“I’ve always dreamt of having a band that works regularly together, a band that shares a special musical connection, sound, feel, and time. I want to bring the experience of playing with musicians I admire and also share my own voice, both as a musician and as a human being.”
At the age of 23, after graduating from the Berklee College of Music, Israeli jazz pianist Roy Assaf moved to New York City to pursue his dream. Just a few months passed before he met legendary bassist and producer John Lee; soon Roy found himself touring around the world and playing the most prestigious festivals, clubs, and concert halls with the Dizzy Gillespie All Stars, a band that included James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Paquito D’Rivera, Roy Hargrove, Lewis Nash, Randy Brecker, Antonio Hart, and other jazz masters. Before long, Roy was getting calls from some of the world’s most influential contemporary jazz bands: Slide Hampton Sextet, The Mingus Big Band, Steve Turre’s bands, Roberta Gambarini Quartet, David Sanborn Group, Claudio Roditi Quartet, and many others. In 2012, he released his debut album, Respect, on Jazz Legacy Productions accompanied by Reuben Rogers on bass and Greg Hutchinson on drums.
"With Max, there was that bond with Charlie Parker. Charlie Parker is why I play the alto saxophone." - “It was a very good time for the music in New York, at the end of what had been the be-bop era. Charlie Parker had passed but Miles’ group was in its heyday, Monk was down at the Five Spot, and Ornette Coleman was just coming to town. Things were fresh.”
Gary Bartz has been known as a trail blazer in music from the moment he started playing with Art Blakey at his father’s jazz club in his hometown of Baltimore, MD as well as from his own music throughout the 57 years as a professional musician. As if his Grammy Award with McCoy Tyner in 2005 (‘Illuminations’) wasn’t enough to carve out a place for Bartz in the jazz genre, he has broken the mold with more than 40 solo albums and over 200 as a guest artist. Gary Bartz maintains his rightful place in the pantheon of jazz greats.
In 1968, Bartz began an association with McCoy Tyner, which included participating in Tyner's classic ‘Expansions and Extentions’ albums. Work with McCoy proved especially significant for Bartz because of the bandleader's strong connection to John Coltrane — who Gary succinctly cites as a profound influence. During his first two years with Tyner, Gary was also touring with Max Roach and taking some time out to record on Max's Atlantic Records release, ‘Members Don’t Get Weary’. In 1970 Bartz began working with Miles Davis, marking Gary's first experience playing electric music. His album Toa Of A Music Warrior will be released in early 2015.
“Dizzy taught me to be relaxed and loose about the music. He knew how to have fun while being serious at the same time. It was a balance, like the music. He attracted entertainers, lesser known musicians, and fans into jazz music. He was a real people person, and a real professional.”
“I was surrounded by music from the time I was two years old. My father and drummer Mickey Roker would rehearse at the house a lot. Whenever Uncle Jimmy had a new record he was releasing, he’d come over with a pre-release copy. We would listen to it together as a family. I used to play along with those records for hours.”
American drummer Tommy Campbell has performed as a regular member with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, John McLaughlin, The Manhattan Transfer, Kevin Eubanks, Jimmy Smith, Stanley Jordan, Tania Maria, Gary Burton, and a host of other Jazz greats. Tommy’s intelligent, exciting and stylistically authentic drumming has established him as a leading member of a new generation of Jazz Masters. Campbell’s long tenure with Dizzy began in the late 70’s, continued through the 80’s and 90’s, and concluded with a personal jam session with the renowned master several months before Gillespie’s passing in January of 1993.
"My art is an improvised form of music that is steeped in the tradition of blues, swing, bebop and post bop; I am interested in using that history to help reflect the sound of my generation and the time we are living. I hope that I can be a positive example and make a lasting contribution to this great art form."
Born in Iowa City, Iowa, Cassity traveled extensively and eventually settled in the Oklahoma City area for the majority of her adolescent years. It was in that city's diversity--it's Jazz history, Native American culture (a part of her lineage), nature and environment--that formed indelible influences on the young musician. Her parents also inspired the music within, as she recalls her father playing jazz and classical repertoire on his Hammond B3 organ, piano, or trumpet; and her mother filling the house with the sounds of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson and other pop artists.
Cassity earned her MA from the Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies under the direction of Victor Goines, and formed strong relationships with fellow classmates Michael Dease, Tom Barber, and Alum Adam Birnbaum. She has played with the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Jimmy Heath's Big Band, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Dizzy Gillespie All Star Sextet and All Star Big Band, Harry Whitaker, Ingrid Jensen, Mark Whitfield, Jason Hainsworth Jazz Orchestra, Fat Cat Big Band, and Tom Barber's Janus Block. Dedicated to playing jazz with the highest level of creativity and execution possible.
"If I can send one person home after a performance feeling better than when they arrived, then I've done my job, and I sleep good at night." - "Just as Bruce Springsteen has that ability to appeal to a mass audience, I have a vision that jazz can do the same. You can't underestimate the power of this music."
American Pianist Cyrus Chestnut has performed with saxophonists James Carter, Donald Harrison and Joe Lovano, trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Freddie Hubbard, jazzman Chick Corea, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and opera singer Kathleen Battle. He has also collaborated with vocalists Vanessa Williams, Anita Baker, Bette Midler, Isaac Hayes, and Brian McKnight. The New York Daily News once heralded Chestnut as the rightful heir to Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Erroll Garner.
Chestnut continually tours with his trio, playing live at jazz festivals around the world as well as clubs and concert halls. His leadership and prowess as a soloist has also led him to be a first call for the piano chair in many big bands including the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. Despite his sense of playful showmanship, he takes jazz very seriously and believes that jazz has great staying power.
“Cats liked to play with Earland because he brought out something in you that’s special; Professionalism. He felt we were there to stimulate the audience first.”
American drummer Vince Ector has worked with jazz luminaries NEA Jazz Masters, Freddie Hubbard, Randy Weston, James Moody, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Gloria Lynne, Charles Earland, Bobby Watson, Lou Donaldson, Grover Washington Jr., Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ron Carter, Claudio Roditi, John Lee, Ralph Peterson Jr., Melvin Sparks, Shirley Scott, Ben E. King, Jimmy Bruno and Onaje Allan Gumbs.
Most recently, Vincent produced his third CD as a leader entitled "Organatomy", which features Grammy nominated Brazilian jazz great Claudio Roditi on one of his original compositions. His second CD as a leader entitled "Renewal of the Spirit" features Bobby Watson on Saxophones and four of Vincent's original compositions. He performs regularly in New York City with several ensembles such as, The Grammy Award winning Charles Mingus Orchestra & Big Band, The Orrin Evans Quartet and Captain Black Big Band and his own band in venues such as; Smoke, The Iridium, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola and The Jazz Standard among others.
“Some musicians are purists, but I like to mix styles. I like many different types of cultures.”
Essiet’s first big break came in 1982 when he met Chicago based percussionist Famoudou Don Moye, a founding member of such important collectives as the Art Ensemble of Chicago and The Leaders. Moye asked him to join his quartet and during that same year the bassist met Abdullah Ibrahim, the famed South African pianist. Working with Ibrahim, Essiet toured the globe from 1982 to 1986, splitting his time between Europe and the US. Eventually he settled in NYC and two years later he joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and remained in the group until the famed drummer’s passing in 1990. Essiet leads his own group called “IBO” named after a Nigerian tribe. It is a Nigerian jazz project which mixes jazz harmonies with West African rhythms.
Essiet has performed with Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Curtis Fuller, James Moody, Johnny Griffin, Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins, Bobby Watson and Horizon featuring Victor Lewis, Kenny Barron, Pat Martino, Billy Cobham, Kenny Kirkland, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Garrett, Donald Brown, Benny Maupin, Kevin Mahogany, Kurt Elling, Geri Allen and Ralph Peterson, as well as the Blue Note Allstars.
Trumpeter Josh Evans has performed in the bands of Cedar Walton, Rashied Ali, Benny Golson, Freddie Redd, Charles Tolliver, Rene McLean, Curtis Fuller, Grachan Moncur III, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Greene, Charlie Persip, Ralph Peterson, "Kuumba" Frank Lacy, Joe Chambers, Billy Harper, Bob Mover, Oliver Lake, Winard Harper, Jesse Davis, Harold Mabern, Eric McPherson, Gregory Porter, Shelia Jordan, Tyler Mitchell, Shimrit Shoshan, Mickey Bass, Willie Williams, T.S. Monk, Vincent Herring, Steve Davis, Valery Ponomarev, Brian Lynch, Dave Douglas and Randy Brecker.
Evans was born and raised in Hartford, CT, and was drawn to the trumpet after hearing a Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie recording at the age of 10. By the age of 14, Evans’ musical career took shape when he started studying with the celebrated alto saxophonist/composer and educator Jackie McLean. In 2005, Evans began a three-and-a-half year stint with the Winard Harper Sextet. In 2007, during a two week tour of Siberia with master saxophonist/composer Benny Golson, Evans began performing with master drummer Rashied Ali, eventually becoming The Rashied Ali Quintet‘s trumpeter for the next two years. In January 2011, he recorded and released his debut album ‘Portrait’.
The son of jazz vibraphone legend and bandleader Terry Gibbs, Gerry was born in New York City and grew up in Southern California. He started playing drums at the age of 4 and by the time he was 7 years old, he had already appeared on a few television shows. On the ‘Steve Allen Show’ in 1971, he played a 3-minute drum solo and later, on the show ‘To Tell The Truth’, he traded drum choruses with TV celebrity Bob Crane, who played “Hogan” on the hit TV show “Hogan’s Heroes’”. By the time he was 18, Gerry had already become a professional musician. In 1987, at age 23 and seeking greater challenge and exposure in the mecca of the jazz music scene, he relocated to New York City. Within his first 3 weeks of arriving, he took over for drummer WINARD HARPER, 6 nights a week, as the house drummer for THE BLUE NOTE JAZZ CLUB ‘AFTER HOURS BAND’.
Gerry Gibbs has performed with Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Alice Coltrane, Stanley Clarke, McCoy Tyner, Mike Stern, Larry Coryell, Joe Henderson, Hubert Laws, Dewey Redman, James Moody, Clark Terry, Randy Brecker, Patrice Rushen, Sam Rivers, Don Pullen, Wynton Marsalis, Steve Allen, Arthur Blythe, Jon Hendricks, Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, Walter Bishop Jr., Eddie Harris, Joey Defrancesco, Dave Liebman, Gary Bartz, Nicholas Payton, David "Fathead" Newman, Flying Lotus, Eric Alexander, Eddie Henderson, Woody Shaw, Donald Byrd, Buddy Defranco, Harold Land, Benny Maupin, Doug Carne, Larry Gales, Horace Tapscott, Frank Morgan, Conti Condoli, Frank Rosolino, Alan Broadbent, Ernie Watts, Billy Childs, Rose Royce and Parliament Funkadelic.
American trumpeter James Gibbs III has played with John Lamb, Rufus Reid, Buster Cooper, Mark Whitfield, Sean Jones, John Lee, Kenny Drew Jr., Terrence Blanchard, Joe Thomas, Jerry Stiller (actor), Eric Roberson, Smokin’ Joe Frazier (boxer), Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, Cecil Brooks III, Cyrus Chestnut, TS Monk, Joshua Paul Thompson, Kool and the Gang, Brick City Soul Collective, Tamara Mayers, Brooke Alford and David Pic’ Conley.
James Gibbs III, who has toured with 8-time Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Joe Thomas, was born in Newark and raised in Irvington, New Jersey. He began playing the trumpet at the age of 14 and began his jazz training at The New Brunswick Jazz Institute under the instruction of legendary organist Radam Schwartz.
When performing, Gibbs lets loose exploring all kinds of sounds running the gamut of musical styles including Jazz, Rock, R&B, Gospel, Latin, Reggae, Classical, Brazilian, Bebop and Hip-hop. Put him in a jazz situation and he delivers exciting, well-constructed solos that make you pat your feet.
Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez has performed with Curtis Fuller, Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson, Christian McBride, Ignacio Berroa, Roy Hargrove, Rene McLean, Steve Turre, Hamiet Bluiett, Antonio Sanchez, T.K. Blue, Nicholas Payton, Azar Lawrence and Jackie McLean. Benito continues to tour the world as leader of his own group Benito Gonzalez Trio.
A passionate performer, Benito is recognized as an exciting pianist and composer who fuses world rhythms and straight-ahead jazz, making him an audience favorite the world over. His multi-cultural talents have led to frequent recording dates with American jazz masters such as Kenny Garrett and Azar Lawrence to West African musicians and Latin bands.
Benito’s acclaimed sophomore album ‘Circles’, featuring Ron Blake, Myron Walden, Jeff “Tain” Watts, as well as Lawrence and McBride, reveals a very personal body of work as he emerges as a leader and accomplished improviser. He received critical attention for his work on Kenny Garrett’s Grammy-Nominated album ‘Seeds’ from the Underground’.
"My feeling is that music should have a purpose. In the past, it always has been used for healing and uplifting and meditation. And that's the way I see my music. I've had people come up after a program to tell me that they felt a spiritual healing from the music. When that happens, then I feel we're fulfilling what we're supposed to do. If people are entertained, that's ok too. But I certainly see a purpose in my music beyond that."
Billy Harper moved to New York in 1966 and began attracting attention from some of jazzdom's giants - Gil Evans, Max Roach, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He performed, recorded and toured Europe, Japan, Africa and throughout the United States from 1966 to 1979 with these groups, as well as his own Billy Harper Quintet.
As a recording artist, Billy Harper's album, Black Saint exploded on the international jazz scene in 1976. The reviews applauded his innovations and prompted the Modern Jazz League of Tokyo to name the album, "Jazz Record of the Year - Voice Grand Prix." As a teacher and lecturer, Harper has taught at Livingston College, Rutgers University, and The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music.
An excellent Altoist who gained recognition for his work with Roy Hargrove, saxophonist Antonio Hart has long been recognized as one of the most talented instrumentalists of his generation. Hart, who is most influenced by Cannonball Adderly and Gary Bartz, has performed and recorded with many jazz greats, including Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Nat Adderley, McCoy Tyner, Dave Holland and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, as well as his own group.
While studying with Bill Pierce, Andy McGhee, and Joe Viola at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, his most important friendship was made with Roy Hargrove. The two spent three years touring the world and recording Hargrove's first three records. Hart considers Hargrove to be his brother in life and music. He even used Hargrove on his first recording 'For the First Time.' Later attending Queens College in pursuit of his Masters Degree, he had the opportunity to learn from the great Jimmy Heath and Donald Byrd. Hart felt blessed and honored when Mr. Heath produced his second recording 'Don't You Know I Care.'
His 1997 release, 'Here I Stand' (Impulse Records) earned Hart a 1997 Grammy nomination for 'Best Jazz Instrumental Solo.' He has also been in much demand as a guest on over 100 recordings, and seven CDs as a leader. After 12 years at Queens College Hart was promoted to Full Professor. Hart also maintains an extensive performance schedule and continues to conduct workshops and clinics throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
“All I can say is, if you know Jimmy Heath, you know Bop.” — Dizzy Gillespie
“Trane was always high on Jimmy’s playing and so was I. Plus, he was a very hip dude to be with, funny and clean and very intelligent. Jimmy is one of the thoroughbreds.” — Miles Davis
Jimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant saxophonist, composer and arranger. Jimmy is the middle brother of the legendary Heath Brothers (Percy Heath/bass and Tootie Heath/drums). He has performed with many jazz greats of the last 50 years, including Howard McGhee, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Coleman Hawkins, Slam Stewart, Erroll Garner, John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Specs Wright, Cal Massey, Johnny Coles, Ray Bryant, Nelson Boyd, Charlie Parker and Max Roach. Jimmy has written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards and have been recorded by other artists including Art Farmer, Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, J.J Johnson and Dexter Gordon. In addition to his eleven years as Professor of Music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, he has also taught jazz studies at Jazzmobile, Housatonic College, City College of New York and The New School for Social Research.
Considered an amalgam of great trumpeters such as Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown, trumpeter, composer and arranger Freddie Hendrix's charismatic personality displays a sure-footedness seen in his full toned phrasing and sense of swing. He has played with Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams, Kim Burrell, Mary J Bilge, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Frank Foster, Vanguard Orchestra, Illinois Jacquet Big Band, Mike Longo, Rufus Reid, Mulgrew Miller, Oliver Lake Organ Quartet, Melvin Davis, T.S. Monk, Cecil Brooks III, David Krakauer, Fred Wesley, and as a member of the ChopHorns horn section along with Ray Chew and the Chew.
Originally from Teaneck, NJ, Hendrix holds a firm position within the top echelon of first-call musicians. His skill is evident by his repeat employment with the archetypal ‘swing machine’, the Count Basie Orchestra. In 2007, he took a break from the CBO to work with pop star and actress Alicia Keys for her ‘As I Am’ world tour. His versatility is superb and holds its own in a variety of settings, from R&B to pop and jazz.
Bassist Daryl Johns is the son of jazz drummer Steve Johns and saxophonist Debbie Keefe. He was a semi-finalist in the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Bass Competition and received an honorable mention. In 2010, Daryl was awarded “Best Soloist” and “Best Original Song” awards in DownBeat Magazine’s student category. In 2011, Daryl was selected to the High School GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble, the Thelonious Monk National Performing Arts High School All-Star Jazz Sextet, and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.
Daryl also attends the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Program where he studies double bass with Linda McKnight, and plays in their award-winning Pre-College Big Band, Improv Ensemble, and Double Bass Ensemble. Daryl has attended the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Jazz for Teens in Newark, Jazz House Kids in Montclair, and has performed with jazz greats Randy Brecker, Jimmy Owens, David Liebman, Geoff Keezer, Carl Allen, Jay Leonhart, Warren Vaché, Les Paul, Bucky Pizzarelli, Valery Ponomarev, Larry Coryell, Bernie Williams, and his father Steve Johns. He recently recorded his first CD with his own group and is currently recording projects produced by Don Sickler at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio.
BASS, GIANTS OF JAZZ CO-PRODUCER
John Lee is a bassist, producer, and recording engineer whose resume includes work with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, James Moody, Jimmy Heath, Joe Henderson, Larry Coryell, Paquito D`Rivera, Gregory Hines, Claudio Roditi, Arturo Sanduval, Joachim Kühn, Pharoh Saunders, Jackie McLean, Gary Bartz, Hank Jones, Walter Davis Jr., Wolfgang Lackerschmid, Alphonse Mouzon, Jon Faddis, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove, Roberta Gambarini and Philip Catherine. In 1984 Lee became Dizzy Gillespie's bassist, touring and recording with Dizzy's Quintet, his Big Band, his grammy winning United Nation Orchestra, and the Back to the Future Band that Dizzy co-lead with Miriam Makeba.
Lee was a founding member of the The Fantasy Band (1993-1996) with Chuck Loeb, Marion Meadows, and Dave Samuels. In 1996, at the bequest of Dizzy's wife Lorraine Gillespie and the Dizzy Gillespie Estate, Lee became the director and bassist of the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars as well as the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, and the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience. Since 1998, Lee has been Executive Director of the Giants Of Jazz performance and tribute series. In 2009, he co-founded the jazz recording label JLP (Jazz Legacy Productions), has produced over 50 albums and has recorded and mixed over 85 albums.
With professional musicians as parents, Saxophonist Julian Lee was steeped in music at an early age, playing violin, cello and piano by age five. Taking up alto saxophone as his primary instrument at age seven, he began attending jazz classes and camps taught by his father, Mike Lee, and studied with Billy Hart, Bruce Williams, and Radam Schwartz. In 2008 and 2009, Julian attended Wisconsin’s Birch Creek Summer Jazz Camp, where he won the Outstanding Wind Player award in both years. He was also a DownBeat Student Music Award winner for Jazz Soloist in 2009 and 2010.
In 2011, Julian earned an Outstanding Soloist award in the Charles Mingus High School Competition as a member of the Jazz House Kids Big Band, winning for Specialized Big Band and Outstanding Saxophone Section (for which Julian played lead alto); he was also a member of the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Combo which won the Small Group Category that same year. For the last several years, Julian has been chosen by bassist Christian McBride to play concerts with Cecil Brooks III, Dave Stryker, Steve Turre, Jerome Jennings, and McBride himself. Julian has also performed as a guest with McBride’s Trio at Cecil’s Jazz Club in West Orange, New Jersey, and with the Mingus Big Band at the Jazz Standard in New York City.
Mike Lee has been a part of the greater New York Jazz Scene for almost 30 years. Since his early associations with Dave Douglas and Joe Lovano in the 80's, through his stint with the Woody Herman Orchestra and regular gigs with The Village Vanguard Orchestra and Maria Schneider Orchestra in the 90's to his current associations with Oliver Lake's ensembles, Wallace Roney Orchestra, and Michele Rosewoman's New Yor-Uba, Lee has a proven track record as a versatile soloist and a consummate ensemble musician.
As a leader, he fronted the renowned Cecil's Big Band for six years and co-leads the ground breaking quartet, New Tricks. He performs with his trios regularly at his weekly Hat City Kitchen Jam Session as well as Trumpet's Jazz Club and other area venues. While raising a family and digging deep roots in the Northern New Jersey/New York jazz Community, his musical associations and friendships have flourished while interacting with other jazz musicians residing in the area, such as Bruce Williams, Cecil Brooks III, T.S. Monk, Billy Hart, Andy McKee, Geri Allen and Christian McBride. Lee's resume as an educator continues to expand as coordinator of music programming for Jazz House Kids, the premier jazz education program in Northern New Jersey.
DIRECTOR OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS, VILLAGE OF SOUTH ORANGE
Sandy Martiny is the Director of Cultural Affairs for the Village of South Orange. Previously, she was Curator of Education at Jersey City Museum and Director of Education at the National Academy Museum in New York City. She was a teaching artist affiliated with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and Essex Area Council for the Arts as well as an independent community artist active in New York (NY), Hoboken, Newark, and Jersey City (NJ).
Sandy was Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Studio Heights in Jersey City, NJ., an organization that created opportunities for artists, community members, and children to make public works of art for their neighborhoods. She is a passionate advocate for the arts - as an educator, as a mentor and as a collaborator. She studied at the Slade School in London, received her MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, NY, and her BFA from Grand Valley University.
Born in São Paulo, Brazilian pianist Abelita Mateus has performed with Itaiguara Brandão, Portinho, Oleg Osenkov, Eduardo Belo, John Lee, Alex Kautz, Peter Slavov, Claudio Roditi, Hermeto Pascoal, Proveta, Bocato, Vania Bastos, Vinicius Dorim, Ulisses Rocha, Fabiana Cozza, Zé Eduardo Nazario, as well as her own quintet.
Professionally, Abelita has worked in music education as a teacher for children, teenagers and adults. She was professor at the Cantareira University for five years, working as co-repeater and Music Theory teacher. She has worked as a pianist in trio (piano, bass, drums) in the “Família Mancini”, (famous restaurants with live music in São Paulo) and with the repertoire Jazz/Brazilian Music for two years. She’s performed with the Bambu group (Brazilian music quartet) in the Sixth Instrumental Brazil, sponsored by the Center for Music Tom Jobim in 2005 and 2006, winning first place in the solo category and third place in the group category.
GIANTS OF JAZZ CONCERT ADVISORY BOARD
Hailing from South Orange, NJ., Lee May brings with her a 30 year history of extensive community and professional involvement. May began her lifelong love of music singing at The Playboy Club, New York, NY, where she performed for three years. She has done publicity and produced concerts at a variety of venues including the Lincoln Center, NY and Carnegie Hall, NY for the late Marian Mekeba, a world renowned South African singer as well as for her late husband Earl May, a world renowned bass player.
In 2008, May was instrumental in bringing JazzMobile, a ten series jazz concert to Newark, NJ. She is a member of the Bethany Baptist Church of Newark and a member of the NJ Jazz Society. She was a member of that organization’s board in 2004. In 2013, May was honored as a recipient of the Community Award given by the South Orange Civic Association.
“I was born at the end of the swing era—the beginning of the bebop era. I did some growing up with Duke and Ella Fitzgerald. I also grew up listening to Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Fats Domino and The Big Bopper during the 50’s. I went to a private school in Derrien, Connecticut during the 1960’s where I experienced the Bee Gees, the Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix—all the rock and roll which I wouldn’t have been exposed to being in an all African-American community. You know, I’m a drummer and a bandleader, so right there I gotta do a lot of different things. Everything I do is just me trying to connect with my audience.”
T. S. Monk is an American jazz drummer, composer and bandleader. Monk's destiny was sealed when Max Roach gave him his first drum set before the age of ten. The young Monk joined his father's trio and toured with his dad until the elder Monk's retirement in 1975. By the dawning of the 1980’s, he had formed his eponymous band, which featured him on drums and occasional lead vocals. To honor his father's legacy and support the efforts of education, Monk formed the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. As chairman, he has been at the forefront of helping create numerous programs that range from sponsoring music education for students in the form of full scholarships to funding and supporting after-school athletic programs.
Jeb Patton studied piano with Tibor Szasz, Douglas Buys, and Jane Hawkins. He has toured the United States and abroad with the Heath Brothers and with Jimmy Heath’s Generations Quintet. Jeb has also played with Etta Jones, the Faddis/Hampton/Heath Sextet, Winard Harper, Antonio Hart Quintet, Paul West, Rufus Reid, Peter Washington, Lewis Nash, Steve Nelson, Ralph Peterson, John Ore, Jimmy Cobb, Lonnie Plaxico, Carl Allen, Kyoshi Kitigawa, Jackie Mclean, Frank Wess, James Moody, Terell Stafford, Sean Jones, Diego Urcola, Jeremy Pelt, Gerald Cannon, Willie Jones III, Steve Davis, Keter Betts, Eddie Locke, and Marlene Verplank.
As a member of the Duke Jazz Ensemble under Paul Jeffrey, he performed with and/or arranged for more than 60 professional jazz artists, including 48 musicians from New York and more than 12 international jazz musicians from Italy, Monaco, and Portugal. Described as both a “phenom on piano” and an “absolute great,” Jeb Patton has earned a well-regarded reputation in the international jazz community. The multi-talented Patton is known as a player of great expression and not one to tread the predictable, as well as a “simpatico accompanist” for The Heath Brothers, an innovative arranger and one who cuts an impressive swath on his composition ‘Hanna’s Mood', a tribute to his late teacher, Sir Roland Hanna.
"My uncle must have had the best jazz record collection in the whole of Brazil. I used to listen to them at his house, particularly Charlie Parker and Miles. It was just the sounds that registered with me; I didn't know what it was or what any of the tunes were - I just liked the music."
Brazilian trumpet and flugelhorn player Claudio Roditi is known for his warm, fluid sound. Integrating post-bop elements and Brazilian rhythmic concepts with ease, he plays with power and lyricism. This versatility keeps him in demand as a leader, a studio musician and a sideman. He is also a composer and arranger and has thirteen critically acclaimed albums.
Roditi continues to lead his own band and frequently travels as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra. A Grammy nominee in 1995 and 2010, he has performed alonside Herbie Mann, Charlie Rouse, Paquito D'Rivera, Gary Bartz, Jimmy Heath, The Roots, Horace Silver, Chip White, Michael Franks and McCoy Tyner.
Canadian born Renee Rosnes is a premier pianist and composer. She has been pianist of choice for such legendary musicians as Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, JJ Johnson, Buster Williams and Bobby Hutcherson. In 1989, James Moody hired Renee for his quartet, where she remained a member of his band until his passing in 2010.
Rosnes has released twelve albums, four of which have garnered Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy. She has collaborated with established masters such as Jack DeJohnette and tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, as well as younger giants such as Christian McBride, Chris Potter, Nicholas Payton and Steve Nelson. Her works have been performed and recorded by Phil Woods, JJ Johnson, Lewis Nash, Joe Locke, the Danish Radio Big Band, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, and trombone star Michael Dease.
In addition to leading her own bands, Rosnes has performed with bassist Ron Carter's Foursight Quartet. She frequently performs with her husband, acclaimed pianist Bill Charlap. The couple released their first duo recording in 2010, ‘Double Portrait’ (Blue Note). Downbeat wrote: "The counterpoint and compatibilities are so perfectly balanced, the selections and arrangements so handsome, that 'Double Portrait' is a prize."
“You can be sincere or you can be jive about what you do. People might not be able to tell at first, but if you’re really sincere it will come through.”
Bassist-composer Avery Sharpe has performed with such industry notables as Archie Shepp, Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie and Pat Metheny, as well as leading his own groups. In 1994 he started JKNM Records, which currently has more than 10 titles published. Sharpe wrote and conducted the soundtrack for the 1989 movie An Unremarkable Life. In 2006, he was commissioned by the Springfield Symphony to write a Concerto for Jazz Trio and Orchestra, which premiered in 2007, featuring the Trio with (former “Tonight Show” musical director) Kevin Eubanks on acoustic guitar.
Honesty, clarity and dignity are words that come to mind when listening to Sharpe’s music. In an age of ephemeral pop stars and flavor-of-the-month trends, he is a reminder of the lasting value of steadfast dedication and personal integrity. As the title of one of his tunes asserts, “Always Expect the Best of Yourself”.
“While jazz is an art to be listened to intently, it is deeply rooted as a social music.”
Drummer Evan Sherman, a native of New Jersey, has already played with the world's greatest musicians, including James Moody, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, and has been hired by Jimmy Heath and Ron Carter to play drums in their bands. He tours with pianist Cyrus Chestnut and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars and has travelled to Doha, Qatar and Shanghai, China as a Jazz at Lincoln Center performer, teacher, and ambassador of music.
When not touring, Evan is based in New York City where he has performed at The Blue Note, Symphony Space, Jazz Standard, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Small's Jazz Club, Smoke Jazz Club, Flushing Town Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, among other notable venues. He is also leader of the Evan Sherman Big Band, a multi-generational ensemble of talented up-and-coming jazz musicians alongside industry veterans. The band performs monthly at Jazz at Lincoln Center's increasingly popular "Dizzy's Dance Party". Evan will receive his bachelor's degree from Manhattan School of Music in May 2015.
Drummer, composer, and bandleader E.J. Strickland is most noted for his work with The Ravi Coltrane Quartet, The Marcus Strickland Quartet & Trio, and The Russell Malone Quartet, and has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Nneenna Freelon, Abbey Lincoln, Christian McBride, Herbie Hancock, Wessell Anderson, and Dianne Reeves. He currently leads his own bands, The E.J. Strickland Quintet and The E.J. Strickland Project.
EJ’s playing has been described as emitting "fields of cumulative energy, clouds of feather-touch and heavy-handed syncopations, latent with power like an oncoming storm" (Thomas Conrad, Downbeat Magazine). His style is one of versatility drawing from many different genres such as Jazz, World Music, Hip-Hop and Afro-Cuban music. His discography includes over 30 albums with various recording artists and he released his debut album In This Day (Strick Muzik) in 2009.
Singer Lolita Turner has been performing gospel and R&B from a young age and is now a burgeoning chanteuse in the jazz genre. She is founder and CEO of Lolita's FirstSight, LLC., an artist & music management company. Lolita's humanitarianism is always in the forefront of her mind. She was responsible for organizing a successful fundraiser at the infamous Cecil’s Jazz Club with proceeds donated to The American Red Cross, and after Haiti's devastating earthquake, Lolita's FirstSight organized one of the largest all day jazz fundraisers for Haiti relief, presenting over 60 Jazz musicians, poet Amiri Baraka and many more performing luminaries. Lolita's FirstSight’s next project, scheduled for November 2015, is a fundraiser with The Wounded Warriors Project honoring soldiers with PTSD.
“I think that a musician is like a doctor, he’s supposed to heal people and make them feel better.”
A member of the Saturday Night Live Band since 1984, Steve Turre is a preeminent jazz innovator, trombonist and seashellist. He has consistently won both the Readers' and Critics' polls in JazzTimes, Downbeat, and Jazziz for Best Trombone and for Best Miscellaneous Instrumentalist (shells). In 1972 Turre's career gained momentum when Ray Charles hired him to go on tour. A year later Turre's mentor Woody Shaw brought him into Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.
After his tenure with Blakey, Turre went on to work with a diverse list of musicians from the jazz, Latin, and pop worlds, including Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, J.J. Johnson, Herbie Hancock, Lester Bowie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Van Morrison, Pharoah Sanders, Horace Silver, Max Roach, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The latter introduced him to the seashell as an instrument. He also leads several ensembles. Sanctified Shells utilizes the seashell, transforming his horn section into a "shell choir". His quartet and quintet provide a setting based in tradition and stretching the limits conceptually and stylistically.
2014 Jazz Master Honoree
“The reason for longevity is truth and honesty, and I think we that we possessed that and it manifested itself in our art form. It's important to utilize the talents that we have, keep moving forward and be happy ─ that's the icing on the cake."
Jazz Pianist McCoy Tyner is widely known for his work with the John Coltrane Quartet and his long solo career. Tyner's style of piano is easily comparable to Coltrane's maximalist style of saxophone. Though a member of Coltrane's group, he was never overshadowed by the saxophonist, but complemented and even inspired Coltrane's open-minded approach. Tyner is considered to be one of the most influential jazz pianists of the 20th century.
Tyner has recorded a number of highly influential albums of his own, and while in Coltrane's group, he recorded a series (primarily in the piano trio format) for Impulse! Records. The pianist also appeared as a sideman on many of the highly acclaimed Blue Note albums of the 1960s. His playing is distinguished by a low bass left hand, tending to raise his arm high above the keyboard for an emphatic attack, and his unique right-hand soloing has a recognizable staccato quality. His melodic vocabulary is rich and his unique approach to chord voicing has influenced a wide array of contemporary jazz pianists, most notably Chick Corea.
2014 Jazz Master Honoree
"My father was my teacher. He would prepare my lessons for me, and when I got home from school I was supposed to practice and he would listen while he was eating his dinner. It was an unwritten law that I had to play it right or hear about it. I was going to be the best. I had no choice. In those days, instead of a two-car family, we were a two-bass family."
Grammy Award Winning Buster Williams is a prodigious jazz bassist who has played, recorded and collaborated with jazz giants such as Art Blakey, Betty Carter, Carmen McRae, Chet Baker, Chick Corea, Dexter Gordon, Jimmy Heath, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Herbie Hancock, Larry Coryell, Lee Konitz, McCoy Tyner, Illinois Jacquet, Nancy Wilson, Elvin Jones, Miles Davis, the Jazz Crusaders, Ron Carter, Woody Shaw, Sarah Vaughan, Benny Golson, Mary Lou Williams, Hank Jones, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Rowles, Hampton Hawes, Cedar Walton, Bobby Hutcherson, Billy Taylor, Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, Errol Garner, Kenny Barron, Charlie Rouse, Dakota Staton, Kenny Dorham, and Freddie Hubbard. Before forming the Buster Williams Quintet Something More he was a member of the world renowned cooperative quartet, Sphere, which consisted of pianist Kenny Barron, drummer Ben Riley, and the late tenor saxophonist Charles Rouse.