Look Who Is Part of The International Jazz Day 2023 All-Star Global Concert
Keenan Ahrends is a highly sought-after guitarist and composer who is an important part of the South African music community. He began playing guitar at age fifteen and continued on to study at the University of Cape Town and Norwegian Academy of Music. He later completed an honours degree at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesberg, where he focused on researching the life and music of prominent South African guitarist Errol Dyers. Ahrends has toured with South African artists including SOMI, Thandi Ntuli, Louis Moholo, Feya Faku and many others. He has also performed in Sweden, Norway, Mozambique and Nigeria. As a composer, Ahrends has written music for his own trio along with commissioned work for the Cape Town Ghoema Orchestra. In 2021 he was awarded the Pro Helvetia Artist-in-Residency and spent three months composing, recording and performing in Basel, Switzerland. Ahrends has appeared on numerous recordings with South African artists and released his own album, Narrative.
Cyrille Aimée is a Grammy-nominated French jazz singer known for her captivating stage presence and unique interpretations of classic jazz standards. Born in Samois-sur-Seine, France, Aimée was influenced at an early age by gypsy jazz and began singing and performing in Paris as a teenager. She gained recognition in the French music scene before moving to New York City in 2007 to pursue a career in jazz. She won the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition and was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. Since then, she has released several acclaimed albums, including It’s a Good Day and Let’s Get Lost and has collaborated with notable musicians such as Roy Hargrove and Diego Figueiredo. Her dynamic musicality and ability to connect with audiences have earned her a loyal fan base and critical acclaim. Aimée continues to tour extensively and is considered one of the most exciting and innovative jazz vocalists of her generation.
Internationally renowned Blue Note recording artist Ambrose Akinmusire is one of the top trumpeters on the scene today. Winner of the 2007 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Trumpet Competition, he has proved himself one of the most vital and deft musicians of his generation. Akinmusire was named 2012 Trumpet Player of the Year by the DownBeat Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association, and received Germany’s ECHO Award as Instrumentalist of the Year. His 2011 release, When the Heart Emerges Glistening, topped critics’ lists at The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Allmusic.com, and earned him the Grand Prix from France’s l’Academie du Jazz. Akinmusire has performed at Carnegie Hall and other major venues, and at international jazz festivals including Barcelona, Copenhagen, Monterey, North Sea and Umbria. Besides being a cutting edge performer and prolific composer, Akinmusire is a dedicated educator who serves presents jazz workshops around the globe. His latest recording on Blue Note is On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment.
Grammy-nominated vocalist, composer, producer and arranger Thana Alexa is an artist who pushes musical boundaries. Born in New York City to an American-Croatian mother and Croatian born father, Alexa began playing violin at the age of 4 and by 12 was first chair in the Stamford Youth Symphony. Despite early ambitions to become a classical violinist, she moved with her family to Croatia at age 13 and was introduced to jazz, blues and soul by her voice teacher. Alexa graduated from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and Eugene Lang College with dual bachelor’s degrees in jazz and contemporary music and psychology. An awe-inspiring artist for whom the voice is both a lyrical and experimental instrument, Alexa’s music explores new and unexplored territory with roots in jazz and overtones of contemporary soul and world music. Perhaps Alexa’s most important and ongoing collaboration has been with her husband, drummer Antonio Sánchez. Together with his band Migration, they have recorded three critically acclaimed albums and have toured worldwide throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Marcos Ariel is a virtuoso pianist, flautist and composer who blends classical and jazz with the music of his native Rio de Janeiro which is known as Carioca. Ariel grew up studying classical music with encouragement from his father. He also was inspired by the music of Hermeto Pascal and Chick Corea. He released his first album entitled Bambu in 1980. His second release Terro do Indio was recognized by Jazziz magazine as one of the best albums of the year. He was the recipient of the Brahma Extra Music Award for his album Brazilian Piano. Throughout the years, he has performed with numerous Brazilian artists including Master Cartola, Robert Gnatalli, and Johnny Alf. He recently released his Second Chance, his 32nd album which includes American pop songs presented in a Brazilian format.
Pianist, composer and music 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. His interest in jazz was sparked after hearing a Bobby Timmons recording. Beasley 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 also has performed on film scores for Erin Brokovich, Finding Nemo and The Godfather III. He has released numerous albums, including Positootly!, which received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Album. In 2013, Beasley formed 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.
BIGYUKI is one of today’s musical secret weapons. The Japanese keyboardist and songwriter’s extensive vocabulary fuels his ability to create new directions in music by infusing elements of jazz, classical, hip-hop, soul, rock, dance, and electronica into his compositions. Classically trained at Berklee College of Music, BIGYUKI has gone on to cultivate a unique musical identity that has attracted the attention of fellow artists Q-Tip, Bilal, Talib Kweli, Harvey Mason, Marcus Strickland, Mark Guiliana, Me’shell Ndegeocello, and more. His work is featured on J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only and A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service. BIGYUKI’s debut album Reaching for Chiron is a soul-filling exploration into the infinite soundscapes of this virtuosic mind.
Blue Note China Jazz Orchestra
The Blue Note China Jazz Orchestra (BNCJO) is China’s premier big band with an all-star lineup encompassing the most well-known jazz musicians from around China. Established in 2016, the group is led by trombonist Yang Ming. The BNCJO performs regularly at Blue Note Beijing Jazz Club and has welcomed Mark Turner, Michael Mossman, Ingrid Jensen, Kris Davis and Rudresh Mahanthappa to perform as guest artists with the orchestra. As one of China’s most prominent jazz orchestras, the BNCJO presents music of diverse jazz genres and original works by international and Chinese contemporary jazz composers. Orchestra members include saxophonists Wang Zongxing, Liu Xiaoguang, Wu Letian, Meng Qingze, Zhang Yanxin, trumpeters Noah Hocker, Mao Peiqing, He Haocheng, Wen Zhiyong, trombonists Yang Ming, Huangfu Shaohua, Wang Chaoran, Wang Zi’en, and the rhythym section players Liu Kai, Jin Dongning, Simone Schirru, Anthony Vanacore.
Georg Breinschmid is one of the leading Austrian jazz musicians on the international scene. Breinschmid studied classical bass at Vienna University and went on to play orchestral and chamber music with leading groups. In 1999, he became a freelance jazz musician working with Archie Shepp, Charlie Mariano, Kenny Drew Jr., Biréli Lagrène, Wolfgang Muthspiel, the Vienna Art Orchestra, Triology, Megablast and many others. He was resident double bass player of the Vienna Art Orchestra from 1999 until 2006. Georg Breinschmid has increasingly made his mark as a composer with a particular affinity to Viennese Music and the Wiener Lied. Insiders and critics alike consider Georg Breinschmid’s unorthodox compositions as some of the most interesting new developments in contemporary jazz.
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. Bridgewater began her career touring 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, followed by two years as Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway production of “The Wiz,” for which she received a Tony Award. Her subsequent portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day” won her a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress. In 1984, Bridgewater made a dream come true when she received Horace Silver’s blessing to record an album of his music with vocals. The resulting Peace and Love brought her worldwide attention. Her Dear Ella recording is a loving tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. Bridgewater won her third GRAMMY for Eleanora Fagan (1917-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee. Bridgewater is currently the host of “JazzSet” on NPR.
Senny Camara is a vocalist, kora player and guitarist, who has broken down musical barriers and has become one of the most renowned artists in her home country of Senegal. Raised in a traditional household surrounded by music, Camara was exposed throughout her childhood to ritual songs of healing known as ndeup. She attended the Conservatiore in Dakar where she developed her voice and guitar playing and also became a virtuoso on the kora, an instrument traditional played only by men. During this time, Camara also began to gain notoriety with established Senegalese musicians. She composes her own music that she calls afro folk blues and has released an EP entitled BOOLO. Camara performs regularly in France and Senegal, often combining elements of classical and Brazilian music into her work and spreading a message of female empowerment and healing.
Grammy award-winning pianist Bill Charlap has performed with many of the leading artists of our time including Phil Woods, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan, and Wynton Marsalis. Born in New York City, Charlap began playing the piano at age three. His father was Broadway composer Moose Charlap and his mother is singer Sandy Stewart, who toured with Benny Goodman. In 1997, Charlap formed his trio with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, now recognized as one of the leading groups in jazz. Charlap received Grammys for his Blue Note Records releases Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein and The Bill Charlap Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard. In 2016, Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap: The Silver Lining, The Songs of Jerome Kern, was awarded a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album. He has produced concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, Chicago Symphony Center and the Hollywood Bowl and is also the Artistic Director of the Jazz in July Festival. Bill Charlap is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University.
Born into a family of musicians in Zimbabwe, Musekiwa Chingodza is a renowned multi-instrumentalist, singer, dancer and teacher. He grew up in Mwangara village and began teaching himself to play mbiri at the age of five by listening to older musicians. He was a member of the band Panjea and composed their hit song “Ganda.” Chingodza is also an educator who taught at Prince Edward School in Harare for 14 years. He arranges and teaches Zimbabwean-style marimba and is in demand as an mbira player at traditional ceremonies. Chingodza is also a dancer in the Shona tradition and plays a variety of African percussion instruments including the mbira dzavadzimi, the hosho, ngoma and the nyunga nyunga mbira. He has released three of his own albums and appeared on several others with various African artists and has toured internationally sharing his love of traditional Zimbabwean music and culture.
Pianist and composer Emmet Cohen is one of his generation’s pivotal figures in jazz. Leader of the Emmet Cohen Trio and creator of the Masters Legacy Series, he is an internationally acclaimed jazz artist, a dedicated educator, the winner of the 2019 American Pianists Awards, and a finalist in the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition. Cohen headlines regularly at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Village Vanguard, and Birdland, and has appeared at the Newport, Monterey, and North Sea jazz festivals. His artistry has taken him to venues and festivals in over 30 countries. Cohen’s entrepreneurial energies led to his developing “Live From Emmet’s Place,” a live-streamed “Harlem rent party” that unites a worldwide audience via tens of millions of internet views. Cohen has released over ten albums as leader and has performed or recorded with Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Tootie Heath, Houston Person, Christian McBride, and Kurt Elling.
Shane Cooper is a bassist, composer and producer based in Johannesburg, South Africa who is part of the new wave of South African jazz artists that are pushing the music forward. He is also known for his work in the electronic/dance music world as well as commissioned works for films and theatre. As a sideman you can find him in the Stogie T live band, Radio Sechaba, Thandi Ntuli’s live band, the Kyle Shepherd Trio, and Skyjack. In the past he has also performed with artists like Zim Ngqawana, Lionel Loueke, Shabaka Hutchings, Ndabo Zulu’s Umgidi Ensemble, and many more. As a composer for film, Shane’s music has been featured in Container by Meghna Singh and Simon Wood and Sifiso Khanyile’s A New Country. Cooper was part of the curation team for the international jazz festival in Bern, Switzerland called JazzwerkstattBern. He also writes and performs electronic dance music under the name Card on Spokes, and has shared the stage with Little Dragon, Daedelus, Young Fathers, and performed live on Boiler Room. The projects he is currently leading are 6 piece Afro-jazz band Shane Cooper & MABUTA and cinematic 5-piece the Dinaledi Chamber Ensemble.
Drummer and percussionist Leo Costa is a versatile musician who is equally at home playing funk and soul as he is performing music from his home country of Brazil. Costa began playing drums at 11 in Rio de Janeio, inspired by his father who arranged lessons with master percussionists from the Brazilian group Salgueiro. He declined opportunities to study psychology and engineering in Brazil to attend Berklee College of Music where he sharpened his drumming skills and also studied music production and engineering. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles where he began working with artists from a wide range of genres including K.D. Lang, Keb Mo, Los Lobos and many others. He also recorded music for tv shows including “Samantha Who”, “Killing Pablo”, “Assassin’s Creed Brothehood” and “Lucky” and performed on the Latin Grammys and the Hollywood Music Awards. Costa currently plays drums with Brazilian legend Sérgio Mendes.
Robertinho De Paula
Robertinho De Paula is a virtuoso guitarist whose style is a unique blend of classical and jazz. Born in the Bangu neighborhood, west of Rio de Janeiro, he was raised in Italy by his father, the renowned guitarist Irio De Paula. The younger De Paula began playing professionally at the age of 14. He has performed festivals around the world and has toured with Italian singer Francesca Sortino. De Paula has also performed with acclaimed Brazilian drummer Roberthino Silva and Italian group Nossa Alma Canta. He has released numerous albums of his own and with his trio in addition to one recording of duets with his father. His latest released is entitled Lembrando Irio and is a trio recording with piano and bass and features a mix of traditional jazz and Brazilian music.
Oran Etkin is a dynamic clarinetist and saxophonist who creates unique music that blends cultures from all over the world. Etkin was born in Israel and moved to Boston when he was five years old. At fourteen, he began studying with Yusef Lateef and George Garzone. He attended Brandies University where he studied economics and classical clarinet before receiving a masters degree in jazz from Manhattan School of Music. After graduation, Etkin attended a dance class with Malian teacher Joh Camara. This experience inspired him to explore the music of Mali, leading to several educational trips to the country. He has since released three albums blending the music of Mali with traditional jazz. The recordings feature Malian musicians along with American jazz artists. Outside of performing, Etkin is a teacher who has developed his own method called Timbalooloo, which is designed to teach music to children as young as three years old.
Mastering in music in the field of composition at UniRio and graduated in music from UFRJ, bassist Rodrigo Ferrera works in general as a freelance musician, Beatmaker and music producer. He worked alongside several renowned artists, such as Zezé Motta, Jesuton, MV Bill, Black Alien, Melim, Carlos Dafé, Luiz Melodia, Leoni, Rachel Réis, Gabriel Pensador and Elza Soares. He currently plays with singer Julio Secchin and is a member of the band Afrojazz. In 2018, he created the Jahz Music label and, through it, works as an arranger and music producer. The label has already produced results, such as the album of the singer Luciane Dom, “Liberte esse banzo” (2018), in which the musician is responsible for the musical production and arrangements of all tracks. Besides that, he produced several singles from artists such as Gab Mariquito, Dilucca ZN, Thiago Mocotó, Cissa Paz, J.Ramus and Amanda Paulino.
Tom Gansch is an instrumentalist who always seeks new challenges and whose trademark is the openness to almost all musical forms. He is a musician who strives to create his own artistic freedom and has long established himself with his various projects beyond Austrian borders. Gansch was born in St. Pölten and grew up in a musical family. His father was Johann Gansch, a renowned Austrian composer and his brother is Hans Gansch, who was the principal trumpet player in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Gansch began studying music at the age fifteen. Throughout his professional career he has performed with groups like Mnozil Brass and the Vienna Art Orchestra. Gansch plays a unique trumpet that he designed called the Gansch Horn. His latest release is Bransch (Live at Wiener Konzerthaus, a live duet performance with bassist Georg Breinschmid.
Diogo Gomes is a native of Rio de Janeiro who works with some of the top artists in Brazil as a trumpeter, arranger, composer and music producer. He studied at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro while also teaching at the University of Brasilia. He has been featured as a guest with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, Petrobras Symphony Orchestra and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Symphony Orchestra. In popular music, he has his name linked to the greatest personalities of Brazilian music, participating in tours with Gilberto Gil, Djavan, Jorge Ben Jor and Maria Rita. He has also recorded with artists like Gal Costa, Lulu Santos, Elza Soares and has arranged music for Gilberto Gil, Bala Escolha, Adriana Calcanhotto and Gilsons. In 2022, Diogo Gomes released his first album entitled TRANSCENDENTAL, which brings together his compositions, showing all his Afro-Brazilian performance and musicality.
Katie Hampton is an accomplished vocalist who performs live and for film and television. Born in Los Angeles and raised by a composer dad and costume designer mom, Katie developed an early love for recording studios and sequins. She studied jazz in Montreal at McGill University, where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance. After joining Sérgio Mendes’ band as one of the lead singers in 2008, Katie moved back to LA and has been touring, session singing, and participating in bands and choirs ever since. She recently completed a Master of Music degree from Cal State Northridge in Performance, which was grounded in opera and classical voice.
Asmaa Hamzaoui is a Moroccan gnawa singer and musician. She is known to be Morocco’s first female gnawa musician, a genre that is traditionally reserved for male artists. In 2012, she launched her career by founding her musical group Bnat Timbouktou, where she plays sintir as well as sings. Since then, she has participated in many international events across the world, and collaborated with other artists, including Fatoumata Diawara.
Herbie Hancock is an internationally renowned pianist and composer who is one of the most innovative and influential musicians of our time. A true icon of modern music, he has shaped the direction of jazz, fusion, funk and hip-hop for more than six decades. From his recordings with the legendary Miles Davis Quintet to his solo jazz albums and pioneering music incorporating multiple genres, Hancock has always been on the cutting edge. He has earned 14 GRAMMY Awards including Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters, and an Academy Award for his score for the film Round Midnight. A Kennedy Center honoree, Hancock serves as Creative Director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue. He is the Chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz and a Distinguished Professor at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA, where he inspires the creativity of the next generation of jazz artists.
Guitarist Nelida Karr is known as “Equatorial Guinea’s Diva.” She began playing and performing at age 15 and soon added the piano and percussion to her repertoire. Karr’s music is a fusion of several influences including jazz and Afro-Cuban music. In 2007, Karr was awarded first prize by the Centre of Malabo in the Spanish Song Contest. In 2012, she was chosen to perform the official anthem of the African Cup of Nations held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Lady Maah Keita
Lady Maah Keita is a renowned Senegalese bassist who has appeared on seven European tours as well as numerous national tours in her native country. Keita performed with her family band, Takeifa, from 2006 to 2018 and has released three albums as a leader. She currently serves as a spokesperson for people with albinism in Senegal, and co-founded and managed for six years the Care Albinos association, which provides medical assistance to albinos with skin cancer.
Gracinha Leporace is a female Brazilian singer known most notably for her work with her husband Sérgio Mendes and his band. She has featured regularly in much of the group’s releases over the last four decades and, most recently, can be heard as the Portuguese-singing female vocal in the hit Mas Que Nada featuring The Black Eyed Peas from the 2006 album Timeless and in the Baden Powell de Aquino composition “Berimbau/Consolação” from the same album, in which she provides the lead vocal. Born Maria Da Graca Leporace, she grew up in the suburb of Rio known as Ipanema. Gracinha also has a sibling Marianna Leporace who is a singer and actress in Brazil. Along with her work with Sergio Mendes, she was a member of the Bossa Nova group known in the early ’70s as Bossa Rio. She provided her voice to the 2011 animated film Rio as Dr. Barbossa, as well as singing a remix of “Mas Que Nada”.
John Lumpkin II is a producer, arranger, and artist in the jazz and gospel scene. He obtains a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies from the University of North Florida under the direction of Danny Gottlieb and a Master’s degree from Florida State University under the leadership of Leon Anderson. in 2009 he was also a part of the Ravinia Steans music institute and betty carter jazz ahead program, John grew up in the pentecostal church and still plans to exercise his gifts there as well as in other national venues. However, he says “The church is the root of my zeal for music and forever shall be”. While carrying his talents between Japan and Switzerland, he has also internationally been a part of the Jazz at Lincoln Centers Artist in Residency Program. In 2017 Wynton Marsalis combined with the Dr. Phillips Fine Arts Center in Orlando, FL to create the Dr. Phillips Jazz Orchestra of which John was a part. Along with his passion for the church, he is also a part of Beyond Music. Beyond Music is an online platform where artists from around the world can create music. The co-founder Tina Turner is a part of the Ambassadors for this movement and the artistic directors have been Larry Klien, Manu Katche, Michael League, and Bill Laurance. Throughout his career, John has shared the stage with greats such as Sean Jones, Delfeayo Marsalis, Wycliff Gordon, Marcus Roberts, Arturo Sandoval, Curtis Fuller, Marcus Printup, Houston Person, Rufus Reid, Vanessa Rubin, James Moody, Nathan Davis, and David Baker. From serving on staff at the University of North Florida and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, he is also the founder of the Jazz Discovery Series, The John Lumpkin Institute, and The Covenant which extends to the community-based in Jacksonville, FL.
Helbe Machado is a drummer who has played with many of the leading artists in the Brazilian music scene. Growing up in a family of musicians, he was encouraged to stady and participate in music performances. He started at the Carlota Portela jazz dance academy, where he worked for three years, and then went to study at the Escola de Música Villa Lobos, where he studied classical percussion. He performed in the Orquestra de Música Popular da Villa Lobos Music School, visiting numerous cities in Rio de Janeiro. He has performed with artists such as Fernanda Cunha, Eliana Pittman, and Sueli Costa. He also performs with his trio and quartet at Blue Note Rio and the Rio Film Festival. Machado is an educator who presents clinics through Brazil and Europe.
Makram Aboul Hosn
Makram Aboul Hosn is a Lebanese bassist, composer, and arranger, together with his band they perform highly original compositions that are rooted in the jazz tradition while lyrically addressing the social issues of the times. Hosn is a vital part of the jazz community of Beirut and he performs Jazz, Classical, and Arabic music across the country. The group features Sima Itayim on vocals, Tom Hornig on alto sax, Nidal Abou Samra on tenor sax, Joe Aouad on guitar, and Dani Shukri on drums. Makram was awarded a grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture in 2019 and released his second album Transmigration in 2021.
Grammy-winning saxophonist, vocalist, arranger, composer and producer Scott Mayo is a multi-talented musician who has worked with major artists and has created music in a wide range of genres for the past three decades. Mayo has performed with Dr. Dre, Bruno Mars, Sting and Beyonce among many others. He received a Grammy Award as producer for Best R&B album for Oleta Adams’ Moving On. Mayo toured with Earth, Wind and Fire for six years and appeared on their album Earth, Wind and Fire: Plugged In & Live. He has also worked extensively in television, arranging and performing on “Dancing with the Stars” and writing music for numerous shows including “The Larry Sanders Show”, “Queens” and “High Society”. He is currently the music director and writing partner for legendary Brazilian artist Sergio Mendes. Mayo has released three albums of his own including the 2023 recording Meu Brasil.
Growing up in a family with multi-generational musical roots in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Sphelelo Mazibuko was destined to become a musician. He began learning drums at the age of fourteen, playing in his local church. He later attended the University of KwaZulu-Natal where he received a bachelors degree in Music and Media. He has since recorded and performed in a range of musical genres from jazz to gospel to Afro Pop with South African artists including Siya Makuzeni, Sibongile Khumalo, Judith Sephuma, Musa Manzini and Brian Themba. He has toured the world, performing at festivals throughout Africa, the United States, Germany, Switzerland and France. Mazibuko is a member of the progressive band Africa Plus. He is also a music educator, audio engineer and runs an audio company. Mazibuko currently performs and records with his own group Lelo & Africentral.
GRAMMY Award winner Christian McBride’s larger-than-life sound, driving rhythm, breathtaking technique and charismatic musical personality have made him one of the most sought-after bassists in jazz and beyond. McBride began playing bass at age 9. After graduating from Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, he received a scholarship to Juilliard. He chose instead to join Bobby Watson’s band, and later performed with Pat Metheny, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Hargrove and a host of other notable jazz artists. In 1991, Ray Brown invited McBride to join SuperBass, a trio that included John Clayton. McBride later toured and recorded with Sting. An active jazz educator, McBride is Artistic Director at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass summer program and Artistic Chair of Jazz House Kids. In addition, he is co-director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem and has been the Carolyn and Bill Powers Creative Chair for Jazz at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was also named artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival and hosts NPR’s Jazz Night in America. McBride currently performs with 5 groups including the Christian McBride Band, the Christian McBride Situation, and Inside Straight.
One common thread weaves throughout the staggeringly diverse tapestry of music that Sérgio Mendes has created over his remarkable six-decade career: the spirit of joy. One of the most internationally successful Brazilian artists of all time, Mendes has recorded more than 35 albums, many of which went gold or platinum. He’s a three-time GRAMMY Award winner, Oscar-nominated songwriter and the subject of a 2020 feature documentary. SÉRGIO MENDES: IN THE KEY OF JOY. From his pioneering contributions to the foundations of bossa nova alongside the likes of Antonio Carlos Jobim, through the era-defining sound of his iconic group Brasil ’66; his scintillating collaborations with jazz legends like Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann to his chart-topping adult contemporary smash “Never Gonna Let You Go;” on through his 21st-century reinvention with the Black-Eyed Peas and John Legend or his Oscar-nominated theme song from the animated hit Rio: an infectious spirit of joy pervades everything Mendes has ushered into the ears of listeners.
Marcus Miller is one of the most influential artists of our time, appearing on more than 500 albums during his decades 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 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. A two-time Grammy Award-winner, he is the recipient of countless honors for his contributions to music. Miller currently serves as a UNESCO Artist for Peace. His latest release, Laid Black, received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
Malian guitarist and percussionist Mounaissa was first influenced by American and modern African music, particularly modern orchestras from Mali. One of the first professional guitarists from her native country, she adopted the drums after realizing the challenges of thriving professionally on her first instrument. She is a member of the Kaladjoula Band, a group of women instrumentalists from Mali.
South African based saxophonist and flute player Mthunzi Mvubu started his music career at the age of 14 at the Music Academy of Gauteng under the mentorship of the late Dr. Johnny Mekoa. He has performed with Kevin Mahogany and Everest Greene, the O’Jays, the Temptations, and Clarence Carter. Mthuzi has also performed around the world with the finest musicians including Abdullah Ibrahim, Themba Mkhize, Victor Ntoni, Omar Sosa, Nduduzo Makhathini, and many more. Recently Mvubu has been touring Europe as a member of Shabaka and The Ancestors. A prolific session performer, Mvubu has appeared on more than 20 albums, including Lionel Loueke and Shabaka Hutchings. His experience and passion for the music have brought him to record his debut album, titled The 1st Gospel. Mvubu’s intent and approach are evident in the title, as is his deep respect for the art form. Comfortable in any jazz club or stage, the music speaks to a deep spiritual connection between player and listener at the heart of improvisational jazz.
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Philip Norris currently resides in New York City pursuing his degree in Jazz Studies at The Juilliard School. Philip first began his path in music on the piano and horn before his passion developed for the bass at the age of 13. Growing up in North Carolina he was a part of The Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble and received The Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist Award at the Essentially Ellington Competition in 2016. Other accolades include the All-National Jazz ensemble, Jazz Band of America, and a YoungArts National Finalist in 2016. Since moving to New York, Philip has played in various parts of the world including Switzerland, Bolivia, and Russia. He has also played with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Ulysses Owens Jr., Harold Mabern, Joe Farnsworth, Eric Alexander, Jeff Hamilton, Helen Sung, Catherine Russell, Kenny Washington, Elio Vilafranca, Igor Butman, and many more. Philip is currently playing in New York City and abroad with many of these artists as he continues his studies at The Juilliard School.
South African multi-award-winning pianist, singer -songwriter and composer, Thandi Ntuli, hails from a lineage of rich musical heritage. Since the release of her debut album “The Offering”and her sophomore release “Exiled,” she’s made an imprint on the global jazz community as one of the leading voices of modern South African music. Her many collaborations projects with Steve Dyer, Neo Muyanga, Thandiswa Mazwai, Shabaka & The Ancestors, Marcus Wyatt, DjKenzhero, Oliver Mtukudzi, Vusi Mahlasela and as a featured soloist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra. Ntuli has received a Metro Fm Award nomination, a Mbokodo Award and a South African Music Award nomination. She was also the recipient of the coveted Standard Bank Young Artist award for Jazz in 2018. In 2021, her involvement with Brownswood Recordings as both artistic contributor and co-curator for their release ‘Indaba Is’ highlights another of the many hats Ntuli wears in the arts.
Yumi Park is a singer who brings her own unique vision to Brazilian music inspired by artists like Elis Regina and Milton Nascimiento. Born in South Korea, but living in Brazil, she is a skilled interpreter of bossa nova and jazz with a voice that goes from lightness to visceral. Park is part of the Jazz com Bossa group led by musician Cassio Viera. She has peformed throughout Brazil at events such as the Candlelight Concert, the “Yes, We Have Jazz” Festival in Rio de Janeiro, the Instituto Fernandes Figueira and the historic Beco das Garrafas. She also hosts a night of bossa nova and jazz called Project Nostrezz that features free improvisation by local musicians.
Kleber Jorge Pimenta
Accomplished studio musician and renowned singer, songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Kleber Jorge has been captivating audiences for over two decades. Pimenta hails from a family rich in musical tradition. His father, a bass player and music instructor was a major influence in Pimenta’s musical education in their native Brazil. Pimenta studied classical guitar, cello and voice as well as music theory and harmony at the Escola de Musica. Pimenta experienced his first break when he was invited to record and tour with the well-known bassist John Patitucci for the album Mistura Fina (A Fine Blend). Immediately after that, he was discovered by musician and music producer, Sergio Mendes, and has toured with him ever since. In addition to touring with Mendes, Pimenta is frequently invited to collaborate with many musicians both in America and Brazil. He has recorded and toured with Boney James, Sadao Watanabe, Jane Monheit, Diogo Nogueira, Kevyn Lettau, Chris Bennett, Rita Lee, Fabiana Passoni, Lisa Ono, Leny Andrade and others. An experienced studio musician, Pimenta recorded the soundtrack for the 2011 Oscar-nominated hit movie Rio and Rio 2 as well as film, 4 Days in September. Pimenta formed his own group, Brazilliant, with whom he has performed throughout California since the late 1980s.
Laura Prince is a performer, author, composer and interpreter from Togo who aspires to remain in harmony with herself and the world surrounding her. She promotes a purified kind of music to express her childhood fears, her mixed roots, and her heartaches. Her career is atypical, like those that forge and inspire.
Mika Mutti Ramos
Mika Mutti has an active international career as a musician and producer, playing and recording with significant artists around the world. These artist include Sérgio Mendes, Scorpions, Jaimie Fox, Carlos Santana, Will.I.Am, and John Legend among others. Mika was also invited to co-produce the soundtrack for the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympics in Rio and to perform as a highlighted talented artist as a DJ. In 2011, Mikael wrote, recorded, and co-produced songs for the animated film Rio. Mika Mutti was co-producer, composer, musician and arranger of the Grammy nominated Sérgio Mendes’ album “Magic” in 2015. Living in Los Angeles for the past year, Mutti is now composing and co-producing for the forthcoming Sérgio Mendes’ album.
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 touring with Sergio Mendes and Harry Belafonte, then signed to Blue Note in 1987. Her self-titled debut, featuring Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard and Tony Williams, was nominated for a GRAMMY. Featured in George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck, Reeves won the Best Jazz Vocal GRAMMY for the film’s soundtrack. In recent years, she has toured the world and collaborated with Lizz Wright and Angelique Kidjo for “Sing the Truth,” a musical celebration of Nina Simone. Reeves has performed at the White House on multiple occasions, including President Obama’s State Dinner for the President of China. In 2018, she was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master – the highest honor the United States bestows on jazz artists.
Lex is an Australian-born bass player, keyboard bass player, programmer and producer residing in New York City.
Five-time GRAMMY Award winner Antonio Sánchez is one of the most prominent drummers, bandleaders and composers of his generation. Born in Mexico, he has been 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 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.
Mariaa Siga is a young artist, composer and performer from Senegal who is steeped in the traditional rhythms of her hometown Casamance. Her curiosity led her to pursue new musical genres such as reggae, blues and jazz, which she mixes with African sounds.
Walter Smith III
Saxophonist and composer Walter Smith III is one of the most influential musicians in modern jazz. Smith has been a member of groups including the Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, Terence Blanchard Quintet, Jason Moran’s In My Mind:Monk at Town Hall, the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet, the Christian McBride “Situation”, Marquis Hill’s “New Gospel Revisited”, the Gerald Clayton Quintet, the Christian Scott group and the Sean Jones Quintet among others. He has performed all over the world participating in virtually every international festival as well as famed venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Village Vanguard, and the Kennedy Center. In addition, he has shared the stage with artists including Mulgrew Miller, Billy Childs, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock, Maria Schneider, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ralph Peterson, and a host of others. To date, Walter has appeared on over 100 recordings that are released worldwide. He is also the Chair of Woodwinds at Berklee College of Music helping to prepare the next generation of young artists. His upcoming release return to casual will be his first for the Blue Note label.
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.
One of the great jazz guitarists of his generation, Mike Stern has the unique ability to play with the finesse and lyricism of Jim Hall, the driving swing of Wes Montgomery and the turbulent attack of Jimi Hendrix. Growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, Stern has earned the respect of colleagues and critics alike since his breakthrough days with Miles Davis’ celebrated comeback band of the early 1980s. Stern made his recording debut as a leader with Neesh on the Japanese Trio label. A year later, he made his US debut as a leader on Atlantic Records with Upside Downside, which featured such celebrated colleagues as David Sanborn, Jaco Pastorius, Dave Weckl and Steve Jordan. His Atlantic release, Standards (And Other Songs), led to Stern being named Best Jazz Guitarist of The Year by Guitar Player Magazine. He followed that success with Is What It Is and Between The Lines, both of which received Grammy nominations. Stern was honored the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal with the Miles Davis Award.
Abigail Narkie Teye
Abigail Narkie Teye is a percussionist, instrumentalist and dancer from Ghana. She plays the Agbadja, Kpanlogo, Fontomfrom, Obonu and Gome drums. Since 2010, she has taught drumming and dancing in schools and churches throughout her native country. She was awarded best female instrumentalist in 2015 at the Festival des meilleurs instrumentistes d’Afrique in Benin.
Fernando Trocado Maurity
Fernando Trocado is a saxophonist who is a favorite on the Brazilian jazz scene. He began studying saxophone under the tutelage of Brazilian educator Jose Freitas. He received an undergraduate degree in conduction and flute and a masters degree in Historic Musicology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He has performed and recorded with an extensive list of artists including Celso Fonesca, Sidney Mattos, Baixada Jazz Big Band, Orquestra Sinfonica do Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro and Alexandre Carvalho among others. He has also performed for theater productions such as “Opera do Malandro,” “Three Penny Opera” and “O Cavalinho Azul.”
For more than a decade, Ben Williams has steadily become one of the most acclaimed and versatile bassists in modern jazz. In 2009, he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition which helped to launch his career and gave him the opportunity to record for the Concord label. He has performed and recorded with such giants as Pat Metheny, George Benson, Stefon Harris, David Sanborn, Lauryn Hill, Wynton Marsalis, Robert Glasper, Maxwell, and Nicholas Payton. Williams has received the DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll Rising Star Award for Bass on two occasions. He recorded and released his critically acclaimed debut album State of Art and his follow-up Coming of Age with his band, Sound Effect. His latest release is I AM A MAN, features Williams reaching beyond his jazz roots to incorporate elements of R&B and hip-hop into his politically-themed compositions.