MICHAEL SWARTZ was born in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, a rural town in the center of the coal-mining region. A composer as well as a saxophonist, he was completely self-taught until after high school, when he went to New York to study with La Monte Young, whom he had read about and felt drawn to but whose music he had never heard.

Several years later, in 1976, he studied briefly with Philip Corner, and through John Cage, subsequently met William Duckworth. Swartz made his New York debut as a composer-performer at the Appleby Studio. In addition to performing his own music, he has recorded with Bedful of Metaphysicians, and has led several ensembles, including a jazz trio in New York featuring drummer Denis Charles and bassist Sahib Sarbib.