Dale Barlow is an original stylist on tenor saxophone and one of the most recognized jazz artists in Australia. Barlow was born in Sydney and began studying piano before switching to classical flute and clarinet and eventually tenor saxophone. He moved to New York in 1982 to study and soon found himself playing with some of the leading figures in jazz like Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, Cedar Walton and Kenny Barron as well as pop artists including Bryan Ferry and Style Council. Over the next several years, he recorded and toured internationally with both American and Australian jazz artists, and in 1990 he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. In his home country, Barlow was a recognized face, appearing on television variety and talk shows. In recent years, he has toured throughout the world, playing saxophone, flute and the indigenous didgeridoo.
Pianist, composer and musical 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. He 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 has performed on film scores for Erin Brokovich, Finding Nemo and The Godfather III and composed for hit television series like “Cheers,” “Fame” and “Star Trek: Next Generation.” He has released numerous albums, including Positootly!, which received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Album. Beasley leads 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.
Five-time Grammy Award-winning musician, singer, and songwriter Rubén Blades was born in Panama City, Panama. His father played the bongos and his mother was a pianist, singer, and radio actress. It was with his brother Luis that Blades made his first public performance as a singer. In 1970, he traveled to New York to record his first album, De Panama a Nueva York: Pete Rodriguez Presenta a Rubén Blades, then returned to Panama to finish his law degree. Blades’ musical career got a boost after he began singing with Ray Barretto’s salsa band. In 1976, Blades began collaborating with salsa musician Willie Colón. They created several successful albums, including Siembra, one of the most popular salsa albums ever. Blades made numerous solo recordings, such as Buscando América, Nothing But the Truth, and Mundo. Much of his work focused on social and political issues, and his hit “Patria” is regarded as Panama’s second national anthem. Blades has appeared in films including The Milagro Beanfield War, All the Pretty Horses and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. In 1994, Blades took a more active role in the Panama’s politics and ran for President of Panama. A decade later, he was appointed Minister of Tourism.
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.
Saxophonist and bandleader Igor Butman is Russia’s premier jazz artist. Butman was born in Leningrad and began playing clarinet at age 11. He studied music at the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music and received much of his education from listening to nightly jazz broadcasts from Voice of America. In 1983, he joined the Oleg Lundstrem Big Band and was soon invited to play with the acclaimed Russian jazz group Allegro. Butman moved to the United States in 1987 to attend the Berklee College of Music. Saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. took Butman under his wing, featuring him in live performances and on recordings like Then & Now. In 1989, Butman moved to New York, where he worked with some of the top players on the scene. He also recorded the solo album Falling Out with Eddie Gomez, Lyle Mays and Marvin Smith. He eventually moved back to Russia to serve as the bridge between the Moscow and New York jazz scenes. Butman’s most recent release is titled Magic Land and features an all-star band that includes Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, John Patitucci, Randy Brecker and Stefon Harris.
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.
Anat Cohen is one of the most exciting new artists on the jazz scene. Cohen was born in Tel Aviv, Israel into a musical family. She attended the Tel Aviv School for the Arts, Thelma Yellin High School for the Arts, and Jaffa Music Conservatory. Cohen began playing clarinet at age 16, performing in the Jaffa Conservatory’s Dixieland band. She later attended the Berklee College of Music, where she developed a love for South American music. After graduation, Cohen moved to New York and began playing with the all-woman big band The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Brazilian group Choro Ensemble, and Duduka Da Fonseca’s Samba Jazz Quintet. She also began playing in the 3 Cohens trio with her brothers, saxophonist Yuval and trumpeter Avishai. In 2005, Cohen started her own record label, Anzic Records, and released her debut CD, Place & Time, which All About Jazz named one of the year’s best debuts. Over the next several years, she continued releasing CDs as a solo artist and with the 3 Cohens, garnering rave reviews and gracing the cover of DownBeat magazine in 2012. Her most recent release is Claroscuro, which highlights her excellent band members Jason Lindner, Joe Martin and Daniel Freedman.
Vinnie Colaiuta has been cited by Modern Drummer as the most important drummer of our time. Originally from Brownsville, Pennsylvania, he began playing drums as a child and received his first full drum kit from his parents at age 14. After attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Colaiuta relocated to Los Angeles and in 1978 was chosen as Frank Zappa’s principal drummer for studio and live performances. Colaiuta’s performances on several of Zappa’s albums are considered by many drummers to be among the most astounding ever recorded. Colaiuta went on to work with a long list of notable rock and pop artists, including Jeff Beck, Clannad, Faith Hill, Chaka Khan, Joni Mitchell, Sting and Barbra Streisand. He has also appeared with many notable jazz musicians, including Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Haslip and Quincy Jones. Colaiuta remains one of the most in-demand studio musicians, playing on countless albums and film soundtracks.
Imer Demirer is one of the leading jazz trumpet players in Turkey. He was born in Ankara and began studying music at the Istanbul State Conservatory. In 1986, while still in school, he joined Ali Peret’s Istanbul Jazz Quartet and performed at festivals through Eastern Europe. After graduation, he became a part of Süheyl Denizci’s Turkish Radio Television Istanbul Radio Jazz Orchestra. Demirer has performed and recorded with the biggest names in Turkish jazz along with American jazz artists including Ricky Ford, Ari Honig, Aaron Goldberg and Orrin Evans. Demirer is also an educator and has taught at Istanbul Bilgi University. In 2009, he released his debut album You, Me, and Char.
Pianist and producer George Duke has had an astounding career, taking part in hundreds of musical projects and receiving numerous GRAMMY Awards and nominations. In the late ’60s, Duke formed a group with singer Al Jarreau that became the house band for San Francisco’s Half Note Club. He also performed locally with Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon. While collaborating with jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, Duke began creating the West Coast response to the fusion coming out of the East Coast. He then joined Frank Zappa’s band and performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Nancy Wilson as a member of Cannonball Adderley’s group. During this same period, Duke began working with Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira, and Flora Purim, forming what would become his musical family for the next several decades. Throughout the ’70s, Duke released a series of dynamic fusion and funk albums, including the chart-topping Reach For It. In the decades that followed, Duke expanded his career as a recording artist, composer, and producer, working with Natalie Cole, Smokey Robinson, Dianne Reeves, Gladys Knight, and Miles Davis. Duke continues to record in a wide variety of styles and tour with his own group. In 2012, Duke was inducted into the Soul Music Hall of Fame.
James Genus is one of the top bass players on the jazz scene and one of the rare few who can apply his masterful artistry to both the upright and the electric bass. Born in Hampton, Virginia, Genus began playing guitar at age 6 and switched to bass at age 13. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University, where he studied with pianist Ellis Marsalis. After graduation, he moved to New York and became one of the city’s most in-demand musicians. His first professional music experience was with the Blue Note band, Out of the Blue. Since then, Genus has performed and recorded with dozens of major jazz artists including Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, T.S. Monk, Chick Corea, Don Pullen, Horace Silver, Branford Marsalis, Bob James, Michel Camilo, Nat Adderley, Greg Osby, Benny Golson, Jon Faddis, Steps Ahead and the Brecker Brothers. He also has worked with renowned vocalists Anita Baker and Vanessa Williams, and the art-rock band Elysian Fields. Genus teaches at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, presents bass clinics around the world, and is a member of the Saturday Night Live Band. He can be heard on the GRAMMY Award winning Daft Punk album Random Access Memories.
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.
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. In 2013, Hancock received a Kennedy Center Honors Award for achievement in the performing arts, with artists like Snoop Dogg and Mixmaster Mike from the Beastie Boys performing his music. The 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University, Hancock continues to serve 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.
Guitar virtuoso Bilâl Karaman is one of the most outstanding young artists on Turkey’s jazz scene. Karaman received his bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from Istanbul Bilgi University, where he studied jazz as well as Turkish music. In 2009, he won first place in Istanbul’s jazz guitar competition, sponsored by Yahama, and has since released two albums, Bahane in 2011 and Patika in 2013. Karaman is in demand as a soloist for his unique, near East approach to jazz guitar. He has performed and recorded with renowned artists including Marcus Miller, Butch Morris and Ricky Ford, among others. A committed educator, Karaman founded Gitar Akademisi, Turkey’s first virtual guitar academy. Karaman lives in Istanbul and continues to spread Turkish jazz throughout Eastern Europe and beyond.
Pianist and composer Ramsey Lewis has been an iconic leader in the contemporary jazz movement for more than 50 years. A native of Chicago, Lewis began taking piano lessons at age 4 and joined a jazz band at age 15. He captivated fans with his first album, Ramsey Lewis And The Gentlemen of Swing and went on to top the charts with “The In Crowd,” “Hang On Sloopy” and “Wade In The Water.” Throughout his illustrious career, Lewis has joined forces with countless artists. In 1984, he collaborated with Nancy Wilson on The Two of Us; in 1988, he recorded with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra for A Classic Encounter; and a year later he recorded a set of piano duets with Dr. Billy Taylor in We Meet Again. Lewis is a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master with three Grammy Awards and seven gold records to his credit. He helped organize the Ravinia Festival’s Jazz Mentor Program and serves as Artistic Director for the festival’s jazz series. Lewis recently released his 80th collection of songs titled Ramsey, Taking Another Look. He hosts “Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis,” a two-hour radio program that airs in more than 65 cities across the United States.
Branford Marsalis is one of the most significant saxophonists in jazz since the 1960s and a musical leader of his generation. Marsalis grew up in New Orleans in one of the most renowned musical families. He attended the Berklee College of Music and began touring with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as an alto saxophonist in 1981 alongside his younger brother Wynton. The brothers were soon invited to join Herbie Hancock on a Japanese tour. Marsalis later joined Wynton’s quintet alongside pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Jeff Watts. The group heralded a new wave of acoustic music rooted in the tradition of 1950s and ’60s jazz. In 1985, Marsalis joined Sting’s band, touring the world and performing on classic albums like The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun. He appeared as an actor in the 1988 Spike Lee film “School Daze” and performed on the soundtrack. In 1992, Marsalis became the bandleader for the Tonight Show Band, a position that lasted for the next three years. After leaving the show, Marsalis committed himself fully to jazz, leading his own quartet. He, his father Ellis and his brothers Wynton, Jason and Delfeayo were named National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters in 2011.
Pedrito Martinez is one of the top Latin percussionists on the scene today and a brilliant performer who has thrilled audiences across the globe. Martinez was born in Havana, Cuba and began performing with some of the legends of Cuban music at age 11. At 25, he moved to Canada and soon after won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Hand Drums Competition. He later moved to New York, where he began playing with Paquito D’Rivera, Steve Turre, Stefon Harris, Joe Lovano. and Sting. Martinez also became a member of the Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band Yerba Buena, which toured the world opening for Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles. Martinez has appeared on the GRAMMY Award-winning Simpatico by Brian Lynch and Eddie Palmieri and on six GRAMMY nominated albums. He currently performs with his band, the Pedro Martinez Group, playing a mix of Afro-Cuban rumba, bata rhythms, and the music of Yoruba and Santeria traditions. The group has released a live album and plans to record a studio album this year.
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.
Keiko Matsui is a contemporary jazz composer and keyboard player whose passionate music has won her legions of fans around the globe. Matsui grew up in Tokyo and began studying piano at a young age. Her early musical inspirations were Stevie Wonder, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Chick Corea. As a teenager, she studied music at the Yamaha Music Foundation and through the Foundation joined the Japanese fusion group Cosmos. After recording seven albums with the band, Matsui moved to the United States at age 19 and recorded her debut album, A Drop of Water. The success of the album led to Matsui being signed to MCA, where she released two acclaimed recordings. Over the years, she has released 33 albums, many of them topping the contemporary jazz charts. Matsui is also an activist and a champion of numerous causes. She has worked with and supported the Y-M National Breast Cancer Organization, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, the National Marrow Donor Program, and the United Nations World Food Programme. Matsui’s latest CD, The Road… blends music from around the world and features Vinnie Colaiuta, Richard Bona, and many others.
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.
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 latest release is Afrodeezia, his debut for the Blue Note label. Inspired by his new role as a UNESCO Artist for Peace and spokesperson for the organization’s Slave Route Project, the album was recorded around the world in France, Morocco, New Orleans and Los Angeles, and features guest appearances by Lalah Hathaway, Ambrose Akinmusire and Robert Glasper, among others.
T.S. Monk had an extraordinary childhood. As the son of jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk, his home was the gathering place for Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and other legendary jazz musicians. Monk began playing drums after receiving his first pair of drumsticks from Max Roach and his first drum set from Art Blakey. He played for two years with his father’s band and was a member of Atlantic Records’ fusion band Natural Essence. He then formed the group “T.S. Monk” with his sister Barbara Monk and vocalist Yvonne Fletcher. The group recorded three albums and charted a Top 20 hit with its single “Bon Bon Vie” followed by “Too Much Too Soon.” In 1992, Monk formed a straight-ahead septet, which released several albums including the critically acclaimed The Charm. Monk celebrated his father’s 80th birthday with the all-star recording Monk on Monk. His most recent release, Higher Ground, ventures into smooth jazz and funk. Monk serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
Milton Nascimento is a Brazilian singer, songwriter and guitarist whose powerful music and message has moved millions and has been the rallying cry of self-determination in Brazil. Nascimento was born in Rio de Janeiro and began his career playing in samba groups around the city. He moved to Belo Horizonte, where along with other artists and bands he created the Clube da Esquina movement, bringing together progressive rock, bossa nova and jazz. The musicians involved in this artist collective released the album Clube da Esquina, which received massive acclaim and gave Nascimento wider recognition. His song “Coracao de Estudante” commemorated a student killed by a police officer. The song was adopted as a theme for the Diretas Ja campaign, which fought for direct presidential campaigns in Brazil. In 1974, Wayne Shorter collaborated with Nascimento and recorded the album Native Dancer. The album brought Nascimento to the world stage and led to collaborations with Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, James Taylor, Quincy Jones and George Duke. Throughout the years, Nascimento has released dozens of his own chart-topping albums. He is currently collaborating with American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz.
Eddie Palmieri has been a pioneering force in Latin jazz for more than five decades. Palmieri grew up in New York’s Spanish Harlem and was immersed in music from an early age. His brother Charlie Palmieri was an influential salsa pianist. In 1961, Palmieri formed his own group La Perfecta, which featured a trombone section in place of trumpets, a first in salsa music. The band’s unusual sound soon led them to major success in Latin music. Palmieri’s 1970 release Harlem River Drive brought him new acclaim with its blend of salsa, funk, soul, and jazz. Over the years, Palmieri has released dozens of albums and received nine GRAMMY Awards. He has also received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music, a Chubb Fellowship Award from Yale University, the Harlem Renaissance Award, and many others. In 2011, Palmieri released his 50th anniversary DVD featuring live performance footage with his salsa orchestra. Most recently in 2013, Palmieri was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, the nation’s highest honor in jazz.
Alevtina Polyakova is a gifted musician, arranger, composer and singer who has the distinction of being Russia’s leading female jazz trombone player. Her performances combine virtuosity, power and tenderness with her creative improvisational ideas. As a composer, Polyakova has drawn praise from respected jazz musicians for her blending of African rhythms with Russian melodic language. A jazz performance student at the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music in Moscow, Polyakova has won numerous Russian and international musical contests. In 2009, after appearing as a soloist with the Igor Butman Orchestra, she launched her international career, going on to share the stage with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Randy Brecker, Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Cole and John Pizzarelli, among others. Polyakova has performed at prestigious concert venues in Russia and abroad, including the Iridium and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York City.
Jean-Luc Ponty is a visionary violin master who has made a lasting impact on modern music. Ponty was born into a family of classical musicians in Avranches, France. He studied at the Conservatiore National Superieur de Musique de Paris and graduated with the school’s highest award, Premier Prix. Ponty began performing classical music, all the while developing a love of jazz. The demands of both styles grew overwhelming and Ponty eventually decided to immerse himself fully in jazz. He released his debut album at age 22 and brought new life to the possibility of the violin as a solo voice in jazz. Several years later he was introduced to American audiences at a performance with the Modern Jazz Quartet at the Monterey Jazz Festival. In the 1970s, Ponty collaborated with a broad range of artists, including Frank Zappa, Elton John, George Duke and John McLaughlin. He has released 12 solo albums, all of which reached the Top 5 on the Billboard jazz charts. In recent years, Ponty has toured and recorded with Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, and a group of West African musicians. His latest release, the critically acclaimed The Atacama Experience, features music that represents a journey through different lands and eras.
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.
Hüsnü Şenlendirici is one of Turkey’s leading clarinetists and a leader in cross-cultural collaborations. Şenlendirici began playing clarinet at the age of 5. He entered the Turkish Music State Conservatory at Istanbul Technical University in 1990. At the same time, he began performing at Turkish music festivals with percussionist Oktay Temiz along with his father, clarinetist Ergün Şenlendirici, and the group Magnetic Band. In 1996, he founded the group Laco Tayfa and released the album, In the Buzzbag, a collaboration with the American group Brooklyn Funk Essentials. Şenlendirici released his first solo album in 2000. He was selected to participate in the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s project Anadolu Günesi, which brought him together with artists Kubat and Belkis Akkale along with a symphonic orchestra. His most recent release, The Joy of Clarinet, focuses on the instrument itself, with Şenlendirici performing in a range of styles from ancient gypsy soul to ambient groove music.
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 a teacher. Since then, her career has taken off with performances at the White House and Nobel Peace Concert, and her 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.
Joss Stone has been passionate about soul music since she was a little girl. By the time she was in her early teens, she had begun to hone her now trademark gravelly yet lustrous vocals by singing along to Aretha’s Franklin records. Stone began pursuing a singing career at 13 and secured a record deal at 15, releasing The Soul Sessions. Her second album, 2004’s Mind Body & Soul, earned Stone three GRAMMY nominations, including one for Best New Artist. In 2007, Stone released Introducing Joss Stone, which debuted on the Billboard charts at number two, marking the highest U.S. debut ever for a female British solo artist. Stone has performed onstage with James Brown, Gladys Knight, Blondie, Smokey Robinson and Melissa Etheridge, among others. She has contributed to albums by Jeff Beck and Ringo Starr, played the Super Bowl pre-game show, and performed at the GRAMMY Awards, winning one of her own in 2006. In recent years, she has collaborated with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and Damien Marley. Stone’s 2012 follow up to her multi-million selling debut album is The Soul Sessions Volume 2, which was recorded in Nashville with Ernie Isley, Delbert McClinton and Clayton Ivey.
Joe Louis Walker
Joe Louis Walker is one of the most heralded blues artists of our time. A powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer and prolific songwriter, he has toured extensively throughout his career, performed at the world’s most renowned music festivals, and earned a legion of dedicated fans. Walker was born in San Francisco and first picked up the guitar at age 8. By 16, he was a known quantity on the Bay Area music scene and his work was heavily influenced by vocalists like James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Walker attended San Francisco State University, where he received a degree in music and English. He has performed or recorded with the likes of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Shemekia Copeland, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, BB King, Huey Lewis, Taj Mahal, Branford Marsalis, John Mayall, Thelonious Monk, Bonnie Raitt, Ike Turner and Muddy Waters. Walker is a multiple GRAMMY and W.C. Handy Award winner whose discography includes 18 solo albums, two live DVDs, and countless compilations and guest appearances. Still recording and touring, Walker is already being referred to within the blues world as a living legend. His latest release, Hellfire, highlights Walker’s searing blues guitar, passionate vocals and wailing harmonica playing.
Ben Williams is a world-class musician who is setting a new standard for the bass. Williams grew up in Washington, D.C. and was drawn to music at an early age 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 and participated in the Thelonious Monk Institute’s outreach programs. After high school, Williams was accepted into the music program at Michigan State University, where he studied with Rodney Whitaker. He went on attend the Juilliard jazz program and study with Ben Wolfe. In 2009, Williams won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition, a win that included a recording contract with Concord Records. Williams has performed with Jacky Terrasson, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Terence Blanchard, Benny Golson and Stefon Harris’ Blackout. His debut release, the highly acclaimed State of Art, showcases him playing a variety of genres, from jazz to R&B to hip-hop.
Liu Yuan is one of the most successful jazz artists to emerge from China. Born in Beijing, Yuan grew up listening to his father play suona, a traditional Chinese wind instrument Yuan began studying the instrument and eventually performed with a traveling group. At 19, he heard jazz performed for the first time in a club in Hungary while on tour. The music had a powerful impact on Yuan, leading him to purchase a saxophone and begin teaching himself jazz by listening to Grover Washington, Jr. on the only recording he was able to acquire at the time. In the 1980s, he was a founding member of China’s first major rock band, Cui Jian. Yuan’s instruments of choice are tenor and baritone saxophone and he occasionally plays a modernized version of a suona. In recent years, Yuan has continued to perform jazz and rock and has become manager of the Chinese jazz club CD Jazz Café.