Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion
Biographie Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion
A very young Zoe's musical journey started by being brought up at a convent boarding school singing sacred music in church several times a week. A natural singer, Zoe was chosen as a regular soloist, and also often conducted the schola. Zoe broadened her musical intake by defying school rules and listening to John Peel under the bed-cloths late at night on a tiny transistor radio (and loving bands like the Stranglers). Zoe was introduced to Billie Holiday by her uncle Colin in her early teens, this was inadvertently the crucial stepping stone to Zoe's natural home of singing the blues. By the time Zoe left school she had achieved grade 8 piano, clarinet, music theory and singing (not to mention hours knocking around on an acoustic guitar when ever possible and dabbling in early song writing). From here on the journey started ......
Zoe Schwarz: For somebody with such a natural feel for, and ability to convey emotion through singing the blues, had a very unorthodox start to her musical journey. Being brought up in a musical family, and with her mother being a very accomplished musician and pianist, Zoe's first experiences were in the world of classical music.
A is graduate in the ‘Performing Arts’ from Trent Park, Middlesex University. She then performed in many guises over the following years, mostly in modern improvisational and classical music, drama and dance; including working with Keith Tippet, Scott Stromen, Harrison Birtwistle and Emma Kirkby. A cash-flow problem meant Zoë then started temping in part time work between singing jobs... a very common trend for budding musicians trying to bridge the financial gap of a fledgling musical career.
Zoe’s other early formative musical experiences included singing in indie pop bands, improvisational theatre work shops and performances; frequenting varied London venues including the likes of The Bass Clef, Ronnie Scotts, and Royal Festival Hall.
Zoë turned up the heat on her musical career in the autumn of 2001. Whilst on a course at Dartington Intl Summer School, Zoe impressed and was subsequently been invited by Keith and Julie Tippet to sing at a concert to sing some Billie Holiday numbers. Totally inspired she returned home in search of like-minded musicians; this is when she was introduced to Rob Koral.... this was the catalyst that Zoe needed, and after several years of working together, Zoe and Rob formed Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion in January 2012.
As well as the well received Blue Commotion albums. Zoe and Rob also recorded a beautiful, intimate trio album called Slow Burn which, not only features Zoe’s distinct blues phrasing, but unashamedly is a vehicle for the influences that have impacted on Zoe’s entire musical development, including documenting the profound affect of Billie Holiday on her musical personality.
has played on well over 30 albums which have featured great musicians such as Jeremy Stacey, Laurence Cottle, Roy Babbington, Gareth Williams, Robin Aspland, Django Bates, Mark Fletcher, Mike Bradley, Chris Dagley, Pete Whittaker, Paul Robinson, Ian Ellis, Andy Gangeden, Paul Simm to name but a few.
Rob comes from a self-taught background, and first came to prominence with the successful band SKETCH featuring vocalist Sue Hawker.
Rob says.... "When I first started playing guitar at school, the challenge between us guitar-playing rebels was to see who had the sweetest vibrato. Who could bend the string up a whole tone, and hold it with the most control. Playing the Blues must be the most natural way to start playing guitar. It gives you an understanding of the relationship between the string, the wood, and the amp. The amp is not just to make the guitar louder, but is an integral part of the instrument... it’s a partnership between the guitar and amp, and is a tool to help you achieve your stylistic goals....
By the time I started gigging on the local pub scene in Bournmouth my ears were full of the sound of Jan Akkerman, quite a step from Eric and the Blues players. Next, I moved to London and it wan’t long before I was playing some iconic venues with great players trying to find a bridge between Allan Holdsworth and Joe Pass. Now I was playing with people I had only known through their recordings.
I developed an interest in chord melody prompted by Joe Pass' virtuoso album. It meant I was now able to tackle accompanying just one other person. From here it was just one step to playing solo guitar. Quite an unexpected musical direction for me. This meant putting the pick away and playing finger-style so as to separate melody from the harmony and bass parts. In recent times, I have loved going back to playing solely blues, driving the amp, writing songs with Zoe Schwarz and reinvestigating my own personal picking technique and working to develop it further. There’s no substitute for the attack and excitement of using a pick. I have always wanted to create a fluid sound without physical tension in the execution."