Neil Swainson was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on November 15, 1955. He began working with Paul Horn in 1975, and played in his band for two years. Neil also backed up such musicians as Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, and Sonny Stitt.
In 1977, Neil moved to Toronto, which has become his home. He became very active in the local jazz scene, playing with such artists as Moe Koffman, Ed Bickert, Rob McConnell, and Peter Appleyard. He has also played with many visiting jazz artists, to name a few: James Moody, George Coleman, Jay McShann, Tommy Flanagan, Lee Konitz, Joe Farrell, Slide Hampton, and Woody Shaw. Neil travelled and recorded with Woody Shaw, and Neil’s own recording, 49th Parallell (Concord Jazz 4396), features Woody Shaw on trumpet and Joe Henderson on saxophone.
In 1986 Neil began working with George Shearing. Together, they worked worldwide with many other great artists, such as Mel Tormé, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Robert Farnon, and Diana Krall. Neil has made numerous recordings with George Shearing.
Neil has also recorded with a number of other artists, such as Jay McShann, Doc Cheatham, Geoff Keezer, Sam Noto, Peter Leitch, Pat LaBarbera, Kevin Dean, Rob McConnell, Ed Bickert, PJ Perry, Lorne Lofsky, Kirk MacDonald, Gene DiNovi, Roberta Gambarini; and JMOG, a cooperative band featuring Don Thompson, Pat LaBarbera, and Joe LaBarbera.
Numerous recordings on which Neil plays have won Canada’s Juno Award. More recently, Neil has been touring internationally with singer Roberta Gambarini. Neil continues to compose music and freelance extensively in the Toronto area.