Organizing sound into music is what Ricky Sweum has been doing since childhood. He is a professional musician specializing in live performance and studio production. Ricky currently lives in the Bay Area, California and tours the world as a saxophonist and band leader for the US Air Force Band. He has performed in places ranging from Carnegie Hall to remote Alaskan villages only accessible by airplane. Ricky holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Production from Berklee College of Music, and he has recorded six CDs under his name along with appearing on dozens of commercial releases.
Ricky grew up in Eugene, Oregon. As a child, he rallied local kids and formed jam sessions while recording everything onto his dad’s reel-to-reel sound-on-sound machine. He built his own synthesizers using parts from Radio Shack and used his mom’s kitchen pots and pan as drum sets. In 1988, he began studying saxophone. In 1992, he won a position in the McDonald’s All American Jazz Band which performed for the Grammy Celebration Week in New York City.
After high school, he spent a year living in Portland, Oregon while attending Mt. Hood Community College and performing regularly with Ron Steen. In 1993, Ricky won the Yamaha Young Performing Artist award. From 1993-95, Ricky attended William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, then he moved to New York City. During his time in New York, he was a member of the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop, performed at a myriad of local venues, toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, toured with the Broadway Show, “Sound of Music” featuring Marie Osmond, recorded multiple CDs, earned a fourth degree black belt in Ninjutsu under Masaaki Hatsumi, and lived for many weeks in the woods with nature awareness teacher, Tom Brown Jr.
In 2003, Ricky won a position as a saxophonist for the United States Air Force Band in San Antonio, Texas. In Texas, Ricky was an original member of Gerry Gibbs’ Thrasher Big Band. In 2005, Ricky won an audition for the US Air Force Academy premier band in Colorado Springs, Colorado. With the Air Force Academy Band, Ricky performance highlights include Carnegie Hall, Monterey Jazz Festival, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and recording with Sammy Nestico. Also in Colorado, Ricky joined the Chie Imaizumi Jazz Orchestra, and he formed a jazz quartet that recorded for Origin Records. From 2007-11, Ricky was the the jazz director at Colorado College. In 2010, Ricky was a featured artist in the Random House book, “The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today’s Living Legends and the Artists of Tomorrow.” Around this time, Ricky’s CDs began receiving accolades from critics and industry peers, and his music placed on the US top 100 JazzWeek and CMJ jazz radio charts.
In 2011, Ricky joined with his childhood musical buddy, and created NINJAZZ Records (an independent jazz record label). Also in 2011, Ricky moved to Anchorage, Alaska to play saxophone and run the jazz band for the US Air Force Band of the Pacific. In Alaska, Ricky performed in the Arctic Circle for Native Alaskan villages. In 2012, Ricky’s music was licensed to appear as an accompanying CD to Aereostella Italian publishing company’s book, “appunti da New York.”
In 2012, Ricky transferred to the Air Force Band in Tokyo, Japan. Along with touring Japan, he has also has toured Australia and Indonesia. Then in 2018, he relocated to the Bay Area, California to run the jazz big band.