Veronica Swift – 22 Year Old Jazz Bird on a Fast Track

Veronica Iridium 05




By Sandi Durell



It’s not often you hear one so young interpret the sounds of a seasoned jazz performer and make everything she touches her own. From the tried and true to the brand new . . . that’s Veronica Swift! The packed house at the Iridium Jazz Club on July 12 told the story – filled with musicians, singers and aficionados of the genre who really know the scoop.


I first became acquainted with Ms. Swift when she was a recent guest on Michael Feinstein’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, sharing the stage with Marilyn Maye, Freda Payne and Tedd Firth’s band. She blew me away then, and continues on the same path to jazz stardom.

Veronica Iridium 12 (1) w-Margy-Stephanie

Margi, Veronica, Stephanie Nakasian


I guess you could say this second place 2015 winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition was handed DNA by her parents, renowned jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and notable jazz singer/author/educator Stephanie Nakasian. The talent courses through her veins and comes out in her soulful scats, riffs and liquid silver vocals that truly amaze; “I Mean You” (Thelonius Monk) a good example.


She grew up listening to June Christy paying tribute with the title of her new CD “Lonely Woman” – a sorrowful, sad ballad of yearning featuring Greg Chen on piano. Veronica is a good storyteller, which is the added element that holds one’s attention aside from her unique interpretive skills as she delivers a song.


From swing to blues to ballads, her able-bodied trio of outstanding musicians shined together and individually on different tunes, i.e. – Daryl Johns on bass (he’s a mere 20 years old – boy genius on the rise!) in a Cole Porter classic “Just One of Those Things” – her voice delivering varying rhythms, not to mention her own brand of scat that ebbs and flows up, down, around and through. On drums, Scott Lowrie was in the spotlight on an arrangement of “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”


Extra-added attractions included a highlight tribute to the Boswell Sisters in close 3-part harmonies (guests Margi Gianquinto, Stephanie Nakasian) on “Everybody Loves My Baby”


An impromptu Lambert, Hendricks and Ross blues tune (written by Mercer Ellington) “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” – rustled up scat speak between Veronica and Daryl Johns’ bass.

Veronica Iridium 24 Dad - Hod

Her pride and pleasure was more than apparent as she invited her father, bebop musician Hod O’Brien to the piano as they honored Anita O’Day with “I Get a Kick Out of You.” With Hod O’Brien remaining on piano, Veronica invited her guests back, including male singer Patrick Laslie, for a Pied Piper tribute – “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”


There’s an interesting backstory to Veronica Swift and we’ll be giving you more. Meanwhile, just know that the state of interpretive jazz is being well cared for in the hands of the young and very talented Ms. Swift. By the way, she even gave a mini fashion show opening the evening wearing a long white gown and gloves, leaving for a short time to return to the stage in another lovely long black gown and gloves. She certainly knows how to dress for the occasion.


Visit to check out where she’ll be singing.


Photos: David Rosen