We’re hard at work assembling our 2013 artist faculty. Here’s who we have confirmed so far.
Clarence Acox Jr., an instrumental figure in the Seattle music scene, has nurtured young musicians for the past 35 years as director of jazz bands at Garfield High School. He leads the renowned Garfield Jazz Ensemble, winning dozens of awards and making regular appearances at national and international venues.
Garfield’s Jazz Ensemble has twice taken first place at New York’s Essentially Ellington National Jazz Band Competition and Festival – the country’s most prestigious high school jazz competition.
Acox, who also directs Seattle University’s Jazz Ensemble, was named “Educator of the Year” by DownBeat Magazine in 2001. Acox co-founded the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in 1995 and performed with the Floyd Standifer Quartet at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant for more than two decades. (Photo by Jim Levitt)
Cyrille Aimee has proven herself to be an unstoppable, undeniable talent in the modern age of jazz. Internationally renowned and praised for her unparalleled abilities, Cyrille’s vocal stylings are synonymous with musical genius.
Her culturally rich background has supplied her with the driving force of Dominican rhythm and the incredible swing of the French Gypsies.
Taking these natural abilities with her across the world, she has done nothing short of receiving rave reviews and a loyal following in each country she graces with her voice.
Dan Balmer has long been considered one of the finest guitarists, composers, and educators in the Northwest. In 2009, Dan became one of only five Oregonians to be honored with membership in both The Oregon Music Hall of Fame and the Jazz Society of the Oregon Hall of Fame.
From 2005-2009 Dan toured and recorded with two time Grammy Winner Diane Schuur, playing in over 15 countries and 60 cities. When not on the road with Ms. Schuur, he leads his own groups and continues his long standing gigs with drummer Mel Brown, David Friesen, and others.
Dan has appeared on over 80 CDs including eight of his own which have received critical acclaim and international airplay. His music has been featured in movies and television shows both in the U.S. and overseas.
Pianist George Cables has played with Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Joe Henderson, and many other legendary jazz musicians.
His own records include the 1980 Cables’ Vision with Freddie Hubbard among others. In the 1980s he worked in the project Bebop & Beyond, who recorded tribute albums to Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk.
He is currenty performing and recording as a soloist, with trio and larger ensembles, and as a clinician in college jazz programs.
Obed Calvaire has performed with major jazz artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Danilo Perez, Bobby Watson, Mark Murphy, Stefon Harris, Josh Roseman, Eric Reed, Buster Williams and the Clayton Brothers Quintet.
He has also performed with large ensembles such as the Village Vanguard Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band and the Bob Mintzer Big Band.
From 2002-04, Mr. Calvaire was a member of the Steve Turre Sextet. Performing with Lizz Wright, he has participated in major jazz festivals such as the North Sea Jazz Festival at The Hague, the Vitoria Jazz Festival in Spain and the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.
Born in the Netherlands in 1984 and raised in Southern California, Gerald Clayton took his first piano lessons before age seven with the full support and encouragement of his father, the acclaimed jazz bassist, composer and bandleader, John Clayton.
Over the course of eight years, with three albums as a leader, several studio projects as a sideman, and countless worldwide performances, Gerald has established himself as a leading figure in the up-and-coming generation of jazz artists who are fluent in the range of styles that make up today´s jazz lexicon.
Hailed by The New York Times for his “huge, authoritative presence,” Clayton is well on his way toward etching his own enduring mark in the long and rich tradition of jazz. Never has this been more apparent than in Life Forum, his latest recording on Concord Jazz and his most ambitious project to date.
Reed specialist Jeff Clayton is a versatile performer, bandleader, and studio musician whose diverse recording credits include work with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, and Earth, Wind, and Fire.
Together with his brother John, he founded the Grammy-nominated Clayton Brothers in 1977, and later co-founded the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz orchestra – named by readers of Downbeat as the top big band in jazz.
In addition, Jeff has performed with numerous artists including Lena Horne, Lionel Hampton, Dr. John, Ella Fitzgerald, and played in the Count Basie Orchestra while under the leadership of Thad Jones. (Photo by Jim Levitt)
Pianist/Composer and vocalist Dawn Clement hails from Seattle, WA. A veteran of Jazz Port Townsend, Dawn is involved in several collaborations including the Jane Ira Bloom Quartet, Priester’s Cue with the legendary Julian Priester, the Seattle Pianist Collective, as well as her own trio.
Dawn has performed with such notables as Nancy King, Ingrid Jensen, Hadley Caliman, John Clayton, Mercer Ellington, Mark Dresser, Jay Clayton and Pharaoh Sanders. Dawn has performed in some of the world’s most premier venues such as Carnegie Hall, Le Conservatoire Superieur, Paris, and Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, as well as numerous clubs (including Sweet Rhythm, Tonic, and Iridium), art museums, and theaters.
In addition to her work with Jane Ira Bloom, Dawn has toured the U.S. with a number of projects including the Sabella Consort, and the Rubin/Clement Piano Dialogues. Dawn is currently on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts and maintains a rigorous performance schedule.
Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. Anat has been voted Clarinetist of the Year six years in a row by the Jazz Journalists Association, as well as 2012’s Multi-Reeds Player of the Year. That’s not to mention her topping of critics and readers polls in DownBeat magazine several years running.
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. In September 2012, Anzic Records released her sixth album as a bandleader, Claroscuro.The album ranges from buoyant dances to darkly lyrical ballads, drawing inspiration from New Orleans and New York, Africa and Brazil. In its ebullient, irresistible variety, Claroscuro encapsulates the description Jazz Police offered of Anat in full flight: “She becomes a singer, a poet, a mad scientist, laughing – musically – with the delight of reaching that new place, that new feeling, with each chorus.”
Chuck Deardorf has recorded and toured internationally with Bud Shank and Don Lanphere, George Cables and Kenny Barron, Winard Harper, and Larry Coryell. As the first call bassist in Seattle, Chuck has performed with Chet Baker, Zoot Sims, Art Farmer, Howard Roberts, Monty Alexander, Kenny Burrell, Marian McPartland, Mel Lewis, Pete Christlieb, Joe Williams, Kenny Werner, Carl Fontana, Joe LaBarbara, and Tal Farlow.
Chuck’s latest solo release on Origin records, “Transparence” (released 2011) demonstrates his performing, producing and arranging abilities with a host of great musicians. He is currently a member of the Deardorf/Peterson Group (whose 2004 Origin release “Portal” won critical acclaim), the Jovino Santos Neto Quartet, the Susan Pascal Quartet along with the Bill Ramsay Big Band. An accomplished studio musician, Chuck’s bass has been heard on many first run movie soundtracks, dozens of albums and CD projects, and numerous Broadway touring shows. Chuck also has performed on numerous occasions with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. (Photo by Tim Rounds)
Diego Figueiredo is considered one of the most talented guitar players in the world today. He is the winner of several important competitions including the Montreux Jazz Competition and the VISA Prize.
Diego has released over nineteen albums to date, three DVD’s, and several instructional books. His music is a fusion between Jazz, Bossa Nova and Classical.
His unique interpretations, along with his phenomenal technique and emotion, has created an explosion of adoring fans and concert goers. Diego has performed in over forty countries around the world.
Musical ambassador and interpreter of America’s music, Wycliffe Gordon has an unmatched modern mastery of the plunger mute and his exceptional technique and signature sound, have solidified Gordon a place in musical history as one of the top trombonists of his generation.
Wycliffe has been named “Best in Trombone” by the Downbeat Critics Poll for 2012 and Jazz Journalists Association named him “Trombonist of the Year” again this year in 2012 as well as previous years 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011.
He is a past recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Vanguard Award, among others. Wycliffe is on the faculty of the Jazz Arts Program at Manhattan School of Music.
A pianist, arranger, composer, lyricist, and author, Randy Halberstadt has enjoyed an international performing career, having played and/or recorded with Mimi Fox, Ray Drummond, Jay Clayton, Terry Gibbs, Buddy DeFranco, Herb Ellis, Mel Brown, Nancy Kelly, Houston Person, Sheila Jordan, Ernestine Anderson, Jackie Ryan, Marlena Shaw, Jiggs Wigham and John Stowell.
Randy’s book, Metaphors For The Musician: Perspectives From A Jazz Pianist (Sher Music 2002) has become one of the most highly acclaimed texts in jazz education. His composition “When Springtime Turns To Fall” appears in The All-Jazz Real Book (both books published by Sher Music Co. in 2002). His recordings include Inner Voice (Pony Boy Records 1991), Clockwork (Pony Boy Records 1995), Parallel Tracks (Origin Records 2004), and Flash Point (Origin Records 2010).
Randy makes his home in the Pacific Northwest and has taught for many years at Seattle’s prestigious Cornish College of the Arts.
Jon Hamar is a versatile artist who’s ability to find a tasteful, unique voice in any musical situation has made him a staple in the Northwest music scene. Hamar’s friendly nature, sense of humor and work ethic has kept him busy as a freelance bassist in multiple performance genres.
Jon graduated from the Eastman School of Music with a Master’s degree in Jazz and Contemporary Media, studying with Jeffrey Campbell, James Vandermark, Harold Danko, Clay Jenkins, Raymond Ricker and Fred Sturm.
Since moving to Seattle in 2001 Hamar has been active in the role of supporting bassist. Hamar performed for four years with jazz and blues great Ernestine Anderson and is currently a regular with Northwest notables such as Greta Matassa, Jim Knapp, Randy Halberstadt and Dawn Clement. Jon also performs regularly in an orchestral setting recording on movie soundtracks, and playing recitals and concerts around the Northwest.
As an educator Jon keeps busy teaching at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington and Edmonds Community College in Edmonds, Washington as well as maintaining an active private studio. Jon currently has former students attending Berklee College of Music, The New School and the Manhattan School of Music.
Originality is what versatile drummer Jeff Hamilton brings to the groups he performs with and is one of the reasons why he is constantly in demand, whether he is recording or performing with his trio, the Clayton Brothers or co-leading the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
In addition to his many recordings with Ray Brown, Jeff has been on nearly 200 recordings with artists such as Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Milt Jackson, Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Streisand, Mel Torme, John Pizzarelli, Benny Carter, Lalo Schifrin, George Shearing, Dr. John, Clark Terry, Gene Harris, Toshiko Akioshi, Scott Hamilton, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Keely Smith, Bill Holman, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel and Mark Murphy.
Jeff is a frequent guest of the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany. He also appeared in Natalie Cole’s Great Performances PBS special, Unforgettable and an Oscar Peterson documentary, Life In The Key Of Oscar.
Stefon Harris was called in 1999 by the Los Angeles Times “one of the most important young artists in jazz who is at the forefront of new New York music” and “much in demand as a star sideman”. Harris has played with several jazz luminaries including Kenny Barron, Steve Turre, Kurt Elling, and Charlie Hunter, in addition to releasing several of his own critically well-regarded albums.
His latest release, Urbanus, is his 7th CD as a leader, which also marks his Concord Records debut. Urbanus picks up where 2004′s Evolution (Blue Note) left off in that it features Blackout, his scintillating ensemble that’s as versed in modern jazz as it is with rhythms, melodies and soundscapes associated with R&B, pop, hip-hop and funk.
Gary Hobbs is a native of the Pacific Northwest and lives in Vancouver, WA. He has played professionally for over 3 decades and appears on over 50 recordings. Gary played with The Stan Kenton Orchestra from 1975 through 1977, and through the years has performed with Randy Brecker, Pete Christlieb, Greta Matassa, Anita O’Day, Suzanna McKorkle, Dan Siegel, Glen Moore, The New York Voices, Eddie Harris and many more.
More recently, Gary has shared the stage with Bud Shank, Randy Brecker, Bill Mays, Kurt Elling, Dave Frishberg, David Freisen, Bobby Shew, Bobby Watson, Bob Florence, Carl Saunders, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Terry Gibbs, Jaquie Naylor, the Jim Widner Big Band, the Mike Vax Big Band, and Tom Grant. Gary has performed at scores of festivals and clubs all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, Tivoli Garden, Kennedy Center, and Wolf Trap.
Born in Mt. Morris, New York, Joe’s first musical experiences began at home as part of the family band with his parents and two older brothers, saxophonist Pat and trumpeter and arranger/composer John La Barbera. After Berklee and two years with the U.S. Army band at Fort Dix, New Jersey, Joe began his professional career with Woody Herman and the Thundering Herd, and then moved onto The Chuck Mangione Quartet. In 1978 Joe was asked to join Bill Evans in what was to become a landmark trio. Along with bassist Marc Johnson, the trio grew over a two-year period to become one of Evans’ finest (see performances of “My Romance”, “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “Bill’s Hit Tune” on YouTube). After Bill’s untimely death in 1980, Joe joined singer Tony Bennett.
Currently residing in Los Angeles, Joe is involved in a wide range of music locally, nationally and internationally. On the local scene he is busy with his own quintet as well as sideman duties with many well known jazz artists. Recent dates in North America include performances with Bill Mays, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker and brother Pat LaBarbera.
Percussionist, composer, music director and band leader Kelby MacNayr performs jazz, classical, new music, and has collaborated with many acclaimed artists including Anne Schaefer, pop group Elephant Island, N.Y. pianist Misha Piatigorsky, composer and pianist Marianne Trudel, Christine Jensen, Chuck Deardorf, Ian McDougall, Chet Doxas and many others.
Kelby is currently the Artistic Director for the Art of the Trio Series, and is a member of the Marc Atkinson Quartet, the Marianne Trudel Quintet, and Misha Piatigorsky’s Canadian trio.
His group the Kelby MacNayr Quintet has been earning critical acclaim in the US and Canada. (Photo by Jim Levitt)
Returning to Centrum after an acclaimed debut in 2010, René Marie’s story is the story of music’s power to sustain and transform. Her career catapulted after leaving her husband of 23 years when he gave the ultimatum to either quit singing or to leave the house.
From her debut release in 2001 onward, René has proven herself to be one of the most daring vocalists around. She attracted much notice for her powerful rendition of “Strange Fruit,” which was paired with the unlikely “Dixie” featured on her 2001 release “Vertigo.” On her 2003 album, “Live at Jazz Standard,” she delivered a soaring a cappella version of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” to open Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.”
René produced a one-woman show entitled “Slut Energy Theory,” which was awarded the Denver Post’s Reader’s Choice for Best Solo Performance of 2009. Her latest release “Voice of My Beautiful Country” is an ambitious celebration of Americana and the cultural diversity of these United States.
At age 25, jazz trumpeter and vocalist Bria Skonberg has been performing on stage for over 20 years. Originally from Chilliwack, she now resides in Vancouver, BC, where she has completed a Degree in Jazz Performance from Capilano University. Since getting into jazz ten years ago she has been featured as a bandleader and guest artist all over North America, Europe, China and Japan.
In July of 2009 she was one of four performers in a Young Artists’ Showcase at the Jazz a Juan Festival in Antibes, France. She has been the recipient of the CBC Jazz Award of Merit (2006), and the Kobe Jazz Street Friendship Award in 2007. Early in 2008 she was a guest on Riverwalk Jazz with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, and is often a featured performer with Canadian Icon Dal Richards in Vancouver.
Gary Smulyan attended SUNY-Postsdam and Hofstra University before he joined Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd in 1978. In 1980, he became part of the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra then under the direction of Bob Brookmeyer.
Smulyan also found work with other important large ensembles including the Mingus Epitaph band, and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Smulyan has shared the stage and the recording studio with trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonist Stan Getz, pianist Chick Corea, timbales king Tito Puente, and R&B/blues and soul icons Ray Charles, B.B. King and Diana Ross.
Smulyan is a four-time winner of the DownBeat Readers Poll, and a five-time Grammy award winner for his work with B.B. King, Lovano, Holland and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.
Terell Stafford picked up his first trumpet at the age of thirteen, and even though he was drawn to jazz, initially studied classical music. While pursuing a music education degree at the University of Maryland, Stafford played with the school’s jazz band.
Since the mid-1990’s Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, the Kenny Barron Sextet, the Jimmy Heath Big Band, the Jon Faddis Orchestra.
Currently he is a member of the Grammy award winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, as well as a member of the Grammy nominated Clayton Brothers Quintet, and the Frank Wess Quintet. Stafford has recorded six albums as a leader, and a sideman has been featured on over 90 albums. (Photo by Jimmy Ryan)
Jay Thomas is a versatile multi-instrumentalist, and can be heard on over 60 recordings that run the gamut from hip-hop to acid-jazz, rock, Latin, and big band.
Jay has appeared in concert with Mel Lewis, John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton, Maria Schneider, Bill Holman, Bob Florence and Frank Wess. He has played festivals at Wolf Trap with Red Rodney and Ira Sullivan, the Aspen Jazz Festival with Herb Ellis, Jake Hanna and Mel Ryne (recorded with them on Roll Call), the duMaurier Jazz Festival with Chuck Israels Trio and with the Jay Thomas Quartet.
Jay toured Great Britain with jazz legend Slim Gaillard recording there with Slim, Jay McShann and Buddy Tate.
Byron Vannoy has become one of the first call drummers in Seattle’s Jazz and creative music scenes. He has studied privately with Ian Froman, Mark Ivester, Bob Moses, and Joe LaBarbera and holds an Associate Certificate in Professional Music from Berklee College of Music, a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from Cornish College of the Arts as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree in Jazz and African American Music Performance from California Institute of the Arts.
Vannoy has performed and recorded with many internationally known musicians such as Julian Priester, Herbie Hancock, Randy Brecker, Jovino Santos-Neto, Tom Scott, Wayne Horvitz, Ron Carter, Ernestine Anderson, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Vinnie Golia, and Hadley Caliman. Recently emerging as a bandleader and composer, his debut recording “Meridian” received national recognition as well as the 2008 Golden Ear Award for “Recording of the Year”.
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Sachal Vasandani has released three albums on Mack Avenue Records, Eyes Wide Open in 2007, We Move in 2009, and Hi-Fly in 2011.
The Chicago-born artist attracted attention when he was named Down Beat magazine’s Collegiate Jazz Vocalist of the Year in 1999. He has worked with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
His debut recording, Eyes Wide Open, lead to tours and opening for artists such as jazz trumpeter Chris Botti and pop singer Joan Osborne. Vasandani’s second album, 2009′s We Move, was chosen as a New York Times Critic’s Pick.
Pianist Eric Verlinde has excited audiences worldwide with his energetic and passionate performances. His music touches the very soul of the listener.
He has played with Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker, Eric Alexander, Terell Stafford, Mark Murphy, Luis Conte, Thelma Huston, Francine Reed, Kelley Gray, Don Lamphere, Jay Thomas, Buddy Cattlet, Greta Matassa, and Luis Peralta.
Eric is in high demand and is constantly performing, refining the sound and creating new music. His different groups create music that is pure, creative, spontaneous, superbly structured and melodic.
LAURA WELLAND – BASS
Bassist Laura Welland has played with Jay Thomas, Hadley Caliman, Julian Priester, Dawn Clement and other Seattle jazz greats. She has studied under Chuck Deardorf, John Clayton and the late Ray Brown.
Welland received her music degree from Cornish College of the Arts and was a “runner-up bass” player at the international Sisters in Jazz Competition. She has been praised for her swinging time, facile sight-reading, and simpatico stage presence.
Her albums include, “Love is Never out of Season” (2004) and “Dissertation on the State of Bliss” (2005), both produced by her friend and mentor, John Clayton.
Jiggs Whigham first came to the attention of critics and fans at age 17 as featured soloist and first trombonist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, directed by Ray McKinley.
In 1979 he was named Professor and Head of the Jazz Department at Cologne University College of Music. From 1995-2000 he was chief conductor and artistic director of the Berlin Radio Orchestra.
He is currently a soloist and clinician worldwide, conductor of the BBC Big Band in Great Britain, artistic director of the Berlin Jazz Orchestra and visiting Professor at the Guildhall School of Music And Drama in London.
Detroit native, Rodney Whitaker grew up in the city soaking in the sounds of jazz/classical music and working/studying with the finest musicians in the city—including trumpeter Marcus Belgrave and Detroit Symphony Orchestra Principal Bassist Robert Gladstone.
Whitaker went on to seven-year tenure as bassist with the Wynton Marsalis Sextet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. He has toured the world over the last twenty years, collaborating with legendary performers such as Dianne Reeves, Mulgrew Miller, Diana Krall, Terence Blanchard, Kathleen Battle, Cyrus Chestnut, Gerald Wilson, Carl Allen, Hank Jones, Marian McPartland, Johnny O’Neal, Kenny Burrell, Bob James, and Benny Golson.
Currently, he is Michigan State University’s Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Jazz Bass, and his former students are currently performing with jazz artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Stephon Harris and many others.
Anthony Wilson counts Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Wes Montgomery, and T-Bone Walker among his influences. His first album was nominated for a Grammy and his second, Goat Hill Junket (1998), also garnered notice. Subsequent recordings by his nine-piece band are Adult Themes (MAMA, 1999) and Power of Nine (Groove Note, 2006). Diana Krall and mandolinist Eva Scow appear on the latter.
He has also recorded two trio albums with Hammond organist Joe Bagg and drummer Mark Ferber, Our Gang in 2001 and Savivity in 2005 (both on Groove Note). In 2009 he recorded an album (again for Groove Note) of trio music with Larry Goldings on Hammond organ, and alternating drummers Jim Keltner and Jeff Hamilton. He has been a member of Diana Krall’s group since 2001, appearing on CDs and DVDs, notably the Grammy-winning Live in Paris. He has also recorded a CD with Brazilian guitarist Chico Pinheiro, “Nova,” released in Brazil on Pinheiro’s label Buriti, and in the US on Wilson’s label Goat Hill Recordings. Anthony can also be heard on a number of his father’s recordings and often plays live with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra whenever he can.
Matt Wilson leads the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts and Crafts, Christmas Tree-O and the Carl Sandburg Project. Matt is integral part of bands led by Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Charlie Haden, Lee Konitz, Bob Stewart, Denny Zeitlin, Ron Miles, Marty Ehrlich, Ted Nash, Jane Ira Bloom and Dena DeRose among others.
He has performed with many legends of music including Herbie Hancock, Dewey Redman, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvis Costello, Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, John Zorn, Marshall Allen, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and Hank Jones.
Wilson has appeared on 250 CDs as a sideman and has released 9 as a leader for Palmetto Records as well as co-leading 5 additional releases