Part of the alternative

SWP Records is an independent record label, started by drummer/composer/producer/field-recordist Michael Baird in 1987.
We release music that regular labels won’t touch! What’s the matter with them? What’s the matter with us?

SWP Records stands for quality products. With SWP Records you will discover music that can be found nowhere else. We want you to enjoy a great sound — so we take a lot of time and trouble to get the most out of the recordings we release. Because we care about the music and respect the musicians. And for digital downloads: our whole catalogue is available as FLAC, WAV, and mp3 files, both individual tracks and whole albums, via swp-records.bandcamp.com . You won't find us on Spotify or any other streaming platform, as we opted out in February 2020 — because they do not pay labels decently, yes we left them all! At Bandcamp we set our own prices, which are low and fair. As are the prices on this website!

We release:
1. the music of Zambian-born drummer/composer Michael Baird
2. music from central, eastern & southern Africa
3. anything else that is unique and forgotten

Releases include the acclaimed 22-cd series ‘Historical Recordings by Hugh Tracey’ — with recordings from the 40s and 50s made by one of the great pioneers of ethnomusicology, digitally remastered from the original fieldtapes. This series is not a re-issue of an old series, it is a new series including many tracks never published before. Now also 3 wonderful compilations from our cd series on lp.

Michael Baird has made many field trips himself — to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho to date, recording beautiful music no one else either knows about or bothers about, resulting in 15 cds and 2 lps so far and there are more to come.

Also excellent compilations of Zambian popular music, covering the 60s & 70s, the 80s, and kalindula by Brian Chilala & Ngoma Sazu from 2004-’08. The sub-continent of central, eastern and southern Africa is abundant with great music.

Forgotten jazz — three albums long overdue: 'The Late Great Phil Seamen', a selection of highlights from between 1953 and '72, 'On The Way', by Gijs Hendriks Quartet with guests Slide Hampton, Sonny Grey, Raul Burnet, recorded in 1975 and '76, and a duo cd with the legendary recluse Arend Nijenhuis, with recordings from 1988 and 2009.

And then there are 14 albums of Michael Baird’s own music — called ‘Voodoo-Jazz’ by a German journalist years ago, mixing Jazz and African and European concepts, also termed in the press as ‘pleasantly irksome’, ‘original down to its innermost fibre’, ‘disarmingly idiosyncratic’, 'creating an ancestral atmosphere', and 'gloriously adventurous and enjoyable' .

So there is an alternative — and SWP Records is part of it. If music is a sub-conscious stream of sounds, then there is a main current — and there can be nothing wrong with that — but all the minor eddies, splashes and meanderings taking place at the sides are by no means less relevant. Welcome to our website and enjoy the music we have released. You can order all our albums online securely via this site — by MasterCard and VisaCard, PayPal, or (within the euro zone) IDEAL bank transfer. Your order will be dealt with directly and we will send it by airmail anywhere in the world.

Moreover, SWP Records are distributed through the ‘normal’ channels in the USA and Canada by Forced Exposure, in Japan by Ahora, in the UK by Discovery, in Holland and Belgium by Xango Music, in France by Outre National, in Rwanda by Ikirezi Bookshop Kigali, and in Zambia by Zamfactor Choma.

SWP Records, Zilverstraat 9, 3511 VB Utrecht, Holland


Profile Michael Baird

Born 1954, Lusaka, Zambia, British nationality, first 10 years in Zambia then ‘repatriated’ to England and resident in Holland since he was thirteen.

From 1975-83 drummer in all Gijs Hendriks’ (NL) groups from trio to 12-piece band, playing and recording with amongst others Slide Hampton (USA), Kenny Drew (USA), Raul Burnet (CUR), Sonny Grey (JAM), Siegfried Kessler (D), Joe Diorio (USA), Jan Akkerman (NL), Stan Tracey (GB), Kenny Wheeler (CAN).

Founded own label SWP Records in 1987. Led own group Sharp Wood from 1984-94. Other own groups: sextet Pygmees & Elephants in 1995, octet Utrecht Deep Artment in 1997-99, quintet CapeAbility in 2000, sextet Trendy 3D Junk in 2000-02, solo project Gongs And Bells in 2002-03, sextet African Abstractions in 2004-05, Rhythm Orgy sessions 2009-12, various other projects and composition commissions. 

Also played in the André Jaume (F)/Jean-Marc Montera (F) Quintet, in the quintet Vogelvijf led by Tjitze Vogel (NL), in the Dick de Graaf (NL)/Serge Lazarevitch (F) European Quartet, in various settings with pianist Arend Nijenhuis (NL), and in the sextet MOT led by Steven Kamperman (NL).

In his own groups played and recorded with amongst others: Broer van den Bogaart (NL), Hans Hasebos (NL), Albert Veenendaal (NL), Jogi Gillis (SUR), Michel Massot (B), Michiel Borstlap (NL), Ben Gerritsen (NL), Michael Moore (USA), David Tronzo (USA), Vitold Rek (PL), Michel Godard (F), Mark Lotz (D), Tjitze Vogel (NL), Paul Weiling (D), Konkie Halmeyer (CUR), Kofi Ayivor (GHA), Ousmane Seye (SEN), Jeroen van Vliet (NL), Zoumana Diarra (MAL), Rick van Heerden (SA), Kamal al Hors (MAR), Patrick Votrian (USA), Layba Diawara (GUI), Oké Sene (SEN), Yvonne Cornelius (D), Andy Moor (GB), Pino Basile (IT), Rémi Charmasson (F), Marianne Noordink (NL).

Compiled and produced the monumental 22-cd series 'Historical Recordings by Hugh Tracey' of African music from the 40s and 50s, released by SWP Records, remastering the tracks from the original field tapes. Made own field recordings in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, in 1996, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2018 — see fourteen cds and two lps released so far by SWP Records.

Michael Baird: “I see myself as a ‘modernist’, but all that means is that I am in a position to steal from all over the place. People ask me what kind of music I make — what can one say, other than you have to hear it. So these days I say: it's a bit jazzy, a bit African, a bit European, and a bit abstract, which I mix up as I want — all ingredients which may be as old as the world, but it is still my soup!”

Read a 2020 article/interview in Afropop, by Banning Eyre.         Read a 2020 interview (in Dutch) in MixedWorldMusic, by Ton Maas. Read a 2015 interview in Bakwa Magazine, by John Wisniewski.   Read a 2010 interview in Soul Safari, by Eddy De Clercq.

Filmed entirely in Zambia in November 2018, Michael and co-director Engel Mulder finished the 57-minute documentary film 'Mutanuka and Syasiya' in 2020. Portraying two old master musicians amongst the Leya people, who live next to the famous Victoria Falls. When they die, who will succeed them on their respective instruments - the silimba xylophone and kanimba lamellophone? Globalisation is a threat to traditional music. You can watch the trailer here . The film has won two awards, both in the USA: 'Award of Merit' at the Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2021 and 'Award of Excellence' at the Depth of Field International Film Festival 2021.