass trombone, having added alto trombone, euphonium, alp horn and tuba to his spectrum.

In New York, Schweizer initiated several band projects playing his own compositions, with which he recorded and toured regularly, and which established his reputation as a forward thinking composer and performer. Among these were his group 5SIX7; his organ quartet with Ohad Talmor,  George Colligan / Jason Moran, and Billy Hart / Tyshawn Sorey; his quintet with David Binney, Jacob Sacks, Dan Weiss, and Hans Glawischnig; and his Septet with Alex Sipiagin, Donny McCaslin, Eric Rasmussen, Ethan Iverson, Johannes Weidenmüller, and Billy Hart.

In 1996, Christophe joined the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, with which he remained associated until 2003; he occasionally performed and toured with the Mingus Big Band from 1996 to 2005. In 1997, he played several concerts with the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra at their original location, Visiones. 

Other large ensembles with which Christophe has performed and / or recorded are the NDR Radio Big Band, Hamburg; WDR Radio Big Band, Cologne (Maceo Parker); Guimaraes Festival Orchestra, Portugal (Kenny Wheeler, Gianluigi Trovesi, Bob Mintzer); European Broadcast Union Big Band 2002 (lead trombone); Jazz Big Band Graz (John Hollenbeck, Kurt Elling, Jon Hendricks, Take Six, New York Voices); Zurich Jazz Orchestra (as Arranger-Conductor: Joe Zawinul /Weather Report repertoire); Big Band de Lausanne (Toots Thielemans, Phil Woods, Kenny Werner-Joe Lovano); Berlin Jazz Orchestra (Vinko Globokar); in 2016, he played lead trombone with Aarhus Jazz Orchestra (Denmark) in projects with David Sanborn (Sketches of Spain) and Perico Sambeat (Flamenco Jazz);  since 2013, he is the lead trombonist with Outreach Orchestra (Austria), for which he also arranges (Rebekka Bakken) and composes.

Projects which Christophe has been a part of include: David Binney Free to Dream (Guimaraes Festival, 2001); Ohad Talmor / Lee Konitz (North Sea Jazz Festival, 2008); Fred Hersh “My Coma Dreams” (Berlin, 2012); Arkady Shilkloper World Project (Moscow, House of Music, 2006); Trio with Richie Beirach and Detlev Beier (bass), 2015

In 2006, Christophe appeared with Gstaad Festival Orchestra in Singapore as the soloist in Daniel Schnyder’s Alphorn Concerto. In January, 2015, he was the only non-Georgian guest soloist with Tbilisi Symphony at a concert in honor of Georgian composer Gyia Kancheli’s 80th birthday at Rustaveli Hall, Tbilisi. 

Christophe’s interests both as a performer and as a composer extend to the fields of contemporary /avantgarde classical music and Pop; in recent years, he has premiered / recorded works by Brice Catherin, Barblina Meierhans, Rudolf Meyer, Marc Sabat,  Stéphane Furic-Leibovici, Gene Pritsker, and Daniel Schnyder.  His own work for 15-piece ensemble “Rumi: Silence is the language of god,” was premiered  in 2019 at Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg.  In Pop, he was a part of Matthew Herbert’s small group at the Berlin and Hamburg Festivals in 2015;  he performed with Owen Pallett and Stargaze at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie Main Hall in 2017.  With conductor Kristijan Järvi’s Absolute Ensemble, he recorded music for the Netflix series “Babylon Berlin”.

Christophe’s long time association with drummer Billy Hart culminated in the release of their collaborative album with the WDR Big Band, “The Broader Picture”, on the Enja label in 2016, which Christophe arranged and conducted. This recording was met with much critical praise and internationally established his reputation as an accomplished and innovative arranger. This partnership was renewed for the 2020 Album “Stream”, also on Enja (with Sebastian Gille, Pablo Held, Joris Teepe). 

In 2017, Christophe initiated a collaboration with Brazilian trombone legend Raúl de Souza, which premiered in September at Jazz Open Festival, Hamburg. This group is slated for touring in 2018. Another project in the making after a successful 2017 permiere is a quintet lead by Brazilian pianist Alex Corrêa, which also features trumpeter Alex Sipiagin. 

As an educator, Christophe has been teaching Jazz trombone and ensembles at Hochschule für Musik Leipzig since 2021 and Jazz composition in the Dr.Langner Jazz Master Program at Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Hamburg, where he has been residing with his family since 2002. He has been a resident artist at Outreach Festival and Academy in Austria since 2013, alongside David Taylor, John Clark, Mino Cinelu, Mark Egan, Adam Holzman and others. 

From 2017 to 2022, Christophe served as the Chairman of the Board and Programme Director of Jazz Federation Hamburg, producing some 50 concerts per season.

In 2017, he served as the musical director for the original production “Valentin” at Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg with music composed by Michel Wertmüller. 2018 saw him arrange and conduct the premiere performance of Alex Corrêa’s “Concerto para Piano e Universo” with the JazzKombinat Big Band. He also toured with Corrêa’s Quintet featuring trumpeter Alex Sipiagin,  Christophe conducted his work “Rumi: Silence is the language of God” to a sold out Elbphilharmonie Recital Hall in February, 2019. That same year, he produced a tour and a recording with the “Raul de Souza Generations Band”. The resulting album “Plenitude” was released on PAO Records in 2021. 

Following the outbreak of the Covid-19-pandemic in March, 2020, he co-founded the hugely successful streaming platform “hamburg.stream”, of which he became the programme director. Over the course of two years, he curated well over sixty streams, produced to high standards by a wonderful team. hamburg.stream has thus generated 100K € to pay substantial fees and visibility for the Hamburg music community.

Most recently, Christophe has turned to composing large scale works which intertwine composition and improvisation in new ways. His 2 hour work “Curved Time” for string orchestra and a septet was premiered at JazzHall Hamburg in 2022. In 2023, he recorded a series of compositions and improvisations for four microtonally tuned pianos and three winds at Eberthalle, Hamburg.

2024 is going to see the release of a duo album with his Brazilian partner, pianist Alec Orea.