Mulgrew Miller Trio
In a 1995 New York Times poll consisting of his peers, Mulgrew Miller was voted the most in-demand pianist, and in the same poll, the venerable Hank Jones listed him as one of his favorite pianists. His extensive discography reveals that he is undoubtedly the most recorded pianist of his generation, with over 500 recordings as a leader and sideman. Born and raised in Greenwood, a small town in the Mississippi delta, Miller’s music is tinged with the blues and gospel flavor of his native environment. He arrived in New York City in 1977, performing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In 1985, Miller made his first recording as a leader, and in 2002 Miller recorded Wingspan (MAXJAZZ). The CD quickly ascended to the #1 position on the radio airplay charts and placed #18 for the 100 most played recordings of 2002. 2005 proved to be a milestone year for the pianist, as he assembled a new trio with bassist Ivan Taylor and drummer Rodney Green, in addition to being appointed Director of Jazz Studies at William Patterson University. In 2006 he received an honorary doctorate from Lafayette College and went on to tour Europe with bassist Ron Carter. Later that year Live at the Kennedy Center, Volume 1 (MAXJAZZ) was released to critical acclaim.
Jimmy Cobb and Cobb’s Mob
A superb, mostly self-taught musician, legendary jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb is the elder statesman of all the incredible Miles Davis bands. His inspirational work with Miles, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Co. spanned 1957 until 1963, and included the masterpiece Kind of Blue, the most popular jazz recording in history. After leaving Miles in 1963, Jimmy continued to work with pianist Wynton Kelly and bassist Paul Chambers, recording and performing with Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, and J.J. Johnson, among others. Throughout the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s Jimmy worked with many great artists, including Sonny Stitt, Nat Adderley, Ricky Ford, Hank Jones, Ron Carter, George Coleman, and Fathead Newman. In June 2008, Jimmy was the recipient of the Don Redman Heritage Award, and four months later, on October 17, 2008, he was one of six artists to be presented with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Master Award. Jimmy remains active as a performer and educator, not only in New York City, where he leads his quartet, Jimmy Cobb’s Mob, but on the international circuit as well, including Japan, China, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, and South Africa.
Walt Weiskopf Sextet
Saxophonist, composer, and author Walt Weiskopf began his New York career performing with the Buddy Rich Big Band in 1981, at the age of 21. Since then, he has made an impressive mark as both a leader and sideman with 12 critically-acclaimed CDs and countless sideman credits, including performing and recording with Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, and Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy. A dynamic player with enormous technical prowess, Walt is equally well-regarded as a composer and his CDs contain predominately original work. His five books on advanced topics in improvisation are among the most respected in the field. Whether for quartet, sextet, or nonet, Walt’s compositions and arrangements have attracted fans and critical notice. Pianist Bill Cunliffe, winner of the International Thelonious Monk competition, said simply, “Walt Weiskopf is one of the great composers of modern jazz…” (L.A. Jazz Scene, 1997). Zan Stewart called him “a consummate saxophonist, composer and arranger” (Downbeat, 2003). Chris Hovan proclaimed Walt to be “easily one of the most mature and fully individualistic saxophonists and composers to come along in the last 10 years” (All About Jazz, 2002).
Grant Stewart Quartet with special guest Hilary Gardner
Born in Toronto, Canada on June 4, 1971, Grant Stewart began playing the alto sax at age 10, switched to tenor sax at age 17, and was soon playing with such master saxophonists as Pat Labarbaara and Bob Mover. Since moving to New York City at the age of 19, Stewart has studied with such masters as Donald Byrd, Barry Harris, and Joe Lovano, and performed with Curtis Fuller, John Hendricks, Clark Terry, Etta Jones, Bill Charlap, Frank Gant, Dan Barret, Bob Mover, Brad Mehldau, Russell Malone, Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, Jimmy Cobb, and countless others. Jazz master George Coleman says of Stewart, “Grant is one of the brightest, gifted young players I’ve heard and had on my bandstand…he’s got a long, brilliant career ahead of him”. Stewart has nine recordings as a leader, two as a co-leader with fellow tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander on the Criss Cross label, and has performed on many other recordings as a sideman. His latest release is entitled Around the Corner (Sharp Nine Records, 2010).
Originally from Wasilla, Alaska, vocalist Hilary Gardner made her Broadway debut in Twyla Tharp’s hit musical, Come Fly Away. Backed by a 19-piece big band, Hilary sang solos and duets with Frank Sinatra in a performance hailed by critics as “wonderful” (Huffington Post), “elegant” (USA Today), and “terrific” (New York Observer). Hilary is a founding member of Shotgun Wedding, a Brooklyn-based country music band. She also performs frequently as a featured vocalist with the George Gee Swing Orchestra. As the voice of the jazz-inflected cabaret quartet West 73rd, Hilary has performed at the Metropolitan Room, Feinstein’s at the Regency, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. The group’s debut CD,The Kurt Weill Project, was nominated for a MAC award for “Best Jazz Recording of 2008″.
Sheryl Bailey Quartet
There’s no description more apt for Sheryl Bailey than “A sizzling guitar goddess”, coined by Elliot Simon (All About Jazz). He’s not alone with his superlatives–Frank Forte (Just Jazz Guitar) ranks her “among the best bop guitar players with a fresh approach and something new”, and John Heidt (Vintage Guitar) says Sheryl is “one of the top players in an emerging generation of jazz guitarists”. Sheryl’s first teacher in Pittsburgh, John Maione, introduced her to the jazz guitar tradition–Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Raney, George Van Eps, Joe Pass and others, and she eventually attended Berklee College of Music. Her years of dedication and focus won her 3rd place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar competition in 1995, and she was chosen as a Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department in 2000 for a South American tour. To date, Sheryl has 6 CDs out under her name, including the most recent, For All Those Living (PureMusic Records, 2011).
Three Blind Mice
Heralded as one of the “tightest bands in Philly”, Three Blind Mice is a modern organ trio steeped in the tradition of jazz. The trio has forged its own distinct sound, exploring a repertoire that is constantly evolving, featuring original compositions, classics from jazz masters including John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Larry Young and Wes Montgomery, as well as contemporary artists such as guitarist Peter Bernstein. Three Blind Mice is known for its dynamic interplay, intent listening, and deep, infectious swing. Their long-awaited debut CD, The Outsider, was released in 2011, receiving high praise, and showcasing their cooperative sound. All three members are regulars on the Philadelphia jazz scene.
Tim Horner Quintet
Tim Horner’s introduction to music began with singing in the church choir at a very early age, and by the 4th grade he was playing violin, viola and drums in public school music programs. Upon entering Berklee College of Music in 1974 he made becoming a professional jazz drummer his goal and dream. His first major professional work was with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in 1978. After a year on the road, Tim returned to Boston, leading his own bands, finishing his Bachelors’ Degree in Performance at Berklee, and recording and performing with many artists including Miroslav Vitous, John Schofield, Jack Wilkins, Buddy DeFranco, and Bob Mover. In 1980 he moved to New York City where he has enjoyed great success as one of the city’s most in-demand jazz drummers. Tim’s first CD as a leader, The Places We Feel Free, was released in 2011 and features ten of his original compositions.
Keith Hollis Quartet
Born and raised in Atlantic City, Keith Hollis began playing the drums when he was nine years old. Hollis’ musical influences are deeply rooted in Gospel and R&B and he has been playing music at his father’s church for many years. Keith has performed with such noted artists as Kirk Franklin, Kim Burrell, Jeff Majors, Gerald Veasley, Dexter Wansel, Bonnie Siegler, Jean Carn, and various “Sound of Philadelphia” artists. He has also played and recorded with some of South Jersey’s finest artists, including George Mesterhazy, Gina Roche, and Kristina Pruitt. Known primarily as a consummate sideman, Keith has begun work on a much-anticipated debut CD which will showcase his composing talents as well.
Luke O’Reilly Quartet
28-year-old Colombian native Luke Carlos O-Reilly was born with a passion for music. He received his Bachelors’ Degree in Jazz Piano Performance from Temple University’s prestigious Esther Boyer College of Music. After spending time on the road with such jazz greats as Curtis Fuller, Dave Valentin, Red Holloway, Slide Hampton, Nicholas Payton and Bobby Watson, Luke returned to Philadelphia where he recorded and released his self-produced debut CD, Living in the Now, in February, 2011. On this recording Luke demonstrates his great versatility as he explores jazz, Latin and soul music, as well as spoken word poetry. In addition to leading his own group, Luke is one of the most in-demand jazz pianists in the Philadelphia area.
Venissa Santi Quintet
Venissa Santi’s artistry stems from the necessity to express the many influences that have nourished her spirit as a Cuban American. She was born in Ithaca, New York, and hails from a long line of Cuban artists. But it was her grandfather, Jacobo Ros Capablanca, a Cuban composer who instilled in her a life-long passion for music. As a child, she grew up listening to the sounds of Ravel, Celia Cruz and Michael Jackson as well as theatrical productions and jazz. After completing high school, she moved to Philadelphia, where she enrolled at the University of the Arts, connected with her Cuban roots (via her grandfather’s compositions), and majored in Jazz Vocal Performance. In 2008 Venissa won the prestigious Pew Fellowship for Folk and Traditional Arts. In 2009, she was signed to Sunnyside Records and released her debut CD Bienvenida, which immediately climbed to #3 on radio show host and jazz expert Bob Pariocha’s list of Top Ten Recordings. Venissa is currently working on her highly anticipated follow-up to Bienvenida.