Marcus Miller, winner of two Grammy® Awards, the 2013 Edison Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz (Holland), the 2010 Victoire du Jazz (France) and appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2013, is not only an exceptional musician— a multi-instrumentalist and world-renowned bassist— but also a highly gifted composer and producer. The legendary album Tutu, written and produced for Miles Davis, sealed his international fame when Marcus was only 25. Over the course of his career, has collaborated with artists as varied and talented as Eric Clapton, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Wayne Shorter, Lalah Hathaway and Herbie Hancock. He also has produced his own genre-defying albums, among them The Sun Don’t Lie, Tales, M2, Silver Rain, Free, A Night in Monte Carlo (with the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra), and Renaissance. Along with international tours, Marcus Miller hosts a weekly program on SiriusXM radio show, “Miller Time.”
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist with a knack for mellow, harmonically complex compositions that also reveal a subtle hip-hop influence. The pianist released his debut album, Mood, on Fresh Sound New Talent in 2004. Canvas and In My Element followed in 2005 and 2007, respectively, on Blue Note Records.
In 2009, Glasper released the forward-thinking album Double Booked, which featured a mix of modal post-bop and funky, ’80s Herbie Hancock-inspired numbers with two separate bands. The first of these was his trio with drummer Chris Dave and upright bassist Vicente Archer; they recorded five originals and a cover of Thelonious Monk’s “Think of One.” These tracks were followed by five more originals by his electric band, dubbed the Robert Glasper Experiment, featuring Dave, electric bassist Derrick Hodge, and Casey Benjamin on saxes and vocoder. In 2012, the Robert Glasper Experiment (with a slew of all-star guest vocalists) issued their first stand-alone album, Black Radio, for Blue Note, which sought to blur boundaries between jazz, hip-hop, R&B, and rock & roll; it entered the Billboard jazz charts at number one.
Interview magazine says, “Robert Glasper’s energy is infectious… Intelligent, creative, and incredibly impassioned, the pianist is the ideal flag-bearer for the new jazz era.”
One of the most significant and sought-after producers in contemporary music, Don Was has won multiple GRAMMY® Awards and numerous other accolades for his work with a diverse array of artists, including The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison & Kurt Elling. A native of Detroit,
Was first came to prominence as a founding member, songwriter and bassist of the influential multi-genre band Was (Not Was) and scored commercial success in the 1980s with songs like “Walk the Dinosaur” and “Spy in the House of Love.” He has also served as music director for major motion pictures such as Thelma and Louise and Toy Story, and won an Emmy in 2014 for outstanding musical direction. As President of Blue Note Records since 2012, Was is both the company’s leader and ambassador for its music, presenting the label’s artists to worldwide audiences and building upon the label’s singular 77-year legacy of great recordings.
Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz. By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, tap dance to ballet, Wynton has expanded the vocabulary for jazz and created a vital body of work that places him among the world’s nest musicians and composers. To date Wynton has produced over 70 records which have sold over seven million copies worldwide including three Gold Records.
Born in New Orleans, age 17 Wynton became the youngest musician ever to be admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center. In 1980 Wynton seized the opportunity to join the Jazz Messengers to study under master drummer and bandleader Art Blakey, where he acquired his concept for bandleading and for bringing intensity to each and every performance. Wynton assembled his own band in 1981 and hit the road, performing over 120 concerts every year for 15 consecutive years. With the power of his superior musicianship, the infectious sound of his swinging bands and an exhaustive series of performances and music workshops, Marsalis rekindled widespread interest in jazz throughout the world. Students of Marsalis’ workshops include: James Carter, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Harry Connick Jr., Nicholas Payton, Eric Reed and Eric Lewis, to name a few.
In 1987 Marsalis co-founded, and became Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center and Music Director for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. In July 1996, due to its signi cant success, Jazz at Lincoln Center was installed as new constituent of Lincoln Center, equal in stature with the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, and New York City Ballet – a historic moment for jazz as an art form and for Lincoln Center as a cultural institution. Under Wynton’s leadership, Jazz at Lincoln Center has developed an international agenda presenting rich and diverse programming that includes concerts, debates, lm forums, dances, television and radio broadcasts, and educational activities.
Cécile McLorin Salvant was born and raised in Miami, Florida of a French mother and a Haitian father. She started classical piano studies at 5, and began singing in the Miami Choral Society at 8. In 2007, Cécile moved to Aix-en-Provence, France, to study law as well as classical and baroque voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory. It was in Aix-en-Provence, with reedist and teacher Jean-François Bonnel, that she started learning about jazz, and sang with her first band. In 2009, after a series of concerts in Paris, she recorded her first album “Cécile”, with Jean-François Bonnel’s Paris Quintet. A year later, she won the Thelonious Monk competition in Washington D.C.
Over the years, she has developed a curiosity for the history of American music, and the connections between jazz, vaudeville, blues, and folk music. Cécile carefully chooses her repertoire, oftentimes unearthing rarely recorded, forgotten songs, with strong stories.She enjoys popularity in Europe and in the United States, performing in clubs, concert halls, and festivals. In 2014, her second album, WomanChild, was nominated for a Grammy.
Her third album, For One To Love, won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Her fourth album, Dreams and Daggers, was nominated for the 60th Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
GRAMMY winner Kurt Elling is among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. He won the DownBeat Critics Poll for fourteen consecutive years and was named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association on eight occasions. An international jazz award winner, he has also been GRAMMY nominated a dozen times. Elling’s rich baritone spans four octaves and features both astonishing technical mastery and emotional depth. His repertoire includes original compositions and modern interpretations of standards, all of which are springboards for inspired improvisation, scatting, spoken word and poetry. The New York Times declared, “Elling is the standout male vocalist of our time.” The Washington Post added, “Since the mid-1990s, no singer in jazz has been as daring, dynamic or interesting as Kurt Elling. With his soaring vocal flights, his edgy lyrics and sense of being on a musical mission, he has come to embody the creative spirit in jazz.”
Elling is a renowned artist of vocalese – the writing and performing of words over recorded improvised jazz solos. The natural heir to jazz pioneers Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure and Jon Hendricks, Elling has set his own lyrics to the improvised solos of Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. Said Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States, “In Kurt Elling’s art, the voice of jazz gives a new spiritual presence to the ancient, sweet and powerful bond between poetry and music.” Kurt Elling has toured vigorously throughout his career, thrilling audiences throughout the world. In that time he has led his own ensemble and has collaborated with many of the world’s finest orchestras.
In his three-and-a-half decade career, David Sanborn has released 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards, and has had eight Gold albums and one Platinum album. Having inspired countless other musicians, Dave has worked in many genres which typically blend instrumental pop, R&B and lately, more and more traditional jazz. Having contracted polio at the age of three, Dave was introduced to the saxophone as part of his treatment therapy. By the age of 14, he was able to play with legends such as Albert King and Little Milton, later playing with The Rolling Stones and touring with David Bowie with whom he recorded the famous solo heard on “Young Americans”. At the same time, Dave was touring and recording with the great Gil Evans. Dave’s solo release of Taking Off in 1975—still considered a classic—further solidified his career. Later albums have included guest artists such as Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Charlie Hayden, Wallace Roney, Luther Vandross, Kenny Barron, Christian McBride, and Eric Clapton.Dave hosted the television show, Night Music from 1988 to 1990.
Christian Scott, also known as Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, is a two-time Edison Award winning (2010 and 2012) and Grammy Award nominated trumpeter, composer, producer and music executive. Christian’s Grammy nominated international recording debut, Rewind That was called “arguably the most remarkable premiere the genre has seen in the last decade” by Billboard Magazine. Christian, is a scion of New Orleans’ first family of art and culture, nephew of saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. and the grandson of the legendary Big Chief, Donald Harrison Sr., the only man to be Chief of four Black Indian tribes of New Orleans.
Since 2002 Christian has released seven critically acclaimed studio recordings and two live albums. He has been heralded by JazzTimes magazine as “the Architect of a new commercially viable fusion” and “Jazz’s young style God.” Christian is known for developing the harmonic convention known as the “forecasting cell” and for his use of an un-voiced tone in his playing, emphasizing breath over vibration at the mouthpiece, widely referred to as his “whisper technique.” Christian is also widely recognized as one of the progenitors of “Stretch Music,” a jazz rooted, genre blind musical form that attempts to “stretch” jazz’s rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions to encompass as many other musical forms, languages and cultures as possible.
Christian is also dedicated to a number of causes that positively impact communities. He gives his time and talents to a number of organizations which garnered him a place in Ebony Magazine’s 30 Young Leaders Under 30.
New Orleans-born and-based Terence Blanchard has traveled many paths musically, including delivering adventurous and provocative acoustic jazz outings of original material, composing over 50 soundtracks and even, in 2013, debuting Champion: An Opera in Jazz. As a leader and co-leader (significantly four albums early in his career with fellow Crescent City artist, saxophonist Donald Harrison), Blanchard has recorded more than 30 albums that often defied genres, yet were still critically acclaimed. On his latest Blue Note Records album, Breathless, Blanchard powerfully and playfully journeys into another jazz realm with his new quintet, The E-Collective—an exciting zone of grooved fusion teeming with funk, R&B and blues colors.
Since his formidable emergence on the music scene in the late 90s, jazz pianist Jason Moran has proven more than his brilliance as a performer. The Blue Note Records recording artist has established himself as a risk-taker and innovator of new directions for jazz as a whole.
In almost every category that matters – improvisation, composition, group concept, repertoire, technique and experimentation – Moran, and his group The Bandwagon – with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits – have challenged the status quo, and earned the reputation as “the future of jazz.”
Moran’s debut recording as a leader, Soundtrack to Human Motion, was released in 1999 to great critical praise. The following year, Facing Left, established The Bandwagon trio with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, and prompted JazzTimes Magazine to declare the album “an instant classic.” Moran augmented the trio for his third Blue Note release, Black Stars, adding avant-garde icon Sam Rivers, who plays saxophone, flute and piano on the recording.
In 2005, his blues homage, Same Mother was released. This same year he received the first ever Playboy Jazz Artist of the Year award. Artist in Residence debuted in 2006 and showcased Moran’s signature brilliance with ambitious undertakings. In the span of one year, Moran accepted and recorded three separate commissions from three pre-eminent and very diverse American arts institutions: The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Dia Art Foundation, and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
In 2007, Moran was commissioned to create IN MY MIND: Monk at Town Hall, 1959, the critically-acclaimed multi-media performance investigating Thelonious Monk’s famous recording, Monk at Town Hall. This personal experience has been transformed into a feature documentary entitled IN MY MIND by director Gary Hawkins.
His ongoing visionary collaborations in the art world have brought him additional fans and respect. Moran’s music is in the collections of both the MOMA and Whitney Museum of American Art.
Often referred to as a jazz singer for the hip-hop generation, New York City-based vocalist José James combines jazz, soul, drum’n’bass, and spoken word into his own unique brand of vocal jazz. While he states his main influences as John Coltrane, Marvin Gaye, and Billie Holiday, his sound on early 12″ singles and in live performances brought to mind such icons of ’70s jazz-soul as Terry Callier, and his music felt more like an update of the fluid crossover approach of Gil Scott-Heron, while also being distinctly his own.
His full-length debut album, Dreamer, in 2008 earned him accolades worldwide for its blend of jazz, electronic, soul, and pop styles. It placed at number 21 in Jazz Times’ Top 50 for the year. Consequently, James played on prestigious stages all over the world. James made numerous guest appearances on recordings by the Junior Mance Trio, Jazzanova, Nicola Conte, Basement Jaxx, and Chico Hamilton, to name a few.
He followed Dreamer with Blackmagic in 2010, and also For All We Know, a collection of standards performed in duet with Belgian pianist Jef Neve. He signed to Blue Note Records in 2012, and his fourth album, No Beginning, No End, was released the following year.
James began composing while on the road. New songs reflected a renewed interest in artists he listened to growing up (Nirvana, Radiohead) as well as newer ones who made an impression (Frank Ocean, James Blake). As a result, he cut While You Were Sleeping, a collection that reflected rock alongside R&B and jazz, in 2014.
In commemoration of Billie Holiday’s 100th birthday, the singer he claimed — from the very beginning of his career — as his “musical mother,” James fronted a band that included pianist Jason Moran, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Eric Harland and recorded Yesterday I Had the Blues in 2015, produced by Blue Note label-head Don Was. James was reborn as a powerful voice in contemporary R&B on his latest album, Love in a Time of Madness
Having toured the world over and collaborated with some of the biggest names in music (think Prince, Van Morrison, Lionel Richie and Beyonce), Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer brings her worldly musical perspective to The Smooth Jazz Cruise. With solo album sales exceeding the 2.5 million mark, the staple on the large festival circuit performs for sold-out crowds throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Russia, the Baltic states and South America. Candy Dulfer’s hit, “Finsbury Park, Café 67,” ranked the most popular smooth jazz number on U.S. radio for a period in 2003, and the 1990 solo debut album she recorded at just 19, Saxuality, sold more than a million copies worldwide and earned a Grammy® nod.
Every so often a new singer emerges who’s able to assimilate multiple musical touchstones and still come off sounding remarkably fresh and unburdened by the past. Kandace Springs is one of those artists. The 27-year-old, Nashville-based singer, songwriter and pianist counts such stylists as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack and Norah Jones as her heroes, but as evidenced by her sparkling full-length Blue Note Records debut, Soul Eyes,Springs mimics none of them. Instead Springs allows her comely alto to become a conduit that touches upon soul, jazz and pop while transforming those aforementioned influences into a personalized sound that reveals itself effortlessly. “The artists who have inspired me the most all sang so naturally,” Springs says. “That helped me find my own sound.”
An early demo Springs recorded caught the ears of Rogers and Sturken, who have written hits for the likes of Shakira, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson, and are best known for discovering and signing Rihanna as a teenager. Rogers flew down to Nashville with an offer to sign Springs to their production company SRP. Still only 17 years old at the time, she and her family decided that it wasn’t the right time to pursue a recording career, instead taking a job at a downtown Nashville hotel where she valet parked cars by day and sang and played piano in the lounge at night.
A few years later, Springs moved to New York and started working seriously on new songs and demo recordings. She eventually landed an audition with Blue Note President Don Was at the Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles, winning him over with a stunning performance of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (the original of which he had coincidentally produced). “That song is so soulful. When I first heard that song, it almost moved me to tears,” Springs says. “I wrote my own arrangement for it a few years before I played it for him.”
Now as Springs continues to develop as singer and songwriter in her own right, she’ll surely win over many other hearts. “I would like to be known as one of the younger people that are keeping jazz and soul alive and vibrant, “she says. “I love the realness of jazz and soul.”
Eric Marienthal has won 2 Grammy Awards and has been nominated 7 times as a member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. Having performed in over 75 countries and played on hundreds of CD’s films and TV shows, Eric has also recorded 14 solo CD’s including his latest entitled “Bridges” with guitarist Chuck Loeb. Eric’s CD’s have produced several top 10 radio singles including three #1’s. Eric is the recipient of the Berklee College Of Music Distinguished Alumnus Award for outstanding achievements in contemporary music. Eric was also named one of the top 3 alto saxophonists in Jazziz Magazine’s Reader’s Poll along with Phil Woods and David Sanborn. For the past 19 years Eric has organized an annual charity concert for the High Hopes Head Injury Program in Tustin, CA. These concerts have raised awareness for this great organization and have raised over 1.5 million dollars.
Musical ambassador and interpreter of “America’s” music, Wycliffe Gordon is one of the world’s most renown and award-winning jazz trombonists touring today. His signature sound and mastery of the plunger mute have helped solidify his impressive musical career. Wycliffe tours as a soloist and with his quintet “Wycliffe Gordon & His International All-Stars,” headlining at legendary jazz venues and performing arts centers worldwide. In addition, Wycliffe has recorded or been featured on over 300 recordings, has composed and arranged hundred’s of compositions including the theme song for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and is a very passionate most sought-after educator.
Wycliffe has sailed, at various times, on every one of the jazz cruise programs and virtually 100% of the sailings of The Jazz Cruise. He has performed in every configuration imaginable and is the guardian of the jazz cruise Gospel Hour. Jazz Journalists Association named him “Trombonist of the Year” for the 10th time in 2017, and Downbeat Critics Poll named Wycliffe “Best Trombone” for four years, (2016, 2014, 2013 & 2012). Wycliffe received the International Trombone Association Award in 2017, which recognizes the highest level of creative and artistic achievement.
Ben Williams is one of the youngest and brightest musicians on the scene today who is helping to push the legacy of jazz forward through the reflection of his
own distinct sound and flavor of hip hop, gospel, and rhythm & blues. He is highly recognized as a national and international acclaimed bassist, bandleader, performer, music educator, and composer, having performed with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Chaka Kahn, Dee Bridgewater, Terrence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Benny Golson, Stefon Harris and from an endless list of others.
Williams, a Washington, DC native, graduated from The Duke Ellington High School of the Arts (a DC Public School); received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Michigan State University; and his Master’s Degree in Music with emphasis in Jazz Studies from The Juilliard School in New York City.
Williams became a “Rising Star” when he won the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition Award. Thereafter, he recorded his debut album, State of Art, in 2011 with his band, Sound Effect. The Album received an impressive 4.5 Star Review in DownBeat Magazine and reached #1 on the charts of Itunes and the National BillBoard. Williams won his first Grammy Award with the Pat Metheny Unity Band for Best Jazz Instrumental Album of 2012. In 2013 and 2015 he received the DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll Rising Star Award for Bass. In 2015 he released his sophomore album, “Coming of Age.”
The Berklee educated, innovative drummer Billy Kilson may have started out playing the trumpet and trombone, but playing the drums was certainly his calling. While in Boston Alan Dawson became his teacher and mentor. Billy absorbed everything Alan taught.
This diversified performer has toured, received Grammy awards as well as several nominations for his work with such famed musicians as Dave Holland, George Duke, Dianne Reeves, Hank Jones, Larry Carlton, Bob James and Chris Botti.
Billy has three recordings of his own and soon to record his fourth. His band projects are a summation of his collective musical experiences which illustrates his diverse background. Although he has achieved notable success as a sideman in concert and on recordings, Billy’s greatest passion is sharing his musical experiences in clinics and teaching the art of drumming globally.
Though her career has taken her well beyond the jazz circuit, Niki Haris’s roots are here. The daughter of Grammy®-nominated jazz pianist Gene Harris, Niki and her father released two albums and a live CD before his death in 2000. Carrying on his legacy in jazz, she’s released solo albums, toured Europe with her jazz quartet, and starred in the touring production of “Billie & Me,” a celebration of the life of Billie Holiday. In addition to 18 years of recording and touring with Madonna, Niki has lent her voice to projects of Ray Charles, David Sanborn, Patrice Rushen, Michael Sembello, Leann Rimes, Michelle Branch, Santana, Kylie Minogue, Luther Vandross, All Saints, Wilton Felder of the Jazz Crusaders, Stanley Turrentine, the Righteous Brothers, Julian Lennon, Anita Baker, Mick Jagger and Whitney Houston. She’s also been featured in the soundtracks of “Corrina Corrina,” “The Big Green,” “Coyote Ugly” and Disney’s “Anastasia.” Meanwhile, she’s pursued other artistic passions with great success as well, including staging scenes for Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct,” choreographing for the television series “Melrose Place,” and appeared with in Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in “Heat.”
Pianist Aaron Parks released his Blue Note debut “Invisible Cinema” at the age of 25 following three Blue Note releases with trumpeter Terence Blanchard. The BBC declared it “one of the great albums of 2008.” JazzTimes hailed him as “a new visionary.” The San Jose Mercury News named his “Alive in Japan” release as their 2013 Top Jazz Album of the year. He has released two albums on ECM including a solo piano recording and a trio record featuring Billy Hart and Ben Street. Parks has performed and recorded with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dhafer Youssef, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ambrose Akinmusire, Gretchen Parlato, Kendrick Scott, and Marcus Miller among others. He is also a founding member of James Farm with Joshua Redman, Matt Penman and Eric Harland. His latest project “Aaron Parks & Little Big” will debut in 2018.
Derrick Hodge is a Grammy Award-winning American bassist, composer, record producer, and musical director. Known as a hybrid bassist as well as a solo artist, Derrick has performed and recorded with various artists including Terence Blanchard, Terell Stafford, Clark Terry, Common, Maxwell, Kanye West, Jill Scott, Mos Def, The Robert Glasper Experiment and many others. Hodge also won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album in 2013 with the Robert Glasper Experiment for the 2012 Blue Note Records release Black Radio, and won again in 2014 with the follow up release in 2013 of Black Radio 2. Derrick was a contributing composer for the original musical score of When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, an HBO documentary produced by Spike Lee, as well as choral arranger for the ending credits of “Miracle At St. Anna” also directed by Lee.
Born and, raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Logan Richardson was mentored by some of the finest figures in the history of improvised music, including Jay McShann, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, and Queen Bey. At 19 years old he moved to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music, and after one year Logan left Boston for New York to complete his studies at The New School University on a full scholarship. At the age 21 Logan began performing, touring, and recording p with masters such as Joe Chambers, Butch Morris, Stefon Harris, Ambrose Akinmusire, Greg Tardy, Nasheet Waits, Michelle Rosewoman, Billy Hart, and Jason Moran.
In 2006 Logan released his debut album, Cerebral Flow, and in 2009 he followed up with his sophomore album, Ethos. In 2011 he moved to Paris, where he has continued to build widespread international acclaim for his angular, shape-painting approach to playing the alto saxophone. In 2012 Logan released the project NEXT Collective. in addition to being the alto voice in this formation, Logan was also an arranger, and co-producer for the project. Logan recorded his highly anticipated third album, SHIFT, with an elegantly matched band of artists and innovators, including 20-time Grammy winning guitarist, Pat Metheny; MacArthur genius grant recipient and Artistic Director of Jazz at Kennedy Center, pianist Jason Moran; and the great drummer (and son of master Freddie Waits) Nasheet Waits. Logan has recently recorded his fourth album as a band leader entitled “Blues People“.
With his highly regarded discography, unique compositions, and acclaimed performances in a variety of configurations, pianist Geoffrey Keezer commands the attention typically reserved for the living legends of jazz. Whether recording with jazzy chanteuses Diana Krall or Dianne Reeves, touring with trumpet king Chris Botti, or collaborating with pop icon Sting, sax legend Wayne Shorter, guitar wizard Jim Hall, star bassist Christian McBride or vibes master Joe Locke, Geoffrey “has more than enough virtuosity and sheer musical wit and intelligence to weave all of his apparently disparate strands of influence into an original and compelling whole” (Time Magazine). Perhaps the most exciting turn in Geoffrey’s career is his recent focus on solo piano and his first solo release in thirteen years, Heart of the Piano (2013, Motema Records). On a mission to redefine solo jazz piano as a personal and interactive showcase of melody, energy and groove, Keezer brings to Heart of the Piano his most direct and focused artistry to date.
But regardless of the nature of his projects, from solo to duo to quartet, from bandleader to big band, from post bop jazz to electronica to global fusion, from composer to arranger, Geoffrey delivers music from the heart of the piano to the ear–and heart–of the listener.
Damion Reid is from West Covina, California, the son of well-respected bassist and astute operatic singer and teacher. By the age of three, Damion was already playing in church and by around twelve Damion began being mentored by the world-renowned drummer Billy Higgins. As he began to mature musically he found himself frequenting Billy’s club “The World Stage,” learning and playing with the likes of Billy Childs, George Bohanon and Oscar Brashear.
Damion moved to the Boston, Massachusetts New England Conservatory of Music, received the prestigious Alan Dawson scholarship and was then was accepted into the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California, finding himself trekking to New York City to attend The New School. He has performed and toured alongside Greg Osby, Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Jacky Terrasson, Ravi Coltrane, Reggie Workman, Marcus Belgrave, Lauryn Hill, Robert Hurst, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jason Moran, Mark Shim, Mark Turner, Chihiro Yamanaka, Steve Coleman, Bunky Green and many others.
Born and raised in Woodstock, NY, Vicente Archer has been hailed as one of the most sought-out bassists of his generation. At the age of twenty, while still in college in Boston, he was picked up by acclaimed artists Donald Harrison and Eric Reed to tour. Soon after that he went on to work with artists such as Terence Blanchard, Kenny Garrett, Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Jordan, Stefon Harris and many more. Vicente currently tours with Blue Note recording artists Amos Lee and Robert Glasper, as well as the Grammy Award winning artist Nicholas Payton.
Recently nominated for a Grammy for his work on Terence Blanchard’s “Breathless”, pianist and composer Fabian Almazan found his musical roots as a child in Havana. After migrating to Miami he studied at the New World School of the Arts High School. In 2002 Fabian was selected for the piano chair in the National 2002 Grammy High School Jazz Combo. The following year he attended the newly up and running Brubeck Institute fellowship program, where he studied with Mark Levine and performed with Dave Brubeck and Christian McBride. In 2003, Fabian moved to New York City to study with Kenny Barron at the Manhattan School of Music. In the spring of 2009 he received a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, selected as a recipient of the Michael W. Greene Scholarship, studying privately with Jason Moran. Fabian has written several film scores and can be heard on several Spike Lee films as well as George Lucas’s Red Tails among other films.
Mr. Almazan was voted #1 Rising Piano Star on the Downbeat Magazine Critics 2014 Poll and was granted the Chamber Music America 2014 NEW Jazz Works commission. Almazan was also selected as one of six composers to participate in the Sundance Composers’ Lab where he studied with such acclaimed film composers as Harry Gregson-Williams, Alan Silvestri, and George S. Clinton. His solo albums, Personalities and Rhizome have garnered nationwide critical acclaim. Since 2007 Fabian has been the pianist for Terence Blanchard’s various bands, including the E-Collective which was nominated for a GRAMMY in 2016.
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. Justin has played for Jessie J, Estelle, Mos Def, Tyrese, Cubic Zirconia, Sirah, Ryan Leslie and is currently the drummer for Esperanza Spalding and Now vs Now.
Saxophonist & Composer Alex Han, has been recognized as one of the most promising musicians of his generation. He identifies as more than just a jazz musician – while giving a nod to the jazz tradition, his music is deeply inspired by many genres with the goal of bringing contemporary instrumental music to broader audiences. His refreshing style & passion are what he uses to bring his vision of where music can go into reality.
By age 12, Han was one of two national recipients of the VSA arts, Young Soloists Award. Around the same time, he was invited by Grammy Award Winning saxophonist, Paquito D’Rivera, to sit-in with him at a Jazz at Lincoln Center performance. A year later, young Han was asked to perform at the 2001 Festival Internacional de Jazz de Lapataia in Uruguay. There, he cut his teeth alongside such many Jazz Masters including Joe Lovano, Kenny Baron and Antonio Sanchez.
By age 17, Han won the 17th Annual Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition for saxophone and was selected for alto chairs on the 2005 Monterey Jazz Festival Next Generation Orchestra and the 2006 Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble. A few months later, he won a 2006 ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award. At 18, he was awarded the Berklee College of Music Presidential Scholarship.
By age 20, Han embarked upon a European tour as saxophonist for two-time, GRAMMY award winning musician, producer and composer, Marcus Miller. Today, Han still works with Marcus Miller and in June 2017 released his debut album entitled “Spirit”, produced by Miller. A true labor of determination, “Spirit” stands out as a remarkable exhibition of Han’s abilities not only as a performer but additionally as a composer, having written 7 out of the 10 compositions on the album.
Nasheet Waits’ interest in playing the drums was encouraged by his father, legendary percussionist, Frederick Waits, who over the course of his career played with such legendary artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, McCoy Tyner, and countless others. While attending Long Island University, Waits studied privately with renowned percussionist Michael Carvin, whose tutelage provided a vast foundation upon which Waits added influences from his father, as well as mentor Max Roach. It was Max that first gave Nasheet’s formidable talent international spotlight, hiring him as a member of the famed percussion ensemble M’BOOM. Nasheet’s talent came to the attention of reedman Antonio Hart, who asked Waits to originate the percussion chair of his first quintet. Waits remained a standing member of Antonio’s various ensembles through 1998, recording three albums and touring nationally and internationally in noted venues, jazz festivals, as well as live television and radio performances.
Most recently Nasheet has been a member of Andrew Hill’s various bands, Jason Moran’s Bandwagon, and Fred Hersch’s trio. As an originating member of pianist Jason Moran’s Bandwagon, Jason, bassist Tarus Mateen and Nasheet have been deemed, “the most exciting rhythm section in jazz” by JazzTimes. The 2001 recording “Black Stars” with Bandwagon, featuring Sam Rivers, was named the “Best CD of 2001” by Jazz Times, and The New York Times. Nasheet’s recording and performing discography is a veritable who’s who in Jazz, boasting stints with jazz notables such as Geri Allen, Mario Bauza, Abraham Burton, Ron Carter, Orrin Evans, Andrew Hill, Bill Lee, Joe Lovano, Mingus Orchestra, The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Joshua Redman, Vanessa Rubin, and Mark Turner among many others. True to his personal philosophy of the necessity to balance Tradition and Modernism, Waits collaborates and performs regularly with musical cohorts, contemporaries, and masters. Nasheet is dedicated to exploring his role and creative path in music.
Lawrence Fields, born and bred in St. Louis, has earned a spot at the forefront of young jazz pianists, thanks to his blending of vintage ideals with a contemporary mindset. Veteran saxophone icon Joe Lovano – with his unerring ear for youthful talent – has become one of the pianist’s biggest fans. Fields is a member of several bands led or co-led by Lovano: his Classic Quartet (originally featuring Lewis Nash and George Mraz in the rhythm section); the Sax Supreme Quartet (with Chris Potter); and his Sound Prints quintet with trumpeter Dave Douglas. A modern-minded bandleader from the younger generation also relies on Fields, as he mans the piano and keyboards for the Christian Scott Group. Referencing his role on acoustic and electric pianos in the trumpeter’s band, NextBop said: “Fields remains a constant lyrical presence on the keys – innovative, expressive, supportive, able to soar like a bird in his solos. He never fails to impress.”
On record, Fields has excelled for Scott on several albums, including the Centennial Trio (2017), Stretch Music (2015) and Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah (2012). With Lovano and Douglas, the pianist features on Sound Prints: Live at Monterey Jazz Festival (2015). He also appears on the album Marsalis Music Honors Alvin Batiste with Branford Marsalis (2007), as well as on drummer Terri Lyne Carrington’s More to Say (a 2009 disc for which he served not only pianist but also as composer-producer). Fields has appeared with star bassist Christian McBride, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and bassist Robert Hurst, among others.
Luques Curtis was born 1983 in Hartford, CT. After having formal training on piano and percussion, he found himself wanting to play the bass. Luques studied at the Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Arts, Artist Collective, and Guakia with Dave Santoro, Volcan Orham, Nat Reeves, Paul Brown, and others. While attending high school, he studied the Afro-Caribbean genre with bass greats Andy Gonzalez and Joe Santiago. He earned a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston, where he studied with John Lockwood and Ron Mahdi and was able to work with great musicians such as Gary Burton, Ralph Peterson, Donald Harrison, Christian Scott, and Francisco Mela.
Now living in the New York area, Mr. Curtis has been performing worldwide with Eddie Palmieri, Brian Lynch, Ralph Peterson, Christian Scott, Sean Jones, Orrin Evans, Albert Rivera, and others. He is the recent recipient of the 2016 DownBeat Rising Star Bassist on the Critics Poll. He also co-owns a record label called Truth Revolution Records. Along side his brother, they have four releases under “Curtis Brothers”, the most recent being “Syzygy“. Luques was also part of Brian Lynch’s Grammy winning CD “Simpatico” and his Grammy nominated “Madera Latino” as well as Christian Scott’s Grammy nominated CD “Rewind That”. He also produced Grammy nominated “Entre Colegas” by Andy Gonzalez. You can hear him on Eddie Palmieri’s “Sabiduria”; Gary Burton “Next Generations”; Dave Valentin “Come Fly With Me”; Sean Jones “Roots”,”Kaleidoscope”,and “The Search Within”; Albert Rivera’s CD “Re-Introduction”; Etienne Charles’ CD “Folklore”; Orrin Evans’ CD “Faith In Action”. As a sideman, Luques Curtis has participated in over 75 recordings.
Season 3 winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Alonzo Bodden keeps the boat rolling—in laughter, rest assured—as comedian-in-residence for The Smooth Jazz Cruise. With a resumé that includes numerous appearances on the late-night circuit (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien Show, The Late Show with Craig Kilborn, The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show, and Comedy Central among others), television hosting gigs, voice-over roles and film credits, Alonzo entertains an audience masterfully. His talent has earned him international acclaim and presented the New York native with opportunities to perform in Canada, Ireland, Australia and the U.K., along with stops in Iraq and other places around the world where U.S. troops are stationed.