Born in Denpasar, Bali in 2003, Joey Alexander first encountered a piano at age 6, and was immediately able to pick out the melody of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t” and other jazz standards from his father’s record collection by ear. Despite his lack of formal jazz training, Alexander developed an authoritative technique, and with his depth of musicality he quickly rose in the Indonesian jazz scene and beyond. At age 8, Alexander was invited by UNESCO to play solo piano in front of Herbie Hancock in Indonesia. Two years later, Alexander was featured at jazz festivals in Jakarta and Copenhagen, and he won the International Festival-Contest of Jazz Improvisation in Odessa, Ukraine, besting more than 200 jazz professionals from 17 countries. In 2014, Alexander performed at star-studded galas in New York City for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Jazz Foundation of America, and the Arthur Ashe Learning Center at Gotham Hall. Last year, he released his highly anticipated debut album, My Favorite Things, which showcases his imagination, sophisticated arrangements and dazzling playing.
Pianist, composer and music director John Beasley takes pride in being a musical chameleon and has an amazing track record to show for his versatility. Beasley grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and by the time he was a teen was playing trumpet, oboe, drums, saxophone and flute. His interest in jazz was sparked after hearing a Bobby Timmons recording. Beasley was offered an oboe scholarship to Juilliard but by that point his career had taken off and he was soon touring with Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. Since then, his list of collaborators has grown long and varied, including Steely Dan, Barbra Streisand, Queen Latifah, Chaka Khan and James Brown. Beasley also has performed on film scores for Erin Brokovich, Finding Nemo and The Godfather III. He has released numerous albums, including Positootly!, which received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Album. In 2013, Beasley formed MONK’estra, a 17-piece band that celebrates Thelonious Monk’s classic compositions with a contemporary twist incorporating Afro-Cuban rhythms, modern jazz, hip-hop and traditional big band instrumentation.
Brian Blade has established himself as a versatile and accomplished drummer, composer, bandleader, guitarist and singer/songwriter. Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, he experienced gospel music in the Baptist church where his father was the pastor. Blade began playing the violin at age 9 and shifted his focus to the drums in middle school. As a college student at Loyola University in New Orleans, Blade began studying and performing with the city’s jazz masters including Harold Battiste and Ellis Marsalis. Early in his career, Blade appeared on albums by Bob Dylan, Kenny Garrett and Joshua Redman. At age 27, he released his first album, Brian Blade Fellowship, and followed two years later with Perceptual, both on Blue Note. An in-demand collaborator, he went on to work with Chick Corea, Bill Frisell, Herbie Hancock, Norah Jones, Daniel Lanois and Joni Mitchell, and became a member of the acclaimed Wayne Shorter Quartet in 2000. Blade has showcased his vocal and songwriting abilities and guitar playing on Mama Rosa, with songs dedicated to his grandmother and family. In 2014, he released Landmarks with the Brian Blade Fellowship.
Five-time GRAMMY Award winner Terence Blanchard has attained a unique position as an accomplished jazz artist, bandleader, film composer and educator. As a teenager, he studied with Ellis Marsalis at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. While attending Rutgers University, he was offered a position in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, where he served as musical director. Blanchard has composed for every Spike Lee film since Mo’ Better Blues, including Lee’s latest project Chi-Raq, and has scored dozens of other films and television shows throughout his career. In 2006, he appeared in and composed for Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Blanchard’s corresponding recording, A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), received a GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2007. In 2012, Blanchard composed the original score for the George Lucas film Red Tails and composed incidental music for the Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. A year later, he composed his first opera, Champion, about prize- fighting boxer Emile Griffith. His latest Blue Note Records release is the electric fusion and R&B infused Breathless, which features his band the E-Collective and vocalist PJ Morton. From 2000 to 2011, Blanchard served as Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.
Kris Bowers is one of the most creative young pianists on the jazz scene today. A native of Los Angeles, Bowers began studying piano at age 9. He graduated from the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School. The winner of the 2011 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Piano Competition, Bowers has performed and recorded with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Jay Z, Kanye West, Ambrose Akinmusire, Victor Bailey, Louis Hayes, Vincent Herring, Mulgrew Miller, Terell Stafford, Ben Williams and others. In 2011, he appeared on the Kanye West/Jay-Z collaborative album Watch the Throne. Bowers is also an accomplished film composer, working on a range of documentaries including Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, Seeds of Time, Play it Forward and Showtime’s Kobe Bryant’s Muse. Bowers genre-spanning debut album Heroes and Misfits was released to critical acclaim and landed him the No. 1 spot on the iTunes jazz charts as well as Best New Jazz Album recognition at the 2014 Jazz Japan Awards. Additionally, he has performed at major jazz clubs and festivals around the world, including Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the Blue Note, Monterey Jazz Festival, Stockholm Jazz Festival, and Umbria Jazz Festival.
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater’s exuberance, creativity, undeniable confidence and joyous spirit have earned her a place as one of the premier vocalists in jazz. In 1969, Bridgewater toured the Soviet Union with the University of Illinois Big Band. She later spent two years as lead vocalist for the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and performed and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and other jazz giants. Bridgewater played the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway production of “The Wiz,” for which she received a Tony Award. In 1984, she received Horace Silver’s blessing to record an album of his music with vocals. The resulting Peace and Love brought her worldwide attention. From 1991 to 2014, Bridgewater served as host of the acclaimed NPR series “JazzSet.” In 2010, she won her third GRAMMY for Eleanora Faga (1917-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee. Three years later, she reprised her acclaimed role as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day” on Broadway. Active in humanitarian causes, Bridgewater serves as an Ambassador of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Her 2015 release, Dee Dee’s Feathers, features trumpeter Irvin Mayfield with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra performing inventive readings of classic Crescent City compositions.
One of the most renowned German jazz musicians of his generation, Till Brönner is a GRAMMY®-nominated trumpeter, vocalist, composer and arranger whose work spans straight-ahead jazz, electronica, hip-hop, rock and pop. Born in Viersen, Germany, Brönner fell in love with jazz at an early age and studied at the conservatory in Cologne before playing professionally. He made his debut as a leader in 1994 with the award-winning Generations of Jazz, featuring bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jeff Hamilton. Since then, he has performed and recorded with leading jazz figures such as Monty Alexander, Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Al Foster, Johnny Griffin, Chaka Khan, Madeleine Peyroux and Ernie Watts. Brönner composed the score for the 2001 documentary Jazz Seen and has been part of inventive collaborations with artists including Bootsy Collins, Snoop Dogg and DJ Samon Kawamura. His 2004 hit “That Summer,” which reached number 16 on German pop charts, made him his country’s best-selling jazz artist of all time. Brönner’s latest release, The Good Life, finds him returning to straight-ahead jazz with relaxed, thoughtful interpretations of the Great American Songbook.
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington is a three-time GRAMMY Award-winning drummer, producer and recording artist. Born in Medford, Massachusetts, Carrington received her first set of drums at age 3. At 10, she had her first major performance with trumpet legend Clark Terry and as a teenager, Carrington performed and recorded with Kenny Barron, Buster Williams, Stan Getz and James Moody. She later moved to Los Angeles to become the drummer for “The Arsenio Hall Show.” Throughout the ’90s, she performed with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, and played alongside Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder on Hancock’s GRAMMY Award-winning Gershwin’s World. Carrington teaches at the Berklee College of Music and serves as Artistic Director of the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival. Carrington’s 2013 Concord release Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue was a much anticipated homage to Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach that coincided with the 50th anniversary of their iconic 1963 Money Jungle album. Carrington made history with this album when she became the first woman to win a GRAMMY Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Her latest effort is a follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2011 album The Mosaic Project, titled The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul. Like its predecessor, the album presents Carrington leading a rotating cast of superb female instrumentalists and vocalists.
Chick Corea has attained living legend status after five decades of unparalleled creativity and artistic output. Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and began studying piano at age 4. His first professional gig was with Cab Calloway, followed by stints in Latin jazz bands led by Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo. Since embarking on a solo career in 1966, Corea has been at the forefront of jazz, both as a renowned pianist forging new ground with his acoustic jazz bands and as an innovative electric keyboardist with Return to Forever, the Elektric Band, and the electro/acoustic Vigil. A DownBeat Hall of Famer, NEA Jazz Master, 22-time GRAMMY Award winner, and keyboard virtuoso, his extensive discography boasts numerous albums, beginning with his 1968 classic, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs. Corea is the fourth-most-nominated artist in the history of the GRAMMY Awards, with 63 nominations. He also has earned 3 Latin GRAMMY Awards, the most of any artist in the Best Instrumental Album category. From straight ahead to avant-garde, bebop to fusion, children’s songs to chamber music, along with some far-reaching forays into symphonic works, Corea has touched an astonishing number of musical bases in his illustrious career. He continues to forge ahead, continually reinventing himself in the process.
Jamie Cullum is one of the most successful jazz artists, with more than 10 million albums sold worldwide. He has received a GRAMMY Award, 2 Golden Globes, 2 GQ Man of the Year awards, 3 Brits and 3 Sony Radio awards, among many other honors. Born in Rochford, England, Cullum first made his mark through jazz with the multi-platinum Twentysomething release, but it is his knowledge and love of all music that has helped propel him onto the world stage. The sensational musician has the ability and versatility to blur musical genres with his unique take on jazz, pop and rock, and his wide appeal has taken him from Seoul to Sao Paulo and from Hamburg to Hollywood, where he collaborated with Clint Eastwood on the Golden Globe nominated score for Gran Torino. Cullum has written for the London West End stage and presented television shows on VH-1, Sky and the BBC. He has hosted several documentaries for BBC Radio featuring such eminent subjects as Blue Note Records, Herbie Hancock, Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones. Cullum currently presents his own award-winning weekly primetime show on BBC Radio 2, the highest rated station in Europe. Interlude, his latest project on Island Records, shows Cullum reconnecting with his jazz roots.
Paquito D’Rivera defies categorization. The winner of 14 GRAMMY Awards, the celebrated clarinetist, saxophonist and composer is recognized for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. Born in Havana, Cuba, D’Rivera performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music and, at age 17 became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony. He directed the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna for two years, and was a founding member and co-director of Irakere, which performed an explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music never before heard. In 1988, he became a founding member of the United Nation Orchestra, a 15-piece ensemble organized by Dizzy Gillespie to showcase the fusion of Latin and Caribbean influences with jazz. D’Rivera went on to release more than 30 solo albums. His contributions to classical music include his three chamber compositions recorded live in concert with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Among his many honors, D’Rivera is the recipient of a National Medal of Arts and has been named an NEA Jazz Master. He continues to tour worldwide with his chamber jazz ensemble, big band and quintet.
Saxophonist and composer Eli Degibri of Israel has established himself as a prominent musician in jazz, gaining a worldwide fan base. After graduating from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance in 1999, Degibri join Herbie Hancock’s sextet and toured with the group for more than two years. He went on to join drummer Al Foster’s quartet and was featured on Love, Peace and Jazz, the group’s live recording from the Village Vanguard. Degibri’s 2010 release, Israeli Song, brought together Foster, Ron Carter and Brad Mehldau. In 2011, Degibri joined pianist Kenny Barron at the Red Sea Jazz Festival for a special duo performance. That same year, he joined Foster along with bassist George Mraz and pianist Fred Hersch at Birdland in New York City for a weeklong engagement dedicated to the music of the late Joe Henderson. The quartet also was invited to perform at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Degibri is a recipient of the honorary Israeli Prime Minister Award for Jazz Composition and the Landau Award for Jazz Performance, which recognizes his achievements as a bandleader. His latest release with his quartet is aptly named Cliff Hangin’ as it captures the thrilling and unpredictable urgency of his playing.
Kurt Elling combines his extraordinary vocal talents with his bandleading, composing and arranging to produce a sound that has been thrilling audiences for more than two decades. Growing up in Chicago, Elling was encouraged to become involved in music by his father, who organized the music at their Lutheran church. He received his bachelor’s degree in history at Gustavus Adolphus College and studied at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School before becoming a jazz vocalist. Deeply influenced by singer and poet Mark Murphy, Elling began to develop his idiosyncratic scat style in the clubs of Chicago, sharing the stage with legends Von Freeman and Ed Peterson. After several years of developing his craft, Elling was signed to Blue Note in 1995. He has since released six Blue Note albums, all of which have been GRAMMY nominated and critically acclaimed. His Concord release, Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman, received the 2009 GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Elling was named top male vocalist in the DownBeat Critics Poll for 13 consecutive years. His most recent effort, The Beautiful Day: Kurt Elling Sings Christmas, was released on OKeh/Sony in 2016 to critical acclaim.
Aretha Franklin’s musical legacy has made her a living legend. She is both a 20th and 21st century musical and cultural icon known the world over simply by her first name. The reigning and undisputed “Queen of Soul” has created an amazing legacy that spans six decades, from her first recording as a teenage gospel star to her current RCA Records release, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics. Her many countless classics include “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain Of Fools,” and “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” along with her own compositions “Think,” “Daydreaming” and “Call Me” and her definitive versions of “Respect” and “I Say A Little Prayer.” Franklin is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, along with 18 GRAMMY Awards, a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and a GRAMMY Living Legend Award. Her powerful, distinctive, gospel-honed vocal style has influenced countless singers across many generations, justifiably earning her Rolling Stone magazine’s No. 1 slot on its list of “The Greatest Singers of All Time.”
With his authoritative voice and calm demeanor, Morgan Freeman is one of the most respected figures in cinematic history. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Freeman made his acting debut at age 9. He turned down a drama scholarship to Jackson State University, opting instead to serve as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force. In 1969, he appeared onstage in an all African-American production of “Hello, Dolly!” Freeman first appeared on television on “The Electric Company.” Two years later, he moved into feature films. Freeman received an Oscar nomination for his performance as a merciless hoodlum in Street Smart, and received a second Oscar nomination in 1989 as the patient, dignified chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy. The same year, Freeman starred in the epic Civil War drama Glory. Other career highlights include his memorable performances in Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption, Amistad, and Million Dollar Baby, which won him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. In 2011, Freeman was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe Awards. That same year, he received an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. Committed to preserving and perpetuating the blues, Freeman is co-owner of the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
GRAMMY Award-winning pianist and composer Robert Glasper is a musical pioneer who is defining the cutting edge of modern music. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Glasper attended the city’s famed High School for the Visual and Performing Arts before moving to New York to study at the New School. Glasper established himself as an original and versatile pianist, performing with artists like Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove and Mos Def. In 2004, he released his first CD, Mood, to critical acclaim. The recording opened with a Herbie Hancock composition that incorporated elements of a Radiohead song, a sign of things to come with Glasper’s creative journey. He was signed to Blue Note the following year and released a trio of CDs, including the groundbreaking Double Booked. That album featured both the acoustic Robert Glasper Trio and the electric Robert Glasper Experiment, underscoring Glasper’s original blend of hip-hop and modern jazz. By this time, he was also developing a reputation for his rhythmic experiments and radical re-workings of classic jazz and rock material. Glasper’s 2012 release Black Radio entered the Billboard charts at No. 1 and received a GRAMMY in 2013 for Best R&B Album. His latest release, Black Radio 2, finds Glasper and his musical cohorts creating in a vibrant new chasm, brilliantly contrasting its predecessor in the process.
Buddy Guy is one of the titans of the blues, straddling traditional and modern forms as well as musical generations. He has worked with Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf along with Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Rolling Stones. Guy was born in Lettsworth, Louisiana, and at age 7 he made a guitar and taught himself to play. Motivated by musicians like John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Slim and Guitar Slim, Guy took a train out to Chicago on September 25, 1957 – a date so special that it has since been engraved on all of his guitars – to make a better living for himself. Muddy Waters discovered Guy in the Chicago clubs and helped him find work at the 708 Club. Guy soon landed a contract as a guitarist with Chess Records, and recorded a string of hits from the 1960s through the ’80s, attaining great stature within the blues community. His career broke wide open in 1991 with the release of Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues. This landmark release won Guy a GRAMMY and five W.C. Handy awards, and he recorded and toured prolifically in its wake. In 2003, Guy released Blues Singer, an acoustic album featuring renditions of some of his favorite songs. Two years later, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Guy’s latest release is Born to Play Guitar.
Herbie Hancock, a 14-time GRAMMY® Award winner, is an internationally renowned pianist and composer who has been an integral part of every jazz movement since his arrival on the scene in the 1960s. Born in Chicago , he began playing piano at age 7 and at 20 was invited to join Donald Byrd’s band. Byrd later helped him secure a recording contract with Blue Note Records. Hancock’s debut album, Takin’ Off, included “Watermelon Man,” the first of many Top 10 hits. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, Hancock became one of the pioneers of modern jazz improvisation. His recordings during the ’70s combined electric jazz with funk and rock sounds in an innovative style that influenced a whole decade of music. In 1983, “Rockit,” from the platinum-selling Future Shock album, won Hancock a GRAMMY® for Best R&B Instrumental. He received an Oscar in 1987 for Best Score, honoring his work on Round Midnight. In 2007, Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters won the GRAMMY® Award for Album of the Year, making Hancock the first jazz musician to receive this honor in 44 years. His latest release is The Imagine Project, which was recorded all around the world with artists including India.Arie, Los Lobos and Seal. Hancock serves as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
Zakir Hussain is a classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order and a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement. His exciting performances and masterful improvisational dexterity have established him as a national treasure in his native India, and gained him worldwide fame. A child prodigy, Hussain was touring by age 12. He came to the United States in 1970, performing his first concert at the Fillmore East in New York City with Ravi Shankar. Hussain’s contributions have been unique, with historic collaborations including Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar, Remember Shakti, the Diga Rhythm Band, Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, Tabla Beat Science, and Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland. Additionally, Hussain has recorded and performed with artists as diverse as George Harrison, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Airto Moreira, Béla Fleck, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Cobham, Mark Morris, Rennie Harris and the Kodo drummers. Hussain has composed music for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Jazz Festival and 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and has scored for many films. His extraordinary impact on the music world was honored in 2009, with four widely heralded, sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall.
Al Jarreau has captivated a worldwide audience with his blend of jazz and soul music, amazing vocal skills, and scat techniques. With seven GRAMMY Awards and scores of international jazz and pop music awards, he has established himself as a legend in the music industry. Jarreau began his career as a rehabilitation counselor in San Francisco. Although he had been singing since age 4, it wasn’t until his early 20s when he began singing in local clubs with George Duke that he decided music would become his career. Jarreau relocated to Los Angeles and performed around the city. After several national television appearances, he was signed to Warner Bros. in 1975 and released his first album, We Got By, which received massive critical acclaim. In 1977, Jarreau won his first GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Performance and topped many readers and critics polls. His 1981 album Breakin’ Away, which included the hit “We’re in This Love Together,” sold a million copies and made him one of the most recognized singers in music. Since that time, Jarreau has continued to release chart-topping albums that blend jazz and R&B, and tour the world performing with his sextet and with symphony orchestras. Jarreau was awarded a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, commemorating his spectacular career.
Diana Krall is a multi-talented pianist and vocalist who is one of the best-selling jazz artists of her generation. Krall grew up in British Columbia and began taking piano lessons at age 4. By age 15, she was performing jazz classics in local bars and restaurants. Krall attended the Berklee College of Music and released her debut album, Stepping Out, in 1993. Her 1996 album All for You, a tribute to Nat King Cole, was a breakthrough success, and her follow-up album, When I Look in Your Eyes, topped the Billboard jazz charts for more than a year. It also earned Krall her first of five GRAMMY Awards. Krall went on to win the 2002 GRAMMY Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album for her seventh release, Live in Paris. On The Girl in the Other Room, Krall for the first time included some of her own compositions as well as songs written by British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, whom she married in 2003. During her varied career Krall has toured with Tony Bennett, recorded with Ray Charles, and produced music for legendary singer-songwriter Barbra Streisand. More recently, she worked with rock icon Paul McCartney on his 2012 album, Kisses on the Bottom. Krall’s latest release is Wallflower, which features her signature renditions of songs by Bob Dylan, Elton John and the Eagles.
Lionel Loueke is a truly original artist and an influential voice in jazz. Born in Benin, Africa, Loueke began playing guitar at age 17. He attended the Institute of Art in Ivory Coast, studied at the American School of Music in Paris, and then moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music. There, he met bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth, who would become an important part of his musical family. He also began developing his artistic vision, melding African guitar tradition with jazz harmony. In 2001, Loueke was accepted to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, where he studied with Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and continued to play with fellow Monk students Biolcati and Nemeth. He later toured and recorded with both Blanchard and Hancock. Loueke performed alongside Sting on Hancock’s Possibilities, and is featured on Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters. In 2007, he signed to Blue Note and released Karibu, featuring Hancock and Shorter. His latest release on the label is GAIA, which features his longtime collaborators Biolcati and Nemeth.
Legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela has been a defining force in world music and human rights in Africa and around the globe. The iconic performer, composer, producer and activist is best known for his 1968 GRAMMY-nominated hit single, “Grazing in the Grass,” which sold more than 4 million copies and made him an international star. Born in Witbank, South Africa, Masekela began playing piano as a child and later took up the trumpet. He escaped South Africa’s Apartheid oppression and attended London’s Guildhall School of Music. Masekela later studied at the Manhattan School of Music. On his first night in New York, he visited three different jazz clubs to hear John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Max Roach. Masekela has collaborated with numerous artists including Miriam Makeba, Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Herb Alpert, U2 and Fela Kuti. He played an integral role in Paul Simon’s tour behind the classic album Graceland, one of the first pop records to introduce world music to a broader public. In the 1980s, Masekela’s hit song “Bring Him Back Home” became an anthem for the Free Nelson Mandela movement. His latest release, Playing @ Work, is a dynamic, genre-defying exploration of mbaqanga funk, jazz, and rhythm and blues, all cloaked in his indefatigable spirit and social consciousness.
Five-time GRAMMY Award-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride can be likened to a force of nature, fusing the fire and fury of a virtuoso with the depth and grounding of a seasoned journeyman. McBride was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After starting on bass guitar, he switched to double bass and studied at the Juilliard School. With a career now blazing into its third decade, McBride has become one of the most requested, recorded and respected figures in the music world today. He hosts and produces “The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian” on SiriusXM satellite radio, and showcases outstanding live jazz from across the country on National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in America” weekly radio show. He brings that same breadth of experience to bear as Artistic Advisor for Jazz Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. In March 2016, McBride was named as Newport Jazz Festival’s new artistic director, and will take the reins from its legendary founder George Wein in 2017. Completing the circle is his work with Jazz House Kids, the nationally recognized community arts organization founded by his wife, vocalist Melissa Walker. His latest album with the Christian McBride Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard was released on Mack Avenue Records in 2015.
A revolutionary force in music, John McLaughlin has been forging his own path on guitar since the 1960s and is still pointing the way forward. Growing up in Yorkshire, England, McLaughlin studied violin and piano before gravitating to the guitar. He played in a variety of bands in London and later joined Tony Williams’ Lifetime band and moved to New York. McLaughlin soon found himself in the studio with Miles Davis recording what would become the classic album In a Silent Way. In 1971, he formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which brought together rock, jazz, and Eastern music and had a massive impact on musicians and music lovers around the world. The always creatively restless McLaughlin moved on to form Shakti, in which he played acoustic guitar and further immersed himself in Indian classical music. Throughout the following decades, he worked in a variety of groups and played on dozens of albums with artists including Stanley Clarke, Carlos Santana, Dexter Gordon and Wayne Shorter. McLaughlin’s most recent album is 2015’s Black Light, which features his jazz fusion quartet, the 4th Dimension.
Pat Metheny is an incomparably versatile guitarist who has won 20 GRAMMY Awards in 12 different categories. Metheny grew up in Kansas City and began playing trumpet at age 8. He switched to guitar at age 12 and by 15 was working regularly with the city’s best jazz musicians. Metheny burst onto the international jazz scene in 1974 when he began performing with vibraphone great Gary Burton. His soon-to-become trademarked playing style blended the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility. This way of playing and improvising was modern in conception but grounded deeply in the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues. With the release of his first album, Bright Size Life, Metheny reinvented the traditional jazz guitar sound for a new generation of players. Throughout his career, Metheny has redefined the genre by utilizing new technology and evolving the improvisational and sonic potential of his instrument. Over the years, he has performed with a diverse array of artists including Ornette Coleman, Steve Reich, Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Milton Nascimento and David Bowie. Metheny’s body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, small ensembles, electric and acoustic instruments, large orchestras and ballet pieces, with settings ranging from modern jazz to rock to classical. In May 2016, he will release Pat Metheny: The Unity Sessions.
Marcus Miller is a modern pioneer of electric bass. He has influenced musicians around the globe as both a performer and a recording musician appearing on more than 500 albums. Miller was born in New York and raised in a musical family that included his uncle, pianist Wynton Kelly. By age 13, he was writing songs and playing clarinet, piano and bass. Two years later, he began working as a session musician around the city. For the next 15 years, Miller recorded with an amazing array of artists including Elton John, Grover Washington, Jr., Chaka Khan, LL Cool J and Frank Sinatra. He also spent two years as the bassist for the Saturday Night Live Band. In 1980, he joined Miles Davis’ band as Davis was coming out of retirement. Miller’s contributions as a bass player, composer and producer defined Davis’ style throughout the ’80s. Over the course of his career, Miller has received two GRAMMY® Awards and countless other honors. His 2015 Blue Note Records debut, Afrodeezia, finds the artist exploring an eclectic mix of tunes inspired by his work as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, alongside an all-star lineup of guest artists.
James Morrison is a virtuoso trumpeter, composer and multi-instrumentalist who is one of Australia’s most renowned musicians. Morrison grew up in the Australian farming community of Boorowa and began playing piano and brass instruments at age 6. At 16, he made his debut at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Soon after, Morrison was performing at major U.S. and European jazz club and festivals with Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Cab Calloway, Woody Shaw, Red Rodney, George Benson, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Wynton Marsalis. Morrison’s diverse career also has included recording Jazz Meets the Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra, and performing with Dave Brubeck, Phil Collins and Chaka Khan. In 2000, Morrison was selected to compose and perform the opening fanfare for the Olympic Games in Sydney. He also served as artistic advisor to the Sydney Symphony’s Kaleidoscope series, which included performances by Chick Corea, Dianne Reeves and Gary Burton. In 2013, he conducted the World’s Largest Orchestra, breaking a Guinness World Record with 7,224 musicians at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium. Morrison has been recognized for his arts service in Australia with a medal of The Order of Australia by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
As a collaborator with jazz giants and as a solo artist, Danilo Pérez is one of the most creative pianists on the scene. Pérez was born in Panama and at age 3 began studying piano. At 10, he attended the National Conservatory of Panama. Pérez moved to the U.S. and attended the Berklee College of Music, performing with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard and Claudio Roditi. In 1989, he became the youngest member of Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra. In 1993, his debut CD Danilo Perez received high acclaim from critics and jazz fans. His subsequent releases, The Journey, PanaMonk and Central Avenue, won numerous awards. During this period, Pérez performed with Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano and Jack DeJohnette. In 2001, Pérez joined the Wayne Shorter Quartet, alongside bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. The band developed an unusual chemistry that has made their live performances and recordings among the most significant in modern jazz. In recent years, Pérez has taken on the role of Ambassador of Goodwill for UNICEF, Cultural Ambassador of Panama, President and Founder of the Panama Jazz Festival, Professor at the New England Conservatory, and Artistic Director of the Berklee College of Music’s Global Jazz Institute. His latest release, Children of the Light, features his Wayne Shorter Quartet bandmates John Patitucci and Brian Blade.
Rebirth Brass Band
No band exemplifies the essence and soul of New Orleans like Rebirth Brass Band. Whether seen on HBO’s “Treme” or at their legendary Tuesday night gig at the Maple Leaf, Rebirth is a true New Orleans institution. Formed in 1983 by tuba/sousaphone player Philip Frazier and his brother, bass drummer Keith Frazier, along with trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, the band has evolved from playing the streets of the French Quarter to performing at festivals and stages around the world. While committed to upholding the tradition of brass bands, they also extend themselves into the realms of funk and hip-hop to create their signature sound. According to The New York Times, “The Rebirth Brass Band updates the traditional strutting rhythms and continuous improvisation of New Orleans parades with an infusion of funk. It doesn’t need microphones, amplifiers or anything but breath and rhythm to make a crowd jump.” The band’s 2011 release Rebirth of New Orleans received the 2012 GRAMMY for Best Regional Roots Music Album. Rebirth’s latest release is 2014’s Move Your Body. Rebirth’s infectious energy, creative depth and versatility continue to symbolize the ineffable spirit of New Orleans.
A five-time GRAMMY Award winner, Dianne Reeves is one of the premier vocalists on the worldwide music scene. A native of Denver, she began her career in Los Angeles as a studio vocalist working with Lenny White, Stanley Turrentine and Billy Childs. Reeves toured with Sergio Mendes and Harry Belafonte, then signed to Blue Note in 1987. Her self-titled Blue Note debut, featuring Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard and Tony Williams, was nominated for a GRAMMY. Reeves’ Blue Note releases in the ’90s established her place as an exceptional vocalist, and she was invited to perform at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. In 2005, she appeared in the film Good Night, and Good Luck, performing a series of jazz standards. Beautiful Life, Reeves’ Concord Records debut, won the 2015 GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album. It features an all-star cast that includes Esperanza Spalding, Richard Bona, Gregory Porter, Lalah Hathaway, Robert Glasper, Gerald Clayton, Sean Jones, Tia Fuller, Tineke Postma and the late George Duke. Among her many accolades, Reeves recently received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the Julliard School.
GRAMMY Award-winning guitarist Lee Ritenour is a versatile musician who has appeared on more than 3,000 sessions in virtually all styles of music. Ritenour played one of his first sessions at age 16 for the group The Mamas and the Papas and has never looked back. While continuing to play with pop groups, he began to make an impact as a jazz guitarist strongly influenced by Wes Montgomery. Ritenour’s albums in the ’70s demonstrated his love of jazz, pop and Brazilian music, and were met with chart-topping success. He scored a crossover hit with “Is It You?” from his 1981 album, Rit. In the ’90s, Ritenour was a founding member of the contemporary jazz group Fourplay, whose first album spent an unprecedented 22 weeks at number one on the Billboard contemporary jazz charts. Along the way, he has appeared on albums by Dizzy Gillespie, Deniece Williams and Pink Floyd, and has received the top spot in numerous guitar polls. His most recent release is A Twist of Rit, which features some of his longtime collaborators including Patrice Rushen, Dave Grusin and Ernie Watts.
GRAMMY Award-winner David Sánchez is recognized around the world as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation. He combines his deep knowledge of jazz and Latin music, and the traditions that mold them, with extraordinary results. Sánchez was born in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and took up the conga at age 8. He started playing saxophone at age 12 and came to the United States to study music at Rutgers University. Sánchez joined Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra in 1990 and Gillespie became his mentor. The group toured the world, performing in 27 countries and 100 U.S. cities. Sánchez signed with Columbia Records and released seven albums, beginning with 1996’s Street Scenes, which was influenced by Puerto Rican folkloric music. In 2004, Sánchez released Coral, which earned him his first Latin GRAMMY Award for Best Instrumental Album. In 2011, Sánchez joined forces with Stefon Harris and Christian Scott for the Ninety Miles Project, which resulted in a successful album and documentary film produced in Havana with some of Cuba’s finest musicians. Over the years, Sánchez has performed and recorded with Kenny Barron, Roy Haynes, Pat Metheny, Roy Hargrove, Danilo Pérez and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. For more than a decade, he has shared his passion for music with students at Puerto Rico’s Conservatorio de Música. Sánchez continues to tour the world as a bandleader, bringing his mix of mainstream jazz with Latin influences to audiences around the globe.
Named one of the “Five Drummers Whose Time Is Now” by The New York Times, Kendrick Scott is a consummate musician whose jaw-dropping power behind the drums is matched only by his remarkable finesse. Scott was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in a family of musicians. He began playing drums at age 8 and attended Houston’s renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Scott won several DownBeat student music awards, as well as the prestigious Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Award from the International Association of Jazz Education. He was later awarded a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music, where he majored in music education. Scott has toured with Herbie Hancock, Charles Lloyd, The Crusaders, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kurt Elling and Terence Blanchard, also appearing on several of the trumpeter’s Blue Note albums. Scott has released three albums as a bandleader, including two with his group, Oracle, a collective of young musicians including John Ellis, Taylor Eigsti, Mark Moreno and Joe Sanders. In 2014, Scott performed as a member of the Blue Note Records 75th Anniversary all-star band that included Ambrose Akinmusire, Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, Lionel Loueke and Marcus Strickland. Scott’s Blue Note debut is 2015’s We Are the Drum, which includes six of his compelling compositions.
Wayne Shorter is one of the greatest jazz artists of all time. As a composer and improviser, he has profoundly impacted the sound of modern music for the last half century. Dozens of his more than 200 compositions are standards performed by artists around the world. Shorter grew up in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from Arts High School. He attended New York University and then served in the Army while playing saxophone in groups with Horace Silver and Maynard Ferguson. In 1959, Shorter joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, where he soon became musical director. In 1964, the same year Shorter recorded Speak No Evil – his first record as a leader for Blue Note – Miles Davis invited him to join a quartet with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Shorter recorded 12 albums with Davis and provided much of the material for the group’s musical explorations. In 1970, Shorter and Joe Zawinul formed Weather Report, which became one of the most influential forces of the fusion era. In 2005, he won a GRAMMY Award for Beyond the Sound Barrier. Shorter currently performs with his dynamic quartet, which includes Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade. Without a Net, the group’s latest release, documents this exceptional ensemble performing live with the Imani Winds. The album garnered Shorter the 2014 GRAMMY Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, taking his total to 10 plus a Lifetime Achievement Award over the past 25 years.
Esperanza Spalding is a dynamic bassist, singer and composer who is cutting her own unique creative path. She is the first jazz musician to win a GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist. Spalding grew up in Portland, Oregon and was drawn to music when she saw Yo-Yo Ma perform on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” She began playing cello at age 5 and discovered the bass while attending Northwest Academy, a performing arts high school in Oregon. Spalding entered the Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship and after her first semester was invited to perform with Patti Austin on the “For Ella” tour. She also studied with Joe Lovano, who later invited her to join his band. Upon graduation, Spalding returned to Berklee as an instructor. Since then, her career has taken off with performances at the White House and the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, as well as the chart-topping releases Esperanza, Chamber Music Society and Radio Music Society, which includes a 12-piece, world-class band. In 2016, she released her fifth studio album, Emily’s D+Evolution, which was produced by longtime David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti and has received wide critical acclaim.
Composer, singer, author, actor, activist – Sting has won universal acclaim in all of these roles, yet he continues to defy labels. For nearly four decades, he has remained at the forefront of public consciousness and has been widely recognized for his musical contributions, which feature elements of rock, jazz, reggae, classical, new age and worldbeat. Born and raised in Wallsend, England, Sting moved to London in 1977 and joined Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers to form The Police. The group released five chart-topping albums and won six GRAMMY awards. Soon after the band parted ways, Sting released his first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, featuring an all-star cast of jazz musicians including Branford Marsalis and Kenny Kirkland. Sting’s worldwide success has continued with the release of 11 additional solo albums. His most recent endeavor, 2013’s The Last Ship, inspired by the Broadway musical of the same name, draws upon his childhood memories of his hometown’s shipbuilding industry. Throughout his remarkable career, Sting has received 16 GRAMMY Awards, induction into the Rock and Role Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Kennedy Center Honors Award, and a Commander of the British Empire appointment from Queen Elizabeth II. Sting’s longtime support for human rights organizations has included his involvement with Amnesty International and Live Aid, and his creation of the Rainforest Foundation to save the rainforests and protect indigenous people.
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews grew up in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans and began playing trombone at age 4. He participated in brass band parades and became a bandleader by age 6. In his teens, he performed with the Stooges Brass Band and attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts before joining Lenny Kravitz’ horn section at age 19 for a world tour. Trombone Shorty also has appeared with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, performed with U2 and Green Day, and played himself in a recurring role on the HBO hit series “Treme.” Backatown, his Verve debut, received nearly universal critical and commercial acclaim, hitting the Billboard jazz charts at No. 1 and remaining there for nine straight weeks. Trombone Shorty is the acclaimed bandleader and frontman of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, a hard-edged funk band that employs hip-hop beats, rock dynamics and improvisation in a jazz tradition. The band performs high-energy, sold-out concerts all over the globe, and performed at the 2014 GRAMMY Awards with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Madonna and Queen Latifah. Trombone Shorty received the President’s Medal from Tulane University for his charitable work with the Trombone Shorty Foundation, which helps schools across New Orleans receive quality instruments that he personally donates.
Winner of six GRAMMY and three Latin GRAMMY Awards, Cuban pianist, composer and arranger Chucho Valdés is widely considered the most influential figure in modern Afro-Cuban music. Born into a family of musicians in Quivicán, Cuba, Valdés received his first training from his father, the pianist, composer and bandleader Ramón “Bebo” Valdés. By age 3, the young pianist was already playing back the melodies he heard on the radio. He continued his formal musical education at the Conservatorio Municipal de Música de la Habana, graduating at age 14. A year later, he formed his first jazz trio and in 1959 debuted with the fabled orchestra Sabor de Cuba. Valdés is perhaps best known for founding and directing the legendary Cuban ensemble Irakere, discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1977 and later signed to Blue Note Records. Valdés, who led Irakere from its founding in 1973 until 2005, has functioned as one of the most recognizable ambassadors for Cuban music and culture, pursuing a successful solo career with 25 albums to his name and collaborating with eminent artists from around the world. Valdés has received honorary doctorates from institutions including the Berklee College of Music and Victoria University in Canada. His most recent release is Tribute to Irakere: Live in Marciac, which won the 2017 GRAMMY for Best Latin Jazz Album.
Bobby Watson is one of the top alto saxophonists in the world. He grew up in Kansas City, studied at the University of Miami, and later moved to New York, where he was to become a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, one of the most important groups in the history of jazz. He later formed Horizon, the quintessential contemporary hard bop quintet of the 1980s and ’90s. Known for his extraordinary ability to play swing, hard bop, and contemporary jazz, Watson has appeared at every major venue and jazz festival worldwide and has recorded more than 100 albums as a leader, sideman or guest artist. He is also one of the most gifted and prolific composers of his generation, with more than 100 recorded compositions to his credit. Watson is the recipient of numerous national and international awards and citations, including being named #1 Alto Sax Player and Musician of the Year in DownBeat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll. Besides being an internationally acclaimed performer and composer, Watson is an esteemed jazz educator who serves as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and presents jazz workshops around the globe. His latest album, Check Cashing Day, was recorded in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
Ben Williams is a virtuoso performer and world-class composer who is setting a new standard for the bass. Williams grew up in Washington, D.C. and was drawn to music after seeing a bass in the corner of Congressman John Conyers’ office, where his mother worked. He attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where he participated in programs conducted by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Williams later studied with Rodney Whitaker at Michigan State University and with Ben Wolfe at Juilliard. In 2009, Williams won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Bass Competition. He has since performed with Jacky Terrasson, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Benny Golson and Stefon Harris’ Blackout. His debut release, the highly acclaimed State of Art on Concord Records, showcases him playing a variety of genres, from jazz to R&B to hip-hop. Williams currently performs as part of the Pat Metheny Unity Band and with his own all-star group, Sound Effect. Williams’ latest release, Coming of Age, is a collection of original compositions reflecting his wide-ranging musical interests.