Born October 4, 1940, in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Steve Swallow is a jazz double bass and bass guitarist and composer.
Swallow studied piano and trumpet as a child, but turned to the double bass when he was fourteen. At prep school, he began trying his hand at jazz improvisation, and in 1960 he left Yale, where he was studying composition, and moved to New York City.
He began playing in Jimmy Giuffre's trio, along with Paul Bley. In 1964, Swallow began to compose, about the same time he joined Art Farmer's quartet. It was in the 1960s that his long association with Gary Burton's various bands began.
Along with Monk Montgomery and Bob Cranshaw, Swallow switched to electric bass guitar in the early 1970s, with much encouragement from Roy Haynes, one of Swallow's favorite drummers. He plays with a copper Hotlicks pick and excels at intricate solos in the upper register; he was one of first to use the high C string on a bass guitar.
In 1978 Swallow became a member of Carla Bley's band and in the early 1980's he toured extensively with John Scofield; he has returned to work with both groups several times over the years.
Swallow has won the electric bass category in Down Beat's yearly polls (both Critics' and Readers') since the mid-1980s. His compositions have been covered by Jim Hall (who recorded his first composition, "Eiderdown"), Stan Getz , Bill Evans, Chick Corea, and Gary Burton.