Look Who Was Part of The International Jazz Day 2021 All-Star Global Concert
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. A Bu has performed at the Beijing International Blues Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Nine Gates International Jazz Festival (Beijing), China Yangtze River Piano Festival, JZ Festival Shanghai, and Duc de Lombards jazz club in Paris. His 2014 debut release, 88 Tones of Black and White, received critical acclaim, with All About Jazz critic Karl Ackermann remarking that “Bu’s potential is almost off the charts.” A Bu currently studies at The Juilliard School in New York.
Born to a musical family in Lima, Peru, Alex Acuña started playing in local bands at 10, and by 18 was playing in the great Perez Prado’s band. In 1967 he moved to Puerto Rico, where he studied at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music and played under the direction of the famed Spanish cellist master Pablo Casals. Alex moved to Las Vegas in 1974, where he played with such greats as Elvis Presley and Diana Ross. Between 1975 and 1977, he cemented his place in jazz history when he became both drummer and percussionist for one of the most innovative and pioneering jazz groups of all time, Weather Report. Alex moved to L.A. in 1978 where he quickly earned the position of a valued session drummer and percussionist for recordings, television and motion pictures. His countless album and live credits include such diverse artist as U2, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Corea, Placido Domingo, Tito Puente, Santana and many, many more. Alex has received countless awards and honors throughout his career, including the Emeritus MVP award from NARAS (National Academy of Recording for the Arts and Sciences) and “Best Latin/Brazilian Percussionist” in the Modern Drummer’s Readers Poll for five consecutive years.
Saxophonist Melissa Aldana is one of the most exciting new voices in jazz. Aldana grew up in Santiago, Chile and at age 6 began learning saxophone from her father, Marcos Aldana, an accomplished jazz musician. She attended the Berklee College of Music as a Berklee Presidential Scholar and studied with Joe Lovano, Greg Osby and Hal Crook. At age 24, Aldana won the 2013 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Saxophone Competition, making her the first female instrumentalist to win the competition. Aldana released her Concord Records debut, Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, in 2014 to rave reviews. The album shows the saxophonist’s proclivity for the challenging “chordless trio” format pioneered by the legendary Sonny Rollins. In 2016, she released her second trio effort, Back Home, on the Word of Mouth Music label. The album features all-original compositions written by the band members and was declared “a supremely focused statement” by New York Times critic Nate Chinen. Aldana maintains a busy schedule performing at renowned venues and festivals across the United States, South America and Europe.
A native of Colombia, reedman, clinician, composer and arranger Justo Almario has fused Latin, Afro-Cuban, South American, funk and jazz genres into his own humble offering. Almario studied at the prestigious Berklee School of Music before a stint with Mongo Santamaria as the band’s musical director. A multi-instrumentalist of the highest caliber, Almario has mastered the soprano and tenor saxophones, clarinet and flute. Almario has performed with Patrice Rushen’s Grammy Awards Orchestra, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Ayers, George Duke, Tito Puente, Machito, Dave Grusin, Ndugu Chancler, Alex Acuna, Abraham Laboriel, TOLU, Donald Vega, Harold Land Jr. Al Mckibbon, Master P, Bebe Winans, Queen Latifah, Charles Mingus, Chaka Khan, Linda Rondstadt, Herb Alpert, Bobby Shew, John Heard, Lorca Hart, Billy Higgins, “Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars,” and many others. He currently serves as lecturer in the Department of Global Jazz Studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
John Beasley (Musical Director)
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. His varied list of collaborators includes Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, 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.” Beasley leads MONK’estra, a 15-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. His 2020 release, MONK’estra Plays John Beasley, yielded Beasley a GRAMMY Award for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella.
21st century jazz is a global movement, and New York bassist Massimo Biolcati embodies the music’s creative reach. A first-call accompanist, producer, composer and bandleader, he is known as a founding member of Gilfema, the acclaimed collective trio with Hungarian drummer Ferenc Nemeth and West African guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke. Growing up in Sweden and Italy, Biolcati first started performing jazz at age 16 in Turin. After studies at Berklee College of Music and the renowned Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, Biolcati quickly established himself as one of the most in-demand bassists in jazz, with his performance credits since including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Paquito D’Rivera, Terence Blanchard, Ravi Coltrane, Lizz Wright, Luciana Souza and many more. Biolcati is also the creator and developer of iReal Pro, the world-famous music app that remains an essential tool for musicians and music students.
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater’s exuberance, creativity, undeniable confidence and joyous spirit have earned her three GRAMMY Awards, recognition as an NEA Jazz Master, and a place as one of the premier jazz vocalists. Bridgewater has collaborated with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and other jazz giants. On Broadway, she won a Tony for her role as Glinda the Good Witch in “The Wiz” and received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day.” Bridgewater serves as an Ambassador of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Her latest release, Memphis…Yes, I’m Ready, offers groundbreaking re-imaginings of American blues and R&B classics.
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.
Saxophonist and bandleader Igor Butman is Russia’s premier jazz artist. Born in St. Petersburg, Butman studied at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music. In 1983, he joined the Oleg Lundstrem Big Band and was soon invited to play with the acclaimed Russian jazz group Allegro. Butman also performed with touring jazz icons including Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Louis Bellson and Grover Washington Jr. In 2011, Butman was named a People’s Artist of the Russian Federation. His newest release, Winter Tale, features pianist-vocalist Oleg Akkuratov, vocalist Victoria Kaunova and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra performing classic holiday tunes.
Cyrus Chestnut started his musical career at an early age, playing piano at the Mount Calvary Star Baptist Church in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. By age 9, he was studying at the renowned Peabody Preparatory Institute, and went on to earn a degree in jazz composition and arranging from the Berklee College of Music. Chestnut honed his skills as a sideman by performing with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, including Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Joe Williams, Betty Carter and Dizzy Gillespie. He has released nearly two dozen albums as a leader, including the acclaimed 2001 record Soul Food with Christian McBride and Lewis Nash. A committed educator, in 2014 Chestnut was appointed Professor of Jazz Piano and Improvisation at Howard University.
Mahmoud “Mood” Chouki is a master guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and composer. Trained at Morocco’s top conservatories from an early age, his repertoire integrates the guitar with traditional instruments of Northwest Africa such as the loutar, sintir, oud and banjo, as well as a variety of percussion instruments. Chouki has brought his uniquely syncretic musical approach to venues around the world, including the Pirineos Sur Festival in Sallent de Gállego, Spain; New Orleans’ Snug Harbor; and the Gwangju World Music Festival in the Republic of Korea. A dedicated advocate of intercultural dialogue, Chouki is the artistic director of Rencontre Orient-Occident at Château Mercier in Sierre, Switzerland, where he organizes annual artist residencies bringing together master musicians from East and West.
Gerald Clayton searches for honest expression in every note he plays. With harmonic curiosity and critical awareness, he develops musical narratives that unfold as a result of both deliberate searching and chance uncovering. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance at USC’s Thornton School of Music under the instruction of piano icon Billy Childs, in 2006 Clayton took second place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition. He has received four GRAMMY nominations, most recently in 2013 for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Life Forum (Concord), his third album release. His latest record, Happening: Live at The Village Vanguard, Clayton’s Blue Note debut, sees the dynamic young pianist conjure the spirits of the legendary New York jazz club through a riveting set of originals and standards.
Jacob Collier is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, arranger, composer, and producer based in London, England. Hailed by many as one of the most prodigious and innovative musicians and thinkers of his generation, he has proven himself worthy of every superlative that has been used to describe him. From winning two GRAMMY awards for his debut album; to playing 150 shows in 26 countries on his One-Man-Show World Tour; to collaborations with Hans Zimmer, Herbie Hancock, Pharrell, Tori Kelly, Snarky Puppy, Metropole Orkest, Samsung and Apple; to speaking at the TED Conference 2017; to harmonizing hundreds of fans’ #IHarmU melodies to crowdfund his musical adventures; to teaching masterclasses and confounding music theorists around the globe with chords and rhythms that shouldn’t exist; to improvising circle songs with musicians on the streets of the world; to simply walking through the rain—Jacob Colliers’s life is full of different colors. He learns new things every day.
Andra Day is known for her 2016 GRAMMY-nominated behemoth, “Rise Up,” which amassed 1 billion streams and an RIAA triple-platinum certification. She has shared the stage with everyone from Stevie Wonder and the Obamas to Chinese piano virtuoso Lang Lang. Working with GiveDirectly, Andra recently released “Make Your Troubles Go Away” to fight COVID-19. Next, she stars as Billie Holiday in the upcoming biopic, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, directed by Oscar-winner Lee Daniels.
Amina Figarova grew up in the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan. Her early musical experiences included plenty of American jazz — both of her parents were music fans — but her mother particularly enjoyed the music of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. Originally a conservatory-trained classical pianist, Figarova studied jazz performance in Rotterdam and at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Since launching her career in the 90’s, Figarova has toured extensively and relentlessly developed her inimitable voice as a composer. With a lengthy list of international collaborators, the Amina Figarova Sextet has appeared on the main stage of the Newport Jazz Festival, been invited repeatedly to New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and won critical and acclaim for performances in Chicago, Detroit, Paris, Amsterdam and New York.
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, Michigan 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, including 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, he 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, Do Your Dance! on Mack Avenue, showcases the saxophonist’s vast harmonic sophistication in diverse applications from hip-hop to Brazilian bossa nova to music of the Far East.
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. His first professional 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 Anita Baker, Chick Corea, Horace Silver, Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby and Vanessa Williams. Genus presents bass clinics around the world and is a longtime member of the Saturday Night Live Band. His playing can be heard on the GRAMMY Award-winning Daft Punk album Random Access Memories as well as feature films including 2021’s Respect. Genus performs regularly with Herbie Hancock as part of the iconic pianist’s touring band.
Herbie Hancock, a 14-time GRAMMY Award winner and Academy Award winner, is an internationally renowned pianist and composer who has been an integral part of every jazz movement since the 1960s. His Blue Note debut, 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 in the ’70s combined electric jazz with funk and rock, influencing decades of music. In 2007, he won the GRAMMY for Album of the Year, becoming the first jazz musician to receive this honor in 44 years. His upcoming studio album includes collaborators as diverse as Flying Lotus, Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Snoop Dogg, Lionel Loueke and Wayne Shorter. Hancock serves as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue.
Stefon Harris’ passionate artistry and astonishing virtuosity have propelled him to the forefront of the jazz scene. Heralded as “one of the most important artists in jazz” (Los Angeles Times), he is a recipient of the prestigious 2018 Doris Duke Artist Award, the Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center, has earned four GRAMMY nominations, and has been named Best Mallet player eight times by the Jazz Journalists Association. He was also crowned Best Vibes in the 2018 and 2017 Downbeat Magazine Critic’s Poll, the 2016 Jazz Times Expanded Critics Poll, the 2014 Jazz Times Critics Poll and the 2013 Downbeat Critics Poll. Harris has performed and recorded with some of the most significant artists in jazz, including Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Milt Jackson, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Cassandra Wilson and Diana Krall, among many others, and serves as a member of the SFJAZZ Collective. Harris’ eleventh album as a leader, Sonic Creed, featuring his band Blackout, was released September 2018 on Motema Records.
Born in Vancouver and raised in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Ingrid Jensen has been hailed as one of the most gifted trumpeters of her generation. After graduating from Berklee College of Music and a stint teaching as the youngest professor in the history of the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Austria, Jensen settled in New York City in the mid-1990s where she joined the innovative jazz orchestras of Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue. Since then, Jensen has made a name for herself performing with a multi-generational cast of jazz legends ranging from Clark Terry to Esperanza Spalding; has appeared with the GRAMMY Award-winning Terri-Lyne Carrington and her Mosaic Project, Helen Sung’s Sung with Words project and the highly acclaimed all-star ensemble, Artemis; and has recorded with icons of pop and world music including Corrine Bailey Rae and Sarah McLachlan. In addition to her busy sideman and featured soloist schedule, Jensen leads her own quintet, quartet and organ trio. Her own bands have garnered glowing reviews and earned her a loyal fan base around the globe. Her most recent album is the 2018 Whirlwind Recordings release “Invisible Sounds: For Kenny Wheeler” with saxophonist/clarinettist Steve Treseler.
Internationally renowned flutist Hubert Laws is one of the few classical artists who has also mastered the jazz, pop, and rhythm-and-blues genres, moving effortlessly from one repertory to another. He has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, with the orchestras of Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Cleveland, Amsterdam, Japan and Detroit and with the Stanford String Quartet. He has given annual performances at Carnegie Hall, and has performed sold out performances in the Hollywood Bowl with fellow flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and was a member of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras. He has appeared at the Montreux, Playboy, and Kool Jazz festivals, and performed with the Modern Jazz Quartet at the Hollywood Bowl in 1982 and with the Detroit Symphony in 1994. His recordings have won three GRAMMY nominations.
After Antônio Carlos Jobim, few Brazilian composers are as celebrated as Ivan Lins. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Lins spent his childhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts , where his father was pursuing graduate studies. Returning to Brazil, Lins earned a degree in chemical engineering from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and considered a career in volleyball before turning to music. A self-taught pianist, he first gained notice when renowned Brazilian singer Elis Regina recorded his composition “Madalena” in 1970 to wide acclaim. Lins’ worldwide debut, A Noite, was released in 1979 and featured the composer on piano and vocals. His hit “Love Dance” and many other compositions have been recorded by countless artists including Ella Fitzgerald, George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Sarah Vaughan, Lee Ritenour, Nancy Wilson, Diane Schuur, Herbie Mann, Terence Blanchard, Airto Moreira and James “Blood” Ulmer. In 2005, his Cantando Histórias became the first Brazilian album to receive the Latin GRAMMY Award for Album of the Year. Considered one of the foremost exponents of música popular brasileira, or MPB, Lins is an in-demand performer and maintains a busy international touring and recording schedule, collaborating with a variety of artists including Dave Grusin, Josee Koning, Michael Bublé and Jane Monheit.
Joe Lovano is a premier jazz saxophonist who plays with a masterful balance of tradition and experimentation. He has the artistic depth of a veteran and the drive of a youthful spirit. Growing up in Cleveland, Lovano was encouraged to study music by his father, saxophonist Tony “Big T” Lovano. After graduating from the Berklee College of Music, he performed with organists Lonnie Smith and Jack McDuff, and then joined Woody Herman’s band. In the ’80s, Lovano joined the Mel Lewis Orchestra and also played and recorded with a trio that included Paul Motian and Bill Frisell. After playing in John Scofield’s quartet for three years, Lovano signed with Blue Note and began his own prolific career as a bandleader and artist, receiving a GRAMMY for his album 52nd Street Themes. Lovano holds the Gary Burton Chair at Berklee, where he teaches ensembles, gives private lessons and presents educational concerts. His latest release is Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints: Other Worlds, out in 2021 on Greenleaf Music.
Guitarist Romero Lubambo has been called “the best practitioner of his craft in the world today.” A gifted soloist and musical improviser, his playing unites the styles and rhythms of his native Brazilian musical heritage with his fluency in the American jazz tradition to form a distinctive new sound. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Lubambo came to the United States in 1985 and quickly established himself as a leading session and touring guitarist in demand not only for his authentic Brazilian sound, but also for his command of a variety of styles. Lubambo has performed and recorded with many outstanding artists, including Michael Brecker, Paquito D’Rivera, Diana Krall, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves and Luciana Souza. He is an unpredictably creative composer and performer on his own critically acclaimed recording projects as well as on those of Trio da Paz, a Brazilian jazz trio Lubambo formed with Nilson Matta and Duduka da Fonseca.
Alto saxophonist, composer and educator Rudresh Mahanthappa is widely known as one of the most innovative voices in 21st century jazz. Born in Trieste, Italy to Indian émigrés in 1971, Mahanthappa was raised in Boulder, Colorado and gained proficiency playing everything from pop to Dixieland. Today, he has more than a dozen albums to his credit, including 2017’s Agrima, and is considered one of the foremost interpreters of the Carnatic musical tradition in jazz. Mahanthappa is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, among other top honors, and currently serves as the Anthony H. P. Lee ’79 Director of Jazz at Princeton University.
Born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Mandisi Dyantyis began playing the trumpet at the age of 8. He is a versatile musician who is also a composer, arranger and producer not only in the jazz idiom but in Western classical and African indigenous music as well. He has played with some of South Africa’s top musicians over the course of his career, including Jimmy Dludlu, the Abdullah Ibrahim Big Band, Robbie Jansen, Max Vidima and Moreira Chonguiça, to name a few. He has produced, played and co-written on Nomfundo Xaluva’s multi-award winning albums KUSILE and From.Now.On. Since 2008, he has held the position of Musical Director for theatre company Isango Ensemble, previously known as Portobello.
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 one of the most influential artists of our time, appearing on more than 500 albums during his decades on the scene as a performer, composer, producer, arranger and humanitarian. A virtuoso on multiple instruments including the bass clarinet, Miller is best known for his unmistakable style on the electric bass, and has brought his distinctive sound to collaborations with Herbie Hancock, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, LL Cool J and Frank Sinatra, among many others. As a member of the Miles Davis group following the jazz legend’s return from retirement, Miller’s contributions as a bassist, composer and producer defined Davis’ style throughout the 1980s. Miller’s prodigious output as a film and television composer includes the scores for Boomerang, Above the Rim, This Christmas and About Last Night, to name a few. A two-time GRAMMY Award winner, he is the recipient of countless honors for his contributions to music and mankind. Miller currently serves as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, working tirelessly to raise awareness of the global impacts of the transatlantic slave trade. His latest release, Laid Black, features special guest performances by Trombone Shorty, Kirk Whalum, Patches Stewart, Take 6, Jonathan Butler and guest vocalist Selah Sue, and received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
James Morrison is a virtuoso trumpeter, composer and multi-instrumentalist who is one of Australia’s most renowned musicians. At 16, he made his debut at the Monterey Jazz Festival and was soon performing at major jazz festivals with Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Cab Calloway, George Benson, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Wynton Marsalis. In 2000, Morrison was selected to compose and perform the opening fanfare for the Olympic Games in Sydney. He established the acclaimed James Morrison Academy of Music, which recently partnered with The Juilliard School to offer an exclusive Honors Program in jazz. Morrison was awarded the Order of Australia for his service to music and sponsorship of young musicians, and holds honorary doctorates from Edith Cowan University and Griffith University.
Junko Onishi is one of the undeniable leaders of the Japanese jazz scene. Born in Kyoto and raised in Tokyo, the pianist graduated from Berklee College of Music and began her professional career performing with top artists like Betty Carter, Joe Henderson and Jackie McLean. Her recording debut, 1993’s WOW, garnered her a win in the Japanese Jazz category of Swing Journal’s annual Jazz Disc Awards. The next year, she became the first Japanese artist to perform a weeklong stint at the famed Village Vanguard in New York. Onishi announced her retirement from music in 2012, but has since made a full-fledged comeback, performing with the likes of Terumasa Hino and Larry Carlton on some of Japan’s most prestigious stages. She currently serves as music director for famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s ongoing project “Murakami Jam,” and is in production on several new recordings, including Junko Onishi Quartet and Junko Onishi presents The Orchestra.
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.
Five-time GRAMMY® Award winner Antonio Sánchez of México City is one of the most prominent drummers, bandleaders and composers of his generation. His playing is featured on more than 100 albums, and he has performed with Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Joshua Redman and Christian McBride. For more than 15 years, Sánchez has been the drummer of choice for guitar legend Pat Metheny. Sánchez created the original film score for acclaimed filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2014 release “Birdman.” It received the Sound Stars Award for Best Film Score at the 2014 Venice Film Festival and a host of other nominations. His most recent effort as a leader is Lines in the Sand, an album about the immigrant experience.
Still relatively early in her professional career, Swift has already developed an impressive repertoire. Raised in Charlottesville, Virginia by her parents – pianist Hod O’Brien and singer Stephanie Nakasian – she recorded her first album, Veronica’s House of Jazz, when she was only nine years old. In addition to performing with her parents, Swift sang and played trumpet with Dave Adams’ The Young Razzcals Jazz Project, which afforded her the opportunity to perform at the Telluride Jazz Festival. Ater releasing her sophomore album, It’s Great to Be Alive, when she was only 11 years old, Swift continued performing at major venues such as Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Before graduating from the University of Miami, Swift sprang into the national spotlight with a second-place win at the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Vocal Competition. She has since performed, recorded and toured with a host of jazz luminaries, including trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and Chris Botti, and pianists Benny Green, Michael Feinstein and Emmet Cohen.
Francisco Torres is a trombonist, arranger, composer, and educator who hails from the state of Sonora, Mexico. He is the musical director for the legendary Poncho Sanchez and a member of Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, John Beasley’s Monkestra, and the Clare Fischer Big Band. He has been a part of several Grammy winning records including Latin Soul (Poncho Sanchez), ¡Ritmo! (Clare Fischer), That’s How We Roll and Life in the Bubble (Gordon Goodwin). For the past several years, he has produced several Poncho Sanchez albums, earning five GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album. He has performed with Santana, Cachao, Arturo Sandoval, Joey DeFrancesco, Stanley Clarke, Bill Holman, James Moody, Roy Hargrove, Nathan East, Alex Acuña, Natalie Cole, The Manhattan Transfer, Sheila E., and Harry Connick Jr., to name a few.
Justin Tyson is a talented and respected up-and-coming musician living in New York City. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan but raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, he started playing the drums at the age of three and from that day on continued to perfect his craft. Tyson is a Berklee College of Music alumnus; there his love for the drums and music in general expanded. He has performed with Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper, Jessie J, Estelle, Mos Def, Tyrese, Cubic Zirconia, Sirah, Ryan Leslie and is currently the drummer for Esperanza Spalding and Now vs Now.
Ben Williams is a virtuoso performer and world-class composer who is setting a new standard for the bass. A native of Washington, D.C., he studied with Rodney Whitaker at Michigan State University and with Ben Wolfe at The Juilliard School. Williams won the 2009 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Bass Competition and has since performed with Jacky Terrasson, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Benny Golson, Pat Metheny, Marcus Strickland and Stefon Harris’ Blackout. Williams currently performs as part of the Pat Metheny Unity Band and with his own all-star group, Sound Effect. His latest release, I Am a Man, examines key modern protest movements, including Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, using a soulful mix of vintage R&B, hip-hop, blues and jazz.