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Five-time Grammy winner DIANNE REEVES is the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world. As a result of her breathtaking virtuosity, improvisational prowess, and unique jazz and R&B stylings, Reeves received the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for three consecutive recordings – a Grammy first in any vocal category.
Featured in George Clooney’s six-time Academy Award nominated Good Night, and Good Luck, Reeves won the Best Jazz Vocal Grammy for the film’s soundtrack.
Reeves has recorded and performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. She has also recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim and was a featured soloist with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Reeves was the first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first vocalist to ever perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
In recent years Reeves has toured the world in a variety of contexts including “Sing the Truth,” a musical celebration of Nina Simone which also featured Lizz Wright and Angelique Kidjo. She performed at the White House on multiple occasions including President Obama’s State Dinner for the President of China as well as the Governors’ Ball.
Reeves’ most recent release Beautiful Life, features Gregory Porter, Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway and Esperanza Spalding. Produced by Terri Lyne Carrington, Beautiful Life won the 2015 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. Reeves is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the Berklee College of Music and the Juilliard School. In 2018 the National Endowment for the Arts designated Reeves a Jazz Master – the highest honor the United States bestows on jazz artists.
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.”
A protégé of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, Arturo Sandoval was born in Artemisa, a small town in the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, on November 6, 1949, just two years after Gillespie became the first musician to bring Latin influences into American Jazz. He has since evolved into one of the world’s most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn, as well as a renowned classical artist, pianist and composer. He is one of the most dynamic and vivacious live performers of our time, and has been seen by millions at the Oscars, at the Grammy Awards, and the Billboard Awards.
Sandoval has been awarded 10 Grammy Awards, and nominated 19 times; he has also received 6 Billboard Awards and an Emmy Award for his composing work on the entire underscore of the HBO movie based on his life, “For Love or Country” that starred Andy Garcia as Arturo. He also is the 2013 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Sandoval was a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning group Irakere, whose explosive mixture of jazz, classical, rock and traditional Cuban music caused a sensation throughout the entertainment world. He is also a renowned classical musician; his artistry has earned him the respect and admiration from the most prestigious conductors, composers and symphony orchestras worldwide. Sandoval’s versatility can be heard on recordings with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Woody Shaw, Michel Legrand, Josh Groban, Tony Bennett, Bill Conti, and Stan Getz to Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Rod Stewart and Alicia Keys amongst many others. He has performed with John Williams with the Boston Pops, and in the Super bowl with Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle. His compositions can also be heard in movies including Dave Grusin’s soundtrack for “Havana” and “Random Heart”, in the “Mambo Kings” soundtrack with his Grammy nominated composition “Mambo Caliente”, and many others.
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 was the Artist-in-Residence for the Singapore and Monterey Jazz Festivals. He has also written multi-disciplinary works for The Steppenwolf Theatre and the City of Chicago. The Obama Administration’s first state dinner featured Elling in a command performance. Elling is a renowned artist of vocalese – the writing and performing of words over recorded improvised jazz solos. 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.”
Musical director of The Jazz Cruise and a three-time Grammy® nominee, mainstream jazz pianist Shelly Berg brings a wealth of knowledge and unrivaled talent to our program. Entering the Cleveland Institute of Music at age 6, Shelly has since amassed accolades and performance credentials that only the best of the best can boast. His CD, Blackbird, soared to No. 1 in U.S. jazz radio and garnered “Record of the Year” and “Artist of the Year” nominations from Jazzweek. He has performed and recorded in collaboration with jazz legends including Ray Brown, Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, Peter Erskine, Branford Marsalis, Gregg Field, Chuck Berghofer, Dave Grusin, Woody Herman, Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry and Bill Watrous. Other musical endeavors have teamed him up with Gloria Estefan, Patti Austin, Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Michael Feinstein, Renée Fleming, Gregory Porter, Aretha Franklin, Tierney Sutton, Janelle Monáe, Queen Latifa, Lorraine Feather, Monica Mancini, Rita Moreno, Ricky Martin, Kevin Spacey, Dionne Warwick, Carmen Bradford and many more. Previously the McCoy/Sample Professor of Jazz Studies at the USC Thornton School of Music, Shelly is currently Dean of the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
The Jazz Cruise is excited feature bassist John Clayton, a composer, arranger and conductor who learned his trade starting at age 16 from the great Ray Brown, in its 2016 lineup. With a Grammy® and eight additional nominations under his belt, John cites arranging the ‘Star Spangled Banner” for Whitney Houston’s performance at Super Bowl 1990, playing bass on Paul McCartney’s CD “Kisses On The Bottom,” and arranging and playing bass with Yo-Yo Ma and Friends on “Songs of Joy and Peace” among the most notable moments of his career. Over the years, John’s mentors and influencers have included Robert Farnon, Count Basie, Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones. Early in his profession, he toured with the Monty Alexander Trio and the Count Basie Orchestra. Later, he held the principal bass chair in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for more than five years and had a run as artistic director of jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1998 to 2001. Over the course of his career, John has collaborated with Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Ray Brown, Regina Carter, McCoy Tyner, Carmen McRae, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé and many others. With brother Jeff Clayton on reeds, he’s graced many stages as part of The Clayton Brothers Quintet. He’s also an integral part – and co-founder – of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Eager to share his talent, John frequently participates in jazz workshops and music clinics around the world.
Renee Rosnes is one of the premier jazz pianists and composers of her generation. In 1986, she relocated from Vancouver, Canada to New York City, quickly establishing a reputation as a major talent. She has toured and recorded with bands led by such legends as Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, JJ Johnson, James Moody, Bobby Hutcherson, Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Buster Williams, and Ron Carter’s Foursight Band. She is a founding member of the all-star octet, the SFJAZZ Collective, with whom she toured for six years. As a leader, Renee has released 15 acclaimed albums and has appeared on numerous other recordings as a consummate sideman. Ms. Rosnes’ most recent recording is Written In The Rocks (Smoke Sessions), and features her all-star band of vibraphonist Steve Nelson, saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Bill Stewart. In 2003, SOCAN named Renee Composer of the Year, and she is a four time JUNO award winner. She has produced concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center as well as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Renee also frequently performs with her husband, pianist Bill Charlap, and in 2010 the couple released their debut two-piano recording, Double Portrait. The piano duo was also featured with Tony Bennett on four tracks of the Grammy nominated album: Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap: The Silver Lining.
Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. The Jazz Journalists Association has voted Anat as Clarinetist of the Year eight years in a row, and she has topped both the Critics and Readers Polls in the clarinet category in DownBeat magazine every year since 2011. That’s not to mention years of being named Rising Star in the soprano and tenor saxophone categories in DownBeat, as well as for Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2009, ASCAP awarded Anat a Wall of Fame prize for composition and musicianship, among other honors. Earning this acclaim, Anat has toured the world with her quartet, headlining at the Newport, Umbria, SF Jazz and North Sea jazz festivals as well as at such hallowed clubs as New York’s Village Vanguard and at Columbia University’s prestigious Miller Theatre.
Anat was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and moved to New York in 1999 after graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she also developed a deep love for various Latin music styles. Anat soon began to bend ears and turn heads; whether playing clarinet, soprano saxophone or tenor saxophone, she won over the most knowing of jazz sages: Nat Hentoff praised her “bursting sound and infectious beat,” Dan Morgenstern her “gutsy, swinging” style, Ira Gitler her “liquid dexterity and authentic feeling,” and Gary Giddins her musicality “that bristles with invention.” Anat collaborates regularly with one of her heroes, Cuban-American clarinetist-saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, who introduced her onstage at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex as “one of the greatest players ever of the clarinet,” and is a fixture on the New York scene at such clubs as Birdland.
Acclaimed tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana follows up her 2014 release Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio with the explorative and deeply swinging Back Home. Pablo Menares, Aldana’s fellow native of Santiago, Chile, is again on bass. On drums is the in- demand Jochen Rueckert, bringing a supple and unpredictable rhythmic élan to the session. These three musicians turn on a dime and project an uncommonly full orchestral sound, rich in spiritual intensity, all in the absence of a harmony instrument.
The title Back Home might seem to evoke Chile, where Aldana left in 2007 to pursue jazz at ever higher levels in the U.S. In fact, Aldana reveals, Back Home “is not really related to Chile itself. It’s related to the first time I picked up the tenor and I heard Sonny Rollins.” The closing title track carries strong echoes of Rollins’ playful spirit, and reveals much about Aldana’s evolution from a 6-year-old alto player to “a bold new talent” (NPR), one of the most compelling and prodigious tenor saxophonists of her time. In fact she wrote “Back Home” specifically for Rollins, she recalls: “He was one of the first reasons I started playing trio, because the freedom that you have within the music, the interaction, the opportunity you have to express yourself and communicate with the other musicians.”
As a child Aldana studied with her renowned saxophonist father Marcos Aldana (son of saxophonist Enrique Aldana, whose Selmer Mark VI tenor Melissa performs with to this day). She began on alto but after hearing the landmark Sonny Rollins + 4 she switched to tenor and never looked back. Other important influences she cites range from Don Byas, Gene Ammons and Lucky Thompson to Chris Potter and Mark Turner.
In 2007 Aldana moved to Boston to enroll at Berklee, coming under the mentorship of tenor great George Garzone. Pianist Danilo Pérez and saxophonist Patricia Zarate provided Aldana with crucial support and guidance as well. In 2009 she took the plunge to New York and began apprenticing with greats such as Greg Osby and George Coleman, among others. In 2013 she became the first female instrumentalist and the first South American ever to win the Thelonious Monk Competition. She is also a recipient of the Martin E. Segal Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center and a double recipient of the Altazor Award, Chile’s highly prestigious national arts prize.
NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller gathers inspiration from a wide array of genres. Coming from the Jazz tradition, she engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a charismatic and rhythmically propulsive drummer with melodic sensibility, Miller has been named “Rising Star Drummer” and “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in Downbeat Magazine’s acclaimed Critics Poll. Her band, Boom Tic Boom, featuring pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornet player Kirk Knuffke, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and Miller on drums and composition, is a 2014 recipient of Chamber Music America’s “Presenter Consortium for Jazz Grant.” Boom Tic Boom has been met with critical acclaim receiving 4.5 stars from Downbeat and making “Top 10 Jazz Albums” lists for Downbeat, The LA Times, Jazz Journalists Association, and Something Else.
While breaking from band leading, Miller focuses on collaborations, co-directing Celebrate and Holler and Bam with Toshi Reagon, Honey Ear Trio with Jeff Lederer and Rene Hart, Speak with Rachna Nivas and Michelle Dorrance, And Still You Must Swing with Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, and Ink with Camille A. Brown. She is also a proud member of the Bessie award winning show, The Blues Project with Dorrance Dance and Toshi Reagon’s Big Lovely.
As a side-musician, Miller has been the rhythmic force behind such mainstream artists as Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, Brandi Carlile, Toshi Reagon, Joey Arias, the Meredith Vieira Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Pino Daniele, Erin McKeown, Jill Sobule, and Martha Redbone; and her jazz skills have been embraced by everyone from organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith and vocalist Patricia Barber to avant-garde trailblazer Marty Ehrlich, Steven Bernstein, Ben Allison, Steve Cardenas, and Ben Goldberg.
Noriko Ueda is originally from Hyogo, Japan. Her interest in music began early in her life, studying classical piano at the age of 4. At 16, she began playing the electric bass. At age 18, began her career with the upright bass.
She has performed as a sideman at many historical jazz venues include Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Kennedy Center Jazz Club, Birdland, Small’s and at Blue Note NY several times with her leading band, Noriko Ueda Trio Quartet, and her big band Noriko Ueda Jazz Orchestra, also as a featured artist.
Her first leader Trio album “DEBUT” featured Ted Rosenthal on piano and Quincy Davis on drums. She has toured Japan with Ted Rosenthal Trio 10 consecutive years (2006 – 2016), and performed on his CD “Out of this World” which reached #1 on the national jazz radio charts.
Her big band arrangement of “This Land is Your Land” was featured in Macy’s 4th of July fireworks which was broadcast on CBS in 2014. She is also the winner of the third annual BMI Foundation/Charlie Parker Jazz composition Prize for her original big band piece “Castle in the North”(2002).
One of the most-gifted hard bop trumpeters of her generation, Ingrid Jensen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1967. After attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she toured Europe with the Vienna Art Orchestra’s production Fe and Males, then remained abroad, teaching jazz trumpet and becoming, at age 25, the youngest professor at Austria’s Bruckner Conservatory. Jensen also toured with Lionel Hampton & His Golden Men of Jazz before returning to the U.S. in 1994, joining the big band DIVA that same year, she also recorded her debut LP Vernal Fields, for which she won a Juno Award. She is an acolyte of Miles Davis, Art Farmer, and Woody Shaw.
Chris and Dan Brubeck have been making music together practically all their lives. Drummer Dan and bassist, trombonist, and composer Chris cut their first record together in 1966—nearly a half century ago. They’ve subsequently played a variety of styles in a number of different groups, as well as with their father, jazz giant Dave Brubeck, and with their own Brubeck Brothers Quartet. With Dan and Chris as the foundation, guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb, complete this dynamic quartet. They perform at concert series, colleges, and jazz festivals across North America and Europe including the Newport, Detroit, Montreal, Playboy/Hollywood Bowl, and Monterey Jazz Festivals. The Quartet’s last cd, LifeTimes was a hit on the Jazz Week radio chart where it made the Top Ten list as one of the most played jazz recordings of the year.
These versatile musicians also collaborate with orchestras all across the U.S. as well as internationally, including performing with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra. With Chris Brubeck’s compositions as a vehicle, the BBQ has joined with chamber groups to collaborate with musicians from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Russian National Symphony Orchestra.
Although the Quartet’s style is rooted in “straight-ahead” jazz, their concerts reveal an inherent ability to explore and play odd time signatures while naturally integrating the influences of funk, blues and world music. The group’s creativity, technique and improvisation can be heard in their uncompromising music, which reflects their dedication to melody, rhythm, culture and the spontaneous spirit of jazz.
Charles McPherson was born in Joplin, Missouri and moved to Detroit at age nine. After growing up in Detroit, he studied with the renowned pianist Barry Harris and started playing jazz professionally at age 19. He moved from Detroit to New York in 1959 and performed with Charles Mingus from 1960 to 1972. While performing with Mingus, he collaborated frequently with Harris, Lonnie Hillyer, and George Coleman.
In celebration of his upcoming 80th birthday, McPherson recently joined Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, where they arranged and performed 7 of Charles’ iconic original compositions. Charles has toured the U.S., Europe, Japan, Africa and South America with his own group, as well as with jazz greats Barry Harris, Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, Nat Adderly, Jay McShann, Phil Woods, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, Randy Brecker, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, and others.
McPherson has also recorded as a guest artist with Charlie Mingus, Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Kenny Drew, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra. He has recorded as a leader on Prestige, Fantasy, Mainstream, Discovery, Xanadu, Arabesque, Capri and several smaller labels in Europe and Japan.
Charles was the featured alto saxophonist in the Clint Eastwood film “Bird,” a biopic about Charlie Parker. Charles has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Don Redman Lifetime Achievement Award and an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from California State University San Marcos. Charles performed this past April at the NEA Jazz Master’s 2019 performance during Stanley Crouch’s tribute. Widely recognized as a prolific composer, Charles is now Resident Composer for the San Diego Ballet, where he has written three original suites for chamber music and jazz combos. In the summer of 2019, Dr. Donnie Norton will compile the entire book of Charles’ compositions for publication.
Grammy Award winning producer and vocalist Steve Tyrell is the definition of a renaissance man. In his nearly five decades in the music business, he has achieved success as a singer, songwriter, producer, music supervisor, and most recently, radio host.
His breakthrough performances in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II helped Tyrell reinvent and re-popularize classic pop standards for a modern-day audience. His hits, The Way You Look Tonight, The Simple Life, Crush On You, and The Sunny Side of The Street, have launched millions of romances and been played at thousands of weddings, including Chelsea Clinton’s. Steve has had the pleasure of singing for Heads of State, including Presidents Bush and Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Santos of Columbia, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In 2014, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales invited Steve and his band for a command performance at Buckingham Palace.
As for American royalty, the Sinatra family has long embraced Steve and his music. Together with Quincy Jones, they handpicked Steve to be the featured performer with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at their season opening concert in which Frank Sinatra was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Also at the request of the Sinatra family, he reprised that performance at Carnegie Hall. This was one of the rare times the family has reached into the vault of original Sinatra arrangements to share them with another artist.
As an artist, all 9 of his American Standards albums have achieved top 5 status on Billboard’s Jazz charts. His first album, A New Standard, was amongst the bestselling jazz albums for more than 5 years. Tyrell’s work in the studio as a record producer has included collaborations with such diverse and legendary artists as Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Blood Sweat and Tears, Mary J Blige, Chris Botti, Dave Koz, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, Burt Bacharach, Bette Midler, and Stevie Wonder, among many others.
In 2005, after the passing of the legendary Bobby Short, Steve was asked by New York City’s Cafe Carlyle to take over their revered holiday season of November and December, which Mr. Short had not missed for 36 years.
In August 2015, Tyrell added radio host to his long line of credits. Every Monday thru Friday, he can be heard on The Steve Tyrell Show on KJAZZ 88.1 in Los Angeles and online at jazzandblues.org.
Joey DeFrancesco’s emergence in the 1980s marked the onset of a musical renaissance in organ jazz with the sound of his vintage Hammond organ and Leslie tone cabinet. Considered a child prodigy, Joey inherited from his father and grandfather the gift of the musician’s musician: being able to pick up a new instrument and teach himself to play. This manifests itself in Joey’s extraordinary keyboard skills; piano playing; and organ wizardry – not to mention his undeniable mastery of the trumpet.
Joey’s desire to play the trumpet began after touring with the great Miles Davis. Years later, it would be Joey who would be complimenting his own jazz organ performances with exciting bursts of trumpet tones in the notably influenced style of his former employer. The list of established musicians who felt inspired to perform with Joey grew. At twenty-two, Joey was called upon by guitarist, John McLaughlin to form the group, ‘Free Spirits’ which included band member Dennis Chambers. This band toured extensively for four years as the sphere of Joey’s influence went global. Joey soon became a household name in the jazz world as he began to tour internationally with his own quartet and eventually trim his group to a trio that boasted the guitar work of Paul Bollenback and drumming of Byron ‘Wookie’ Landrum. This trio would become the longest running organ trio in modern times.
Joey is a three time Grammy Nominee: In 2004 for his record ‘Falling In Love Again’, in 2010 for his release titled ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, and, again, in 2015 for “Enjoy the View”. He is the winner of Down Beat Magazine’s Critic’s poll 2002-2008, 2012, 2014,2015 as well as the magazines Reader’s Poll every year since 2005. In 2014 he was inducted into the inaugural Hammond Organ Hall of Fame.
A powerhouse trumpeter, gifted with a soulful voice and a charismatic onstage swagger, Byron Stripling has delighted audiences internationally. Since his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops, Stripling has emerged as one of America’s most popular symphony pops guest artists, having performed with over 100 orchestras around the world. He has been a featured soloist at the Hollywood Bowl and performs at jazz festivals throughout the world.
Stripling earned his stripes as lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones and Frank Foster. He has also played and recorded extensively with the bands of Dizzy Gillespie,Woody Herman, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Louis Bellson, and Buck Clayton in addition to The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra,The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and The GRP All Star Big Band.
An accomplished actor and singer, Stripling was chosen, following a world wide search, to star in the lead role of the Broadway bound musical,“Satchmo.” Television viewers have enjoyed his work as soloist on the worldwide telecast of The Grammy Awards. Millions have heard his trumpet and voice on television commercials,TV theme songs including “20/20,” CNN, and soundtracks of favorite movies.
Guitar and vocal virtuoso John Pizzarelli has been breathing new life into the Great American Songbook since the age of 6. The GRAMMY®-nominated vocalist will captivate guests of The Jazz Cruise ‘16 with his cool, suave spin on the songs of Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, Nat King Cole, his musical inspiration, Frank Sinatra and even the Beatles. Performing solo and as bandleader of his eponymous quartet, John’s astounding list of credentials includes appearances on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Live With Regis & Kelly,” the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; special guest on recordings for major artists such as James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Kristin Chenoweth, Rosemary Clooney and Buddy DeFranco; and recipient of the 2009 Ella Fitzgerald Award from the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Drummer Jeff Hamilton has been honing his big band skills since the tender age of 8, earning him a presence on the stage with legends like Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, Monty Alexander and Diana Krall. Currently performing with Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and the Clayton Brothers or co-leading the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (the Grammy®-nominated big band that provides backup for Diana Krall), this in-demand drummer brings his eponymous trio to The Jazz Cruise ‘16 for guests to revel in his sensational stylistics at the helm of a drum. Overflowing but well-deserved accolades include that of No. 1 jazz drummer in Modern Drummer Magazine’s reader’s poll, 2006 Musician of the Year (along with musical partner John Clayton) by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, and a No. 5 spot on the Gavin national jazz radio chart for “It’s Hamilton Time” by the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Featured in nearly 200 recordings – including 16 Grammy® Award-winning titles – with the likes of Natalie Cole, Barbara Streisand, Mel Torme and Herb Ellis, Jeff also teaches, arranges and composes for the drums.
“Rhythm Is My Business” is the title of his debut recording as a leader, and rhythm is a booming business as far as Lewis Nash is concerned. He is the drummer of choice for an incredible array of artists – from the masters of the music to the hottest young players of today – and is equally in demand as a clinician and educator.
World-renowned bassist Ron Carter hired Nash in 1984, and in 1986, saxophonist Branford Marsalis asked Lewis to join his quartet. In 1989 Nash toured with legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins. From 1990 to 2000, Lewis was a member of the Tommy Flanagan Trio, and is featured on seven CD recordings with the late piano master. During this period, Nash also toured and recorded with both the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. His impressive discography (over 300 recordings) includes projects with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Hank Jones and John Lewis, as well as new jazz stars Diana Krall, Joe Lovano and Roy Hargrove. Demonstrating his stylistic diversity, Nash is also featured on recordings by Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Nancy Wilson, Kenny Rankin, Melissa Manchester and George Michael. Currently, while he continues to perform and record with a wide variety of artists, Nash leads several of his own exciting groups, from duo to septet.
Originally a touring and studio musician, reed player Jeff Clayton defines the term “virtuoso” with his skills on the clarinet, alto sax, flute, oboe and other woodwind instruments. Clayton studied oboe and English Horn at California State University Northridge, and was asked to join Stevie Wonder’s band while still attending college. He spent 3 years recording and touring with the popular music giant, then went on to record with Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle, Earth, Wind & Fire and Madonna. On Madonna’s recording Back in Business, Jeff was nominated for a Grammy for best Pop soloist.
In 1977 John and Jeff Clayton founded The Clayton Brothers Quartet with his brother, later to become the Clayton Brothers Quintet adding and featuring Terell Stafford on Trumpet. Jeff has also toured with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, and Lena Horne, and played in the Count Basie Orchestra while under the leadership of the Count and, after Basie’s passing, with Thad Jones. From 1989 to 1991 he was also a member of the Phillip Morris Superband, a jazz star studded orchestra headed by Gene Harris and Ray Brown. He also toured with Gene Harris, Dianne Reeves, Joe Cocker, B.B. King and Ray Charles.
In 1985, Jeff again joined his brother John and drummer Jeff Hamilton to form the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, which continues to showcase original compositions and arrangements. In this role he has performed and recorded with Patty Austin, Kurt Elling, Milt Jackson, John Pizzarelli, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Queen Latifa, Diana Krall, Nancy Wilson Michael Bublé, Gladys Knight, Benny Carter and Benny Golson, among many others. The CHJO was named Big Band of the Year in Down Beat’s Readers Poll 2003.
Jeff’s philosophy towards his music can be summed up as follows: “Music is not mine to keep only to have and to hold, I must give back what I have been so freely given……”
Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker has helped shape the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. His trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.
Randy’s musical talent was nurtured from an early age. He moved to New York where he landed gigs with such prominent bands as Clark Terry’s Big Bad Band, the Duke Pearson Big Band and the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. In 1967, Randy ventured into jazz-rock with the band Blood, Sweat and Tears. He recorded his first solo album, ‘Score’, in 1968, featuring a young, then unknown 19 year-old tenor saxophonist named Michael Brecker. Randy joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers before teaming up with brother Michael, Barry Rogers, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie to form the seminal fusion group ‘Dreams’.
In the early 1970s, Randy performed live with many prominent artists including Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House, Stevie Wonder and Billy Cobham. He also recorded several classic albums with his brother under the leadership of the great pianist/composer Hal Galper. By 1975, Randy and Michael were ready to front their own group, the Brecker Brothers Band. A band of immeasurable impact and influence, they released six albums on Arista and garnered seven Grammy nominations between 1975 and 1981. Their eponymous first record, which Randy wrote, arranged and produced, featured his now classic composition “Some Skunk Funk.”
Randy won his first Grammy as a solo artist for ‘Into the Sun’, featuring his impressions of Brazil, in 1997. ’34th n’ Lex,’ won him his third Grammy for ‘Best Contemporary Jazz Album’ in 2003; In 2007, Randy was awarded his fourth Grammy for “Randy Brecker Live with the WDR Big Band; and ‘Randy in Brazil,’ recorded in Sao Paulo, was chosen one of the top 10 CDs of 2008 by AllAboutJazz.com and earned him Grammy #5.
A Brecker Brothers Band Reunion tour of European festivals in the summer of 2013 re-introduced the familiar faces of Brecker Brothers Band members from the past and their special brand of music to sell-out crowds.
As a composer, performer and in-demand Yamaha clinician, Randy Brecker continues to influence and inspire young musicians around the world.
The Jazz Cruise is privileged to have one of the top trombonists of his generation, Wycliffe Gordon, return for an encore performance as our Gospel Show host. Both an accomplished soloist and leader of his eponymous quartet, Wycliffe tours the globe performing for audiences of every caliber, from elementary school students to heads of state. In 2014, for the third year in a row, he received Downbeat Magazine’s Critics Poll “Best in Trombone” award. Wycliffe also has been recognized eight times – most recently in 2013 – by the Jazz Journalists Association as “Trombonist of the Year.” A veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the musician has 16 solo CDs and seven co-leader CDs under his belt. Adept at the tuba, trumpet and soprano trombone plus an accomplished composer and arranger, Wycliffe currently serves as artist-in-residence at Georgia Regents University where he is developing a jazz studies program, teaches courses and works with music majors.
In the 1990s, Houston Person kept the soulful thick-toned tenor tradition of Gene Ammons alive, particularly in his work with organists. After learning piano as a youth, Person switched to tenor. While stationed in Germany with the Army, he played in groups that also included Eddie Harris, Lanny Morgan, Leo Wright, and Cedar Walton. Person picked up valuable experience as a member of Johnny Hammond’s group (1963-1966) and became a bandleader in the following years, often working with the late singer Etta Jones. A duo recording with Ran Blake was a nice change of pace, but most of Houston Person’s playing has been done in blues-oriented organ groups. He recorded a consistently excellent series of albums for Muse, eventually switching to HighNote Records for 2006’s You Taught My Heart to Sing, 2007’s Thinking of You, and 2008’s Just Between Friends, which featured bassist Ron Carter. Released in 2012, Naturally, recorded at the famed Van Gelder Recording Studio, teamed Person with Cedar Walton on piano, Ray Drummond on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums. He quickly returned with the similarly inclined 2013 effort Nice ‘n’ Easy, followed a year later by The Melody Lingers On. In 2015, Person delivered the rootsy and soulful Something Personal.
Playing his first professional gig in elementary school, Ken Peplowski has spent his life – along with many a wedding and high school Polka band engagement – mastering the clarinet. With just a year of college under his belt, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow. In 1980, he moved to New York City and, shortly thereafter, was hired by Benny Goodman to play tenor saxophone in his new band. Considering himself an interpreter of material who thrives on putting his own spin on music of various genres, Ken was inducted into The Jazz Cruise Hall of Fame in 2013 and returns for an encore performance on The Jazz Cruise 2016. With a diverse repertoire of Italian folk songs, avant-garde jazz, pop and classical music, the jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist has recorded approximately 50 CDs as a soloist and nearly 400 as a sideman. He’s collaborated with the likes of Mel Torme, Leon Redbone, Charlie Byrd, Peggy Lee, George Shearing, Madonna, Hank Jones, Dave Frishberg, Rosemary Clooney, Tom Harrell, James Moody, Cedar Walton, Houston Person, Steve Allen, Bill Charlap, Woody Allen, Marianne Faithfull, Isaac Delgado and Erich Kunzel.
Combine mastery of keyboard technique with decades of real world experience playing with no less than the most celebrated artists of the last half century, and it’s no wonder Benny Green has been hailed as perhaps the most exciting hard-swinging, hard-bop pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Green is the bearer of the torch and guardian of a legacy handed down to him, personally, by his musical mentors. His most recent recordings, Live in Santa Cruz (2015) and Magic Beans (2012) are shining examples of his brilliance. Since emerging under the tutelage of Betty Carter, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard and Ray Brown in the early 1980s, Benny Green has become a highly regarded pianist and bandleader. His efforts to expand upon the language of the classical jazz canon have placed him not only among the best interpreters but also among the vanguard of musicians keeping jazz’s evolution going. Born in New York in 1963, Benny Green grew up in Berkeley, California, and began classical piano studies at the age of seven. Influenced by his father, a tenor saxophonist, his attention soon turned to Jazz: “I began trying to improvise on the piano, imitating the records I’d been hearing from my father’s collection, which included a lot of Monk and Bird… it was a gradual process of teaching myself”. Benny never looked back and never stopped learning as his talent and love for the music propelled him to the upper strata of jazz luminaries.
Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist/composer/bandleader and Louis Armstrong’s long-time musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, was a pioneering vocalist/guitarist/bassist who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Sy Oliver. Russell notes, “My mother was born and raised in Harlem and my father led one of the leading orchestras in Harlem, which was part of the inspiration for (her sixth studio album), Harlem on My Mind).”
Russell’s professional life began early. After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she embarked upon musical adventures with Carrie Smith, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, and Rosanne Cash, among others. Her 2006 debut album Cat garnered rave reviews, paving the way for her 2008 sophomore release, Sentimental Streak. She was a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, PBS-TV’s Tavis Smiley Show, and NPR’s “Fresh Air”, “Piano Jazz”, “Mountain Stage”, “World Cafe”, and “JazzSet”. Russell’s third album, Inside This Heart of Mine, reached #1 on JazzWeek and Roots Music Report’s radio charts, while also charting on Billboard and reaching #1 on iTunes jazz charts. A fourth album, Strictly Romancin’, was awarded Prix du Jazz Vocal (Vocal Album of the Year) by the French Jazz Academy, Grand Prix du Hot Club de France, and a Bistro Award for Outstanding Recording. That same year Russell won a Grammy Award as a featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO-TV series, Boardwalk Empire. Her fifth solo album, Bring It Back (Jazz Village) received a five-star review in DownBeat.
2016 was an eventful year for Catherine Russell. In January, Russell was featured in an hour-long concert performance on Public Television’s American Songbook as part of the NJPAC series. In February, Russell joined the fellow members of David Bowie’s last touring band, as well as pop-singer Lorde, for a moving Tribute to David Bowie at the 2016 Brit Awards. In April, Russell appeared at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to sing the grand finale at the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters Award Ceremony, and then traveled to Los Angeles for a live taping of Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli. Her concerts, “Catherine Russell: Sunny Side of The Street”, at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room in April, which saluted her personal connection to Sy Oliver, were featured on NPR’s “Jazz Night In America.”
James Morrison is, by anybody’s standard, a virtuoso in the true sense of the word. Besides the trumpet, this multi-instrumentalist also plays piano, all the brass, saxophones, and double bass. At only age sixteen James debuted in the USA with a breathtaking concert at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Following this were performances at the major festivals of Europe including Montreux, Pori and the North Sea, playing with many of the legends of jazz; Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Cab Calloway, Woody Shaw, Red Rodney, George Benson, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Wynton Marsalis to name a few. There were also gigs in the world’s most famous jazz clubs – The Blue Note and Village Vanguard in New York, the New Morning in Paris, The Tokyo Blue Note and Ronnie Scotts in London.
James Morrison’s career thus far has been diverse and perhaps not typical of most jazz musicians. He recorded Jazz Meets the Symphony with The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lalo Schifrin, performed concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for Princess Anne. Royal command performances on two occasions for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and for US Presidents Bush & Clinton at Parliament House in Australia. James has also performed his own ‘Concerto for Euphonium’ with the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Muskverein in Vienna. In 2000 James composed and performed the opening fanfare for the Olympic Games in Sydney. James spends much time in education, doing master classes and workshops all over the world and presenting the James Morrison Jazz Scholarship at Generations in Jazz.
René Marie’s daring makes her one of America’s most interesting and compelling artists. So do her influences. Her style incorporates a distinctly American mélange of jazz, soul, blues, folk and gospel and an innate theatrical ability to interpret a song deeply and live its truth. Married at 18, a mother of two by 23 and a Jehovah’s Witness, she only occasionally sang. When her husband of 23 years issued an ultimatum to stop singing or leave, she chose music over the turbulent marriage and self-released her debut Renaissance in 1998 and toured as Ella Fitzgerald in a regional play. She began experiencing a whirlwind of success rarely seen in the jazz world, winning over critics; receiving awards such as the Best International Jazz Vocal CD (besting Cassandra Wilson and Joni Mitchell) by France’s Academie Du Jazz; gracing the Billboard charts multiple times; and becoming a headliner at major international festivals. Her 2013 album I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt) was nominated for a Grammy Award. The newest installment in her ever-expanding body of work is Sound of Red, her first album of all-original material.
Perhaps more than most artists, René understands music’s capacity to heal and inspire. Not only has she herself been the beneficiary of it, but she has made every effort along the way to extend those same benefits to others. “I have never forgotten the early lessons learned about the power of music,” she says. “Today, I try to imbue that feeling of emotion into every song I write and every song I sing – every time. I am very happy to be alive today, doing the things I love to do – singing, composing, writing, teaching and arranging.”
Veronica Swift is now being recognized around the country as one of the top young jazz singers on the scene. Veronica recorded two CDs as a child – one at age 9 with Richie Cole and her father’s rhythm section and her mother (her parents are renowned jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and celebrated jazz singer and educator/author Stephanie Nakasian), and one at age 13 with saxophonist Harry Allen. In the fall of 2015, she won second place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. In 2016 she was asked to perform a concert of her own at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City and she was a guest artist with Michael Feinstein at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Veronica’s first appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center was at age 11 when she performed at the “Women in Jazz” series at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.
In 2016 she headlined at the Telluride Jazz Festival, her 10 th appearance there – but her first as a headliner. She first appeared there at age 10 with Dave Adams’ Young Razzcals Jazz Project and the great saxophonist Richie Cole and later sang a duet with the featured artist, Paquito d’Rivera.
After graduating from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami Veronica moved to New York City, where she almost immediately started performing every Saturday night at the legendary Birdland Jazz Club, a gig she continues to maintain when she isn’t on the road.
Veronica has appeared on stage with Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Esperanza Spalding, Joe Lovano, Bob Dorough, Kim Nazarian, Danilo Perez, and others. In addition to performing the Great American Songbook and Bebop and Vocalese classics, Veronica is also a passionate devotee of 20s and 30s music and has sung with Vince Giordano, Terry Waldo, and Drew Nugent.
Though her career has taken her well beyond the jazz circuit, Niki Haris’s roots are here, and The Jazz Cruise ‘16 is delighted to welcome the songstress to its lineup. 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.”
Multifaceted American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen is one of his generation’s pivotal artistic figures. Downbeat praised the “nimble touch, measured stride and warm harmonic vocabulary” he employs to communicate with other musicians and audiences at what he terms “the deepest level of humanity and individuality.” Cohen, no stranger to The Jazz Cruise, first appeared here in 2011 under the tutelage of his mentor, Shelly Berg. He’ll be featured this year with the dynamic “Emmet Cohen Trio,” comprised of the celebrated young bassist, Russell Hall and rising star drummer Kyle Poole. Cohen has appeared in the Monterey, Newport, North Sea, Bern, and Edinburgh jazz festivals, among others, and at many prestigious music venues, including Rose Hall and the Kennedy Center. Cohen is the Executive Producer of The Masters Legacy Series, an ongoing series of recordings celebrating the intergenerational transfer of knowledge between jazz musicians. The first honors legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb, while Volume 2 features the great bassist, Ron Carter. (Keep an eye out for Volume 3, featuring Benny Golson and Tootie Heath.) A Suzuki piano student at age three, Cohen holds jazz piano degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Miami. He was finalist in both the American Pianists Association’s Cole Porter Fellowship (2015, 2011) and the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition (2011). A member of Christian McBride’s new band, Tip City, Cohen has also performed or recorded with Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Kurt Elling, Benny Golson, Billy Hart, Jimmy Heath, Tootie Heath, Brian Lynch, and Herlin Riley.
Capturing the truth in each moment’s conception of sound comes naturally to Gerald Clayton. The son of beloved bass player and composer John Clayton, the four-time GRAMMY-nominated pianist/composer enjoyed a familial apprenticeship from an early age. Clayton honors the legacy of his father and all his musical ancestors through a commitment to artistic exploration, innovation, and reinvention. His music is a celebration of the inherent differences in musical perspectives that promote true artistic synergy. Inclusive sensibilities have allowed him to perform and record with such distinctive artists as Diana Krall, Roy Hargrove, Dianne Reeves, Ambrose Akinmusire, Dayna Stephens, Kendrick Scott, John Scofield Ben Williams, Terell Stafford & Dick Oatts, Michael Rodriguez, Terri Lyne Carrington, Avishai Cohen, Peter Bernstein and the Clayton Brothers Quintet. Clayton also has enjoyed an extended association since early 2013 touring and recording with saxophone legend Charles Lloyd.
Pianist Allen Farnham, known for his fiery contemporary jazz style, is originally from Western Massachusetts and has been a mainstay of the New York City jazz scene since the mid 1980s. Allen is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied both jazz and classical piano. He is also active within the recording industry, most notably through his association with the California record label, Concord Jazz, in which he served as staff producer and director of radio promotion for many years. As a pianist, he has performed and recorded with such artists as Frank Wess, Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell and Chris Potter. He has also accompanied a wide range of vocalists, including Mel Torme, Susannah McCorkle and Ernestine Anderson. Allen is also very active as an educator; in addition to his performing and touring schedule, he is currently teaching jazz studies in improvisation and arranging at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, NJ. The 2020 Jazz Cruise marks his tenth year as a participant, with past cruises including performances with the Tommy Igoe Sextet as well as the Jazz All Stars.
Peter Martin is an acclaimed jazz pianist, composer, arranger and educator. His touring career has taken him to six continents numerous times. In January 2011 Peter performed with a select group of jazz artists at the White House for a State Dinner hosted by President Obama, and he returned to perform for the Governor’s Dinner in February 2012 for the first family and other guests.
Peter performed on and arranged Dianne Reeves’ Grammy® winning release A Little Moonlight. He also appeared in George Clooney’s 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck as well as being the featured pianist and an arranger on the Grammy® winning soundtrack. Peter has performed, toured and recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Betty Carter, Christian McBride and Joshua Redman as well as the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. In 2014 Peter was selected to tour with “Newport Now 60”, an all-star ensemble that toured nationwide in celebration of the iconic festival’s 60th anniversary. Peter attended the Juilliard School of Music and is a former member of the faculties of Northwestern University and Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville). He has performed workshops and master classes at institutions worldwide.
Born in Newcastle, Australia, Nicki Parrott started her musical training at age four with the piano, followed by the flute, and switched to double bass at the age of 15. Nicki studied jazz at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music. She was the recipient of two awards, a scholarship to Pan Pacific Music Camps at the age of 16, and first place in the 1992 Jazz Action Society’s Annual Song Competition for her composition “Come and Get It,” which is the opening track of Nicki and her sister Lisa’s debut CD, “Awabakal Suite”. She was also nominated for the annual Australian Young Achievers Award by the Arts Council of Australia who granted her the funds to come to New York to study with Rufus Reid in 1994.
In June 2000, Nicki began performing on Monday nights at the Iridium Jazz Club with the legendary guitarist and inventor, Les Paul. As part of the Les Paul Trio, Nicki worked side-by-side with guitar greats from Paul McCartney, Slash, Steve Miller to fellow Aussie, Tommy Emmanuel. Since then she has performed with such notable musicians as Michel Legrand, Joe Wilder, Randy Brecker, Clark Terry, Jose Feliciano, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli, Dick Hyman, Patti Labelle & the New York Pops Orchestra, Harry Allen, Marlena Shaw, David Krakauer, Ken Peplowski, Ann Hampton Callaway, Bill Mays, Scott Hamilton, Lillian Boutte, Larry Carlton and Houston Person, just to name a few.
In 2007 and 2008, Nicki received back to back honors for Swing Journal’s Best Jazz Vocal Album (Moon River and Fly Me to The Moon, respectively). In 2010 her album Black Coffee (Venus) received Swing Journal’s Gold Disc award.
Trumpeter and Grammy© Award Winner Brian Lynch brings to his music an unparalleled depth and breadth of experience. A honored graduate of two of the jazz world’s most distinguished academies, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet, he has received wide acclaim during his long tenures with Latin Jazz legend Eddie Palmieri and straight ahead master Phil Woods. He has also been a valued collaborator with jazz artists such as Benny Golson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Charles McPherson; Latin music icons as diverse as Hector LaVoe and Lila Downs; and pop luminaries such as Prince. As a bandleader and recording artist he has released over 20 critically acclaimed CDs featuring his distinctive composing and arranging, and toured the world with various ensembles reflecting the wide sweep of his music. He currently is Associate Professor at the Frost School Of Music, University of Miami as well as conducting clinics and workshops at prestigious institutions of learning the world over. His talents have been recognized by top placing in the Downbeat Critics and Readers Polls (#3 Trumpet Critics Poll); highly rated reviews for his work in Downbeat, Jazziz and Jazz Times; 2005 and 2007 Grammy award nominations, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and Meet The Composer.
Brian’s most recent CD releases as a leader include the Downbeat 5 star rated Unsung Heroes project, ConClave Vol. 2 with his Spheres Of Influence group the Grammy Award winning Simpático featuring Eddie Palmieri, and Bolero Nights For Billie Holiday. “You can lose yourself in the pure energy of his playing, but at any moment you can switch your attention to the logic and craftsmanship of his music and find multiple rewards.”— Neil Tesser, Jazziz
Award-winning jazz pianist Tamir Hendelman has performed with the Jeff Hamilton Trio, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Harry Allen, Teddy Edwards, Warren Vache, Houston Person, Jeff Clayton, Nick Brignola, Phil Upchurch, Rickey Woodard, John Clayton and Barbara Morrison. He also leads his own trio and his debut CD “Playground” features him in this trio setting. Beginning his keyboard studies at age 6 in Tel Aviv, Tamir moved to the US at age 12 in 1984, winning Yamaha’s national keyboard competition 2 years later at age 14. He became the youngest musical director for Lovewell Institute, a national arts education non-profit organization. Tamir joined the Jeff Hamilton Trio in 2000, contributing arrangements, recording and touring Japan, Europe and the US. In 2001 he became a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, with whom he has recorded for John Pizzarelli, Gladys Knight and Diana Krall. He is the pianist/arranger on Jackie Ryan’s “You and the Night and the Music” and Janis Mann’s “A Perfect Time.” He is also featured on Natalie Cole’s “Still Unforgettable” and Barbara Streisand’s upcoming recording. In his own trio, he explores standards, Brazilian music, blues and his Israeli roots.
Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player based in New York, has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player, he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. Stafford’s exceptionally expressive and well defined musical talent allows him to dance in and around the rich trumpet tradition of his predecessors while making his own inroads.
Since the mid-1990’s, Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, Kenny Barron Quintet, Frank Wess Quintet, Jimmy Heath Quintet and Big Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band. With the Hamilton- Clayton Jazz Orchestra, he performed on Diana Krall’s GRAMMY nominated From this Moment On (2006). John Clayton invited Stafford to perform with the Clayton Brothers Quintet and Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Stafford is a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and they were awarded a GRAMMY in 2009 for Best Large Ensemble, Live at the Village Vanguard. Stafford can be heard on over 130 albums, of which his latest recording was hailed as “the first must have album of 2011” and “genius”, This Side of Strayhorn.
Stafford is the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University, founder and band leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, and Managing and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia (JOP). Stafford is renowned in the jazz world as an educator, performer and leader and has received countless award nominations and accolades.
With 12 recordings as a leader, more than 200 as a sideman and eight Grammy® awards to his name, baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan has set the bar high in the world of jazz. Winner of the 2014 DownBeat Readers Poll, the 2009 and 2011 Down Beat Critics Poll, the 2009 and 2010 Jazz Journalist Award, and the 2011 Jazz Times Critics and Readers Polls, Gary played early in his career with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. These days he is a regular member of the Dave Holland Big Band and Octet, The Joe Lovano Nonet, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Star Big Band. The in-demand musician also has collaborated with the likes of Diana Ross, Ray Charles and B.B. King. Gary is currently an adjunct professor of jazz saxophone at Amherst College, and The Jazz Cruise looks forward to him “schooling” its audiences during the cruise.
John Fedchock has been a mainstay of the New York jazz scene for decades. The revered bandleader and master of the trombone has been wowing audiences and fellow musicians since his debut with the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1980. Today, his 16-piece John Fedchock New York Big Band and the John Fedchock New York Sextet are staples on the international jazz festival circuit. In his 35-year career, the critically acclaimed trombone soloist has earned a Grammy® nomination, released nearly two dozen recordings, and toured with T.S. Monk, Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band, Louie Bellson’s Big Band, the Bob Belden Ensemble, the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. Renowned for his dense voicings, thick ensemble writing and unique, swinging lines, John also is a celebrated arranger and composer destined to make a lasting impression on big band music.
Bass trombone virtuoso Jennifer Wharton is a familiar face on The Jazz Cruise stage as well as in Broadway theaters, recording studios and live performances with some of jazz’s greatest ensembles. A member of the Grammy®-nominated ensemble Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Jennifer also has collaborated with the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band, Woody Herman Orchestra, Gene Krupa Orchestra, Alan Ferber’s Extended Ensemble, South Florida Jazz Orchestra, DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, Jeff Fairbanks Jazz Orchestra and the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop. Her Broadway credits include The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Wonderland, 9 to 5, and Curtains.
Music can only be described with words, but for David Finck, music is a language all its own. “I hear music as a spoken language,” he says. “When I listen, I’m conscious of the breaths that are taken during a phrase; I hear the vocabulary, the inflection, and the syntax. I listen for all of it.” It’s a statement that makes sense given David’s skills as a bassist and the diverse artists he has played and recorded with – among them; Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin, Sinead O’Connor, Natalie Cole, Rod Stewart, Herbie Hancock, Ivan Lins, Al Jarreau, Tony Bennett, Paquito D’Rivera, George Michael, Rosemary Clooney and Andre Previn, to name just a few. Over the years, David has become one of the most sought-after musicians in Manhattan, equally revered for his work in jazz, popular, Brazilian and classical music. He’s bridged musical diversity through his skills — but even more so through his ability to hear music as language in an almost literal sense. David’s discography lists more than 100 recordings including Platinum and Gold selling records with Rod Stewart, Natalie Cole, and Elton John. More recently, David increased his personal vocabulary, transitioning from his role as a bassist and becoming a producer, arranger and songwriter. Currently living in New York, David’s horizon is limitless. He’s long been recognized as one of New York’s most gifted musicians.
A mainstay on The Jazz Cruise marque, bassist Tom Kennedy was already playing gigs with jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Barney Kessel, Eddie Harris, Nat Adderly and Stan Kenton by the time he entered his teens. His impressive resumé includes performances and recordings with James Moody, Freddie Hubbard, David Sanborn, Woody Shaw, Dave Weckl, Mike Stern, Diane Schurr, Patti Austin, Michael and Randy Brecker, Joe Sample, Margaret Whiting, Rosemary Clooney, Michael Feinstein and Bobby McFerrin. His skills on the electric and acoustic bass have been featured on over 150 recordings and earned him a spot on the international tour of jazz fusion group Steps Ahead. Over the course of his career, Tom has released four solo albums as well.
Drummer/percussionist Ernie Adams returns to The Jazz Cruise to woo audiences once again with his brilliant technique and magnetic personality. The Chicago-based artist has played professionally since age 15 and his long list of performance, touring and recording credentials includes collaborations with Ramsey Lewis, Stanley Turrentine, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Patricia Barber, Dianne Reeves, James Moody, Rufus Reid, Joe Zawinul, Slide Hampton, Frank Morgan, Arturo Sandoval, Wycliffe Gordon, Clark Terry, Pharoah Sanders, Ahmad Jamal and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. Performing on more than 100 recordings along with a host of radio and television jingles, Ernie’s perfect timing, solid groove and masterful technique render him relevant – and highly in-demand – in all musical genres. Devoted to arts education, Ernie currently serves on the faculty at the University of Illinois-Chicago and teaches at Orbert Davis’ Music Alive program, The Jazz Institute of Chicago, Ravinia and the Music Institute of Chicago.
While following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, John Allred has made a pretty big name for himself along the way. The accomplished trombonist was a lead and featured soloist with the legendary Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd in the 80s. Today, he continues appearing with the orchestra under the direction of Frank Tiberi. John also has toured with the Harry Connick Jr. Big Band and performed with The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Toshiko Akioshi’s Big Band, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks and the Louis Armstrong Centennial band.
Trumpeter Bijon Watson’s career as an artist-educator has taken him around the globe performing for audiences worldwide. Bijon’s passion for big band jazz inspired him to become a student of the great bands and has become a sought after lead trumpet player. Bijon’s played lead for Grammy-nominated bands including the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, John Daversa Progressive Big Band and John Beasley’s Monkestra. Bijon’s credits are vast and include iconic artists such as Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé, Harry Connick, Jr., Justin Timberlake, Diana Krall, Michael Jackson, Arturo Sandoval, Lady GaGa, Stevie Wonder, Rosemary Clooney, Alicia Keys, Prince, Steve Tyrell, Joe Williams and Nancy Wilson. His film appearances include appearing in the award-winning film “La La Land.”
Grammy Nominated Trumpeter/Composer Michael Rodriguez was born in Queens, New York. Michael was inspired to pursue music as a career by his father, drummer Roberto Rodriguez. Michael studied at the New World school of the Arts in Miami, Florida and continued his studies at the University of Miami. After completing two years at the University of Miami, he decided to transfer to the New School University in New York where he received his B.A. Michael is currently a faculty member at the New York University Jazz Department. He has performed and toured with Clark Terry, Bobby Watson, Quincy Jones, Joe Lovano, Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra, Pop Icon Jessica Simpson, Chico O’farill Orchestra, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, member of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Jon Faddis-Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Carla Bley Band and Quintet, The Clayton Brothers, Kenny Baron’s Quintet, Conrad Herwig Latin Side Projects, Clayton Brothers Quintet, Harry Conick jr., Bob Mintzer, Eddie Palmieri Septet, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, He and his brother pianist Robert Rodriguez have 4 recordings out as the Rodriguez Brothers with the most recent one, “Impromptu” nominated for a Grammy in 2015.
Introduced to the saxophone by his father, Dick Oatts’ career began in the Midwest but took off once New York City got its hands on him in the late 70s. Along with the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Orchestra, his big band experience includes performances with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Mel Lewis, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Lester Bowie, Joe Lovano, Sam Jones-Tom Harrell, Paquito d’Rivera, Jim McNeely, Tito Puente, Kenny Wheeler and Gunther Schuller. Vocalists like Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Neene Freelon, Mel Torme and Milton Nascimento have relied on his talents, as have pop artists Luther Vandross, James Taylor and Everything But the Girl. Dick has also appeared in recordings and tours with Red Rodney, Eddie Gomez, Vic Juric, Bob Brookmeyer, Mel Lewis, Dom Salvador, Jerry Bergonzi, Flim & the BB’s, Fred Hersch, Dave Berkman, Soren Moller, Terell Stafford, Jon Faddis, Lalo Schiffrin, and Ray Mantilla. A professor of Jazz Studies at the Boyer School of Music at Temple University, Dick also is an artist-in-residence at the Amsterdam Conservatory. The Jazz Cruise is privileged to include an Artist of this caliber in its lineup.
Rickey Woodard was born in Nashville, Tennessee, where he played in a family band with his brothers and sisters, playing Blues and R’n’B around the Nashville area. Rickey came up listening to such greats as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt. Rickey’s favorite saxophone players are Hank Mobley and George Coleman. After leaving Nashville, Rickey went to California and joined the Ray Charles Band. After eight great years, Rickey decided to pursue a solo career as both a leader and a sideman. Currently, he performs live frequently leading his own quartet and quintet as well as performing and recording with The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Frank Capp Juggernaut Band.
He has performed and recorded with such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Buble, Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra, The Temptations, Nancy Wilson and many others. Rickey has over 200 original compositions and extensive experience arranging for quartets and quintets. His latest recording, Pineapple Delight, consists of all original compositions arranged for a quintet.
When Antonio Hart was in ninth grade, the music and art programs were cut out of the public schools. Antonio was devastated because the one thing that made school interesting was taken away from him. Hart had a friend that attended the then new Baltimore School for the Performing Arts, and somehow got Antonio an audition. Most of the students that attended this school had been playing music all of their lives and had private instruction. This did not stop Antonio because he knew this would be the place for him, and one week to the day after his audition he received a transfer letter in the mail; he had been accepted! Hart considers this the beginning of his life as a young man and musician.
Hart’s real study of Jazz began at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, he studied with Bill Pierce, Andy McGhee, and Joe Viola. He made many friends at Berklee, but the most important was Roy Hargrove. They spent three years touring the world and recording Hargrove’s first three records. Hart considers Hargrove to be his brother in life and music. He even used Hargrove on his first recording ‘For the First Time.’
During Hart’s first few years on the road, he also worked on a Masters Degree at Queens College. There he had the opportunity to learn from the great Jimmy Heath and Donald Byrd. Hart felt blessed and honored when Mr. Heath produced his second recording ‘Don’t You Know I Care.’
His 1997 release, ‘Here I Stand’, earned Hart a 1997 Grammy nomination for ‘Best Jazz Instrumental Solo.’ He has also been in much demand as a guest on over 100 recordings. Since then, Hart has recorded eight CDs as a leader, including his latest, ‘Blessings.”
Hart balances his time as a full-time tenured Professor at The Aaron Copland school of Music, Queens College, as well as, traveling on the road with his band, The Dave Holland Big band, and The Dizzy Gillespie Big band.
In 1985, Romero Lubambo came to the United States, and brought with him a new sound in Brazilian jazz guitar. Romero’s guitar playing unites the styles and rhythms of his native Brazilian musical heritage with his fluency in the American jazz tradition to form a distinctive new sound. From the cool, sophisticated rhythms of his native Brazil to hard bop, Romero is a guitarist who’s comfortable in any musical setting. He is an uncommonly gifted soloist and musical improviser with a steady stream of unpredictably creative musical thoughts and the virtuosity to deliver them.
After arriving in New York City, Romero quickly established himself as a “first call” session and touring guitarist who was in demand not only for his authentic Brazilian sound, but also for his command with a variety of styles. Lubambo has performed and recorded with many outstanding artists, including Dianne Reeves, Michael Brecker, Yo-Yo Ma, Kathleen Battle, Diana Krall, Herbie Mann, Wynton Marsalis, Gal Costa, Kurt Elling, Kenny Barron, Grover Washington Jr., Vernon Reid, Paquito D’Rivera, Harry Belafonte, Larry Coryell, Gato Barbieri, and Cesar Camargo Mariano… among many others.
He has also established himself as a composer and performer on his own critically acclaimed recording projects as well as on those of Trio Da Paz, a Brazilian jazz trio Lubambo formed with Nilson Matta and Duduka da Fonseca.
Matt Wilson has released thirteen albums as a leader, appeared on more than 400 others as a sideman and has played with an impressive array of some of the most legendary names in jazz, including Wynton Marsalis, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, John Scofield, Joanne Brackeen and Herbie Hancock, just to name a few.
Wilson was named 2018 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association and his album, Honey And Salt (Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg), won the JJA’s Album of the Year Award. That recording and his previous, Beginning of a Memory, accomplished the rare feat of an artist receiving consecutive 5-star (masterpiece) reviews from DownBeat magazine. Wilson’s commitment to jazz goes far beyond his estimable skills as a drummer and bandleader. Also a renowned educator, he is on a tireless mission to foster a lively and deep connection between music and people, whether they be playing or listening to it. To that end, he is extremely passionate about bringing jazz to new audiences and inspiring students to be as individualistic and imaginative as possible.