John was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, and began studying trumpet at the age of 11. He was drawn to jazz at the age of 17 after hearing Dizzy Gillespie, and the interest developed into a passion while he was in collage, where he began transcribing the solos of Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, and Tom Harrell. Swana has performed and/or toured with the Mingus Big Band, and the Dave Holland Big Band, and has also played with well known jazz names such as Don Patterson, Shirley Scott, Mickey Roker, Stanley Turrentine, Harold Mabern, Cecil Payne, Johnny Coles, Ralph Peterson, Charles Fambrough, Bobby Watson, Craig Handy, Chris Potter, Stephen Scott, Tim Warfield, Eric Alexander, Sam Newsome, Brad Mehldau,Vincent Herring, Uri Caine, Tim Armacost, Peter Leitch, Peter Bernstein, Mark Turner, Jon Gordon, Donny McCaslin, Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Bowen, Greg Hutchinson, Ari Hoenig, Seamus Blake, and Robin Eubanks. He has also been heard with Freddie Hubbard, Phil Woods, Ronnie Cuber, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, John Faddis, Slide Hampton, J.J. Johnson, Bob Minzer, and Charlie Persip.
John can be heard on recordings with: Benny Golson, Grover Washington Jr., Chris Potter, Ralph Bowen, Donny McCaslin, John Patitucci, Eric Alexander, Charles Fambrough, Craig Handy, Tito Puente, Bill O'Connell, Lenny White, Ricky Sabastian, Eric Harland, Greg Hutchinson, Marlon Simon, Ed Simon, Dave Valentin, Cafe', Art Webb, Adam Holtzman, Ron Blake, Peter Bernstein, Carl Allen, Mulgrew Miller, Benny Green, Kenny Barron, Tim Warfield, Lewis Nash, Clarence Penn, Kevin Hays, Chris McBride, Uri Caine, Peter Leitch, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Ralph Peterson, Bobby Zankel, and Tom Harrell.
As a Leader...
"Introducing John Swana"
Features: Benny Green (Piano), Peter Washington (bass), Kenny Washington (drums), and Billy Pierce (tenor sax).
"John Swana And Friends"
Features: Mulgrew Miller (piano), Ira Coleman (bass), Billy Drummond (drums) Tom Harrell (trumpet), and Billy Pierce (tenor sax).
"The Feelings Mutual"
Features: Steve Giordano (guitar), Dave Posmontier (B-3 Organ), Billy Drummond (drums), and Chris Potter (Tenor sax, soprano sax, and alto flute).
"In The Moment"
Features: Kenny Barren (piano), Peter Washington (bass), Kenny Washington (drums), Steve Davis(Trombone), and Eric Alexander (tenor sax).
“Philly-New York Junction John Swana-Joe Magnarelli Sextet”
Features: Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Peter Washington (bass), Kenny Washington (drums), and Joel Weiskopf (piano).
“Tug of War”
Features: Chris Potter (tenor sax, soprano sax, and alto flute), Byron Landham (drums), David Hazeltine (piano), and Dwayne Burno (bass).
Features: Bootsie Barnes (tenor sax), Byron Landham (drums), Sid Simmons (piano), and Mike Boone (bass).
Features: John Patitucci (bass), Jesse van Ruller (guitar), and Eric Harland (drums)
“Philly Gumbo Vol. 2”
Features: Bootsie Barnes (tenor sax), Larry Mckenna (tenor sax), Byron Landham (drums), Sid Simmons (piano), and Mike Boone (bass).
As a sideman...
With Charles Fambrough:
"Keeper of the Spirit" Audio Quest Records
"City Tribes" Evidence Records
"Escue” A group colaboration on K-Jazz
"The K-Jazz Allstars" K-Jazz
With Peter Leitch: "Trio/Quartet 91" Concord Records
With Chris Potter: "Presenting Chris Potter" Criss Cross Jazz
With Eric Alexander:
"New York Calling" Criss Cross Jazz
"Full Range" Criss Cross Jazz
With Bootsie Barnes “Boppin Round the Center”
With Mike Boone:
"Better Late Then Never"
With Benny Golson: "Brown Immortal" Key'Stone
With Bobby Zankel: "Prayer and Action" Creative Improvised Music Projects
“Cerimonies of Forgivness” Dreambox Media
With Clarence Penn: "Penn's Landing" Criss Cross Jazz
“Play-Penn” Criss Cross Jazz
With Pete Smyser: “Out of Nowhere”
“The Scene is Clean”
With Orrin Evans “Justin Time” Criss Cross Jazz
With Jimmy Greene “Introducing Jimmy Greene” Criss Cross Jazz
With Joel Weiskoph “New Beginning” Criss Cross Jazz
With Ralph Bowen “Soul Proprietor” Criss Cross
With Joe Magnarelli “New York-Philly Junction” Criss Cross
With Donny McCaslin “Give and Go” Criss Cross
University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pa, 1996 - present; Senior Lecturer
Temple University, Master Class 2000
Litchfield Jazz Camp 2001
Summer Jazz Workshop at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, Pa, 2003, 2004
Tavira Jazz Workshop, Tavira Portugal 2004
Kärntnerlandes Conservatory, Klangenfurt, Austria, Master Class 2004
University of Music and Dramatic Arts, Graz, Austria, Master Class 2005
Palm Beach Community College Jazz Band, Palm Beach, Florida, Master Class, and Performance 2005
West Chester State University Summer Jazz Workshop, West Chester, Pa, 2005, 2006
University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, Master Class, and Performance 2006
University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, Master Class, and Performance 2006
Vienna Conservatory, Vienna, Austria, Master Class 2006
Rutgers University, Advanced Graduate Improvisation, 2007