Jazz Port Townsend Artist Faculty

Clarence AcoxCLARENCE ACOX – DRUMS

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)

Dan BallmerDAN BALMER, GUITAR

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.

George CablesGEORGE CABLES – PIANO

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.

JEFF CLAYTON – ALTO

Jeff ClaytonReed 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)

DAWN CLEMENT – PIANO

Pianist/Composer and vocalist Dawn Clement hails from Seattle, WA. A veteran of Jazz Port Townsend, Dawn Dawn Clementis 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.

Chuck DeardorfCHUCK DEARDORF – BASS

 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)

Dena DeRoseDENA DEROSE – VOCALS

Singer-pianist Dena DeRose has accumulated an impressive list of performance credits, ranging from the legendary clubs around the world like the Blue Note, Smoke and the Jazz Standard in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Pitt Inn and Body and Soul in Tokyo, to major Jazz Festivals that include The Red Sea Jazz Festival and the The Monterey Jazz Festival. She has performed alongside the likes of Ray Brown, Clark Terry, Marian McPartland, Benny Golson, John Scofield, Deborah Brown, Jimmy Cobb, Ken Peplowski, Phil Woods, David ‘Fathead’ Newman, Rufus Reid, Mark Murphy, Slide Hampton, Marvin Stamm and many, many others.

Dena has 9 recordings as a leader to her credit, all of which have received superior accolades. Cadence Magazine gave her both their Album of the Year and Best Vocal Jazz Album awards for “Another World” and “I Can See Clearly Now”. Her MaxJazz recording – “Dena DeRose – Live at Jazz Standard Volume 1 & 2″ – with drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Martin Wind – has nominated for a Grammy, and charted in the Top 50 on the Jazzweek radio charts for over 12 weeks.

DeRose is currently the Head of Jazz Vocal Department at The University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria and has been teaching at the Prince Claus Conservatory of Music in The Netherlands for the past 10 years.

CHUCK EASTON – GUITAR

Multi instrumentalist and composer Chuck Easton is a one man jazz ensemble. Equally at home with the bass, flute, piano, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and violin, Chuck is best known for his terrific jazz guitar work. He received his music degree from the Berklee School of Music, and plays throughout the Pacific Northwest.

taylor_eigstiTAYLOR EIGSTI – PIANO

New York-based pianist and composer Taylor Eigsti started playing the piano when he was 4 years old, inspired by his sister. He became a bandleader at age 12, and was quickly labeled a prodigy. He released 4 early albums as a leader before having the opportunity to sign with Concord Records, where he has released three highly acclaimed albums.

The Grammy nominated artist has performed and recorded with Dave Brubeck, Christian McBride, Joshua Redman, among many others. He has also performed internationally for 11 years with guitarist Julian Lage, his close musical collaborator. Recently, Eigsti and Lage collaborated on new symphonic compositions for guitar, piano and symphony orchestra to premiered by the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra. Eigsti has also premiered work in the classical vein with the San José Chamber Orchestra and the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

Wycliffe GordonWYCLIFFE GORDON – TROMBONE

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.

BennyGreen_JazzPortTownshend_byRonHudson-849x1048BENNY GREEN – PIANO

Pianist Benny Green possesses the history of jazz at his fingertips. Combine mastery of keyboard technique with decades of real world experience playing with no one less than the most celebrated artists of the last half century, and it’s no wonder Green has been hailed as perhaps the most exciting hard-swinging, hard-bop pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

Recognized as having incredible talent at a young age, Benny began his touring life with Betty Carter for four years and realized a life long dream of becoming a Jazz Messenger. In 1993 Oscar Peterson chose Benny as the first recipient of the City of Toronto’s Glen Gould International Protégé Prize in Music culminating in Oscar & Benny (1998) recorded for Telarc. Appearing on well over one hundred recordings, with artists such as: Betty Carter, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Watson, Milt Jackson, Diana Krall, and he is particularly featured in Ray Brown’s trio series of CD’s for Telarc: Bass Face, Don’t get Sassy, and Some of my best friends.

His latest recording is the self-produced “Magic Beans,” featuring original compositions for jazz trio.

Randy HalberstadtRANDY HALBERSTADT – PIANO

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 HamarJON HAMAR – BASS

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.

Jeff Hamilton Photo by Alex SolcaJEFF HAMILTON – DRUMS

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.

JOHN HANSEN – PIANO

Info coming soon.

vGARY HOBBS – DRUMS

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.

bill-holmanBILL HOLMAN – ARRANGING

NEA Jazz Master Bill Holman’s music has been performed by for decades by bands led by jazz luminaries such as Count Basie, Woody Herman, Louie Bellson, Doc Severinson, Buddy Rich and many others. His unique and complex arrangements have long been appreciated by musicians and critics alike.

A long-time associate of Stan Kenton, for whom he would compose (and perform) for many years, Bill also wrote for jazz greats such as Louie Bellson, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan, as well as for high-profile vocalists such as Natalie Cole (including her Grammy Award-winning album Unforgettable), Tony Bennett, Carmen MacRae, Anita O’Day, Mel Torme, and Sarah Vaughan.

To date, Holman has received 14 Grammy nominations and won three Grammy Awards.In 2000, the Bill Holman Collection of scores and memorabilia became part of the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection in Washington, DC. In 2006, he was inducted into the Rutgers Jazz Hall of Fame, and in 2008, he was doubly honored: a Golden Score Award from the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers and a place in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Jazz Wall of Fame.

christine jensenCHRISTINE JENSEN – ALTO SAX

Montreal-based saxophonist and composer Christine Jensen has been described as, “an original voice on the international jazz scene… [and] one of Canada’s most compelling composers,” by Mark Miller of the Globe and Mail. Noted for her ability to transfer the intimate sound of a quartet into larger ensembles, Jensen’s music has been performed by ensembles around the globe, including the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, Germany; the UMO Big Band, Finland; and the McGill Jazz Orchestra, Montreal.

Jensen won the 2011 Juno Award for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year for Treelines-The Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra on Justin-Time Records.

Along with her sister, New York-based trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and close friend and long-time musical cohort, Swedish pianist, Maggi Olin, she co-leads the group, Nordic Connect. They released their first joint effort in 2007 entitled Flurry and followed up in 2010 with Spirals. The group has toured Canada, the US and Scandinavia extensively over the past five years.

ingrid jensenINGRID JENSEN – TRUMPET

From her early days playing in the subways of New York, to establishing herself as a leader and soloist in a wide array of musical genres, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen has made her mark. Her three CD’s for the ENJA label and her latest CD, At Sea, won her nominations from the Canadian Juno Awards, including an award in 1995 for Vernal Fields.

Jensen’s performances as a leader and as a featured soloist have taken her around the world from Canada to Japan, Australia, South America, South Africa, the Caribbean and to almost every country in Europe and Scandinavia.

Jensen can be heard as a soloist with the Christine Jensen Orchestra, her own own quartet and quintet formations, Project O, Nordic Connect and a number of other New York-based bands. She was featured on Gil Evans’ Porgy and Bess at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, under the direction of Maria Schneider and was also a guest in the festival’s “Tribute to Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard”, alongside Terence Blanchard, Eddie Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson and Kenny Garrett. Ingrid has performed on SNL with the British soul star Corrine Bailey Rae, and played a number of gigs with comedian/actor/singer Dennis Leary with special guest, Peter Frampton. She was also a featured soloist with singer Madelaine Peyroux as part of the Tribute to Billy Holiday project in Brazil which included bass legend Ron Carter and piano virtuoso, Mulgrew Miller.

GEOFFREY KEEZER, PIANO

Geoffrey Keezer 54156eWith his highly regarded discography, unique compositions, and acclaimed performances in a variety of configurations, pianist Geoffrey Keezer commands the attention typically reserved for the living legends of jazz. Whether recording with jazzy chanteuses Diana Krall or Dianne Reeves, touring with trumpet king Chris Botti, or collaborating with pop icon Sting, sax legend Wayne Shorter, guitar wizard Jim Hall, star bassist Christian McBride or vibes master Joe Locke, Geoffrey “has more than enough virtuosity and sheer musical wit and intelligence to weave all of his apparently disparate strands of influence into an original and compelling whole” (Time Magazine).

A native of Eau Claire, WI, Keezer was playing in jazz clubs as a teenager, holding down the piano chair for Art Blakey at age 18, and touring in the company of Joshua Redman, Benny Golson and Ray Brown in his 20s. More recently he has toured with David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Joe Locke and Christian McBride; worked with vocalist Denise Donatelli on projects garnering three GRAMMY® nominations, and released a series of albums drawing influences from Hawaiian, Okinawan and Afro-Peruvian folk traditions.  Perhaps the most exciting turn in Geoffrey’s career is his recent focus on solo piano and his first solo release in thirteen years, Heart of the Piano (2013, Motema Records). On a mission to redefine solo jazz piano as a personal and interactive showcase of melody, energy and groove, Keezer brings to Heart of the Piano his most direct and focused artistry to date.

johnaye kendrickJOHNAYE KENDRICK – VOCALS

A San Diego native, Johnaye Kendrick graduated from Western Michigan University, where she received a Down Beat Student Music Award as an Outstanding Jazz Vocalist, and was featured on an honors recital with pianist Fred Hersch. In the summer of 2005 she was a featured soloist in a piece composed and directed by legendary bassist Rufus Reid for the International Society of Bassists Conference.

In the fall of 2007, Ms. Kendrick was accepted to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, where she worked with Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Danilo Perez, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Brian Blade. She received a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from Loyola University, and an Artist’s Diploma from the Thelonious Monk Institute.

In addition to her many travels with the Nicholas Payton SEXTET, Johnaye was also the featured vocalist with the Ellis Marsalis Quartet and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. The Orchestra won a Grammy® Award in the 2009 “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” category for their latest release, Book 1 on which Kendrick is featured.

Johnaye Kendrick serves as the Assistant Professor of Jazz Voice at Cornish College of the Arts.

Joe La BarberaJOE LA BARBERA – DRUMS

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.

KELBY MACNAYR – DRUMS Kelby McNayr

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)

JULIAN MCDONOUGH – DRUMS

Julian MacDonough is a Pacific Northwest drummer, who tours with the Mike Allen Quartet/Trio (Vancouver julian-mcdonoughBC), the genre-bending “funk” band Megatron (Bellingham Washington) the Monday Night Project, and alt-country singer songwriter Kasey Anderson (Portland Oregon).

In addition to those bands, Julian has been very active as a freelance musician. Primarily hired as a jazz drummer up and down the west coast, he has also spent a lot of time in recording studios with over 40 CDs under his belt. Some of his favorites are Mike Allen’s 2003 award winning album “Dialectic,” 2004 “Fearless,” and 2006 “Love One Another.” Kasey Anderson’s “Nowhere Nights” Havilah Rand’s 2009 “Bengalese Butterflies”, Jenni Potts’s “Take This and Go” and New York pianist Aaron Parks “First Romance.”

ken-peplowskiKEN PEPLOWSKI – TENOR SAX/CLARINET

Clarinetist/saxophonist Ken Peplowski had his first pro gig before he was 10. By the time he was in his early teens, he was experimenting with jazz by playing in the school “stage” bands, and also by jamming with many of the local jazz musicians.

After a year of college, Ken joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow. He later moved to New York City,and was soon playing in all kinds of settings, from Dixieland to avant-garde jazz. “Everything’s a learning experience in jazz music – there’s always an element of the unpredictable.” In 1984, Benny Goodman came out of retirement and put together a new band, hiring Ken on tenor saxophone.

Peplowski signed with Concord Records and recorded close to 20 albums as a leader. The litany of musicians Ken has collaborated with includes: 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 & Erich Kunzel. “Mr. Peplowski sounds the way (Benny) Goodman might if he had kept evolving, kept on listening to new music, kept refining his sound, polishing his craft, and expanding his musical purview into the 21st century.” – Will Friedwald in The Wall Street Journal

Gary SmulyanGARY SMULYAN – BARI SAX

 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.

Terrell StaffordTERELL STAFFORD – TRUMPET

 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)

CHRIS SYMER – BASS

Info coming soon.

Jay ThomasJAY THOMAS – TRUMPET

 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.

Sachal VasandaniSACHAL VASANDANI – VOCALS

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.

Eric VerlindeERIC VERLINDE – PIANO

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.

Jiggs WhighamJIGGS WHIGHAM – TROMBONE

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.

jon-wikanJON WIKAN – DRUMS

Currently based in New York, Jon Wikan is a jazz drummer rapidly garnering praise on the international music scene. Jon has accompanied a diverse cross-section of leaders, ranging from singers Ernestine Anderson, Denise Donatelli, and Freddy Cole to established insturmentalists such as Steve Wilson, Terrell Stafford, and Geoff Keezer.

In 2010, Jon toured Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh with the Charlie Porter Quartet, a tour sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rhythm Road program.

Anthony WilsonANTHONY WILSON – GUITAR

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 WilsonMATT WILSON – DRUMS

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.

martin windMARTIN WIND – BASS

Bassist and composer Martin Wind was born in Flensburg, Germany, and moved to New York in 1996 to study at New York University. He earned his Master’s degree in Jazz Performance and Composition studying with Mike Richmond, Jim McNeely, Tom Boras, Mike Holober and Kenny Werner. Martin came in third at the 1995 International Thelonious Monk Bass Competition in Washington, D.C. and in 1996 he won the first Cognac Hennessy/Blue Note Jazz Search in Germany with his trio “Dreikland” and got to record an album for Blue Note Records.

Martin has released 10 albums as leader/co-leader currntly leads his own quartet featuring the talents of Sott Robinson (reeds), Bill Cunliffe (piano) and Tim Horner (drums). He is also in demand as a session player; his credits include movies such as “The Alamo”, “Intolerable Cruelty”, ” Mona Lisa Smiles”, “Fur”, “The Bounty Hunter”, and “True Grit”.

Wind is on the faculty at New York University, as well as the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Germany.

David WongDAVID WONG – BASS

Bassist David Wong is a graduate of the Julliard School of Music, has studied with Ron Carter and Ben Wolfe, and was a member of the Eric Reed Trio. In addition to touring with the Heath Brothers, he is the regular bassist for Roy Haynes’ Fountain of Youth band and performs with leading contemporary jazz artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Carla Cook and Paula West.

David can also be seen performing with the exciting new singer, Sachal Vasandani, and the amazing pianist, Jeb Patton. He has recorded with Benny Green, Dan Nimmer, Jeb Patton, Albert Tootie Heath, and is featured on a brand new release from Sachal Vasandani, Eyes Wide Open. He has performed with Clark Terry, Illinois Jacquet, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Walter Blanding, Marcus Printup, Leroy Jenkins, David Hazeltine, Jim Rotondi, Carla Cook, Paula West, and Mark Gould (Metropolitan Opera) to name just a few

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