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Sara Caswell


Sara Caswell “is a brilliant world-class of the very best of the present generation of emerging young jazz stars” according to David Baker, internationally-renowned jazz educator and Director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Rooted in an early exposure to a variety of musical genres, Sara’s technical facility on the violin intertwined with her gift for lyricism are attracting growing attention to her artistry as a jazz soloist, sideman, and teacher.

Sara leads the Sara Caswell Quartet and co-leads the Caswell Sisters Quintet with her sister, vocalist Rachel, in concerts nationwide at venues including New York’s Symphony Space and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. She and Rachel are currently working on a new recording project with acclaimed pianist Fred Hersch. Sara’s two CDs, First Song (Double-Time Records, 2000) and But Beautiful (Arbors Records, 2005), have garnered rave reviews and been heard on radio programs such as NPR’s Morning Edition. In addition, But Beautiful has received numerous awards including a #1 ranking on nationally-syndicated jazz radio host Bob Parlocha’s list of “Top 40 New Releases” and top rankings for 2005 jazz albums in both Coda Magazine and Jazz Education Journal. Sara has also been featured in the “Encore” series of Strings Magazine.

A member of the New York Pops, Sara has made several appearances as a featured soloist with them in Carnegie Hall as well as on national TV for the NBC broadcast of the 2009 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular. During the 2010-11 season, she will be touring with bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding in support of Spalding’s CD Chamber Music Society (Heads Up, 2010). Sara also tours with violinist Mark O’Connor as a member of his American String Celebration and has toured with violinist Darol Anger’s Four Generations of Jazz Violin. She is part of the Randy Newman Project led by vocalist Roseanna Vitro and pianist Mark Soskin, and has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Gene Bertoncini, Charlie Byrd, Skitch Henderson, Bucky Pizzarelli, Lynne Arriale, and John Clayton, as well as Jon Gordon, Ike Sturm, the Alan Ferber Nonet and Strings, and JaLaLa (featuring vocalists Janis Siegel, Laurel Masse, and Lauren Kinhan).

Sara’s formidable teaching experience includes the Mark O’Connor String Camps, the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, the Indiana University String Academy, the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division, and a private studio. In addition, she has given numerous jazz string improvisation workshops and masterclasses and is involved with MENC (National Association of Music Education), JEN (Jazz Education Network), and ASTA (American String Teachers Association).

A graduate of Indiana University, which she attended under full scholarship as a Wells Scholar, Sara received B.M. Degrees with High Distinction and an Artist Diploma in both Violin Performance and Jazz Studies. In 2006 Sara completed her M.M. Degree in Jazz Violin at the Manhattan School of Music. Amongst her numerous stellar teachers, Sara studied several years with the legendary Josef Gingold (classical) and David Baker (jazz). She has also worked with many of today’s top jazz artists at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Summer Residency Program and at the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Jazz Festival. Sara’s 100+ music honors include several DownBeat Awards, a front-line position in the inaugural Sisters in Jazz Collegiate Competition Quintet, and numerous jazz scholarships and first-place prizes in the classical competition world.

Sara’s artistry and unique sound lead international recording artist/violinist Mark O’Connor to write: “Most good violinists will never experience what Sara creates with her instrument. It is beautifully refined emotion that lifts the spirit and at the same time, crystallizes for me this thought: Jazz violin could really have something to offer again. Jazz violin needs a universal ambassador...a player who can pick up where the last generation left off. Sara Caswell is well on her way to extending that tradition to touch new audiences.”