Renowned first for the hard bop approach of his trumpet, Joe Gransden's singing voice has been compared to that of Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra.
Not long after high school, Joe was on the road as a sideman with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. A number of A.F.M. contracted sideman gigs include Barry White, The Moody Blues, Kenny Rogers, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Whispers, etc. Eventually moving to New York City, he performed with numerous groups, including sub work with Toshiko Akiyoshi and Chico O'Farrill. Meanwhile, Joe formed his own group, which performed in Brooklyn each week and included the venerable guitarist Joe Cohn and ex-Betty Carter bassist, Matt Hughes. "Having my own group and being fortunate enough to travel, play, and record has been a dream come true," says Joe.
Joe's latest CD PLAYS AND SINGS is a collection of jazz favorites and originals by both Joe and his Father Robert Gransden. Joe is featured alongside jazz great Earl Klugh as well as a 15 piece string orchestra. Other special guests include Rene Marie, Jerry Weldon and Russell Gunn.
Like most of the finest young musicians to emerge in the past decade, Russell Gunn has developed his music from a wide variety of musical influences. In his case, Gunn weaves together elements of Cuban, Brazilian, African, D.C.'s "Go Go" music, and Hip-Hop into an adventurously progressive jazz style that pays tribute to its tradition while also extending the form.
A fortuitous appearance at a 4am jazz jam session at New York's famed Blue Note club was heard by Denis Jeter, an assistant to Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center, who recommended Russell Gunn for the third trumpet chair in Marsalis' Blood on the Fields. Receiving rave notices for his work with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Gunn began to earn recognition as one of the most dynamic and exciting musicians of his generation. Continuing to freelance with Lake and various other top jazz artists, Gunn began leading his own groups in 1994 and issued his first recording, Young Gunn.
Touring all over the U.S. and Europe in 1995-6 with Branford Marsalis' Buckshot La Fonque, Gunn's eclectic musical approach also brought Russell Gunn together with artists like Cee-Low from the Goodie Mob and Maxwell, while continuing to perform with his own groups at New York's most prominent clubs. With a singular style that incorporates the influences of masters like Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, and especially the extremely underrated Booker Little, Russell Gunn has continued to gain recognition for his own music through touring and well-received albums, including the 2000 Grammy-nominated Ethnomusicology, Vol. 1.
As a former student of jazz trumpet legend, Donald Byrd, Danny Harper has been playing the trumpet professionally since the early 1980's. He is a composer, educator, and an internationally known musician and recording artist on Verve and Muse labels. Danny Harper currently leads the Thursday night jazz jam sessions at Churchill Grounds jazz club and performs in a variety of other venues around the Atlanta area.
Having been granted the first full scholarship ever offered by Morehouse College Music Department in 1997, Melvin Jones began his musical career while attending the prestigious Atlanta institution. While completing his undergraduate studies, Melvin was afforded the opportunity to perform with such jazz greats as Clark Terry, Jon Faddis, Antonio Hart, and Quincy Jones. Inspired by those opportunities he, along with two other Morehouse Students, co-founded a very popular and successful Latin Jazz group named Rio Negro, which recorded and distributed over 5,000 copies of their own independent CD.
After earning his Bachelor's of Arts degree in Music from Morehouse, Melvin Jones went on to receive his Masters of Music Degree in Jazz Performance from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. While attending Rutgers, he studied under the guidance of William Fielder, the world-renowned Instructor whose list of students includes some of the most influential jazz musicians to date, such as Terrence Blanchard, Michael Mossman, Kenny Garrett, David Sanchez, Frank Lacy, and Wynton Marsalis.
Melvin Jones was recently appointed to the Morehouse College Music Faculty, to serve as the youngest Director of Bands in the College's history and the Coordinator of Brass Studies. Having been recognized by the Montclair "Who's Who in collegiate Faculty" publication, Mr. Jones continues to maintain a hectic performance and recording career while upholding his duties as a highly-involved college professor.
Greg McLean is one of Atlanta's most versatile musicians. Greg has toured overseas with Hotlanta Dixieland Jazz, including Europe six times, the Singapore Arts Festival and a tour of Poland and Russia in 1996. As a composer, McLean has written three pieces for The Atlanta Symphony Brass Quintet. His piece Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, written for the ASO Brass and piano, was aired during a live broadcast of NPR's Performance Today during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Several of McLean's compositions have also been performed at the International Trumpet Guild Conference, the National Trumpet Competition, and the annual Trumpet Festival of the Southeast. His concerto for two trumpets, The Twain Have Met, was composed for jazz great Marvin Stamm, and premiered in 2008 at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville). In April 2011 Stamm premiered Twain, re-orchestrated for wind ensemble, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania with IUP Professor of Trumpet, Dr. Kevin Eisensmith. As a trumpet player, McLean performs in all musical genres, but enjoys the expressive freedom of jazz. He The Greg McLean Jazz Quartet with pianist Geoff Haydon. Their debut CD, Cabin Fever, available on iTunes. McLean has appeared on over thirty CDs as trumpet player, composer and/or arranger.
Greg McLean is Associate professor of Music at Georgia Perimeter College where he teaches various music courses including: music appreciation, jazz history, composition and applied trumpet . He directs the GPC Jazz Ensemble which annually features well known guest artists from the Atlanta jazz scene. Past artists include: Bob Lewis, Rick Bell, Geoff Haydon, Scott Whitfield, Gordon Vernick, Joe Gransden, Gary Motley, Dave Frackenpohl, Duffy Jackson and Nikolai Panov.
Gordon Vernick is associate professor of music and coordinator of Jazz Studies at Georgia State University. As a professional trumpet player, he has performed in all musical mediums from symphony orchestra to jazz quartet and has freelanced in Miami, New York, Denver, Kansas City and the Caribbean Islands. He is currently active in the southeastern United States as a clinician, adjudicator and freelance trumpet player.
He is director of the GSU Faculty Jazztet which performs regularly in Atlanta area schools and has appeared at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, the Brasstown Music Festival, Oxford University Music Series and many other venues in the southeast. He has performed with such world renown jazz artists as Kenny Werner, Clare Fischer, John Hart, Kevin Hays, Conrad Herwig, Marc Copland, Randy Brecker, Paul McCandless and many others. The Jazztet was twice invited to perform in San Jose, Costa Rica by the Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano. During the summer of 2001 the Jazztet performed in Moscow, Russia at the Tribute to Willis Conover Jazz Festival and in March 2003 performed at Capitol University in Beijing, China. The group was invited to perform in November 2004 in Florianopolis, Brazil at the Curso e Colegio Bardal.
I don't have a bio or website for Lester Walker but I have seen him play around town with Bernard Linnette's Interactive jazz band. Lester has fantastic technique on the horn and can pretty much play whatever he wants to play.
Detroit born Guitarist/Composer Dan Baraszu has been playing guitar for over 25 years. Early in his career, he explored many different styles of music including Classical, Rock and Blues. However, when he first heard the genius of Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, Dan devoted himself to becoming a die-hard Jazz artist. His major influences include guitarists Joe Pass, Pat Martino, Pat Metheny and John Scofield as well as other instrumentalists like Bill Evans, Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Charlie Parker .
In addition to listening and transcribing the works of the"masters of the Jazz idiom", Dan has been formally educated in music as well. He received his Bachelors degree from the renowned Berklee College of Music, where he majored in Jazz Composition and Arranging . In addition, Dan also received his Masters degree from the University of Miami with a major in Jazz Pedagogy .
Dan currently resides in the Atlanta area where he leads his own groups and works as a freelance guitarist. In November 2005 he signed with Blue Canoe Records and released his debut CD as a leader entitled "Nightfall". Featuring 9 explosive jazz originals, this recording will surely raise some eyebrows as this young gun's guitar and compositional skills are those of an old master. "Nightfall" features one of the South's most accomplished and versatile rhythm sections: Kenny Banks (piano), Zack Pride (bass), Kinah Boto (drums). Baraszu's CD is receiving considerable traditional radio airplay on jazz stations across the country and overseas as well as internet radio and satellite, cable and subscription services.
Growing up in a non-musical family, Jacob began playing guitar recreationally at the late age of 19. After serving four years of honorable service in the United States Air Force, Jacob decided to try his luck at a life dedicated to making music. After graduating the Atlanta Institute of Music in January of 2006, Jacob has been a vital part of an ever-growing youth jazz movement in Atlanta. Most recently, Jacob was selected by Georgia State to perform in their first annual Jazz Guitar Summit showcasing Atlanta's best in established and young talent.
Dave Frackenpohl is an active jazz guitar performer, composer and arranger in the Atlanta area. Collaborating with such jazz artists as Michael Brecker, Hank Crawford, Bobby Watson, Buddy DeFranco and Carl Allen, Dave has performed at such venues as Spivey Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, Fox Theatre and the Rialto Center for the Arts.
A seasoned composer/arranger, Dave Frackenpohl has contributed to several jazz guitar books/recordings with Mel Bay Publications, including Jazz Standards for Guitar I & II. His original tunes and arrangements have been recorded with local Atlanta artists such as Sam Skelton, Ike Stubblefield and E.J. Hughes.
Currently, Dave Frackenpohl is in his ninth year as instructor of jazz studies at Georgia State University. His duties include teaching Jazz Guitar, Jazz History, Improvisation and Arranging, as well as coordinating/coaching Jazz Combos and directing the Jazz Guitar Ensemble. Several of his student graduates are performing professionally and teaching at the collegiate level. In the summer, he teaches Jazz Improvisation at the Crane School of Music Youth Camp at the State University of New York at Potsdam.
Originally from New York, Sal Gentile has been playing the guitar since age 13. Throughout his career he's had the honor of playing with many popular entertainers including B.B. King, Rosemary Clooney, Don Rickles, and Jimmie Rodgers. In the late 1960's, Sal Gentile signed with Columbia Records, with Richie Havens as the producer. After leaving New York in 1973, Sal relocated to New Orleans and then later to Atlanta, where he has made his home. Sal Gentile's musical and vocal expertise extends his repertoire to swing, jazz, and the vocal jazz standards.
Charlie Robinson spent his formative years as a musician on the road with various jazz and R&B groups appearing at such venues as the Apollo, Regal and Howard theaters. He toured extensively throughout the United States, and Canada and lived and performed in Freeport. He played on recording sessions in Nashville, Atlanta, Chicago and New York, and studied and performed with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Joanne Brackeen and Cecil Taylor. During that period he also had a brief association with drummer Elvin Jones and later saxophonist Sam Rivers. In addition to performances with his own groups and as a solo guitarist he appeared as a member of groups led by Ira Sullivan, Allen Eager, John "Spider" Martin, Doug Carn and numerous others.
Since relocating to Atlanta from Florida Charlie Robinson has performed with the groups of Jimmy Scott, Jean Carn, Clarence Bell, Philip Harper, Joe Jennings, Clarence Johnson, Syl Spann, Kermit Walker, Ramon Pooser, Jhlisa Anderson, David Ellington, Eddie Boyd, Mojo Davis, Lisa Wilson, Angel Banks, Charles Marshall, J.O.Wyatt, Kenito Murray, and Joan Cartwright to name a few. Charlie Robinson currently continues to work with his own groups, as a solo guitarist and as a sideman with various Atlanta jazz musicians.
Born in San Francisco, CA to a musical family, there was never a day when Ede Wright didn't hear either classical piano from his mother, or jazz saxophone from his father. When Ede Wright moved to Atlanta in 1989, doors opened to amazing opportunities as Ede worked on many diverse projects with an array of artists. His travels would take him to UK, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Germany, and Luxembourg as a touring sideman with jazz vocalist Lizz Wright, experimental electronic group Ananda Project, and Grammy nominated jazz trumpeter Russell Gunn.
Whether touring, working in the studio, or teaching guitar, he always brings a fresh sound and viewpoint to the music. That fresh sound can be heard on Ede's second self produced CD titled "Gravity," on his own independent label Without Wings Music LLC. "The music on Gravity," Ede says, "is world jazz, with influences ranging from Afro Cuban, Indian Classical, Electronic, and Rock, all wrapped in the rich tradition of jazz."
Trey Wright began playing guitar at age 15. Initially inspired by the blues, Trey was exposed to jazz early in his development by a private instructor. While studying Sociology at the University of Georgia, Wright furthered his study of jazz improvisation with pianist and composer Steve Dancz. In 1994, he co-founded the Athens/Atlanta based jazz band Squat. The group is a four time winner of the Best Jazz Award at the Flagpole Athens Music Awards and has been a featured artist at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, the Twilight Athens Jazz Festival, Harvest Midtown, and has performed with Medeski, Martin, and Wood; the B-52’s; Maceo Parker; Maynard Ferguson; the Squirrel Nut Zippers; and the Charlie Hunter Trio. Along with managing Squat and producing five independent CD releases, Trey plays guitar and piano with the group touring throughout the Southeast.
Trey also plays freelance in the Athens and Atlanta area and has performed with upright and electric bassist John Patitucci, Grammy winning saxophonist Joe Lovano, Tim Hagens, Tim Armacost, and Mel Bay guitarist Corey Christiansen. With the Steve Dancz Quartet and the UGA Jazz Band, Trey has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jazz A Vienne, and the World Sacred Music Festival. As a solo guitarist and with his trio, Trey has been a featured performer at the Athens Music and Arts Festival, the Lake Oconee Jazz Festival, and the Atlanta Jazz Festival, as well as residencies at Gylands, Last Call, and AMF in Athens, GA and Loco’s Pub and the Five Spot in Atlanta, GA. Trey’s solo guitar style is a unique blend of Americana, Jazz, Brazilian, gospel, and world music.
In December of 2002, Trey completed a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies at Georgia State University, and he currently is on faculty at LaGrange College, Kennesaw State University, the Atlanta Institute of Music, and is a Jazz Artist in Residence at the University of Georgia.
Kenyon Carter is a professional jazz saxophonist and composer/arranger based in Atlanta, GA. He is an experienced band leader whose groups consistently perform at a level that both entertain and engage the audience. Kenyon holds bachelors degrees in performance and music education from Valdosta State University as well as a Master's degree from Georgia State University, in jazz saxophone performance. While studying at VSU he was named "outstanding soloist" at the Elmhurst Jazz Festival. Kenyon returned to VSU in 2000 and 2006 to serve as the jazz saxophone instructor.
In addition to leading the Kenyon Carter connection, Kenyon also performs regularly with The David Brothers Band, The Soul Purpose Band, Kidd Blue, Cobb Symphony Jazz!, Kayla Taylor, Organized Time, and many other well-known Atlanta artists performing jazz in virtually all of its forms... from light background music for cocktail parties to groovin' smooth jazz and R&B for dancing, to hard swinging jazz worthy of the best jazz clubs. Check out Kenyon Carter's MySpace page to see where he's playing in Atlanta.
David Freeman is a saxophonist, flutist, and clarinetist, performing throughout the Atlanta, Georgia area. He studied at the world renowned Indiana University School of Music with Dr. Eugene Rousseau, Kristen Hyde, Dr. Todd Waldecker, and David Baker, and graduated with a degree in flute, clarinet, and saxophone performance. Since then, David Freeman has performed in Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, New York City, and throughout the country with world class musicians in every imaginable setting. David performs regularly with many of Atlanta's top jazz musicians including Joe Gransden, Tyrone Jackson, and Kinah Boto.
While in high school, Harris was chosen for the Georgia All-State Concert Band, the All-State Jazz Ensemble, toured seven European countries with the U.S. Collegiate Wind Band and was lead tenor saxophone in Georgia Southern University’s Jazz Ensemble. In 1996 Harris moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia State University where he received his Bachelors of Music (2001) and Masters of Music in Jazz Studies (2005).
Harris has performed in a wide range of venues, including the Atlanta Jazz Festival (2001), with Russell Gunn (2004) and Julie Dexter (2004), The National Black Arts Festival, SoulFest, JapanFest with Takana Miyamoto, Jazzplex (Macon, GA), Katch a Vibe, Sambuca Jazz Cafe, and Apache Cafe.
The Anton Harris Quartet was formed in 2003 with band members Che Marshall (drums), David Springer (guitar) and Brent Shields (bass). The group began recording its debut album Modern Mythology in August 2005, with production and project coordinator Khari Simmons and contributing artists, Kinah Boto, Dashill Smith and Chris Saindon. The Modern Mythology album release party boasted two sold-out shows and guest appearances by Grammy-nominated artists David Sanchez and Russell Gunn. The group performs regularly at The Five Spot, Vinocity and the famed Churchill Grounds in Atlanta, Georgia.
Born and raised in Waco, Texas, Mace Hibbard is one of the most exciting and versatile saxophonists on the scene today. Continuing in the tradition of Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Parker, and Stan Getz, Mace also draws inspiration from the more contemporary players such as Kenny Garrett, Chris Potter, and Branford Marsalis.
Mace attended the University of Texas in Austin, where he earned a Bachelors degree in Musical Performance and a Masters degree in Jazz Studies. While in Austin, Mace developed as a composer and formed Odd Man Out, who released their self-titled debut on Viewpoint Records in 2000.
Mace has performed throughout the United States and Europe, sharing the stage with Wynton Marsalis, The Derek Trucks Band, The Yonrico Scott Band, Son Volt, Wessel Anderson, Marcus Printup, Michael Brecker, Phil Woods, Bobby Shew, Arturo Sandoval, James Moody, the Austin Symphony, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The O’Jays, and many others.
As an educator, Mace is currently an Adjunct Professor of Jazz Studies and Saxophone at both Jacksonville State University and Georgia State University, and is an active freelance musician and clinician based out of Atlanta, Georgia.
Saxophonist/pianist Brian Hogans has one of the most dynamic, exhilarating, and fervent sounds of today’s young artists. Mainly a saxophonist, Hogans has been known to light up the stage as a pianist also. Hailing from Morrow, GA, Brian has had the chance to study under great teachers and musicians, including, Danny Harper, saxophonists Bunky Green, Don Bradan, and Antonio Hart, and the late great pianist James Williams. Honing his skills throughout the years, Brian has had the chance to be a part of the Steins Institute of Jazz, and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program. Brian is currently a part of the Sean Jones Quintet, and plays frequently in the Atlanta, GA area with trumpeter Russell Gunn and with his own collaboration.
Equally at home playing inside or outside, Akeem Marable, is a very talented young saxophonist living in Atlanta. Akeem Marable is a graduate of the prestigioius University of North Florida School of American Music as well as Georgia State University. Akeem Marable plays in a variety of groups around Atlanta, including Justin Chesarek's Wednesday night trio performances at Churchill Grounds.
Saxophonist, composer, and visionary, Darryl Reeves is one of the nation’s emerging young musicians with an eye towards change. Already capturing the attention of many established artists in the industry, Reeves is quickly presenting a new outlook in music. Captivating audiences throughout his performances, the heart and soul of Reeves unselfishly pours onto them through his saxophone.
After graduating from Jackson State University, Reeves went on to complete his Master's degree from the University of New Orleans. There he continued his studies with Terence Blanchard, Ed Peterson, Harold Batiste and Steve Masakowski. In New Orleans, he has been developing a reputation as a fierce alto saxophonist. He has been spotted performing alongside several great jazz musicians such as Wessell Anderson, Jason Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Roland Guerin, Jesse Davis, Nicholas Payton, Henry Butler, Russell Gunn, Rodney Whitaker, Donald Harrison and Roy Hargrove.
In 2004, Darryl Reeves released a CD titled "Diary of a Bandstand" featuring Russell Gunn, Quamon Fowler, Robert Glasper, Rodney Jordan, Edwin Livingston, and Lumark Gulley. In addition to his official site, Darryl has a MySpace page which seems to be more frequently updated.
John Sandfort is a jazz saxophonist (mostly tenor, occasionally alto) who has landed in Atlanta, Georgia after spending portions of his career in Chicago, IL, Long Island, NY, and Buffalo, NY. After receiving his degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, John was an active presence on the Chicago music scene performing with many of Chicago’s great jazz musicians including George Fludas, Jodie Christian, Jeff Parker, Josh Abrams, Kyle Asche, Mike Schlick, Pete Benson and many others.
While in Chicago, he also appeared live with Wilco, recorded with the independent rock band Tortoise, and became a member of critically acclaimed Sony recording artist Mighty Blue Kings, appearing on the Mighty Blue Kings Sony release Live From Chicago, as well as the independent releases A Christmas Album, and Alive In The City. With Mighty Blue Kings, John has toured extensively in the United States playing large blues and jazz festivals, sharing bills with B.B. King, Ray Charles, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, and many others. Additionally, Mighty Blue Kings traveled to France to open for Tony Bennett at the Nice International Jazz Festival and Dianna Krall at the Lyons Jazz Festival.
While residing in Buffalo, NY for five years, John played a variety of jazz gigs with many of Western New York’s and Ontario, Canada’s finest musicians including Michael T. Jones, Paul LaDuca, Carmen Intorre, Phil Flanagan, Dan Hull, and Warren Sturtzinger. Having moved to Atlanta only recently, John is looking forward to establishing himself among the many excellent musicians who make Atlanta their home. John has also begun to make plans to record his own record for release in 2009.
Born in Atlanta, Will Scruggs began playing sax at the age of 8 before going on to be voted Most Outstanding Member of the Enloe High School Jazz Band in Raleigh, North Carolina, and selected as the First Chair Baritone Sax in the 1998 Honor Band of America.
At Emory University, Will was named the top college jazz musician in Alabama and Georgia by the Alabama Jazz and Blues Federation in 2001. While attending Emory he studied saxophone with Nathanael Fareed Mahluli and was also mentored by Gary Motley and Rev. Dr. Dwight Andrews. His greatest influences include John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Johnny Griffin, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, and Stevie Wonder.
As a full-time jazz musician gigging 6 nights per week in Atlanta, Will has performed with some of the city's finest professionals, including Francine Reed, Joe Gransden, Gary Motley, E.J. Hughes, and Dwight Andrews. In 2002 he was featured as a special guest soloist with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the Emory Symphony Orchestra, and Emory’s University Chorus. In addition to leading the Will Scruggs Jazz Quartet and Jazz Fellowship, he is a member of the roots reggae band Revelation and is working on a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies as a Graduate Assistant at Georgia State University.
A native of Conyers, Georgia, Sam Skelton has been active on the Atlanta music scene for well over two decades. Mr. Skelton graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University and the private studio of Tony Carere with a degree in Jazz Studies. During his course of study at GSU, Sam was a Montgomery Music Scholar and a two-time fellowship recipient to the Aspen Music Festival. He continued his saxophone studies with Kenneth Radnofsky at Boston University in 1991.
Sam is currently Director of Jazz Studies and Lecturer in Saxophone at Kennesaw State University. He is also Artistic Director of CSO Jazz and GYSO Jazz. Sam served as Professor of Saxophone at Georgia State University from 1991 to 2004 and was Jazz Ensemble Director at Georgia Tech from 2002-2004 and was Artist-in-Residence at The University Of Georgia for the Jazz Department. He served as Visiting Professor of Saxophone at Furman University 2001-02. Professional associations include: Georgia Music Educators Association, Georgia Association of Jazz Educators, International Association of Jazz Educators, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (voting member) and the American Federation of Musicians.
I could only find this MySpace page for Kebbi Williams. It doesn't have much information about him, but maybe that will change over time. I've seen Kebbi Williams play around town several times with jazz musicians like Bernard Linnette, Russell Gunn, and Joe Gransden. As you'll hear in the video clips, Kebbi is an adventurous player who's always pushing himself to play new and different ideas.
Wes Funderburk has performed across the United States and Europe and is currently one of the most sought after trombonists in Atlanta and the Southeast. He is the author of Funderbone.com and the inventor of Blog Songs! - his award-winning music blog and iTunes podcast. Wes has performed and recorded with a wide array of internationally-renowned artists including Natalie Cole, Co-Ed, Gloria Lynne, Peter Noone, Freda Payne, India Arie, Slide Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett, Rich Matteson, Toshiko Akyoshi and Cecil Welch. He has performed around Atlanta at venues such as Churchill Grounds, Symphony Hall, The Georgia Dome, the Variety Playhouse and The Fox Theater as well as the famous Apollo Theater in New York - to name a few. Wes Funderburk has also been a featured performer at The Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Atlanta Black Arts Festival, Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Montreux-Atlanta Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival.
As an educator Wes Funderburk has given clinics and master classes at the University of North Florida, Georgia State University, Columbus State University, the Mars Hill Low Brass Retreat, Tanglewood Music Camp and numerous high schools across the Southeast. He maintains an active private studio for students of all ages and was a Director of the 2005 Atlanta Youth Jazz Orchestra and Assistant Director of the 2005 University of North Florida Music Camp. Wes earned his Bachelor's Degree in trombone performance from the University of North Florida and his Master's Degree in trombone performance with a concentration in jazz studies from Georgia State University.
Kevin Bales received his B.M. from the University of North Florida and M.M. from Florida State. He taught at UNF for 10 years, where many of his groups won Downbeat Awards and were invited to perform at IAJE and other prestigious festivals. As a jazz pianist he has played and recorded with Rene Marie, Marcus Printup, Bunky Green, Bob Reynolds, Ira Sullivan, Barry Green, and many others. In addition to nearly every important jazz venue in the South, he has performed in some of the most acclaimed clubs and festivals in America and around the world: the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, The Bakery in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center jazz series, the Toronto and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and the Moscow Center for the Performing Arts.
Kenny Banks, a native of Columbus Ohio, has been studying and playing since the age of seven. He first developed his gift through the church, which led him to study music at Central State University. Following graduation, Kenny Banks taught vocal music in the Columbus Public Schools before pursuing his dreams by touring as a clinician, keyboardist, musical director and producer across the United States and in Europe. Kenny Banks has appeared on BET and the Image Awards. He has performed at the inauguration for President Barack Obama and appeared in such notable places as Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Philharmonic in Berlin. Kenny Banks has also appeared in movie scenes from Tyler Perry's "The Family That Preys"and has a composition entitled "Hello Love" on the GMC movie "Raising Izzie". Among his many high profile performing credits are appearances with Earl Klugh, Kenny Garrett, Wess Anderson, Russell Gunn, Lizz Wright, Rene Marie, Kevin Mahogany, Kurt Whalum, Albertina Walker, Dorothy Norwood, Aretha Franklin and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Kenny received his Master's degree in Jazz Studies at Georgia State University.
After studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston from 1980 - 1982, David Ellington moved to New Orleans in 1983 and quickly became a player in its extraordinary music scene. In 1988 he began a three-year stint as pianist/organist for legendary New Orleans guitarist, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, traveling the world and recording for Rounder Records. This led to another three years of study at the University of New Orleans under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis, Steve Masakowski, Ed Petersen, and Harold Battiste, where his composition, "Armando" won the prestigious composer's award in UNO's "Svenson Composition Competition" in 1996.
Hurricane Katrina forced David Ellington to abandon a busy musical career in New Orleans as bandleader, valued sideman, and church music director. He landed in Atlanta, near his parents and quickly became a first-call pianist/organist, in demand for many of Atlanta's best groups and performers. David Ellington continues to develop his solid reputation in Atlanta, and has gained "roster" status with "Young Audiences of Atlanta" with his "New Orleans Piano Wizards" program. David maintains his New Orleans connections with performances in the city and at Jazz Fest.
A native of Manassas, Virginia, Geoffrey Haydon has successfully bridged both classical and jazz styles of performance. Currently Dr. Haydon coordinates the piano faculty at Georgia State University where he teaches piano, piano literature, jazz history and jazz theory. Known as a classical and jazz soloist, he is also a member of the Haydon-Lyke Piano Duo, the American Music Trio, the Haydon/Parker Duo and the Georgia State University Faculty Jazztet.
Geoffrey Haydon has performed throughout the U.S., in Europe, Russia, China, Japan, South America and Central America. He has performed with well-known jazz artists such as Eddie Daniels, Joe Henderson, Bill Watrous, Marvin Stamm, Nick Brignola, Randy Brecker, Indugu Chancler, Conrad Herwig and Hal Crook. He has also performed with touring shows including The Phantom of the Opera, The King and I, The Producers, Hairspray, Sister Act and Grease.
Geoffrey Haydon is an artist/clinician with the Contemporary Keyboard Division of Roland. He can be heard on Cabin Fever, a jazz CD by the McLean-Haydon Jazz Quartet, and My Foolish Heart, a jazz piano/vibraphone CD by the Haydon/Parker Duo. Both CDs are available on the ACA Digital label. Geoffrey Haydon received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Richmond and studied three summers at the Aspen Music Festival. He received his Master and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Texas at Austin where he studied with Nancy Garrett and Gregory Allen.
I don't have a bio or website to link to for Louis Heriveaux, but he plays so often around town that I'd be remiss if I didn't add him to this page. Louis Heriveaux has performed with pretty much everyone in the Atlanta jazz scene including, Bernard Linnette, Melvin Jones, Laura Coyle, Russell Gunn, and Mace Hibbard.
Tyrone Jackson was born in the birth place of jazz, New Orleans. There, he honed his skills learning traditional, Latin, and fusion jazz. Tyrone attended the University of New Orleans where he studied privately under Ellis Marsalis (renowned father of Wynton and Branford Marsalis) and Mary Ann Bulla (classical). Tyrone Jackson has performed with Earl Klugh, Melba Moore, Wynton Marsalis, Wes Anderson, Greg Dawson, and FutureMan (Roy Wooton). He also toured Italy and Austria with the University of New Orleans Jazz Band, toured Brazil with Michael Ward, and opened for Gerald Albright, Spyro Gyra and the Crusaders, and Chaka Kahn.
Born in Chicago, IL, Matthew Kaminski has been playing the Hammond Organ since he was 5 years old. Studying under jazz pianist Gordon James in his teens, Matthew was accepted into the University of Arizona's jazz studies department as a pianist. Transferring to Georgia State University in 1998, Matthew studied jazz and classical piano and was the principle pianist in the Georgia State Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combos, and also performed with the Jazz Choir and Wind Ensemble. In May of 2000, Matthew graduated with a Bachelors of Music degree with an emphasis on Jazz Studies and was the recipient of the 'Friends of Rick Bell' Jazz Scholarship. Moreover, having performed with Rumble Seat (an Atlanta Swing band), Mina Wood, Amy Palys, and Atlantan blues musicians Oliver Wood and Larry Griffeth, Matthew has been versatile in the Atlanta music scene.
Matthew has kept up his organ playing over the years and studied with Hammond B3 master Ike Stubblefield in 2003. Organized Time is an outlet for Matthew to perform, write songs, and be a creative force on the Hammond B3 organ. Matthew has been a full time piano teacher since 2001 and currently teaches at The Peggy Still School of Music in Roswell, GA, Music Do Re Mi in Norcross, GA and Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA. In 2009, Matthew Kaminski became the organist for the Atlanta Braves.
Born in Japan, Takana Miyamoto began playing the keyboard at age 4, and decided to become a composer when she was 14, choosing music over the visual arts career. She left Japan at age 19 to study in the US, with the aspiration of becoming a film composer.
Accepted to Berklee College of Music with an honorary scholarship, Takana Miyamoto received several awards for her performance and composition talents from Berklee, and graduated as an honor student with a dual degree in Film Scoring and Jazz Composition. She won first place in the Randy Edman Jazz Piano Competition in 1998, and moved to New York City where she performed with renowned musicians, and began touring and recording internationally. In 2001, she was accepted as a U.S. permanent resident based on her musical talent, and moved to Atlanta where she was given the "Rising Star" recognition from the International Jazz Society. Women Looking Ahead Inc. (www.womenlookingahead.com) selected Takana Miyamoto to be one of "Georgia's Most Powerful and Influential Woman" as a composer, and they featured her in their magazine as "an extraordinary talent". In 2004 She graduated from Georgia State University with a master's degree in music.
Gary Motley is one of the most highly regarded jazz pianists in the southeastern United States. Gary began studying the piano as a young child and would later be exposed to jazz as a teenager. It was soon thereafter that he would decide to make music his life's endeavor. During his career, Gary has established a professional association with many of today's leaders in jazz.
Gary has been recognized with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Soapstone Center for the Arts, the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, and the American Composers Forum. Gary has also been featured in Downbeat Magazine and on Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland (NPR). Gary was recently the recipient of Atlanta's Creative Loafing Magazine's Critics Choice Award for Best Jazz Artist and was selected by the American Composers Forum to serve as an artist-in-residence resulting in his second composition for string orchestra and jazz trio entitled The Resolution of a Dream.
An active member of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), Gary holds a Bachelors Degree in Music from the University of Montevallo and a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from Georgia State University. Gary is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at Emory University.
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Robert Dickson received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Alabama and a Master of Music from the University of New Orleans where he was a graduate teaching assistant. He performed extensively in the New Orleans area and recently relocated to Atlanta after hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. In addition to his background in jazz, Mr. Dickson also attended the Brevard Music Camp as an orchestral bassist. He has performed with many jazz greats including Terri Lynne Carrington, Jerry Coker, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Marini, Jason Marsalis, Steve Masakowski, Irvin Mayfield, Davy Mooney, Ed Petersen, Shannon Powell, Lew Soloff, and Johnny Vidacovich.
A native of Atlanta Georgia, bandleader, bassist/vocalist and ace sideman Scott Glazer started on bass at the age of 12. Scott Glazer received most of his early education on the bandstand in rock, blues and bluegrass groups. After years of playing professionally he had a hunger to receive a formal music education. He studied at the School of Music at Georgia State University attaining his Bachelor's degree. New worlds were opened through this formal education and styles including jazz, classical, theater became a part of his active professional music palette. While attending school, Scott rocked the classics for 4 years as house bassist at the highly successful Buckhead Saloon in Atlanta.
Scott has toured domestically and internationally, performing with artists as diverse as Grammy winning guitarist Earl Klugh, The Last Waltz Ensemble, Dr. Dan Matrazzo, Obie Jessie, Jimmy Hall, Carmine Appice, Liberty DeVito and many others. He has played in the recording studio, for concerts, festivals, tv, radio, nightclubs, religious communities, weddings, motorcycle gangs, theaters and orchestras. Scott says, "My favorite job is the one that I'm on!"
Evan Hodges was raised in a musical family in the small town of Athens, Alabama. During his high school years, Evan was involved in several groups and participated in the local music scene of Huntsville, Alabama. After high school, he received a full scholarship to Jacksonville State University with a focus in music.
Evan Hodges recently relocated to Georgia and is the bass faculty at a bilingual associates college: Instituto Canzion, as well as a coach for a weekly jazz combo at a private high school. Evan is a freelance musician that has regular gigs, as well as a house bassist for the Studio 281 jam session.
Ramon Pooser was born in Brooklyn, NY, moving to Atlanta when he was 7. He started on violin at age 8, switching to bass at age 10. For high school, Ramon attended the Northside School of the Arts, where he became immersed in music theatre, classical music and jazz. He received a scholarship to study with Tom Thoreson of the Atlanta Symphony, and went on to perform with the Atlanta Youth Symphony. Ramon then studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., and performed with a wide variety of artists, such as Greg Osby, Jeff Watts, Dave Douglas, Rob Brown, Terri Lynne Carrington, Branford Marsalis, Dwayne Broadnax, and Cyrus Chestnut. He also performed with the MIT Symphony Orchestra, including a performance at Carnegie Hall.
After his studies in Boston he moved to New York, and performed with the likes of John Hicks, Kirk Lightsey, Walter Bishop Jr., Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Fred Hersh, Geri Allen, and many more, touring all of Europe and Canada. He then moved back to Atlanta, performing with the likes of Johnny O'Neal, Ritchie Cole, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Ellis Marsalis, Joe Sample, Bobby Watson, the Cab Callaway Orchestra, Wycliffe Gordon, Francine Reed, and many more, adding to his touring schedule Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, and Costa Rica. In addition to a busy performance schedule Ramon Pooser is a visiting professor at Emory University, private studies. He is also writing a bass method book, complete with various writings from his thirty years of experience.
I don't have a website link or bio for Craig Shaw, but he definitely deserves a place on this web page. Craig Shaw is one of the finest jazz bass players in Atlanta and for that reason he's also one of the most popular. I've seen Craig perform with just about every great Atlanta jazz musician including Joe Gransden, Melvin Jones, Russell Gunn, Tyrone Jackson, and Takana Miyamoto (to name a few). Basically, if you're listening to great jazz in Atlanta, chances are pretty good that Craig is playing in the band.
Neal Starkey is an American jazz bassist residing in Atlanta, Georgia. He has had a long and varied career, performing with many of the most notable names in jazz, including Kenny Barron, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt, Duke Pearson, Al Cohn, Charlie Rouse, Barney Kessell and many others. He is a regular featured performer at the W. C. Handy Music Festival, and a member of the W. C. Handy Jazz All-Stars. Originally from New York, he has made Atlanta his home for the past 25 years.
Neal Starkey has recorded with Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Freddie Hubbard with the CBS Jazz All-Stars, and has served as bass instructor in the jazz program at Georgia State University. He has also had extensive studio recording experience and is one of the most in- demand bassists in the Southeastern region, often working with notable Southeastern reigional jazz musicians such as Rick Bell (saxophone), Ken Watters (trumpet), Bill Anschell (piano), Gary Motley (piano) and Ray Reach (piano and vocal).
Over the course of his professional career, Chris Burroughs has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia. He has been blessed to record, tour, and share the stage with artist like Lizz Wright, Jennifer Holiday, Russell Gunn, The Chris Duarte Group, Julie Dexter, Jacques Schwartz-Bart, Etienne Charles, Ike Stubblefield, Russell Malone, Khari Simmons and Jiva, Rhonda Thomas, Joe Gransden, Marcus Printup, Augustine Diaz of Los Munequitos de Matanzas among many others.
As a band leader, Chris Burroughs leads two projects. The first, Afrosounds, Is a six piece collective that fuses African, funk, jazz, odd-meter, and other World music sensibilities. The second, Sparrow trio, features keyboardist Takana Miyamoto and guitarist Ede Wright. Their latest recording, "Hendrix Remixed" has taken the aural experience of Jimi Hendrix to a whole new level. In their skillful hands, Hendrix's music is recomposed, rearranged and massaged into an eclectic symphony of jazz improvisation, latin, funk, and odd meter grooves. Sparrow Trio releases such a sharp and electric spirit of Hendrix that even the most loyal fan would sincerely appreciate the sheer honesty of work.
Chris Burroughs is recognized as an endorser by Evans drum heads, Bosphorus Cymbals, Pro-Mark drum sticks, and Palmetto Drums.
Justin Chesarek of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania became interested in music in the fifth grade. Justin's first public performances in local night-clubs were abundant before reaching into his teenage years. By the time he graduated high school, Justin had already attended the Pennsylvania Governors School for the Arts and shared the stage with renowned musicians from all over the world. While studying music education at Slippery Rock University (PA.) Justin performed at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals in Europe. He has also taken the stage with Dave Samuels, Gary Smulyan, and Conrad Herwig.
Che Marshall began his musical career performing in his fathers church. While studying at Morris Brown College, he was a part of the renowned percussion line featured in the movie, Drumline. A versatile young drummer, Marshall is comfortable in a variety of musical settings from jazz to hip hop to rock. He has played around the world with artists such as Deborah Brown, U.K. Queen of Soul Julie Dexter, Mikki Howard, four-time Grammy nominee trumpeter Russell Gunn, Phillip Harper, Grammy award-winning India Arie, and hip hop icon Doug e. Fresh and Hidden Beach artist Mike Phillips.
Che Marshall plays with a variety of jazz musicians in Atlanta and he's the drummer for the Atlanta Jazz Chorus. I couldn't find a website for Che Marshall (except for this basic myspace page), but I strongly encourage you to check him out when you can. He's one of my favorite drummers in Atlanta.
Marlon Patton was born in Atlanta, Georgia, raised on music. He began playing his fathers drum set at age one. His love for drums continued to grow, picking up other instruments such as bass and guitar along the way. After studying at the University of Georgia's school of music, he received his bachelors degree in music performance.
Currently, Marlon’s weekly agenda is a continental divide of performances featuring modern and straight ahead jazz to hip hop, latin, salsa, and afro-cuban influenced music. His main projects include the supra original hip hop group Heavy Mojo, Takana Miyamoto Trio, the Ken Watters Quartet, Kenosha Kid and many others that keep Marlon performing and recording year round. Marlon has performed with some of the finest jazz musicians including recent concerts and/or recordings with trumpeter Marcus Printup, bassist Rufus Reid, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, guitarist Ryan Waters of Sade, and vocalist/flugelhorn player TOKU. He recently finished full length recordings with Atlanta musicians Takana Miyamoto, Tyrone Jackson, and Trey Wright.
Dave Potter has performed with many well-known jazz artists and recorded two albums with Jason Marsalis as well as the soundtrack to a short film with bassist Delbert Felix. Following his graduation from Florida State University in 2005, he was chosen from a national pool of applicants to be a member of the Louis Armstrong Quintet at the University of New Orleans. In the spring of 2006, Dave Potter was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Julliard Jazz Program in New York City. However, after several days of intense meditation he declined the offer and returned to Florida State University, where he received his Master's Degree in the winter of 2008 after further collaboration with his mentor Marcus Roberts. Dave is now located in Atlanta where he maintains a busy teaching and performing schedule while also touring the globe as a member of The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Justin Varnes studied music at the University of North Florida. After a brief stint with the Noel Freidline Quintet, Mr. Varnes relocated to New York City to pursue a master's degree in jazz studies at the New School. In New York, Justin toured for six years with vocalist Phoebe Snow, with whom he performed on the Roseanne Barr Show, as well as National Public Radio's "World Cafe" (he would later perform on "World Cafe" with pop group "Five for Fighting"). He also performed with Phoebe at Madison Square Garden, where he played alongside singers Jewel and Paula Cole.
Justin Varnes has performed with several jazz greats in New York, including: Ben Wolfe (Harry Connick, Jr.), Aaron Goldberg (Joshua Redman), Wessell Anderson, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup, Steve Kirby (Cyrus Chestnut), Peter Bernstein, and Eric Lewis (Wynton Marsalis).
Currently residing in Atlanta, Justin Varnes performs regularly with the Christian Tamburr Quartet, as well as Bob Reynolds, Kevin Bales, Joe Gransden and Gary Motley. Justin is also a top call sideman for touring artists through Atlanta. He has performed with Vincent Herring, Kevin Hays, Victor Goines and recently has been tapped for some work with Earl Klugh.
Vocalist Tammy Allen is one of Atlanta's most respected artists. She sings with ease, everything from the most difficult jazz standards to powerful R&B classics, and she scats and improvises with the confidence of a master. Her original compositions are rich with Latin rhythms and funky grooves. She records and writes her own material at her own recording studio, where she also teaches voice and songwriting.
Tammy Allen is an avid jazz activist. She is the founder of The Future Of Jazz Competition, in partnership with Atlanta's Office of Cultural Affairs for The Atlanta Jazz Festival. The Future of Jazz Competition is now in its fourth year. In 2006, Tammy organized a live compilation CD recorded at Churchill Grounds. Nine artists each donated an original composition to The City of Atlanta's Office of Cultural Affairs. Proceeds will create more performance opportunities for local talent. Since 2007, Tammy Allen has performed at and coordinated events at the Atlanta Artists stage at the Atlanta Jazz Festival.
Growing up in Frankfort, KY, she sang in talent shows, beauty pageants, musicals and church. After seeing Sarah Vaughan perform at the age of 9, she developed a love for jazz and began to sing it. Jazz band in high schools and college served as her training ground, but it wasn’t until she moved to Atlanta, Georgia that her real opportunity came. Former Freddy Cole drummer, Bernard Linnette, heard Kemba sing during the Tuesday night jam session at a local jazz club and was impressed by her voice. Kemba soon began gigging with his sextet and Linnette became her mentor. She taught chorus and piano lessons to high school students during the day, absorbing jazz during the night, and while working on her Masters in Music Education on summer breaks. In 2003, Kemba met trombonist, Wycliffe Gordon who invited her to sing with his ensemble as well as to appear on his album, In The Cross. Her relationships with Linnette and Gordon have exposed her to new audiences, taught her the true meaning of hard work, and provided her with an entrée to the jazz scene.
The hard work is proven on her forthcoming album, Shades of Kemba. She moves through traditional standards with a comfortable ease, while displaying great control and patience with the texture of a tune on moodier numbers. Jazz’s New Orleans roots shine through as Wycliffe Gordon leads an all star ensemble in when the When Saints Go Marching In and the commitment to her gospel roots are strongly expressed in I Want Jesus to Walk With Me. The three original tunes on the album, written by emerging composer, William Herriott, are easily new classics.
Laura Coyle, raised in Atlanta, GA, sings with an intimate knowledge and love for the tunes she performs. A jazz aficionado since college, Laura Coyle began her study of music privately while pursuing her career as an illustrator. An evening at a jam session earned her a mentorship with drummer Bernard Linnette and a spot in his ensemble. She released her debut CD Laura Coyle, in 2008. Peter Merrett, of PBS Melbourne Australia remarked, "A stunning voice, wonderful phrasing on these classic standards breathing new life into every word." The following year Laura Coyle was the featured artist on a live recorded episode of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s "On Stage" show. In 2009 she was chosen as a quarterfinalist in the American Traditions Competition at the Savannah Music Festival. With her timeless voice and sense of swing, Laura Coyle is quickly generating a following among jazz lovers near and far.
Tommy Dean started singing as a seven year old soprano in a choir conducted by Tom Brumby, head of the Music Department at the college that was to become Georgia State University. As his voice changed to alto, to tenor, and fiinally to baritone, he learned all four vocal parts of the choir catalog. This early training gave him his prime abilities—a keen sense of time and an ear for harmony. He spent the next fifteen years unlearning Latin and exploring the music of the contemporary Soul artists of the day (James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, etc.)
Tommy started singing Jazz in 1984 when he formed the League of Decency with Billy McPherson. It was Billy who taught Dean what he learned from a previous generation of traditional jazz musicians. Tommy has spent years working as a band-leader with stellar talent that included guitarist Russell Malone and drummer Jimmy Jackson. Dean now works primarily as a vocalist with a traditional jazz trio. His compositions have been heard from Japan to South Africa in releases by major label recording artists. He continues to perform, write and explore the compositions of American jazz composers.
Born and raised in Birmingham, England of Jamaican parents, Julie Dexter is a world-renowned singer/songwriter who has won numerous international awards. A classically trained musician who writes, arranges, composes and produces, Julie is considered by many to be one of the most important female vocalists of her generation. Deeply influenced by legends such as Abbey Lincoln, Nancy Wilson and Bob Marley, as well as popular icons such as Omar and Sade, Julie takes classic soul to the heart of artistry.
Julie Dexter's myriad musical manifestations have astounded fans and critics across the globe. Over the past seven years Julie's career has taken her through the circles of jazz, broken-beat, bossa-nova, and soul. The dynamic voice of Julie Dexter was first heard in 1997 on Dune Records' release of J-Life, a UK group formed by Gary Crosby and led by Jason Yarde, that sought to invigorate the public concept of Jazz as a dying tradition. While this debut recording showcased original instrumental compositions and stirring renditions of jazz standards, it also contained a swinging cover of Loose Ends' hit song "Gonna Make You Mine," which amply featured the soulful croon of Julie Dexter. Julie gained her chops for cutting her vocals on this record by touring several continents with jazz wunderkind Courtney Pine as a lead vocalist of his ensemble. This musical school of tough-love learning would also give her the confidence to begin to perform and record as a solo artist, garnering the seven song EP, Peace of Mind (2000) and then later the full-length recording, Dexterity (2002), both of which were independently released on her own label, Ketch A Vibe.
Gwen Hughes is probably the busiest genre-busting singer on the scene. With her bands' undeniable talent (The Rustic Jazz and Retro Jazz Kats), 4 CDs to her credit, and voted Atlanta's favorite jazz/swing singer three times in the past 4 years, Hughes prods and provokes in every performance.
Gwen Hughes' first CD, Torch Life, which birthed her wildly successful "Kool Kat Lounge A-Go-Go" show – replete with cigarette girls, jugglers, comedians and a 14-piece band. Next came two more CDs in a single year: the introspective studio recording Lost and Found and a spontaneous, live release, The Misplaced Martini. Both of her original offerings have had Grammy entry, and individual tracks have been recognized by National Public Radio, Just Plain Folks and CDBaby. Gwen Hughes is a member of the "Jazz Outreach" Committee for the Atlanta Chapter of NARAS; a board member of The Atlanta Coalition of the Performing Arts; & a multiple winner of Creative Loafing's BEST JAZZ ARTIST -- a popular ambassador of the genre. Along the way, she has crooned in Paris and Prague, collaborated on a film about Elvis impersonators, and appeared as a character in a detective novel. Her latest quirky spin is jazz covers of Led Zeppelin songs.
A native of Pittsburgh, Janet Metzger earned her music degree at Florida State University and taught for 7 years before embarking on a performing career. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Metzger has performed in hotels and supper clubs including Libby's: A Cabaret, Paris On Ponce, The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation, Sambucca Jazz Cafe, Churchill Grounds, and Martinis and Imax at Fernbank Museum. In 2006 she appeared at the Sarasota Jazz Festival. In 2002, she sang at the Kennedy Center (Millennium Series) in Washington, D.C. Her debut CD, "So Many Stars," is available at CDBaby.com, Amazon.com, iTunes and other internet sites. "Small Day Tomorrow: Janet Metzger Live At Churchill Grounds" was released in September 2006.
Janet's love for both cabaret and jazz has lead her to create and perform shows which blend both styles: Get Happy; Red Hot, based on 40's pulp fiction; Thou Blind Fool Love and One Foolish Heart, both of which are based on Shakespeare sonnets; An Evening of Duke Ellington, and Reel Jazz: Songs from the Big Screen. She entertains at corporate events and presents her solo cabaret act at private parties. In addition, Janet tours the Southeast as the zany torch singer "Bambola" with The DeLuxe Vaudeville Orchestra.
Audrey Shakir was born into a musical family in Cleveland, Ohio. Her mother was a great pianist, organist and vocal coach, and her father loved to sing. Her parents loved all sorts of music, and she heard everything from the classics to big band to small combos in the house. Even her aunts and uncles directed and played for church choirs. Audrey has also passed down her musical talents to her son, Walter Blanding, Jr. Walter plays saxophone in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, directed by Wynton Marsalis.
An accomplished jazz vocalist, Audrey Shakir has worked extensively in New York City and has studied vocal improvisation with famed jazz pianist, Barry Harris. She has performed with many major jazz artists including Kenny Baron, Duke Pearson, Lionel Hampton, Tommy Turrentine, Clifford Jordan, Walter Booker Jr., Vernel Fournier, Johnny O'Neal, Pharaoh Sanders, Millie Jackson, Johnny Lytle, Johnny Coles, Lionel Hampton, Kenny Burrell and Percy France. Audrey Shakir has performed at Tavern-on-the-Green, Town Hall, and was a regular at the Village Gate, and appeared at the opening of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Audrey Shakir moved to Atlanta in 1989. Since then, Audrey has been performing in the Atlanta area, including several Atlanta Jazz Festival performances. She was also nominated for the 1992 Coca-Cola Music Award for "Best Blues Artist" and has been featured in several articles about the Atlanta arts scene.