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.
Multi-instrumentalist Cieavash Arian is a master of traditional Armenian, Arabic, Persian and Turkish music. Born in Tehran, Iran, Arian taught himself to play string instruments including the kamancheh and tar, and wind instruments like the nay and zurna. He also plays the daf, an ancient percussion instrument. In Australia, Arian has performed at Parliament House, Customs House, Government House, World Refugee Day, Brisbane Powerhouse, Bundaberg Multicultural Festival and Woodford Folk Festival. He composed the music for the theater production “A Beautiful Life” by Michael Futcher and Helen Howard, and composed music for Fearless, a short film by Tamucin Mostafa. In addition, Arian played music for “1001 Nights” by the Queensland Theatre Company.
Born in Mount Isa in Queensland, Australia, composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist William Barton has played the didgeridoo for more than 25 years. He has forged an international profile in the classical musical world, performing with the Philharmonic Orchestras of London and Berlin. Barton’s unique talent has been featured at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2018 opening ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games, and the Invictus Games in Australia. He recently performed at Westminster Abbey for Her Majesty, The Queen of England for Commonwealth Day 2019. Barton holds honorary doctorate degrees from the Universities of Griffith & Sydney and has released five albums. With his prodigious musicality and the quiet conviction of his Kalkadunga heritage, he has vastly expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo.
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 Nemoand The Godfather IIIand 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. The group’s MONK’estra Vol. 2was nominated for two GRAMMY Awards.
Brian Blade is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, who has established himself as a versatile and accomplished drummer, composer, bandleader, guitarist and singer/songwriter. Early in his career, he appeared on albums by Bob Dylan, Kenny Garrett and Joshua Redman. At age 27, he released his first album, Brian Blade Fellowship, and followed two years later with Perceptual, both on Blue Note. An in-demand collaborator, he has worked with Chick Corea, Bill Frisell, Herbie Hancock, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Daniel Lanois and Joni Mitchell. Blade is a member of the acclaimed Wayne Shorter Quartet. Released in 2017, Body and Shadow marked the fifth album in Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band’s 20-year history.
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.
Theo Croker is one of the leading young trumpeters on the contemporary jazz scene. The grandson of legendary trumpeter Doc Cheatham, Croker was born and raised in Leesburg, Florida. He began playing trumpet at age 11 after a visit to New York City, where he heard his grandfather perform. Croker studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and received his postgraduate education by playing with musicians including Benny Powell, Jimmy and Tootie Heath, Billy Hart and Marcus Belgrave. For seven years, he lived in Shanghai, China, where his quartet served as artists-in-residence at the House of Blues and Jazz. The Wall Street Journal called Croker’s 2016 album, Escape Velocity, “timeless and of-the moment.” Croker’s forthcoming album, Star People Nation, features boundary-busting compositions that speak to our shared human existence.
Joey DeFrancesco is the first name in jazz organ. Accompanying his father, also an organist, to gigs in his native Philadelphia, the young prodigy sat in with legendary players like Hank Mobley and Philly Joe Jones, who quickly recognized his prodigious talent. At age 15, DeFranceso gained worldwide recognition as a finalist in the inaugural Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition. His subsequent debut record, All of Me, was widely credited with stimulating a resurgence in interest in the organ as a jazz instrument. A touring stint and recording date with Miles Davis followed, inspiring DeFrancesco to pick up the trumpet. Today, DeFrancesco is a four-time GRAMMY Award nominee with more than 30 recordings as a leader. His most recent release is In The Key of The Universe on Mack Avenue.
Saxophonist and composer Eli Degibri of Israel has established himself as a prominent musician in jazz, gaining a worldwide fan base. He toured with Herbie Hancock’s sextet for more than two years, and went on to perform and record as a member of the Al Foster Quartet. Degibri is a recipient of the honorary Israeli Prime Minister Award for Jazz Composition and the Landau Award for Jazz Performance, which recognizes his achievements as a bandleader. His latest release with his quartet is aptly named Cliff Hangin’ as it captures the thrilling and unpredictable urgency of his playing. It received a rare five-star review from DownBeat magazine. Degibri’s next project will pay tribute to legendary saxophonist Hank Mobley.
Kurt Elling combines his extraordinary vocal talents with his bandleading, composing and arranging to produce a sound that has been thrilling audiences for more than two decades. Elling developed his idiosyncratic scat style in the clubs of Chicago, sharing the stage with legends Von Freeman and Ed Peterson. He signed with Blue Note in 1995 and went on to release six Blue Note albums, all of which have been GRAMMY nominated and critically acclaimed. He won the 2010 GRAMMY Award for Best Vocal Jazz Album for his Concord release Dedicated to You. Elling was named top male vocalist in the DownBeat Critics Poll for 13 consecutive years. His most recent effort, The Questions, was released on OKeh/Sony in 2018 to critical acclaim.
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 six 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 Herbie Hancock, Anita Baker, Chick Corea, Horace Silver, Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby, Vanessa Williams and others. Genus 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 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.
Antonio Hart is one of the top alto saxophonists on the scene today. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he studied jazz at the Berklee College of Music and Queens College. In 1991, Hart made his debut recording as a leader with For the First Timeon RCA/Novus. He has since appeared on more than 100 albums and performed around the globe with Nat Adderley, Monty Alexander, Terence Blanchard, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ray Brown, Cyrus Chestnut, Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove Jimmy Heath, Dave Holland, Wallace Roney, the SF Jazz Collective, McCoy Tyner and Nancy Wilson. Blessings is Hart’s eighth album as a leader, and features guitarist Yotam Silberstein, drummer Steve Williams and organist Bobby Floyd.
Trumpeter Mat Jodrell is one of the most exciting voices in jazz today. He recently returned to Australia from New York City, where he performed at top venues and taught at The Juilliard School. Jodrell has performed with jazz greats including Carl Allen, Jon Batiste, Ron Carter, Benny Golson and Herbie Hancock. He was a regular member of Ryan Truesdell’s GRAMMY-nominated Gil Evans Project, Miguel Zenon’s Identities ensemble, Lucas Pino’s No Net Nonet, Miho Hazama’s M-Unit, the Birdland Big Band and Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Since moving back to Australia, Jodrell has been lecturing at the James Morrison Academy and recording with many projects including his co-led group, Speedball. His latest solo album, Insurgent, features Will Vinson, James Muller, Sam Anning and Ben Vanderwal.
Award-winning tabla virtuoso Aditya Kalyanpur of India has captivated audiences worldwide with his trademark blend of technical brilliance, creative improvisations and high-octane showmanship. A child prodigy who could replicate intricate rhythms on his first tabla at age 3, Kalyanpur studied with tabla masters Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain. Kalyanpur’s performances reflect his ability to break through conventional borders, whether playing alongside a sitar or a jazz guitar. He has collaborated with an eclectic range of Indian classical and international jazz and rock greats, including Pandit Jasraj, Shivkumar Sharma, Amjad Ali Khan, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Larry Coryell, George Brooks, Kenwood Dennard, John McLaughlin and Keith Richards.
Ledisi is a 12-time GRAMMY nominated vocal powerhouse who has wowed fans around the world. Her debut effort, Lost & Found, released on Verve in 2007, earned her two GRAMMY nominations, including one for Best Artist. She released It’s Christmasin 2008 and Turn Me Loosethe following year. Her most recent release is Let Love Rule, which received three 2018 GRAMMY nominations, including Best R&B Album. Ledisi has headlined two national sold-out tours, performing alongside Dave Matthews, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Jill Scott, Maxwell and others, and has performed at the White House on eight occasions. An accomplished actress, she recently played Mahalia Jackson in the Oscar-nominated movie Selma, and stars in Gabourey Sidibe’s short film The Tale of Four.
Jane Monheit is a soulful vocalist who has collected fans the world over with her chart-topping recordings. Monheit grew up in Oakdale, New York, and at 17 began voice training at the Manhattan School of Music. At age 20, she was a winner in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Vocals Competition. Soon after, she released Never, Never Land, voted Best Debut Recording by the Jazz Journalists Association. Monheit went on to release a series of acclaimed albums, including the GRAMMY Award-winning Taking a Chance on Love. Her 2007 release, Surrender, showcased her love of Brazilian music and paired her with Ivan Lins, Sergio Mendes and Toots Thielemans. Monheit’s newest release, The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald, pays joyous tribute to the First Lady of Song.
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.
Award-winning guitarist James Muller has been at the forefront of Australia’s music scene for more than two decades. He has performed and recorded with Australian music luminaries including James Morrison, Vince Jones, Dale Barlow, Renee Geyer, Bernie McGann, Katie Noonan, Linda Oh and Steve Hunter, and played alongside U.S. greats like John Scofield, Vinnie Colaiuta, Christian McBride, Matt Penman, Jon Gordon and Bill Stewart. Muller has released six albums, including All Out, which won the 2000 ARIA award for Best Jazz Album. That same year, he was named co-winner of the National Jazz Awards. In 2013, Muller received a prestigious Australia Council Music Fellowship, one of the country’s highest musical honors.
Eijiro Nakagawa of Tokyo, Japan, is an extraordinary jazz and classical trombonist who performs with top musicians in Japan and the United States. He began playing trombone at age 5 and the following year was appearing with his father’s band. Nakagawa attended the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and by age 16 was studying at the Berklee College of Music. He has released his own albums, which feature Nicholas Payton and the Brecker Brothers, and collaborated with trombonist Jim Pugh to form the group E’nJ and record Legend and Lion. Nakagawa performs with his Japanese jazz group, the Beat Detectives, and can be heard on countless soundtracks, television shows, and records with some of Japan’s hottest artists.
Mark Nightingale has been at the forefront of the British jazz scene for the past three decades and has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s top-flight jazz trombonists. As a leader, composer and arranger, he has fronted and recorded with ensembles of all sizes, receiving many awards along the way. Nightingale has recorded with internationally celebrated jazz artists including James Morrison, Ray Brown, Jeff Hamilton, Clark Terry and Scott Hamilton. In the UK, he enjoys longstanding musical associations with John Dankworth, Cleo Laine, Stan Tracey, Kenny Wheeler and Alan Barnes, among others. Beyond jazz, Nightingale has played with greats such as Frank Sinatra, Sting, Steely Dan and Henry Mancini, and he is also one of London’s first-call studio musicians.
Chico Pinheiro is a creative force in contemporary Brazilian jazz, as both a guitarist and composer. Growing up in São Paulo, Brazil, he began playing guitar at age 6 and was working professionally by age 13. Pinheiro has released highly acclaimed albums with his quartet and received numerous awards, including DownBeatmagazine’s Critics Poll recognition. He has collaborated with major Brazilian, jazz and classical artists and ensembles, including Ivan Lins, Rosa Passos, Edu Lobo, Dori Caymmi, João Donato, Johnny Alf, Brad Mehldau, Dianne Reeves, Bob Mintzer, Esperanza Spalding, Chris Potter, Giovani Hidalgo, Placido Domingo, Paris Jazz Big Band, Swiss Jazz Orchestra, Danish Radio Big Band, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
Saxophonist and composer Tineke Postma has become one of the most successful jazz players to emerge from the Netherlands. A graduate of the Conservatory of Amsterdam and the Manhattan School of Music, she has released six critically acclaimed albums as a leader and been part of two GRAMMY Award-winning albums: Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project and Dianne Reeves’ Beautiful. Postma has performed with Geri Allen, Kenny Barron, the Metropole Orchestra and the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw. At the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors, she appeared alongside Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding and the Wayne Shorter Quartet in a tribute to honoree Wayne Shorter. Postma is a winner of the Boy Edgar Prize, the most prestigious jazz award in the Netherlands.
Eric Reed is an influential fixture in music as a pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and champion of young musicians. Reed’s artistry reflects his cultural roots in his father’s Baptist church in Philadelphia, his West Coast tutelage under the likes of Teddy Edwards, Gerald Wilson and Buddy Collette, and his time performing in the bands of Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Buster Williams and Wynton Marsalis. Reed has amassed a laudable discography of iconic recordings, an extensive repertoire of compositions and arrangements, and an impressive list of credits in film and television scores. His latest recording, Everybody Gets the Blues, moves him closer toward his goal of connecting on a deeper level to the human spirit and heart.
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.
Somi is a truly original vocalist, songwriter, activist and scholar who straddles the worlds of African jazz, soul and pop with ease. Born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, Somi has been called “the new Nina Simone.” She has collaborated with a diverse group of artists including Billy Childs, Mos Def, John Legend, Baaba Maal and Hugh Masekela. The Lagos Music Salon, Somi’s major label debut, was inspired by her creative sabbatical in Lagos, Nigeria, and landed at #1 on the U.S. jazz charts. Her latest release, Petite Afrique, is a daring, relevant, refashioning of what jazz and African music mean, both singularly and to each other. This song cycle about the dignity of immigrants in the United States won a 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album.
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 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, Coming of Age, is a collection of original compositions reflecting his wide-ranging musical interests. Williams recently made his film debut, appearing alongside Don Cheadle in the Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead.
Beirut-born Tarek Yamani is a Lebanese-American, New York-based pianist, composer and educator who taught himself jazz at age 19. Recipient of the grand prize at the 2010 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Composers Competition, among other honors, Yamani has performed in venues around the world including the Smithsonian Institution, National Sawdust, Lincoln Center, Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, and the United Nations General Assembly Hall. Yamani dedicates his artistry to exploring the relationships between African-American jazz and classical Arabic music, most evident in his second album Lisan Al Tarab: Jazz Conceptions in Classical Arabic and in his newly-released Peninsular, which fuses jazz with quarter-tones and rhythms of the Arabian Peninsula.