Master Sergeant Ricky Sweum is a Premier Band, Saxophonist, and the Section Chief of Productions for the United States Air Force Academy Band, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, his Air Force career began in 2003 with the USAF Band of the West at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas. In 2005, MSgt Sweum won a position at the Premier USAF Academy Band in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he served as lead tenor saxophonist and Tour Manager for the Falconaires Jazz Band. In 2011, he was assigned to the USAF Band of the Pacific at Joint Base Richardson-Elemendorf, Anchorage, Alaska where he served as Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge and Music Director of the Greatlanders Jazz Band. In 2012, MSgt Sweum was assigned to the USAF Band of the Pacific-Asia where he served as Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge and Musical Director of the Pacific Showcase Jazz Band, was Section Chief of Operations, Section Chief of Administrative Support, and Section Chief of Publicity. In 2018, Sergeant Sweum returned back to the states and joined the USAF Band of the Golden West, Travis AFB, California, where he served as Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of The Commanders Jazz Ensemble, Section Chief of Administrative Support, and Unit Training Manager. In 2020, MSgt Sweum returned to USAF Academy Band in Colorado.
Including MSgt Sweum’s career outside of the Air Force, he has performed music for audiences in every U.S. state (except HI), Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Mexico, and Canada. MSgt Sweum has appeared on over 30 albums as a sideman, and recorded eight solo albums. He has recorded for Origin Records and his recordings have risen to #2 on the CMJ radio charts, #97 on the JazzWeek charts, and been chosen by Denver radio station KUVO-FM’s “CD of the Month.” MSgt Sweum was featured in the Random House book, “The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today’s Living Legends and the Artists of Tomorrow.” His music was chosen as an accompanying CD to the Italian published book, “appunti da New York.” Since 2011, MSgt Sweum has owned and operated the independent jazz record label, NINJAZZ Records. As a composer he has over 55 original compositions registered with BMI, and in 2019, he founded JazzNutrition.com, which creates music education materials. In addition to performing and writing music, MSgt Sweum is a sought after producer, audio recording and mix engineer, and his services have contributed to over 30 professional audio products.
MSgt Sweum earned a Master of Music in Jazz Studies degree from the University of Arkansas at Monticello where he also served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Production from Berklee College of Music where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. As an educator, MSgt Sweum's top students have won scholarships to Berklee College of Music, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, placements in all-state bands, and gone on to become professional musicians and educators. He was the jazz band director at Colorado College from 2007-2011.
Prior to joining the Air Force, MSgt Sweum lived in New York City for 10 years. During this time, he attended William Paterson University, toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, toured with the Broadway Musical, “The Sound of Music,” was a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, and played and studied with jazz luminaries throughout the Big Apple.
MSgt Sweum wouldn’t be who he is today without the guidance of many excellent music teachers: Barry Deister, Steve Owen, Tom Gadbois, Gary Smulyan, Rick Margitza, Richard Tabnik, Charlie Banacos, Doug Scheuerell, Pete BarenBregge, Hal Crook, Huw Lloyd, Harvey Pittel, Michael Melinger, Joe Ingram, Carl Woideck, and Robyn Steiner Boling.
2020 – Master of Music in Jazz Studies, University of Arkansas at Monticello, AR
2017 – Bachelor of Professional Studies in Music Production, Berklee College of Music, MA
2017 – USAF Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy
2016 – Associates in Applied Science Music, Community College of the Air Force
2008 – USAF Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, Peterson AFB, CO
2003 – Basic Military Training, Lackland AFB, TX
1996 – Jazz Studies, William Paterson University, NJ
Aug 2020 - Present, USAF Academy Band, Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 2018 – Aug 2020, USAF Band of the Golden West, Travis AFB, CA
Aug 2012 – Jul 2018, USAF Band of the Pacific, Yokota AB, Japan
Jun 2011 – Jul 2012, USAF Band of Pacific, JB Elemendorf-Richardson, Anchorage, AK
Oct 2005 – Jun 2011, USAF Academy Band, Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 2003 – Oct 2005, USAF Band of the West, Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
National Medal of Arts
Colonel Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs Communication Excellence Award
Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Force Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Master Sergeant – 1 Aug 2014
Technical Sergeant – 3 Oct 2005
Airman First Class – 15 May 2004
Airman – 15 Jul 2003
(updated Oct 2020)