Biography

Nelda and her father

Nelda Swiggett (piano, compositions, narrative, curated images) is a Seattle native, and spent her childhood hiking, climbing and skiing the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Her father Jack Christiansen was a passionate explorer of the wilderness. From a young age, Nelda followed him deep into the heart of the Olympic and Cascade mountains, mostly off trail route finding with map and compass. Her love for the natural world started early and over time strengthened into a sense of urgency and personal responsibility to protect it.

When Nelda entered the University of Washington, she was a classical piano performance major and an ambitious competitive downhill ski racer, until a serious ski accident landed her in a hospital bed in traction for two months at Harborview Medical Center. When she returned to college, she dropped out of the music program, fell in love with jazz, earned a Bachelor of Science in Scientific and Technical Communication, and embarked on a dual career as a technical writer and jazz musician. Who knew this combination of skills would later support her efforts to communicate the science of climate change through the power of music!  For more information about Nelda, visit her personal website at www.neldaswiggett.com.

Julian Smedley (violin) started his music career as a choirboy in an English cathedral. As a violinist he performed regularly on BBC television and radio both as a soloist and an orchestral player. He co-founded the Bowles Brothers Band that recorded on Decca Records. Since moving to the West Coast of the U.S., he has performed with such artists as Art Lande, Ralph Towner, Gary Peacock and Gil Evans, and he was a member of the Bay Area’s Hot Club of San Francisco. Since his 2011 return to the Pacific Northwest, Julian has been performing with The Debutones, The Greg Ruby Quartet, and Julian and Alison, a jazz duo with his wife.

Clif Swiggett (trombone, percussion) grew up in New York and started playing trombone as a teenager. He toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, played with the Clem DeRosa All-Star Big Band, and played lead bone in the McDonald’s Tri-State Jazz Ensemble. Clif moved to Seattle in 1985, and has since performed and toured with a wide variety of bands, including Room To Move, Cambalache, Caribbean Roots, The Brian Waite Band, Megabopolis, and Clif & Nelda’s little BIG Band (with his wife, Nelda). Clif is also co-creator (along with grammy-nominated vibraphonist, Stefon Harris) of the revolutionary Harmony Cloud™ app, currently being used by music students and teachers around the world to develop a more intuitive understanding of harmony.

Chris Symer (bass) was well established in the LA jazz scene before moving to the Northwest in 2002. He’s since become one of Seattle’s top tier bass players, highly regarded for his versatile and sensitive musicianship. Chris has recorded, performed and toured with many of the world’s leading jazz musicians including Tierney Sutton, Ramsey Lewis, Roger Kellaway, Robben Ford and Bennie Maupin. Studies in jazz and classical performance have provided Chris with an ability to fit into almost any musical situation. His open minded approach has led him to the somewhat unusual practice of tuning his own double bass in fifths an octave below the cello, and he remains fascinated by the tonal palette this tuning provides.

Adam Kessler is a dedicated drummer, percussionist, and educator. He has performed in venues around the world, including Zimbabwe, China, Poland, Portugal, Cape Verde, Montreal, Mexico, and Israel. In 2006 he received a BA in Music from Cornish College of the Arts. While there he gained valuable experience through the study of jazz, Brazilian, electronic, middle eastern, and gamelan music. Adam performs regularly in Seattle, teaches privately as well as ensemble classes, and is an accompanist for Spectrum Dance Theater, and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s classes and outreach program.

Jill McGrath (poet) has been published in numerous journals, including The Seattle Review, The Hurricane Review, and Arnazella’s Reading List. She published a chapbook, The Rune of Salt Air, and is currently working on two poetry manuscripts.