Jacques Schwarz-Bart Awarded 2022 Creative Capital Grant

The Berklee faculty member, saxophonist, and composer will use the grant to fund his new recording project, Mosaic (Music from the African Diaspora).

June 29, 2022

Jacques Schwarz-Bart, an associate professor in Berklee’s Ensemble Department, is the recipient of a 2022 Creative Capital Award. The grant will fund the saxophonist and composer's new musical recording, Mosaic (Music from the African Diaspora).

Schwarz-Bart is one of 59 artists working in the performing arts, visual arts, film, technology, literature, and socially engaged and multidisciplinary practices awarded Creative Capital grants this year. Each project will receive varying amounts up to $50,000 in direct funding, supplemented by career development and networking services to foster thriving artistic careers.

"We are thrilled to be supporting Jacques Schwarz-Bart's Mosaic (Music from the African Diaspora), which centers international and intergenerational musical collaboration to creatively explore the common ground between jazz and Afro-diasporic music from the Caribbean, North Africa, and South America,” said Aliza Shvarts, director of artist initiatives for Creative Capital. “Schwarz-Bart poetically describes this ambitious project as a ‘bridge-builder in time and space’—which is a vivid image that illustrates the practical power of formally innovative and socially engaged art."

Schwarz-Bart was introduced to his first instrument, the gwoka drum, in his native Guadeloupe. Raised in both the Caribbean and France, gwoka music gave him a taste for polyrhythms, lyrical melodies, and improvisation, and also taught him the claves, the rhythm patterns that are common to all Afro-diasporic music styles. A self-taught saxophonist, he rose to prominence in the New York jazz scene, where he was at the center of several musical revolutions, including neo-soul (performing with D’Angelo and Erykah Badu) and new jazz (as a founding member of Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor). He also pioneered the creation of gwoka jazz and voodoo jazz, two new styles that reunite jazz with its Afro-Caribbean and spiritual origins. Over his career, he has produced more than 20 records for a variety of artists, is featured on over 150 albums as a sideman, and has taught master classes and clinics in 12 different countries. 

“I have dedicated my life to exploring the common ground between jazz and Afro-diasporic music from Guadeloupe, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Martinique, Trinidad, Morocco, New Caledonia, Colombia, and Cape Verde,” said Schwarz-Bart. “With the Creative Capital grant, I can put my entire experience into one grand project, and travel to each one of these countries in order to display both the uniqueness of each Afro-diasporic tradition, and the common thread between all of them, through my Mosaic project.”

In 2015, Schwarz-Bart was awarded the status of Knights of the Arts and Letters by the French government, and in 2017 he was the laureate of the Bernheim Award for the Arts. That same year, he released the albums Creole Spirits, a collaboration with legendary Cuban pianist Omar Sosa; and Jewazz, a contraction of "Jewish" and "jazz," which was recorded in honor of his late father and acclaimed writer, André Schwarz-Bart.

About Creative Capital

Creative Capital is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to fund artists in the creation of groundbreaking new work, to amplify the impact of their work, and to foster sustainable artistic careers. Founded in 1999, Creative Capital pioneered a transformative grant-making model that marries direct funding to individual artists with infrastructure and scaffolding support. These efforts have impacted not just artists but the arts ecosystem. The Creative Capital model of philanthropy has inspired countless other nonprofits investing in the long-term, sustainable careers of artists. More than 75 percent of recent awardees are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or artists of color representing a wide range of age groups, artistic disciplines, and regions. Creative Capital awardees have received numerous prestigious honors and accolades, including 127 Guggenheim Fellowships, 19 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships, three Academy Awards (and 13 nominations), and one Booker Prize.