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.
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, Al Foster, Johnny Griffin, Chaka Khan, Madeleine Peyroux and Ernie Watts. Brönner composed the score for the 2001 documentary Jazz Seen and has collaborated 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. In 2010, he served as a judge on the German television version of “The X-Factor” and released his album At the End of the Day, for which he received his 5th Echo Award. His 2012 self-titled album is a stunning homage to his longtime inspiration Freddie Hubbard that was celebrated by the jazz community. In 2014, Brönner recorded The Movie Album with guest appearances by Arturo Sandoval, Gregory Porter, Lizzy Loeb and Joy Denalane.
A Bu is an up-and-coming pianist whose youth belies his formidable talent. Born in Beijing, China, he began classical studies at age 4 and became enthralled by jazz after listening to a recording of Dominican jazz pianist Michel Camilo. Since 2009, he has studied under Professor Kong Hongwei at China’s Central Conservatory of Music, and with renowned New York-based educators and players including Antonio Hart, David Berkman, Jeb Patton, Randy Ingram and Jeremy Siskind. A Bu has performed at the Beijing International Blues Festival, Nine Gates International Jazz Festival (Beijing), China Yangtze River Piano Festival, Sennheiser F1 live stage, JZ Festival Shanghai, XiHu Blooms Festival in Hangzhou, ATP Tennis Masters in Shanghai, and the prestigious Olympia Music Hall and Duc de Lombards jazz club in Paris, France. Recently, he was invited onstage by the legendary Chick Corea to perform a four-handed duet during the pianist’s solo concert. At only 14 years old, A Bu clearly has a bright musical future in front of him.
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.
Mino Cinélu was born in Saint-Cloud, Hauts-de-Seine, France. He was involved with music from childhood, and began playing in concert halls, including the Chapelle des Lombards, in the suburbs of Paris. Cinélu became interested in various styles of music from jazz, rock and salsa to Egyptian chants and Romani music. He would later expand his repertoire to include fado, flamenco, African music, Japanese music and Slavic music. By the time he had turned 16, Cinélu was a professional musician traveling between London and New York for performances and recording sessions. He has collaborated with a wide variety of artists, including Miles Davis, Sting, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Lou Reed, Vicente Amigo and Stevie Wonder. Years beyond his humble beginnings, this renowned composer, multi-instrumentalist, programmer and producer is still exploring and leaving his unmistakable impression on many kinds of music. Cinélu has released two solo albums and composed the score for the film “La Californie,” which was nominated for Best Score at the Cannes Film Festival.
Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel, Avishai began performing in public in 1988 at age 10, playing his first solos with a big band and eventually touring with the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra to perform under the likes of maestros Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur and Kent Nagano. Having worked with Israeli folk and pop artists in his native country and appeared on television early on, Avishai arrived as an experienced professional musician when he took up a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 1997, the young musician established an international reputation by placing third in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition. The New York Times described him as “an assertive, accomplished trumpeter with a taste for modernism.” Dark Nights – Avishai’s seventh recording as a leader and the third album featuring his thrilling trio Triveni with double-bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet Waits – was released by Anzic Records in autumn 2014. The trumpeter also records and tours the world as part of the prestigious SF Jazz Collective, as he does with The 3 Cohens Sextet – the hit family band with his sister, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat, and brother, saxophonist Yuval.
Elias is known for her distinctive and immediately recognizable musical style which blends her Brazilian roots, her sensuous, alluring voice with her impressive instrumental jazz, classical and compositional skills. With 23 albums to date demonstrating her unique gifts as a pianist, singer, composer and arranger as well as melding her immense talents in jazz, pop, classical and Brazilian music, Eliane Elias is as Jazziz magazine has called her, “A citizen of the world” and “an artist beyond category.” Elias’ new release, Made in Brazil marks a musical homecoming for her. In her three-decade long career as a solo artist, Made In Brazil results from the first time she’s recorded a disc in her native Brazil since moving to the United States in 1981. Elias wears many hats on this project as producer, composer, lyricist, arranger, pianist and vocalist.
Antonio Faraò is a pianist of uncommon skill. Jazz icon Herbie Hancock recently said, “I’m not often surprised by the recordings of musicians the way I was overwhelmed the first time I heard Antonio Faraò.” Born in Rome, Italy, Faraò began playing vibraphone at age 6, later switching to piano and studying at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan. He was inspired by American jazz musicians and composers including Oscar Peterson, Errol Garner, McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Known for mixing diverse influences in his music, he has collaborated with numerous musicians from around the world including Franco Ambrosetti, Daniel Humair, Gary Bartz, Lee Konitz, Miroslav Vitous, Toots Thielemans, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Liebman, Didier Lockwood, Benny Golson, Johnny Griffin and George Garzone. Faraò currently performs and conducts workshops in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and beyond. His newest release, Evan, features Ira Coleman, Jack DeJohnette and Joe Lovano.
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.
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.
Femi Kuti is an acclaimed saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist dedicated to raising awareness of critical social and political issues through his music. The son of famed Afro-beat pioneer Fela Kuti, he was born in London and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. At age 15, Kuti began playing saxophone in his father’s band, Egypt 80. He went on to form his own band, Positive Force, and in 1995 released his first self-titled album, which showcased his percussive blend of jazz and funk music. Kuti’s second album, Shoki Shoki, garnered widespread critical acclaim and won him legions of fans around the world. In 2001, Kuti collaborated with Common and Mos Def on Fight to Win and toured the United States with Jane’s Addiction. He re-emerged in 2008 with Day by Day and Africa for Africa in 2010, for which he received two GRAMMY nominations. In 2012, Kuti was inducted into Nigeria’s Headies Hall of Fame and toured Europe with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kuti continues to expand the diversity of his artistry on No Place for My Dream, his 2013 release on Knitting Factory Records.
Recognized as one of the most outstanding voices of our time, Annie Lennox’s award-winning career spans nearly four decades. Lennox grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland, and studied flute, harpsichord and piano at London’s Royal Academy of Music. She went on to experience worldwide success, performing in the duo Eurythmics with Dave Stewart. With a total of eight Brit awards, four GRAMMYs, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, Lennox is also a recipient of the Billboard Century Award, the highest accolade from Billboard Magazine. In addition to her musical accomplishments, she is known for her work as a dedicated activist and human rights campaigner, most notably as a passionate advocate for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Among her many activities and associations, Lennox is a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, and an Ambassador for Oxfam, Amnesty International and the British Red Cross. In 2011, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for her tireless charity campaigns and championing of humanitarian causes. Lennox’s latest album, the GRAMMY-nominated Nostalgia, is a collection of classic jazz songs from the Great American Songbook.
Grégoire Maret is one of the most sought-after harmonica players in the world. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, the son of a Harlem-born, African-American mother and a Swiss father, Maret grew up surrounded by diverse musical influences. Upon graduating from the prestigious Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique de Genève, he moved to New York City to pursue jazz studies at New School University. He soon developed a remarkably versatile sound that led him to perform with such artists as Youssou N’Dour, Pete Seeger, David Sanborn, George Benson and Cassandra Wilson. He also collaborated with Pat Metheny, with whom he shared a GRAMMY win in 2005 for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Maret was asked to assist in the design of a signature line of Suzuki harmonicas, leading to the creation of the Grégoire Maret G-48 and G-48W Signature Chromatic Harmonica series. He released his debut self-titled album as a leader in 2012, and currently co-leads the Gaïa trio with pianist Federico Gonzales Peña and drummer Gene Lake.
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.
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.
Rudy Pérez is an international songwriter, producer and vocalist with more than 1,000 songs to his credit. He has written and produced tracks for artists including Beyoncé, Julio Iglesias, Christina Aguilera, Il Divo, Michael Bolton, Luis Miguel, Jose Feliciano, Marc Anthony, Jon Secada, Cyndi Lauper, Los Temerarios, Juan Gabriel and Natalie Cole, among many others. Pérez is the first Latin record producer to be named Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks Producer of the Year four consecutive years. He also has been honored with ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year award five times. In 2010, Billboard named Pérez “Latin Producer of the Decade” for having more number one and Top Ten hits chart over the previous ten years than any other Latin producer in history. Pérez has received more than 400 gold and platinum album awards, and his works have been nominated for 19 GRAMMY Awards. After three decades of writing hit songs and being the artist behind the scenes, he recently released Lo Mejor de Mi, a compilation of some of his greatest hit songs, this time sung by him.
Guillaume Perret is an inventive saxophonist and composer whose prodigious output defies classification. Born in Annecy, France, he earned conservatory degrees in both jazz and classical saxophone and went on to perform with an array of French and international artists, including Damion Reid, Miles Okazaki, Ibrahim Maalouf, François Jeanneau, Daniel Humair, Ira Coleman, Nguyên Lê and many others. Perret has appeared on more than 30 albums as both a leader and a sideman, and regularly composes works for orchestra and contemporary ballet. His current group, Guillaume Perret & the Electric Epic, mixes jazz, rock, heavy metal and other influences. Its 2012 debut album on the Tzadik label under the auspices of famed avant-garde composer John Zorn features Perret’s characteristic set-up, which includes a wah pedal and a suite of electronic effects. Perret maintains a busy performing and teaching schedule, appearing at festivals and workshops around the world. His band’s latest release is Open Me.
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.
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.
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.
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 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. Williams later studied with Rodney Whitaker at Michigan State University and with Ben Wolfe at Juilliard. In 2009, Williams won the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz 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. In 2014, he toured 30 cities around the world, performing more than 150 shows as a member of the Pat Metheny Unity Band. Williams’ latest release, Coming of Age, is a collection of new works reflecting his wide-ranging musical interests.
Dhafer Youssef is an acclaimed Oud player and vocalist whose music connects jazz with the traditional sounds of the Mediterranean and his North African home. Born in Telbouba, Tunisia, Youssef comes from a long line of muezzins and began singing at an early age. After moving to Tunis and then Austria in pursuit of his conservatory studies, he began exploring jazz and Indian and Scandinavian music, eventually forming his own band and releasing his debut album Musafer in 1996. Youssef has performed for audiences across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, working with a wide variety of international artists including Tigran Hamasyan, Nguyên Lê, Markus Stockhausen, Will Calhoun, Mark Guiliana, Omar Sosa and many more. He has released seven albums as a leader and has been noted both for his mastery of the traditional Oud and for his evocative vocals, which have been described as “achingly beautiful.” Youssef’s latest album is titled Birds Requiem and features Turkish clarinetist Hüsnü Senlendiriçi as well as kanun player Aytaç Dogan.