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, in 2004; Canvas and In My Element followed in 2005 and 2007, respectively. 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 thesewas his trio with Chris Dave and Vicente Archer. These were followed by five more originals by his electric band, dubbed the Robert Glasper Experiment, featuringDave, Derrick Hodge, and Casey Benjamin. In 2012, the Robert Glasper Experiment (with a slew of all-star guest vocalists) issued their first stand-alone album, BlackRadio, 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.
Since the release of his 2004 critically acclaimed CD “When I Fall In Love,” Chris Botti has become the largest-selling American instrumental artist. His success has crossed over to audiences usually reserved for pop music and his ongoing association with PBS has led to four #1 jazz albums, as well as multiple Gold, Platinum and Grammy Awards.
His latest album, “Impressions,” won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Performing worldwide and selling more than 4 million albums, Chris Botti has thoroughly established himself as one of the important, innovative figures of the contemporary music world. He has found a form of creative expression that begins in jazz and expands beyond the limits of any single genre.
Over the past three decades, Botti has recorded and performed with the best in music, including Sting, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Bublé, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, John Mayer, Andrea Bocelli, Joshua Bell, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and even Frank Sinatra. The trumpeter has also performed with many of the finest symphonies and at some of the world’s most prestigious venues from Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House and the Real Teatro di San Carlo in Italy.
It’s not simply his abundant virtuosity that has made Christian McBride one of the most in-demand bassists of his generation. McBride consistently combines his deft musicianship with an innate ability to communicate his enthusiasm to an audience—a warm showmanship that transforms his own passion into infectious joy. It comes across whether he’s leading his own bands; sharing the stage with jazz legends like Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock or Pat Metheny; accompanying pop giants like James Brown, Sting or The Roots; or collaborating with classical masters like Kathleen Battle, Edgar Meyer or the Shanghai Quartet. Any time that McBride steps into the studio or onto a stage he plays what could be called “people music,” but it’s a particularly apt title for the second release by his hard-swinging acoustic quintet Inside Straight. “‘People Music’ is my personal mantra as a musician,” McBride says of the title. McBride bemoans the unwritten contention that somehow swinging and imagination are mutually exclusive. “I find this band very imaginative and very swinging. I like coming off the stage having broken a sweat.”
Born into a musical family, Sheila Escovedo (Sheila E.) has been driven by an inner rhythm her entire life. As a young girl, she was immersed in the diverse music scenes of the Bay Area—influenced and inspired by her percussionist father Pete Escovedo and godfather Tito Puente. At the age of 5, Sheila gave her first public performance for an audience of 3,000, appearing alongside her dad. It was while on that stage playing a drum solo that Sheila first realized she was going to be a percussionist. Five decades later, and the beat that has always driven her is showing no signs of slowing down.
Starting out, Sheila E. owned the stage as a drummer and percussionist. But her career took an exciting turn when she met Prince backstage after a gig. The singer-songwriter revealed he had been following her career for some time, and the two quickly became friends. Their friendship eventually led to Sheila E. lending her vocals on Prince’s song “Erotic City”—a move that prompted her to launch her own solo singing career. Her album The Glamorous Life Debut album spun off the Grammy Award-nominated top 10 hit of the same name, plus a second top 40 single “The Belle of St. Mark.” During her ‘80s tenure as drummer, songwriter and musical director for Prince’s backup band, Sheila E. released three more solo albums and scored two more classic hits with “A Love Bizarre” and “Hold Me.” Having been influenced by so many different genres of music over the years, from Latin, to jazz, to R&B, Sheila pours her heart and soul into every song. Her fierce, dynamic verve onstage has made her a major concert draw since the ‘90s.
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.
Heralded by Quincy Jones as the “baddest vocal cats on the planet,” Take 6 is the quintessential a cappella group and model for vocal genius. Six virtuosic voices united in crystal clear harmony, against a backdrop of syncopated rhythms, innovative arrangements and funky grooves that bubble into an intoxicating brew of gospel, jazz, R&B, and pop.
Winners of 10 Grammy Awards, the multi-platinum selling sextet has toured the globe, collaborated across genres and is recognized as the pre-eminent a cappella group in the world. Take 6 knows no musical bounds, having captivated audiences with a tribute to folk icon Woody Guthrie and renditions of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” and legendary singer-songwriter Ben E. King’s classic “Stand By Me.”
Take 6 has come a long way from their days at Huntsville, Alabama’s Oakwood College where McKnight formed the group as The Gentleman’s Estate Quartet in 1980. The group eventually became known as Alliance but when they signed to Reprise Records in 1987 they found that there was another group with the same name, so they became Take 6. Their self-titled debut CD won over jazz and pop critics and they’ve never slowed down.
What makes the music and the group last this long? The answers are direct and simple: faith, friendship, respect, and love of music. From their exceptional Christmas Show, to their innovative Symphony shows, these qualities are at the heart of the Take 6 phenomenon.
During an iconic career spanning over 25 years, Keb’ Mo’ has earned 11 Grammy nominations and won four Grammys for the best Contemporary Blues Albums in 1997, 1999, 2005 and 2018.
His most recent album is his first-ever holiday album, “Moonlight, Mistletoe & You.” The 10-track album, produced by Keb’ himself, celebrates the holidays with a collection of unique and soulful songs that showcase his skills as a songwriter and world-class guitarist. His music is always authentic, optimistic, eclectic and diverse in styles and sounds.
Born in Compton, California, Keb’ Mo’ came into prominence writing songs for artists such as Jefferson Airplane. His solo career took off in 1994 when he released his self-titled debut, which reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Blues Albums chart. Keb’ Mo’ won his first Grammy Award for his second album, “Just Like You.” Release in 1996, the album featured guest appearances from Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt. His albums “Slow Down,” “Keep It Simple” and “TajMo” also won Grammy Awards.
Aside from being one of the principal innovators of modern jazz guitar, John Scofield is a creative artist of an even rarer sort: a stylistic chameleon who has forged a consistent, rock-solid aesthetic identity. The 67-year-old commemorated his 66th year by penning 12 original compositions and forming a swinging new group to record and tour the music.
John’s guitar work has influenced jazz since the late 70s and is going strong today. Possessor of a very distinctive sound and stylistic diversity, Scofield is a masterful jazz improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, funk edged jazz, and R&B. He took up the guitar at age 11, inspired by both rock and blues players.
After a debut recording with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, Scofield was a member of the Billy Cobham-George Duke band for two years. In 1977 he recorded with Charles Mingus, and joined the Gary Burton quartet. He began his international career as a bandleader and recording artist in 1978. From 1982–1985, Scofield toured and recorded with Miles Davis. His Davis stint placed him firmly in the foreground of jazz consciousness as a player and composer.
Since that time he has prominently led his own groups in the international jazz scene, recorded over 30 albums as a leader (many already classics) including collaborations with contemporary favorites like Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Eddie Harris, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, Mavis Staples, Government Mule, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano and Phil Lesh. Throughout his career Scofield has punctuated his traditional jazz offerings with funk-oriented electric music. All along, the guitarist has kept an open musical mind.
What is The Baylor Project? A husband. A wife. An astonishing debut.
The Baylor Project featuring Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor’s highly anticipated collaboration is steeped in the heart and soul of Jazz. As the children of pastors, Marcus and Jean’s musical roots were planted deep within the church, and it was there that the road was paved for the influence of gospel, blues, soul, and jazz to make its mark.
Their debut CD “The Journey” topped the Billboard Jazz Chart at No. 8 and a year later garnered 2 Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance, solidifying The Baylor Project as an undeniable force.
Jean, a “Jersey Girl,” was introduced to jazz in college as a Vocal Performance Major at Temple University, where she was heavily influenced by artists such as Carmen McCrae, Jimmy Scott and Shirley Horn. She subsequently made her mark as one-half of the platinum recording duo, Zhané. She has expanded into composing, arranging, producing and band leading, and has been a featured guest artist in performances and recordings with Yellowjackets, Kenny Garrett, Marcus Miller and legendary bassist Buster Williams.
Marcus, a St. Louis native, is widely recognized as the former member and drummer of the Grammy Award-winning jazz quartet, Yellowjackets. While studying and graduating from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, he performed and recorded with musical icons Cassandra Wilson, John Scofield and Kenny Garrett. Since then, Marcus has come into his own as a composer, arranger, producer and bandleader.
On stage, their innovation and talent are intimately entwined. They perform original compositions and new arrangements of classic pieces. Marcus and Jean have the uncanny ability to bridge the gap between generations. The Baylor Project pays homage to their wide-ranging musical influences, and in so doing, they generate an eclectic sound whose overall effect is spiritual, buoyant and authentic.
Acclaimed vocalist Lizz Wright is a steward of American music bringing brilliant color and vibrancy to singular original works and compositions by some of the greatest songwriters of our time. Wright has garnered widespread attention as one of the most venerable popular singers of her generation through the release of five critically acclaimed albums. From her breakout debut album “Salt” to her forthcoming album “Grace,” Wright lives life filled with beautiful possibilities centered on the power of song.
Through an inimitable voice that The New York Times touts as, “a smooth, dark alto possessed of qualities you might associate with barrel-aged bourbon or butter-soft leather,” Wright sings with a soaring reflection of the cultural fabric of America.
Wright culls inspiration from her Southern upbringing in Georgia where she was the musical director of a small church in which her father was the pastor. Gospel music, and the call and response to singing with the church congregation, informed her first brushes with music. Singing classical repertoire; studying jazz, spirituals and the folk tradition; and traversing through the Great American Songbook all fostered a keen interest to discover her own voice across diverse genres.
At the age of 22, Wright made a name for herself nationally as a vocalist with a touring concert tribute to Billie Holiday, where her poised performance stole the show. At 23, she released “Salt,: which topped Billboard’s contemporary jazz charts. Her subsequent albums (“Dreaming Wide Awake,” “The Orchard,” “Fellowship,” and “2015’s Freedom & Surrender”) continued to top the charts.
Alonzo Bodden will keep the ship rolling—in laughter. Bodden, who won Season 3 on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, is a regular on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and “Comedy Congress,” as well as being a panelist on the Game Show Network’s “Mind of a Man.”
In 2011, he starred in the comedy special “Who’s Paying Attention” on Showtime, released a DVD, and hosts a podcast of the same name. That same year, he was a panelist on the syndicated show “Inside the Vault,” and voiced the character of Thunderon in the Power Rangers movie. Bodden has also hosted Speed Channel’s “101 Cars You Must Drive” and “America’s Worst Driver” on Travel Channel. Alonzo’s first big comedy break came when he was on the “New Faces of Comedy” showcase at industry festival, Just For Laughs in Montreal.
Alonzo has made the rounds on the late night television circuit including appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,” and “The Keenen Ivory Wayans” show. His film credits include “Scary Movie 4,” “The Girl Next Door,” and “Bringing Down the House” starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. His latest television special was “Heavy Lightweight” on Amazon Prime.
Alonzo has traveled around the world entertaining USO troops from Iraq to Greenland.