Toshiko Akiyoshi is an internationally acclaimed pianist, composer and leader of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. She began playing piano at age 6 in Japan and soon began playing professionally. Akiyoshi was discovered by jazz great Oscar Peterson in 1952 during a Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic tour of Japan. On Peterson’s recommendation, Akiyoshi recorded for Granz and soon after came to the United States to study at Boston’s Berklee School of Music. Her years in Boston, and later in New York, helped her develop into a world-class pianist. Akiyoshi’s interest in composing and arranging came to fruition in 1972, when she moved to Los Angeles with her husband, flutist and saxophonist Lew Tabackin. The following year they formed the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, which gained a reputation as one of the most innovative big bands in jazz. In 1986, Akiyoshi became the only Japanese New Yorker to receive New York City’s Liberty Award. A decade later, she realized a long-held dream by completing her autobiography, “Life With Jazz.” In 2007, Akiyoshi was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. She continues to tour with her trio and quartet, sharing her unique contributions to jazz with the world.
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.
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.
Jonathan Butler is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who leads a life few can imagine. Born in South Africa under the shadow of apartheid and raised in poverty, Butler was the first non-white artist to be played on South African radio and appear on national television. Though his musical abilities would take him away from the world he grew up in, Jonathan would neither forget the plight of his fellow South Africans, nor the man that led them to freedom. It is for this reason Nelson Mandela credits Butler’s music as having inspired him during his imprisonment. In more ways than one, Jonathan Butler is representative of South Africa. In his early teens Butler won a local talent contest, affording him the opportunity to perform with a touring musical company throughout South Africa. On occasion he would perform at lavish concert halls for whites only, where he would not be allowed to use the bathroom, and the very next night he would perform in a dilapidated local township. Ultimately, his ticket to a new life was music.
Jonathan’s first single broke down racial barriers becoming the first song by a black artist played by white radio stations in South Africa and won the South African equivalent to a Grammy®. in spite of all the hardships, Jonathan Butler has an air of playfulness and quiet resilience that is easily visible in his passionate performances.
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.
The grandson of legendary trumpet player Doc Cheatham, Theo Croker is one of the most promising, creative and energetic trumpeters on the contemporary jazz scene. Croker was born and raised in Leesburg, Florida. He began playing the trumpet at age 11 after a visit to New York City, where he heard his grandfather play at the Sweet Basil jazz club. The following year, he played trumpet at his grandfather’s memorial service and had found his calling. Croker attended the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida. After high school, he studied at the Oberlin Conservatory on Donald Byrd’s recommendation and received his postgraduate education by playing with older musicians including Benny Powell, Jimmy and Tootie Heath, Billy Hart, and Marcus Belgrave. Croker received a Presser Music Foundation Award in 2006 and used the grant funds to record his first album, The Fundamentals, with his sextet. He has also written and produced hip-hop, rap and film scores, along with contemporary classical music. Croker lives and performs in Shanghai, China, where his quartet has served as artist-in-residence at the House of Blues and Jazz. His most recent release is In The Tradition, which features Tootie Heath on drums, Sullivan Fortner on piano, and Joe Sanders on bass.
One of the world’s most talented percussionists, Sheila Escovedo picked up the drumsticks at age 3 while watching her father, legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo. Best known to music fans as Sheila E., she became a top session and touring musician before the age of 20, performing and recording with Billy Cobham, George Duke, Herbie Hancock and others. She went on to perform with Babyface, Gloria Estefan, Marvin Gaye, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Nicks, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Ringo Starr, Tito Puente and Stevie Wonder. In the 1980s, her collaborations with Prince, including performing as the opening act for his sold-out Purple Rain tour, provided worldwide recognition. Sheila E. has been involved in many high-profile projects including the “We Are The World” session and a memorable Oscars performance with virtuoso Placido Domingo. In 2010, she was honored with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Direction for “In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina.” In addition to her many professional pursuits, Sheila E. devotes her talent and time to the Elevate Hope Foundation, a charitable organization she co-founded to assist abused and abandoned children through music therapy.
Legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo is an artist credited with breaking down the barriers between smooth jazz, salsa, Latin jazz and contemporary music. His name has been synonymous with music for more than 50 years. Born in Pittsburg, California, he began his musical journey while attending high school in Oakland. At age 16, he began playing the saxophone and then discovered percussion, which became his first love. In 1960, Escovedo and his brothers Coke and Phil formed the Escovedo Brothers Latin jazz band, performing around the San Francisco Bay area. The following decade, Escovedo’s band Azteca toured with Stevie Wonder and The Temptations. In 1972, Escovedo toured and performed with Carlos Santana and released three albums. In the years that followed, Escovedo recorded two albums with his daughter, Sheila E. Escovedo’s versatility as a percussionist has been featured in performances and recordings by a wide range of artists including Tito Puente, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Cal Tjader, Anita Baker, Al Jarreau, Arturo Sandoval, Poncho Sanchez, Chick Corea, Prince, and many others. Today, Escovedo leads one of the top Latin jazz orchestras in the United States and donates his time to help children around the world learn about the importance of music.
Roberta Gambarini is a world-class vocalist who has become a favorite on the international jazz scene. Born in Turin, Italy, Gambarini began taking clarinet lessons at age 12. As a teen, she performed across Italy and was a featured vocalist on television and radio. In 1998, Gambarini received a scholarship to attend the New England Conservatory. Within two weeks of her arrival, she was a winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. Gambarini soon moved to New York, where she connected with musicians like Jimmy Heath, Roy Hargrove and Frank Wess, and toured with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. In 2006, her debut release Easy to Love was nominated for a GRAMMY. Gambarini later recorded a duet album with pianist Hank Jones, who called her “the best singer to emerge in the last 60 years.” So in Love, Gambarini’s latest album, shows off even more of this phenomenal singer’s talent and skill.
Over the course of a stellar career that has spanned more than 30 years, Kenny Garrett has become the preeminent alto saxophonist of his generation. Garrett grew up in Detroit and got his first saxophone at age 8. He studied with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave and was performing with Mercer Ellington’s band before finishing high school. His first professional shows were with Detroit area musicians Belgrave and pianist Geri Allen. Soon after, Garrett was asked to join the Duke Ellington Orchestra under the direction of Mercer Ellington. In 1982, Garrett relocated to New York City and made his recording debut, Introducing Kenny Garrett, two years later. He went on to release a series of notable albums for Atlantic Records and Warner Bros., including the stunning, critically praised Black Hope. In 1997, Garrett released Songbook, his first album made up entirely of his own compositions. In the years since, Garrett has performed with The Five Peace Band spearheaded by Chick Corea and John McLaughlin. The group’s 2009 live CD won the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Garrett’s most recent album, Seeds from the Underground, is a powerful return to straight-ahead jazz that showcases his extraordinary abilities.
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.
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.
Trumpeter Roy Hargrove has made a name for himself as one of the most influential artists of his generation. When Hargrove was just 18, Wynton Marsalis made an unexpected visit to the Dallas performing arts high school that Hargrove attended. Marsalis was so impressed with young Hargrove that he arranged a series of educational and performing opportunities that quickly propelled Hargrove into the contemporary jazz scene. After attending the Berklee School of Music and Manhattan School of Music, at age 25 Hargrove was signed to Verve Records and recorded the landmark Tenors of Our Time album with Johnny Griffin, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Henderson and Joshua Redman. He has since shared the stage with Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Slide Hampton, Natalie Cole, Abbey Lincoln, Carmen McRae and many others. In 2002, Hargrove, Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker took home the GRAMMY for Best Instrumental Jazz Album for their Directions in Music collaboration. The following year, Hargrove introduced his hip-hop/jazz fusion group The RH Factor, proving that his talent expanded beyond his success as a straight-ahead jazz musician. Hargrove continues to tour the world with the Roy Hargrove Quintet and Roy Hargrove Big Band.
The daughter of late soul music legend Donny Hathaway, Lalah Hathaway is a three-time GRAMMY Award nominee and recent GRAMMY Award winner whose voice possesses a rich warmth that holds her listeners close. A trained pianist and vocalist, Hathaway is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. In 1990, she made her music debut on Virgin Records with the self-titled album Lalah Hathaway, effortlessly fusing elements of R&B, jazz and pop. The resonance in her voice immediately struck a chord with music lovers and her first single, “Heaven Knows,” solidified her place in R&B music. Twenty-four years after the release of her first album, her career continues to thrive. In total, her work includes multiple solo releases, guest collaborations, and a steady stream of unforgettable live performances. Hathaway has recorded and toured with legendary acts including George Benson, Joe Sample, George Duke, Take 6, Marcus Miller, Mary J. Blige, The Winans, Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright, David Sanborn, Angie Stone, Robert Glasper, Grover Washington, Esperanza Spalding and Prince. Hathaway displays her full vocal range on her latest release, Where It All Begins.
Trumpet legend Terumasa Hino rose to fame as the first Japanese artist to sign with Blue Note, the iconic American jazz label. Born in Tokyo, Hino began playing the trumpet at age 9 and released his first album as a bandleader at age 25. In 1975, he moved to New York and began performing with jazz greats including Jackie McLean, Gil Evans, Horace Silver and Larry Coryell. In the years to follow, Hino released a number of hit albums including City Connection and Double Rainbow. In 1984, he performed at the Los Angeles Olympic Games Art Festival, and five years later he was signed to Blue Note. Hino’s first Blue Note release, Bluestruck, was successful in Japan as well as in the U.S. In the 1990s, he formed Terumasa Hino & Asian Jazz All-Stars, which toured North America and Asia. Hino was appointed visiting professor at the Osaka Junior College of Music in 2000. The following year, he received Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Award for Art. Hino’s latest release is Jakkou, which received Japan’s Jazz Disc Award. He continues to perform extensively in Japan and around the world, and is passionate about his charity work and providing guidance to young musicians.
Chris Thomas King
Chris Thomas King was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States, but make his home in New Orleans. He is the son of the late blues musician Tabby Thomas. He has won awards including “Album of the Year” for both Grammy Award and Country Music Awards. King has sold more than 10 million records in the United States. King is known as the pioneer of rap/blues fusion. He conceived the first sample-based blues concept album in the early 1990s by writing and producing the first all-rap/blues album for RCA Records titled “21st Century Blues… From Da Hood.” King’s acting career includes prominent roles in several films, including two music-related films. In the Oscar-winning film “Ray” he plays band leader and blues guitar player Lowell Fulson. He also collaborated with Ray Charles in scoring the film, and in “O Brother Where Art Thou.” He also appeared in the HBO series, “Tremé.”
Earl Klugh’s precise approach and beautiful tone have made him one of the most popular and widely imitated guitarists for the past three decades. Klugh was born in Detroit and by age 15 he was teaching guitar lessons at a local music store. A chance encounter with jazz flutist Yusef Lateef led to an opportunity to record on one of Lateef’s albums. The recording brought 16-year-old Klugh to the attention of guitarist George Benson, who hired Klugh to tour and record with his band. Klugh then joined Chick Corea’s innovative fusion group Return to Forever. He went on to record dozens of albums that topped the playlists of smooth jazz radio stations across the country. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Klugh worked with Bob James, Angela Bofill, Jennifer Holliday, Patti Austin and Anita Baker. In 1991, he recorded The Earl Klugh Trio Volume I, which reached number five on the Billboard jazz charts and demonstrated his skill as an improviser and interpreter of classic popular music. Klugh has recorded more than 30 albums of his own, and appeared on dozens more with Roberta Flack, Kenny G, and Kirk Whalum, among others. The GRAMMY Award-winning guitar virtuoso’s latest release is HandPicked, which demonstrates that music has no boundaries.
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.
Makoto Ozone was born in Kobe, Japan, and began playing organ at the age of 2 and started improvising at the age of 7. At the age of 12, he started to play piano because he heard Oscar Peterson and completely fell in love with his music. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. He toured around the world with vibraphonist Gary Burton who he met while attending Berklee. Ozone has appeared as a guest on albums by Paquito D’Rivera, Marc Johnson, Chuck Loeb, Gary Burton and many others. He has won several awards including the “Best Jazz of Japan” awards from Swing Journal.
No one better embodies the dramatic transformation in the British Jazz scene over the past twenty years than multi-award winning saxophonist Courtney Pine. He led a generation of exciting and innovative musicians who have chosen to turn their talents to the demanding requirements of jazz music, in all its shapes and forms. His debut album in 1987, was the first serious jazz album ever to make the British Top 40, notching up sales to qualify for a silver disc. It was a remarkable achievement in British jazz history and established Courtney Pine as the leading figure in the British jazz scene and an inspiration to many young black musicians. In addition to his recording career, Courtney is a renowned presenter and broadcaster, his long running radio show for BBC Radio 2, ‘Jazz Crusade’ was nominated for a prestigious Sony Award and ‘Band’s Apart’ the BBC documentary he shot in South Africa in 2000 about local musicians whose stories and music revealed a hidden chapter of apartheid, was nominated for two major British Film Industry Awards. He also composed and performed the soundtrack to the BBC’s definitive Nelson Mandela documentary ‘Mandela – Living Legend’ and February 2014 he travelled to Ethiopia to record “Swinging Addis”, a BBC radio documentary on the Ethiopiques music of Addis Ababa. Deeply steeped in the traditions of the Caribbean, his latest project, HOUSE OF LEGENDS brings together musicians from Africa, the Caribbean and Europe for an exhilarating mix of Merengue, Ska, Mento and Calypso as played through the lens (saxophone) of a UK born artist with proud Afro-Caribbean roots.
In recognition of his career to date and his contribution to jazz music, Courtney was awarded an O.B.E in the 2000 New Year’s Honours and a CBE in 2010. He has also been honoured with a Gold Badge Award from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, a Fellowship to The Leeds College of Music, has a doctorate of music from The University of Westminster and was made a Professor of Music by Thames Valley University.
Soulful vocalist Gregory Porter exploded onto the international music scene in 2010 and has received a continuing stream of awards and accolades. The youngest in a family of six, Porter grew up in Bakersfield, California, where his mother was a minister. As a child, he fell under the spell of his mother’s Nat King Cole records. Porter began singing in the jazz clubs of San Diego while attending San Diego State University on a football scholarship. His first studio experience was singing on Hubert Laws’ tribute album to Nat King Cole. Porter went on to appear in a new musical, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, which opened in San Diego and eventually enjoyed a run on Broadway. In 2009, Porter signed with Motéma Music and the following year released his debut CD, Water, which received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Vocal. The New York Times proclaimed, “Gregory Porter has most of what you want in a male jazz singer, and maybe a thing or two you didn’t know you wanted.” Porter’s follow-up release, Be Good, features his signature, soul-influenced jazz and a powerhouse band. His most recent release – and his first on the Blue Note label – is Liquid Spirit, which won the 2014 GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album and showcases his amazing gift for writing poignant songs based upon his personal experiences.
Hailing from the remote location of Perth, West Australia, award winning saxophonist and composer Troy Roberts is currently based in the USA. Graduating with a Bachelor of Music at the young age of 19, he went on to receive numerous awards including The Bob Wylie Jazz Scholarship, The James Morrison Jazz Scholarship, 3 consecutive DownBeat Jazz Soloist Awards, and 2 consecutive West Australian Music Industry Awards. He has toured Europe and the US extensively with Australian jazz multi-instrumentalist, James Morrison and his own group VOID, completed a Masters Degree at The University of Miami, and has shared stage with Aretha Franklin, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Orrin Evans, Slide Hampton, Nicholas Payton, Lew Soloff, Ari Hoenig, Bobby Sparks, Robby Ameen and Stephen Scott to name a few. Around the time of his 3rd release as a leader, The XenDen Suite (2008), Troy spent some time in L.A. as the only Australian semi-finalist in the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition and also received his first Grammy Nomination medal for his performance on Sammy Figueroa’s 2nd record, “The Magician”. More recently, Troy represented Australia sharing the stage in an international septet comprised of jazz greats Wayne Shorter, Richard Bona, Vinnie Colaiuta, Zakir Hussein, Tineke Postma and Tarek Yamani for Herbie Hancock’s launch of the first International Jazz Day celebration, at NYC’s UN General Assembly Hall. Having spent 4 years on faculty at The University of Miami and internationally releasing his 5th record as a leader, Nu-Jive 5 (2013), Troy is currently based in New York and continues to maintain a busy performance and recording schedule around the globe.
Claudio Roditi’s versatility and powerful sound have made him one of the leading jazz trumpeters in modern jazz. Integrating post-bop elements with Brazilian rhythmic concepts, the GRAMMY nominee is in demand as a performer, recording artist and teacher. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Roditi began his musical studies at age 6. By the time he was 12, he had already become a serious jazz listener and committed himself to the music. In 1966, Roditi was named a finalist at the International Jazz Competition in Vienna, Austria. While in Vienna, he met Art Farmer, one of his idols, and the friendship inspired the younger trumpeter to follow a career in jazz. Roditi has since performed and recorded with jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Mann, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Tito Puente and Paquito D’Rivera. With 24 critically acclaimed albums to his credit, Roditi continually develops his playing and compositions through new recording projects. His last release, Bons Amigos, features several originals along with compositions written by Brazilian masters including Antonio Carlos Jobim and Eliane Elias. Roditi currently leads his own band and travels as a member of the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.
Oumou Sangaré is a Grammy Award-winning Malian Wassoulou musician, sometimes referred to as “The Songbird of Wassoulou”. Wassoulou is a historic region south of the Niger River, where the music descends from age old traditional and cultural songs, which is accompanied by a calabash. Sangaré recorded her first album, Moussoulou (“Women”), with Amadou Ba Guindo, a renowned maestro of Malian music. The album was very successful in Africa, with more than 200,000 copies sold. At the age of 21, she was already a star. Many of Sangaré’s songs concern love and marriage, especially freedom of choice in marriage. She has toured with Baaba Maal, Femi Kuti and Boukman Eksperyans. Sangaré supports the cause of women throughout the world. She writes and composes her songs, which often include social criticism, especially concerning women’s low status in society. She was named an ambassador of the FAO in 2003 and won the UNESCO Prize in 2001 and was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of France in 1998. Sangaré contributed vocals to “Imagine” for the 2010 Herbie Hancock album.
John Scofield has been a leading force of modern jazz guitar for the past four decades. Whether playing alongside artists like Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, or Dave Holland or performing with one of his many bands, his sound and style are unmistakable. Scofield studied at the Berklee College of Music and later joined Billy Cobham and George Duke’s jazz/rock group. He also performed with Gerry Mulligan, Charles Mingus, and Jay McShann and released several albums of his own before joining Miles Davis’ band in 1982. Three years with Davis helped launch Scofield into a leadership role and he has led bands with a wide array of styles in the years since. Scofield’s jazz-funk band with Dennis Chambers and Gary Grainger won him top spots on the Billboard jazz charts throughout the ’80s. He explored more straight-ahead and New Orleans-influenced music throughout the ’90s, and recorded with the funk-jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood. In 2001, Scofield released Uberjam, a CD that introduced him to fans of jam bands. Today, the versatile guitarist manages to keep a hand in all of the musical worlds he has created, performing at festivals and clubs in any number of musical settings. His latest recording is Uberjam Deux.
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.
Shuichi Hidano with TAIKO Masters
Shuichi Hidano has performed more than 2,300 times around the world, with his cutting-edge ideas and flawless facility on TAIKO drums, based on solid Japanese tradition,has discovered and introduced a whole new world of musical possibilities to the world of our own.
Born and raised in Yokohama, Japan. Hidano showed an interest in the piano at the age of three,started taking lessons simultaneously, and then turned to the drums and classical percussion at ten.
By the age of nineteen,he was a trainee of the world-renowned TAIKO group, KODO. However,feeling an urge to challenge his musicality he started his solo career in 1989. Ever since then,he has kept his schedule hectic:leading a few different groups on his own, appearing at numerous number of concerts all over the world, both as a solo act and as a guest artist,and producing various music festivals in Japan.
Also as a session/studio musician,he has learned impeccable reputation world-wide, for his versatility and creativity. In a TAIKO group,called TOKYO DAGEKIDAN, whose first formation Hidano joined in 1995, he not only performed,but also composed many original tunes,serving the position as the brain of the group.
After his withdrawal from the group in 1999,he relocated in Hollywood, U.S.A., teaching at a school of acting for a period of six months. While there, he also held a TAIKO clinic at L.A.Music Academy. Now back on the native soil of Japan,he is still up and ready for new challenges.
Most famously, Hidano performed at the closing ceremonies of the both the 1998 World Cup in France and 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan before live audiences of more than 55,000, and countless millions on TV. The first time a Japanese performer has taken part in consecutive apperances at the FIFA event. In collaboration with Casiopea’s drummer Akira Jimbo, “HIDAJIMBO” toured the U.K. participating in London’s “Rhythm Sticks” drum festival in 2002. Their performances in the U.K. caused a great sensation, they have started touring the world.
20 years performing and being involved as a solo player in music, he held special TAIKO concerts in Los Angeles in February 2008 and January 2009. Recently, he participated in Stevie Wonder’s concert tour in Japan and Korea in 2010.
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.
Flutist and tenor saxophonist Lew Tabackin is an artist of extraordinary vision. His electrifying flute playing is virtuosic and passionate, and his distinctive tenor sax style shows the full range of the instrument’s possibilities. Tabackin grew up in Philadelphia and majored in flute at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. After serving in the U.S. Army, he played in big bands led by Cab Calloway, Maynard Ferguson, Joe Henderson, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Clark Terry and others. In 1968 he met and later married Toshiko Akiyoshi, and they formed the award-winning Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. In the 1980s, Tabackin received many DownBeat critics and readers polls, and the following decade he released a number of acclaimed recordings featuring Hank Jones, Dave Holland, Lewis Nash and others. Tabackin has performed in several all-star bands, including George Wein’s Newport All-Star Band, the New York Jazz Giants, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. He continues to tour the world as a soloist, playing at clubs and festivals with his own groups and as a featured soloist with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.
Trombonist and seashellist Steve Turre is one of the world’s preeminent jazz innovators. Turre was born to Mexican-American parents and grew up in the San Francisco area, where he absorbed daily doses of mariachi, blues and jazz. While attending Sacramento State University, he joined the Escovedo Brothers salsa band, which began his career-long involvement with that genre. In 1972, Turre was hired to tour with Ray Charles. A year later, Turre’s mentor, Woody Shaw, brought him into Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. After his tenure with Blakey, Turre went on to work with Lester Bowie, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, J.J. Johnson, Tito Puente, Max Roach, Mongo Santamaria, McCoy Tyner, and others. Rahsaan Roland Kirk introduced Turre to the seashell as an instrument. Soon after, while touring in Mexico City, Turre’s relatives informed him that his ancestors similarly played the shells. Since then, Turre has incorporated seashells into his diverse musical style. His Sanctified Shells ensemble utilizes the seashell in a larger context, transforming his horn section into a shell choir. Turre is featured on more than 100 albums as a leader or sideman. Since 1984, he has performed as a member of the Saturday Night Live Band.
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.
Dionne Warwick is a five-time GRAMMY Award-winning vocalist who has become a cornerstone of American music and culture. During her 50-year career, she has released more than 60 hit songs and sold over 100 million records. After being discovered by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Warwick had her first hit in 1962 with “Don’t Make Me Over.” Less than a decade later, she had released 18 consecutive Top 100 singles, including her classic Bacharach/David recordings, “Walk on By,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Alfie,” “Say a Little Prayer,” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again. In 1974, she topped the charts with “Then Came You,” a million-selling duet with The Spinners, and again in 1976 with the platinum-selling album Dionne, with back-to-back hits “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” and “Déjà Vu.” In 1985, she reunited with Burt Bacharach and longtime friends Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder to record the landmark song “That’s What Friends Are For,” a number one hit record around the world and the first song dedicated to raising awareness and global funds for the Foundation for AIDS Research. Warwick was recently inducted into the GRAMMY Museum, and she received the Ellis Island 2014 Medal of Honor.