Musical director of The Jazz Cruise and a three-time Grammy® nominee, mainstream jazz pianist Shelly Berg brings a wealth of knowledge and unrivaled talent to our program. Entering the Cleveland Institute of Music at age 6, Shelly has since amassed accolades and performance credentials that only the best of the best can boast. His CD, Blackbird, soared to No. 1 in U.S. jazz radio and garnered “Record of the Year” and “Artist of the Year” nominations from Jazzweek. He has performed and recorded in collaboration with jazz legends including Ray Brown, Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, Peter Erskine, Branford Marsalis, Gregg Field, Chuck Berghofer, Dave Grusin, Woody Herman, Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry and Bill Watrous. Other musical endeavors have teamed him up with Gloria Estefan, Patti Austin, Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Michael Feinstein, Renée Fleming, Gregory Porter, Aretha Franklin, Tierney Sutton, Janelle Monáe, Queen Latifa, Lorraine Feather, Monica Mancini, Rita Moreno, Ricky Martin, Kevin Spacey, Dionne Warwick, Carmen Bradford and many more. Previously the McCoy/Sample Professor of Jazz Studies at the USC Thornton School of Music, Shelly is currently Dean of the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
The Jazz Cruise is excited feature bassist John Clayton, a composer, arranger and conductor who learned his trade starting at age 16 from the great Ray Brown, in its 2016 lineup. With a Grammy® and eight additional nominations under his belt, John cites arranging the ‘Star Spangled Banner” for Whitney Houston’s performance at Super Bowl 1990, playing bass on Paul McCartney’s CD “Kisses On The Bottom,” and arranging and playing bass with Yo-Yo Ma and Friends on “Songs of Joy and Peace” among the most notable moments of his career. Over the years, John’s mentors and influencers have included Robert Farnon, Count Basie, Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones. Early in his profession, he toured with the Monty Alexander Trio and the Count Basie Orchestra. Later, he held the principal bass chair in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for more than five years and had a run as artistic director of jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1998 to 2001. Over the course of his career, John has collaborated with Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Ray Brown, Regina Carter, McCoy Tyner, Carmen McRae, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé and many others. With brother Jeff Clayton on reeds, he’s graced many stages as part of The Clayton Brothers Quintet. He’s also an integral part – and co-founder – of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Eager to share his talent, John frequently participates in jazz workshops and music clinics around the world.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The band has traveled worldwide spreading their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans Jazz. Whether performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British Royalty or the King of Thailand, this music embodies a joyful, timeless spirit. Under the auspices of current director, Ben Jaffe, the son of founders Allan and Sandra, Preservation Hall continues with a deep reverence and consciousness of its greatest attributes in the modern day as a venue, band, and record label.
The PHJB began touring in 1963 and many of the band's charter members performed with the pioneers who invented jazz in the early twentieth century including Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bunk Johnson. Band leaders over the band's history have passed on the lessons of their music to a younger generation who now follow in their footsteps like the current lineup.
Born to a distinguished bloodline of drummers, New Orleans native Herlin Riley emerged from the creative rhythmic era of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s to lend his commanding yet elegant rhythmic presence to the ensembles of such influential and demanding improvisers as pianist Ahmad Jamal and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. His authoritative style of melodic percussion is deeply imbued in the fertile creative soil of the Crescent City, encompassing the entire length and breadth of America’s ongoing musical journey.
Riley’s album New Direction is an engaging, wide-ranging recital that distills a lifetime of experience into a swinging body of new music that defines what a big tent the music of New Orleans has always represented stylistically and spiritually. To Riley, his music is “like cooking a big pot of gumbo; you may start out with some very humble ingredients, but by the time you’re finished, you have a meal fit for a king. I mean, the essence of jazz music to me is that it is free, but it has form. So our music is modern, and it’s progressive, but we’re trying to engage people as well. I do love to groove; that is a big part of who I am, and that is why as an expression of where I would like to take my music, New Direction feels very much like…like home.”
A powerhouse trumpeter, gifted with a soulful voice and a charismatic onstage swagger, Byron Stripling has delighted audiences internationally. Since his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops, Stripling has emerged as one of America’s most popular symphony pops guest artists, having performed with over 100 orchestras around the world. He has been a featured soloist at the Hollywood Bowl and performs at jazz festivals throughout the world.
Stripling earned his stripes as lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones and Frank Foster. He has also played and recorded extensively with the bands of Dizzy Gillespie,Woody Herman, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Louis Bellson, and Buck Clayton in addition to The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra,The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and The GRP All Star Big Band.
An accomplished actor and singer, Stripling was chosen, following a world wide search, to star in the lead role of the Broadway bound musical,“Satchmo.” Television viewers have enjoyed his work as soloist on the worldwide telecast of The Grammy Awards. Millions have heard his trumpet and voice on television commercials,TV theme songs including “20/20,” CNN, and soundtracks of favorite movies.
GRAMMY winner Kurt Elling is among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. He won the DownBeat Critics Poll for fourteen consecutive years and was named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association on eight occasions. An international jazz award winner, he has also been GRAMMY nominated a dozen times. Elling’s rich baritone spans four octaves and features both astonishing technical mastery and emotional depth. His repertoire includes original compositions and modern interpretations of standards, all of which are springboards for inspired improvisation, scatting, spoken word and poetry. The New York Times declared, “Elling is the standout male vocalist of our time.” The Washington Post added, “Since the mid-1990s, no singer in jazz has been as daring, dynamic or interesting as Kurt Elling. With his soaring vocal flights, his edgy lyrics and sense of being on a musical mission, he has come to embody the creative spirit in jazz.”
Elling is a renowned artist of vocalese – the writing and performing of words over recorded improvised jazz solos. The natural heir to jazz pioneers Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure and Jon Hendricks, Elling has set his own lyrics to the improvised solos of Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. Said Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States, “In Kurt Elling’s art, the voice of jazz gives a new spiritual presence to the ancient, sweet and powerful bond between poetry and music.” Kurt Elling has toured vigorously throughout his career, thrilling audiences throughout the world. In that time he has led his own ensemble and has collaborated with many of the world’s finest orchestras.
Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker has helped shape the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. His trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.
Randy's musical talent was nurtured from an early age. He moved to New York where he landed gigs with such prominent bands as Clark Terry's Big Bad Band, the Duke Pearson Big Band and the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. In 1967, Randy ventured into jazz-rock with the band Blood, Sweat and Tears. He recorded his first solo album, 'Score', in 1968, featuring a young, then unknown 19 year-old tenor saxophonist named Michael Brecker. Randy joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers before teaming up with brother Michael, Barry Rogers, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie to form the seminal fusion group 'Dreams'. The group recorded two adventurous and wildly acclaimed albums: 'Dreams' and 'Imagine My Surprise' - now collector's items - for Columbia Records before they disbanded in 1971.
In the early 1970s, Randy performed live with many prominent artists including Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House, Stevie Wonder and Billy Cobham. He also recorded several classic albums with his brother under the leadership of the great pianist/composer Hal Galper. By 1975, Randy and Michael were ready to front their own group, the Brecker Brothers Band. A band of immeasurable impact and influence, they released six albums on Arista and garnered seven Grammy nominations between 1975 and 1981. Their eponymous first record, which Randy wrote, arranged and produced, featured his now classic composition “Some Skunk Funk.”
Randy Brecker’s “Brecker Brothers Band Reunion,” re-introduces the familiar faces of Brecker Brothers Band members from the past and their special brand of music to sell-out crowds. It is dedicated to his brother, Michael, and other departed Brecker Brothers Band members.
Randy’s newest soon-to-be-released CD is a project with the NDR Big Band, the German ‘Radio-Band’ from Hamburg and features new arrangements of Randy’s songs from different periods of his life, and features Dave Sanborn, Ada Rovatti and Wolfgang Haffner as Special Guests!
Fifty-five years after he moved to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. His spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit, and a consistent predisposition, as Alexander accurately states, “to build up the heat and kick up a storm.” In the course of any given performance, Alexander applies those aesthetics to repertoire spanning a broad range of jazz and Jamaican musical expression—the American songbook and the blues, gospel and bebop, calypso and reggae. In the process, he has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe and entertainment world: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Barbara Hendricks, Bobby McFerrin, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare, among others. Like his “eternal inspiration,” Erroll Garner, Alexander—cited as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time—gives the hardcore-jazz-obsessed much to dig into while also communicating the message to the squarest “civilian.” To date Alexander has recorded over 70 albums as a leader. Among his many honors is the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction, awarded to him by the government of Jamaica, for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador.
A protégé of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, Arturo Sandoval was born in a small town in the outskirts of Havana, Cuba in 1949, just two years after Gillespie became the first musician to bring Latin influences into American Jazz. Sandoval began studying classical trumpet at the age of twelve, but it didn’t take him long to catch the excitement of the jazz world. He has since evolved into one of the world’s most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn, as well as a renowned classical artist, pianist and composer. He is one of the most dynamic and vivacious live performers of our time, and has been awarded 10 Grammy Awards, and nominated 19 times; he has also received 6 Billboard Awards and an Emmy Award for his composing work on the entire underscore of the HBO movie based on his life, “For Love or Country” that starred Andy Garcia as Arturo. He also is the 2013 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Sandoval was a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning group Irakere, whose explosive mixture of jazz, classical, rock and traditional Cuban music caused a sensation throughout the entertainment world. In 1981, he left Irakere to form his own band, which garnered enthusiastic praise from critics and audiences all over the world, and continues to do so. Sandoval is also a renowned classical musician, performing regularly with the leading symphony orchestras from around the world.
Arturo Sandoval’s versatility can be heard on recordings with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Woody Shaw, Michel Legrand, Josh Groban, Tony Bennett, Bill Conti, and Stan Getz to Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Rod Stewart and Alicia Keys amongst many others. He has performed with John Williams with the Boston Pops, and in the Super bowl with Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle. His compositions can also be heard in movies including Dave Grusin’s soundtrack for “Havana” and “Random Heart”, in the “Mambo Kings” soundtrack with his Grammy nominated composition “Mambo Caliente.” Filled with a virtuoso capability, Sandoval desires nothing more than to share his gift with others who feel the same intense adoration for music as he does.
John and Jeff Clayton prove conclusively, that while blood may be thicker than water, it can also carry an unimpeded flow of pure creativity. Their Grammy© nominated quintet The Clayton Brothers, was originally founded in 1977, and while their paths would sometimes diverge, the brothers continued to share a common musical vision that would draw them back together. The brothers place a strong emphasis on sharing what it is they know and thus are dedicated jazz educators who travel extensively to participate in workshops and music clinics around the world. In the fall of 2004, The Clayton Brothers were featured on the cover of JazzTimes' Education Resource Guide, naming them jazz educators for the year.
A Grammy©-award winning artist (Queen Latifah's "I'm Gonna Live Til I Die"), John Clayton gained prominence as a bassist in both the jazz and classical fields. He served as the Artistic Director of Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1998 through 2001. His serious study of the double bass began at age 16 under the tutelage of Ray Brown. He held the principal bass chair in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for more than five years. He is a composer/arranger/conductor, who counts among his mentors Robert Farnon, Count Basie, Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini, and Quincy Jones. He has played with and/or written and arranged music for Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Ray Brown, Regina Carter, McCoy Tyner, Carmen McRae, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater (including her Grammy© award winning CD, "Dear Ella" on Verve), Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Michael Buble' and many others.
Reed player Jeff Clayton began his career as both a touring and studio musician. He recorded important albums with, among others, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle, Earth Wind & Fire, and solo'd on Madonna's recording "Back in Business". As a jazz musician, he has worked with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Harmon, Lionel Hampton, Lena Horne, McCoy Toner, Dee Dee Bridgewater and many others.
Currently, the quintet also consists of John's son, Gerald Clayton on piano (also Grammy© nominated) and Obed Calvaire on drums. Terell Stafford, a highly regarded trumpeter and band-leader in his own right, is also a member of the quintet.
Electric bassist Marcus Miller, winner of two Grammy® Awards, the 2013 Edison Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz (Holland), the 2010 Victoire du Jazz (France) and 2013 UNESCO Artist for Peace, brings his world-renowned musical finesse to The Jazz Cruise ‘16. Not only a multi-instrumentalist adept on the clarinet, bass clarinet and keyboard in addition to the bass guitar, Marcus also is a highly gifted composer and producer. The legendary album “Tutu,” written and produced for Miles Davis, sealed his international fame when Marcus was only 25. Over the course of his career, he has collaborated with artists as varied and talented as Eric Clapton, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Wayne Shorter, Lalah Hathaway and Herbie Hancock. Marcus also has produced his own genre-defying albums, among them The Sun Don’t Lie, Tales, M2, Silver Rain, Free, A Night in Monte Carlo (with the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra) and Renaissance. Along with international tours, he hosts a weekly program on SiriusXM radio show, “Miller Time.”
Grammy Award winning producer and vocalist Steve Tyrell is the definition of a renaissance man. In his nearly five decades in the music business, he has achieved success as a singer, songwriter, producer, music supervisor, and most recently, radio host.
His breakthrough performances in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II helped Tyrell reinvent and re-popularize classic pop standards for a modern-day audience. His hits, The Way You Look Tonight, The Simple Life, Crush On You, and The Sunny Side of The Street, have launched millions of romances and been played at thousands of weddings, including Chelsea Clinton’s. Steve has had the pleasure of singing for Heads of State, including Presidents Bush and Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Santos of Columbia, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In 2014, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales invited Steve and his band for a command performance at Buckingham Palace.
As for American royalty, the Sinatra family has long embraced Steve and his music. Together with Quincy Jones, they handpicked Steve to be the featured performer with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at their season opening concert in which Frank Sinatra was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Also at the request of the Sinatra family, he reprised that performance at Carnegie Hall. This was one of the rare times the family has reached into the vault of original Sinatra arrangements to share them with another artist.
As an artist, all 9 of his American Standards albums have achieved top 5 status on Billboard’s Jazz charts. His first album, A New Standard, was amongst the bestselling jazz albums for more than 5 years. Tyrell’s work in the studio as a record producer has included collaborations with such diverse and legendary artists as Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Blood Sweat and Tears, Mary J Blige, Chris Botti, Dave Koz, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, Burt Bacharach, Bette Midler, and Stevie Wonder, among many others. He produced Woody Allen’s classic comedy album, Woody Allen – Stand Up Comic, as well as an album with the late Andy Griffith, which won the Grammy in 1995 for Gospel Album of the Year.
In 2005, after the passing of the legendary Bobby Short, Steve was asked by New York City’s Cafe Carlyle to take over their revered holiday season of November and December, which Mr. Short had not missed for 36 years.
In August 2015, Tyrell added radio host to his long line of credits. Every Monday thru Friday, he can be heard on The Steve Tyrell Show on KJAZZ 88.1 in Los Angeles and online at jazzandblues.org.
Quoted as the Master of the Jazz organ, Joey de Francesco has received countless Jazz Journalist awards, 3 Grammy nominations, and accolades worldwide. Winner of Down Beat Magazine’s Critic’s poll 2002-2008, 2012, 2014,2015 as well as the magazines Reader’s Poll every year since 2005. In 2014 he was inducted into the inaugural Hammond Organ Hall of Fame. He is known for his extraordinary keyboard skills, piano playing, and organ wizardry— not to mention his undeniable mastery of the trumpet, which he developed a passion for after touring with the great Miles Davis. With over thirty recordings as a leader and numerous collaborations with the masters of modern jazz in his legacy, Joey DeFrancesco deservingly takes his place with Fats Waller, Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith in the lineage of Jazz Organ and has led the its musical renaissance in the modern era.
Ann Hampton Callaway is one of the leading champions of the great American Songbook, having made her mark as a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer. A born entertainer, her unique singing style blends jazz and traditional pop, making her a mainstay in concert halls, theaters and jazz clubs as well as in the recording studio, on television, and in film. She is best known for Tony-nominated performance in the hit Broadway musical Swing! and for writing and singing the theme song to the hit TV series The Nanny. Callaway is a Platinum Award winning writer whose songs are featured on seven of Barbra Streisand's recent CD's. The only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, she has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland and Barbara Carroll to name a few.
Callaway's live performances showcase her warmth, spontaneous wit and passionate delivery of standards, jazz classics and originals. She is one of America's most gifted improvisers, taking words and phrases from her audiences and creating songs on the spot, whether alone at a piano or with a symphony orchestra. Ann has been a special guest performer with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood and is featured at many of the Carnegie Hall tributes. Ann resides in New York. She lives by the creed best expressed in the Andre Gide quote: "Art is the collaboration between God and the artist and the less the artist does, the better."
Guitar and vocal virtuoso John Pizzarelli has been breathing new life into the Great American Songbook since the age of 6. The GRAMMY®-nominated vocalist will captivate guests of The Jazz Cruise ‘16 with his cool, suave spin on the songs of Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, Nat King Cole, his musical inspiration, Frank Sinatra and even the Beatles. Performing solo and as bandleader of his eponymous quartet, John’s astounding list of credentials includes appearances on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Live With Regis & Kelly,” the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; special guest on recordings for major artists such as James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Kristin Chenoweth, Rosemary Clooney and Buddy DeFranco; and recipient of the 2009 Ella Fitzgerald Award from the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Pizzarelli played guitar on 10 of 14 tracks on Sir Paul McCartney’s GRAMMY®-winning 2012 album, Kisses on the Bottom, and backed Sir Paul at an iTunes concert at Capitol Records Studios, the GRAMMY® Awards and the Recording Academy’s annual MusiCares Person of the Year Gala. Fifteen months after those gigs, McCartney wrote to Pizzarelli to consider recording some of his lesser-known songs in a jazz style. The result is Pizzarelli’s latest album, Midnight McCartney.
Drummer Jeff Hamilton has been honing his big band skills since the tender age of 8, earning him a presence on the stage with legends like Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, Monty Alexander and Diana Krall. Currently performing with Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and the Clayton Brothers or co-leading the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (the Grammy®-nominated big band that provides backup for Diana Krall), this in-demand drummer brings his eponymous trio to The Jazz Cruise ‘16 for guests to revel in his sensational stylistics at the helm of a drum. Overflowing but well-deserved accolades include that of No. 1 jazz drummer in Modern Drummer Magazine’s reader’s poll, 2006 Musician of the Year (along with musical partner John Clayton) by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, and a No. 5 spot on the Gavin national jazz radio chart for “It’s Hamilton Time” by the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Featured in nearly 200 recordings – including 16 Grammy® Award-winning titles – with the likes of Natalie Cole, Barbara Streisand, Mel Torme and Herb Ellis, Jeff also teaches, arranges and composes for the drums.
Experience counts, especially in jazz. The more time musicians spend interpreting tunes and interacting with others, the more articulation an audience can expect. You can hear the fruits of such work in the expressive language The Cookers bring to the bandstand. This exciting all-star septet summons up an aggressive mid ‘60s spirit with a potent collection of expansive post-bop originals marked by all the requisite killer instincts and pyrotechnic playing expected of some of the heaviest hitters on the scene today.
Billy Hart and Eddie Henderson were members of Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking Mwandishi group; Cecil McBee anchored Charles Lloyd’s great ’60s quartet alongside Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette; Billy Harper was part of Lee Morgan’s last group, as well as being a member of Max Roach’s Quartet and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers; while George Cables held down the piano chair in numerous bands including groups led by Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper. David Weiss and Donald Harrison, from a more recent generation and the youngest members of the band, are experts in this forthright lingo, having gained experience performing with Art Blakey, Bobby Hutcherson, Freddie Hubbard, Charles Tolliver, Roy Haynes and Herbie Hancock.
Each member of the Cookers has spent time leading his own series of groups as well, and each has a keenly individual sound. But it’s the unmistakable power of teamwork that makes this music so commanding and resonates with a kind of depth and beauty that speaks of the seasoned track record of its principals (combined, the group has over 250 years of experience in the jazz world and has been a part of over 1,000 recordings). You can feel the collective weight of that experience in their CDs and especially in their live performances.
The New York Voices are known for their close knit voicings, inspired arrangements and unparalleled vocal blend. Their chameleon-like musicianship allows them to move seamlessly from setting to setting, be it orchestral/big band to the intimate trio lineup. With deep interests rooted in jazz, Brazilian, R & B, classical, and pop, their music mixes traditional sensibilities with more than a dash of the unexpected. Like the great jazz vocal groups that have come before — Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Singers Unlimited, and The Manhattan Transfer — they are firmly a part of that legacy and are dedicated to passing it on to generations to come.
The quartet, composed of Darmon Meader, Peter Eldridge, Kim Nazarian, and Lauren Kinhan, has made many guest appearances on recordings and live performances that have earned them critical acclaim and demand in a variety of settings. They have had the pleasure of performing with a number of influential jazz artists including Ray Brown, Bobby McFerrin, Nancy Wilson, The Count Basie Orchestra, George Benson, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, The Manhattan Transfer, the Boston Pops, The Metropole Orchestra, Ivan Lins, Paquito D'Rivera, and many more. NYV has traveled the globe with their elegant music, amazing audiences the world over with their impeccable voices and stunning arrangements. “Live, they’re just as impressive to witness,” says Mathew Lurrie of Time Out Chicago. “We dare say there may be no better way to understand the wit and wink of jazz harmony than via these Voices.”
The Jazz Cruise is privileged to have one of the top trombonists of his generation, Wycliffe Gordon, return for an encore performance as our Gospel Show host. Both an accomplished soloist and leader of his eponymous quartet, Wycliffe tours the globe performing for audiences of every caliber, from elementary school students to heads of state. In 2014, for the third year in a row, he received Downbeat Magazine’s Critics Poll “Best in Trombone” award. Wycliffe also has been recognized eight times – most recently in 2013 – by the Jazz Journalists Association as “Trombonist of the Year.” A veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the musician has 16 solo CDs and seven co-leader CDs under his belt. Adept at the tuba, trumpet and soprano trombone plus an accomplished composer and arranger, Wycliffe currently serves as artist-in-residence at Georgia Regents University where he is developing a jazz studies program, teaches courses and works with music majors.
Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. The Jazz Journalists Association has voted Anat as Clarinetist of the Year eight years in a row, and she has topped both the Critics and Readers Polls in the clarinet category in DownBeat magazine every year since 2011. That’s not to mention years of being named Rising Star in the soprano and tenor saxophone categories in DownBeat, as well as for Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2009, ASCAP awarded Anat a Wall of Fame prize for composition and musicianship, among other honors. Earning this acclaim, Anat has toured the world with her quartet, headlining at the Newport, Umbria, SF Jazz and North Sea jazz festivals as well as at such hallowed clubs as New York’s Village Vanguard and at Columbia University’s prestigious Miller Theatre.
Anat was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and moved to New York in 1999 after graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she also developed a deep love for various Latin music styles. Anat soon began to bend ears and turn heads; whether playing clarinet, soprano saxophone or tenor saxophone, she won over the most knowing of jazz sages: Nat Hentoff praised her “bursting sound and infectious beat,” Dan Morgenstern her “gutsy, swinging” style, Ira Gitler her “liquid dexterity and authentic feeling,” and Gary Giddins her musicality “that bristles with invention.” Anat collaborates regularly with one of her heroes, Cuban-American clarinetist-saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, who introduced her onstage at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex as “one of the greatest players ever of the clarinet,” and is a fixture on the New York scene at such clubs as Birdland.
"Rhythm Is My Business" is the title of his debut recording as a leader, and rhythm is a booming business as far as Lewis Nash is concerned. He is the drummer of choice for an incredible array of artists - from the masters of the music to the hottest young players of today - and is equally in demand as a clinician and educator. World-renowned bassist Ron Carter hired Nash in 1984, and in 1986, saxophonist Branford Marsalis asked Lewis to join his quartet. In 1989 Nash toured with legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins. From 1990 to 2000, Lewis was a member of the Tommy Flanagan Trio, and is featured on seven CD recordings with the late piano master. During this period, Nash also toured and recorded with both the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. His impressive discography (over 300 recordings) includes projects with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Hank Jones and John Lewis, as well as new jazz stars Diana Krall, Joe Lovano and Roy Hargrove. Demonstrating his stylistic diversity, Nash is also featured on recordings by Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Nancy Wilson, Kenny Rankin, Melissa Manchester and George Michael. Currently, while he continues to perform and record with a wide variety of artists, Nash leads several of his own exciting groups, from duo to septet.
Six-time GRAMMY® Award nominee Nnenna Freelon has earned a well-deserved reputation as a compelling and captivating live performer. In 2014, Nnenna starred in the critically acclaimed show “Georgia on My Mind: Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles” at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Nnenna is no stranger to the music of the master singer - she toured with Ray Charles, as well as many other greatest jazz artists including Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau, George Benson, and others. She is particularly excited about her current venture as the writer, composer and producer of the original theatrical presentation of The Clothesline Muse, a devised theatrical work of dance, music, spoken word, vibrant art and projections. She is also one of the stars of the musical theater piece.
Nnenna has always been respected as an artist and for her passion for education. In November 2011, The White House asked Freelon to headline the Asia Pacific Economic Summit for 300 Presidents, Premiers and Heads of State from around the world. This was on the heels of receiving the YWCA of North Carolina’s inaugural “Legend Award” for her outstanding artistry and her dedication to education.
Nnenna’s talent is not limited to performing. Her TV appearance on In Performance At the White House, celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, led to the versatile songstress/composer having a featured song on the hit TV show Mad Men. That was followed by a new collaboration on tour with legendary guitarist Earl Klugh. In 2012 she had her first collaboration with legendary pianist Ramsey Lewis. Nnenna Freelon has created a diverse and outstanding legacy from her creativity to her performances that have garnered an ever-growing fan base from audiences to leaders worldwide.
Playing his first professional gig in elementary school, Ken Peplowski has spent his life – along with many a wedding and high school Polka band engagement – mastering the clarinet. With just a year of college under his belt, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow. In 1980, he moved to New York City and, shortly thereafter, was hired by Benny Goodman to play tenor saxophone in his new band. Considering himself an interpreter of material who thrives on putting his own spin on music of various genres, Ken was inducted into The Jazz Cruise Hall of Fame in 2013 and returns for an encore performance on The Jazz Cruise 2016. With a diverse repertoire of Italian folk songs, avant-garde jazz, pop and classical music, the jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist has recorded approximately 50 CDs as a soloist and nearly 400 as a sideman. He’s collaborated with the likes of Mel Torme, Leon Redbone, Charlie Byrd, Peggy Lee, George Shearing, Madonna, Hank Jones, Dave Frishberg, Rosemary Clooney, Tom Harrell, James Moody, Cedar Walton, Houston Person, Steve Allen, Bill Charlap, Woody Allen, Marianne Faithfull, Isaac Delgado and Erich Kunzel.
Roberta Gambarini was born in Turin, Italy, into a music-loving family. She grew up listening to Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald from her father’s jazz record collection. She started taking clarinet lessons when she was twelve years old, but by age 17 she was singing and performing in jazz clubs, and the following year moved to Milan to take her career as a jazz singer to the next level. In 1998 she earned a scholarship from the New England Conservatory and moved to the United States with. Just two weeks later, Roberta dazzled the jazz world by placing third in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition. Since then, she has performed with Michael Brecker, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Hank Jones, Christian McBride, Russell Malone, Toots Thielemans, and many others. Her American debut album, Easy to Love, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2006. Roberta’s vocal chops, range, timing and improvisation skills have thrilled jazz audiences everywhere she performs.
Featuring three of Brazil's most in-demand musicians, Trio da Paz updates the infectious spirit of jazz-oriented Brazilian music. Formed in 1990 by Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Duduka da Fonseca, the Trio redefines Brazilian Jazz with their harmonically adventurous interactions, daring improvisations and dazzling rhythms. All three are seasoned masters of both jazz and Brazilian music with impressive resumes. The list of legendary musicians the members of Trio da Paz have recorded and performed with includes Dianne Reeves, Michael Brecker, Grover Washington, Jr. and Kathleen Battle, Joe Henderson, Don Pullen, Yo-Yo Ma and Paul Winter, Astrud Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, John Scofield and Tom Harrell. Trio da Paz as a group has recorded and performed with Charlie Byrd, Herbie Mann, Lee Konitz, Kenny Barron and Nana Vasconcelos, among others. Trio da Paz received this accolade from critic Howard Mandel "If North Americans hadn't invented jazz, then surely Brazilians such as the three talented young men (in Trio da Paz) would have invented something like it."
Combine mastery of keyboard technique with decades of real world experience playing with no less than the most celebrated artists of the last half century, and it’s no wonder Benny Green has been hailed as perhaps the most exciting hard-swinging, hard-bop pianist to ever emerge from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Green is the bearer of the torch and guardian of a legacy handed down to him, personally, by his musical mentors. His most recent recordings, Live in Santa Cruz (2015) and Magic Beans (2012) are shining examples of his brilliance. Since emerging under the tutelage of Betty Carter, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard and Ray Brown in the early 1980s, Benny Green has become a highly regarded pianist and bandleader. His efforts to expand upon the language of the classical jazz canon have placed him not only among the best interpreters but also among the vanguard of musicians keeping jazz’s evolution going. Born in New York in 1963, Benny Green grew up in Berkeley, California, and began classical piano studies at the age of seven. Influenced by his father, a tenor saxophonist, his attention soon turned to Jazz: “I began trying to improvise on the piano, imitating the records I’d been hearing from my father’s collection, which included a lot of Monk and Bird… it was a gradual process of teaching myself.” Benny never looked back and never stopped learning as his talent and love for the music propelled him to the upper strata of jazz luminaries.
In the 1990s, Houston Person kept the soulful thick-toned tenor tradition of Gene Ammons alive, particularly in his work with organists. After learning piano as a youth, Person switched to tenor. While stationed in Germany with the Army, he played in groups that also included Eddie Harris, Lanny Morgan, Leo Wright, and Cedar Walton. Person picked up valuable experience as a member of Johnny Hammond's group (1963-1966) and became a bandleader in the following years, often working with the late singer Etta Jones. A duo recording with Ran Blake was a nice change of pace, but most of Houston Person's playing has been done in blues-oriented organ groups. He recorded a consistently excellent series of albums for Muse, eventually switching to HighNote Records for 2006's You Taught My Heart to Sing, 2007's Thinking of You, and 2008's Just Between Friends, which featured bassist Ron Carter. Released in 2012, Naturally, recorded at the famed Van Gelder Recording Studio, teamed Person with Cedar Walton on piano, Ray Drummond on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums. He quickly returned with the similarly inclined 2013 effort Nice 'n' Easy, followed a year later by The Melody Lingers On. In 2015, Person delivered the rootsy and soulful Something Personal.
Drummer/percussionist Ernie Adams returns to The Jazz Cruise to woo audiences once again with his brilliant technique and magnetic personality. The Chicago-based artist has played professionally since age 15 and his long list of performance, touring and recording credentials includes collaborations with Ramsey Lewis, Stanley Turrentine, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Patricia Barber, Dianne Reeves, James Moody, Rufus Reid, Joe Zawinul, Slide Hampton, Frank Morgan, Arturo Sandoval, Wycliffe Gordon, Clark Terry, Pharoah Sanders, Ahmad Jamal and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. Performing on more than 100 recordings along with a host of radio and television jingles, Ernie’s perfect timing, solid groove and masterful technique render him relevant – and highly in-demand – in all musical genres. Devoted to arts education, Ernie currently serves on the faculty at the University of Illinois-Chicago and teaches at Orbert Davis’ Music Alive program, The Jazz Institute of Chicago, Ravinia and the Music Institute of Chicago.
Obed Calvaire, a native of Miami and of Haitian descent, is a graduate with both a master and bachelor degree of music from one of America's premiere private music conservatories in the nation, Manhattan School of Music. Calvaire has performed and recorded with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Seal, Eddie Palmeri, Vanessa Williams, Mark Murphy, David Foster, Mary J. Blidge, Stefon Harris, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Musiq Soulchild, Nellie McKay, Yellow Jackets, Joshua Redman, Steve Turre, and Lizz Wright. He has also performed with large ensembles such as the Village Vanguard Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band, Roy Hargrove big band, and the Bob Mintzer Big Band. Currently, Obed Calvaire can be found playing with Peter Cincotti, Richard Bona, Monty Alexander, Sean Jones, Yosvany Terry, The Clayton Brothers Quintet, and Mike Stern among others.
Over the course of eight years, with three albums as a leader, several studio projects as a sideman, and countless worldwide performances, pianist and composer Gerald Clayton has established himself as a leading figure in the up-and-coming generation of jazz artists who are fluent in the range of styles that make up today´s jazz lexicon. Hailed by The New York Times for his "huge, authoritative presence," Clayton is well on his way toward etching his own enduring mark in the long and rich tradition of jazz. Never has this been more apparent than in Life Forum, his latest recording on Concord Jazz and his most ambitious project to date. Born in the Netherlands in 1984 and raised in Southern California, Clayton took his first piano lessons before age seven with the full support and encouragement of his father, the acclaimed jazz bassist, composer and bandleader, John Clayton. Music was a central part of his life from as long as he can remember and it became a lifetime commitment very early on: "I was in the third grade, and there was a talent show where I played a boogie-woogie piece that my dad had written for me," he recalls. "It was the first time that I played for an audience where I felt that people were really moved by something that I had just played. I remember thinking, ´Yep, this is what I´ll be doing for the rest of my life.´"
Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player based in New York, has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player, he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. Stafford’s exceptionally expressive and well defined musical talent allows him to dance in and around the rich trumpet tradition of his predecessors while making his own inroads. Since the mid-1990’s, Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, Kenny Barron Quintet, Frank Wess Quintet, Jimmy Heath Quintet and Big Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band. Stafford with the Hamilton- Clayton Jazz Orchestra, performed on Diana Krall’s GRAMMY nominated From this Moment On (2006). John Clayton invited Stafford to perform with the Clayton Brothers Quintet and Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Stafford is a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and they were awarded a GRAMMY in 2009 for Best Large Ensemble, Live at the Village Vanguard. Stafford can be heard on over 130 albums of which his latest recording has been hailed as “the first must have album of 2011” and “genius”, This Side of Strayhorn. Stafford is the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University, founder and band leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, and Managing and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia (JOP). Stafford is renowned in the jazz world as an educator, performer and leader and has received countless award nominations and accolades.
Originally a touring and studio musician, reed player Jeff Clayton defines the term “virtuoso” with his skills on the clarinet, alto sax, flute, oboe and other woodwind instruments. Jeff was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Basie and, later, Thad Jones. He also played with the Phillip Morris Superband, a jazz star studded orchestra headed by Gene Harris and Ray Brown, and co-founded The Clayton Brothers Quintet along with his bassist brother, John Clayton. Jeff’s touring credentials include travels with Gene Harris, Dianne Reeves, Joe Cocker, B.B. King and Ray Charles. As studio musician, Jeff has recorded with Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle and Earth Wind & Fire, and even had a solo on the Madonna single, “Back in Business,” which earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Soloist. On the jazz stage, he has performed alongside Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Harmon, Lionel Hampton, Lena Horne, McCoy Toner, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, John Pizzarelli, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé and many other musical legends. When not performing with his quintet, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and other musical gigs including The Jazz Cruise, the passionate music educator provides clinical instruction all over the globe.
Whether performing with his groups, EB3 or Mental Images, or with the critically acclaimed Dave Holland Quintet and Big Band—with whom he was an original member—Robin Eubanks is an artist whose impact on audiences has proven powerful and lasting. Robin has recorded seven albums as a leader featuring his original music. Robin was born to a very musical family: His brother, Kevin Eubanks, was the music director for The Tonight Show and another brother, Duane, plays trumpet in New York. Their mother has been a music educator for more than 30 years; and their Uncle Ray Bryant is a prominent jazz pianist in his own right. Robin began studying music at the age of eight and after graduating cum laud from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the young trombonist moved to New York City where he began a career that has since yielded an amazing array of collaborations with such notable artists as Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Eddie Palmieri, Sun Ra, Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones and Talking Heads –just to name a few. He’s won Grammys for his performances on Michael Brecker’s Wide Angles and Dave Holland’s What Goes Around. For the last several years, Robin has divided his rigorous performing schedule with an appointment at The Oberlin College Conservatory where he serves as a tenured Professor of Jazz Trombone. Other musical groups now commission him as a composer, and as with his performing career, his compositional interests are staggeringly diverse. Musically fluent, but also stylistically multilingual, the eclectic composer speaks a variety of musical “languages”.
Allen Farnham has been active in the New York City jazz scene as a pianist, composer/arranger, producer and teacher since the early 1980's. He has performed and/or recorded with Joe Lovano, Chris Potter, Eddie Henderson, Frank Wess, Tom Harrell, Arthur Blythe, Special EFX, the John Fedchock NY Big Band, and Charlie Byrd. He has also accompanied a wide range of vocalists, including Mel Torme, Ernestine Anderson, Mark Murphy, Liza Minnelli, Susannah McCorkle, Roseanna Vitro, and Helen Merrill. Farnham has recorded extensively as both a leader and side musician and has worked as a staff producer and arranger for the west coast based jazz label, Concord Records. As a producer, he has produced over 50 albums for such artists as Charlie Byrd, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Lew Tabackin, Chris Potter, Buddy DeFranco and Jack McDuff. Mr. Farnham's arranging credits include recordings by Eden Atwood, Susannah McCorkle, Veronica Martell, Jesse Davis, and Monty Alexander, as well as his own albums. A graduate of the Oberlin Music Conservatory, Mr. Farnham has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment For The Arts and the Meet The Composer Foundation. He also holds a Master of Music Degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging from William Paterson University. He is presently an adjunct faculty member of the jazz department at New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey.
John Fedchock has been a mainstay of the New York jazz scene for decades, and with him at the helm of the stage, The Jazz Cruise experience rises to a whole new level. The revered bandleader and master of the trombone has been wowing audiences and fellow musicians since his debut with the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1980. Today, his 16-piece John Fedchock New York Big Band and the John Fedchock New York Sextet are staples on the international jazz festival circuit. In his 35-year career, the critically acclaimed trombone soloist has earned a Grammy® nomination, released nearly two dozen recordings, and toured with T.S. Monk, Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band, Louie Bellson’s Big Band, the Bob Belden Ensemble, the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. Renowned for his dense voicings, thick ensemble writing and unique, swinging lines, John also is a celebrated arranger and composer destined to make a lasting impression on big band music.
Music can only be described with words, but for David Finck, music is a language all its own. “I hear music as a spoken language,” he says. “When I listen, I’m conscious of the breaths that are taken during a phrase; I hear the vocabulary, the inflection, and the syntax. I listen for all of it.” It’s a statement that makes sense given David’s skills as a bassist and the diverse artists he has played and recorded with – among them; Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin, Sinead O’Connor, Natalie Cole, Rod Stewart, Herbie Hancock, Ivan Lins, Al Jarreau, Tony Bennett, Paquito D’Rivera, George Michael, Rosemary Clooney and Andre Previn, to name just a few. Over the years, David has become one of the most sought-after musicians in Manhattan, equally revered for his work in jazz, popular, Brazilian and classical music. He’s bridged musical diversity through his skills -- but even more so through his ability to hear music as language in an almost literal sense. David’s discography lists more than 100 recordings including Platinum and Gold selling records with Rod Stewart, Natalie Cole, and Elton John. More recently, David increased his personal vocabulary, transitioning from his role as a bassist and becoming a producer, arranger and songwriter. Currently living in New York, David’s horizon is limitless. He’s long been recognized as one of New York’s most gifted musicians.
James Morrison is, by anybody’s standard, a virtuoso in the true sense of the word. Besides the trumpet, this multi-instrumentalist also plays piano, all the brass, saxophones, and double bass. At only age sixteen James debuted in the USA with a breathtaking concert at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Following this were performances at the major festivals of Europe including Montreux, Pori and the North Sea, playing with many of the legends of jazz; Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Cab Calloway, Woody Shaw, Red Rodney, George Benson, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Wynton Marsalis to name a few. There were also gigs in the world’s most famous jazz clubs – The Blue Note and Village Vanguard in New York, the New Morning in Paris, The Tokyo Blue Note and Ronnie Scotts in London.
James Morrison’s career thus far has been diverse and perhaps not typical of most jazz musicians. He recorded Jazz Meets the Symphony with The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lalo Schifrin, performed concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for Princess Anne. Royal command performances on two occasions for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and for US Presidents Bush & Clinton at Parliament House in Australia. James has also performed his own ‘Concerto for Euphonium’ with the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Muskverein in Vienna. In 2000 James composed and performed the opening fanfare for the Olympic Games in Sydney.
James spends much time in education, doing master classes and workshops all over the world and presenting the James Morrison Jazz Scholarship at Generations in Jazz.
Barry Finnerty, born in 1951 in San Francisco, studied classical piano from age 5, and got his first guitar at age 13. From 1965-66 he lived in Hong Kong, where he got his first electric guitar and played his first professional gigs, including opening for Herman's Hermits. He returned to San Francisco in 1966 and attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston in 1971. He moved to New York City in 1973, playing and recording with the Brecker Brothers (Heavy Metal Bebop), the Crusaders (Street Life), Miles Davis (The Man With The Horn), Chico Hamilton, Airto and Flora Purim, Hubert Laws, Joe Farrell, Ray Barretto, Billy Cobham, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Taj Mahal, Didier Lockwood, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Teruo Nakamura, and The Negatives, among others. Finnerty has released six albums as a solo artist. He returned to the S.F Bay Area in 1998 and continues to work professionally, tour and record worldwide.
Award-winning saxophonist, composer and bandleader Jimmy Greene returns for an encore performance on The Jazz Cruise in 2016. Since starting on the alto sax at age 6 and forming his first quintet in high school, Jimmy has achieved success after success with his music, including but not limited to Most Outstanding Soloist award at the 1993 Berklee College of Music High School Jazz Ensemble Festival; First Runner-Up in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Jazz Saxophone Competition in 1996; recognition as a “25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz” by Down Beat magazine in 1999; and, more recently, winner of Chamber Music America’s New Works: Creation and Presentation Grant Program. Jimmy has played in the Horace Silver Quintet and performed regularly with the groups of Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Steve Turre, Lewis Nash, Avishai Cohen, Claudia Acuña, Kenny Barron and Ralph Peterson, as well as the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, New Jazz Composers’ Octet, and the big bands of Harry Connick Jr., Jason Lindner and Kendrick Oliver. With nine album to his name, Jimmy’s latest, “Beautiful Life,” is an homage to his daughter, Ana, whose life was tragically cut short at age 6 along with 19 other schoolchildren and 6 educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. In this powerful tribute, Jimmy composed or arranged every selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones – as well as the flute – throughout the album. When not on stage or in the studio, Jimmy devotes his time as a faculty member of his alma mater, The Hartt School at the University of Hartford.
Though her career has taken her well beyond the jazz circuit, Niki Haris’s roots are here, and The Jazz Cruise ‘16 is delighted to welcome the songstress to its lineup. The daughter of Grammy®-nominated jazz pianist Gene Harris, Niki and her father released two albums and a live CD before his death in 2000. Carrying on his legacy in jazz, she’s released solo albums, toured Europe with her jazz quartet, and starred in the touring production of “Billie & Me,” a celebration of the life of Billie Holiday. In addition to 18 years of recording and touring with Madonna, Niki has lent her voice to projects of Ray Charles, David Sanborn, Patrice Rushen, Michael Sembello, Leann Rimes, Michelle Branch, Santana, Kylie Minogue, Luther Vandross, All Saints, Wilton Felder of the Jazz Crusaders, Stanley Turrentine, the Righteous Brothers, Julian Lennon, Anita Baker, Mick Jagger and Whitney Houston. She’s also been featured in the soundtracks of “Corrina Corrina,” “The Big Green,” “Coyote Ugly” and Disney’s “Anastasia.” Meanwhile, she’s pursued other artistic passions with great success as well, including staging scenes for Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct,” choreographing for the television series “Melrose Place,” and appeared with in Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in “Heat.”
Award-winning jazz pianist Tamir Hendelman has performed with the Jeff Hamilton Trio, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Harry Allen, Teddy Edwards, Warren Vache, Houston Person, Jeff Clayton, Nick Brignola, Phil Upchurch, Rickey Woodard, John Clayton and Barbara Morrison. He also leads his own trio and his debut CD "Playground" features him in this trio setting. Beginning his keyboard studies at age 6 in Tel Aviv, Tamir moved to the US at age 12 in 1984, winning Yamaha's national keyboard competition 2 years later at age 14. He became the youngest musical director for Lovewell Institute, a national arts education non-profit organization. Tamir joined the Jeff Hamilton Trio in 2000, contributing arrangements, recording and touring Japan, Europe and the US. In 2001 he became a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, with whom he has recorded for John Pizzarelli, Gladys Knight and Diana Krall. He is the pianist/arranger on Jackie Ryan's "You and the Night and the Music" and Janis Mann's "A Perfect Time." He is also featured on Natalie Cole's "Still Unforgettable" and Barbara Streisand's upcoming recording. In his own trio, he explores standards, Brazilian music, blues and his Israeli roots.
Saxophonist Alex Han is steadily gaining attention as one of the “Young Jazz Lions” of his generation. With numerous performances at internationally recognized venues, musical awards, and a refreshingly original sound, he continues to expand his reputation as a talented and versatile musician. By age twelve, he was one of two national recipients of the VSA arts Young Soloists Award; by 14, Han was a recipient of the 25th Annual Down Beat Magazine Student Music Awards, and at 15 was selected as a semi-finalist for the White Foundation World Saxophone Competition at the 2003 Montreux Jazz Festival. By age 17, Han won the 17th Annual Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) Competition for saxophone, and at age 20 embarked upon a 16 city, European tour as saxophonist for two-time, GRAMMY award winning musician, producer and composer, Marcus Miller. In the years to follow, he would go on to perform with such Jazz luminaries as Marcus Miller, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Joey DeFrancesco, George Benson, Poncho Sanchez, James Moody, Kirk Whalum, Oscar Peterson, Diane Reeves, Ken Peplowski, Shelly Berg, Walt Weiskopf and many others. Today, Han continues to tour internationally with Marcus Miller.
Drummer, composer, producer, Rodney Holmes is considered by many musicians as well as music fans to be one of the very best drummers in the world. Rodney has gone on to work with some of the most talented and respected musicians in both Rock and Jazz worlds. He has worked with Santana, Steve Lukather, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Maceo Parker, Rob Thomas, Al Jarreau, Paul Gilbert, Jim Weider, Bill Evans, Daryl Jones, Alphonso Johnson, Mike Mainieri and Steps Ahead and many others. His work with Santana garnered Holmes a higher level of respect within the industry along with multiple Grammy Awards. Rodney played on the hit song “Smooth” from Santana’s “Supernatural” album. He’s also earned Grammys for his work on the Brecker Brothers ” “Out Of The Loop” album. Rodney’s amazing solos have evoked standing ovations worldwide. “Funny thing about Rodney,” writes Bruce Wittet from Modern Drummer Magazine, “even when he’s unleashing the beast, he never appears as if he’s barely hanging on. He’s got firm grasp of the reins, still forging a groove that’s lush, steady, and comfortable.”
New York drummer Tim Horner is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied percussion with Dean Anderson, drums with Keith Copeland and drumming concepts with bassist Miroslav Vitous. In 1980 following his six years in Boston, he moved to New York City where he has since offered his experience, knowledge and skills as one of New York's most in-demand jazz drummers. He's traveled extensively in the US, Europe, the Balkans, Asia, North and South America with some of the world's greatest jazz talents, performing concerts, clubs, recordings, teaching and master classes. Currently he teaches jazz ensembles and jazz drumming at New Jersey City University.
Music and spirituality have always been fully intertwined in the artistic vision of trumpeter, composer, educator and activist Sean Jones. Singing and performing as a child with the church choir in his hometown of Warren, Ohio, Sean switched from the drums to the trumpet upon his first exposure to Miles Davis at the age of 10. Twenty-five years later, he still cites Miles’ overall artistic vision and purity of sound as his greatest personal influence. But it was another immortal visionary who had a most profound impact when Sean was a 19-year old student at Youngstown State University – the magnificent John Coltrane through his masterpiece, A Love Supreme – “All at once, everything just came together for me. My past, my present, my future. I knew the course I needed to pursue.” After receiving his Master’s Degree from Rutgers University, Sean had a 6-month stint with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. This marked the beginning of a relationship with Wynton Marsalis, whose personal work ethic and ability to break barriers had already made a significant impact on the emerging artist. Wynton offered Sean a permanent position as lead trumpeter and Jones remained there until 2010. Sean has recorded and performed with many major figures, including Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Wilson and Marcus Miller. The relationship with Miller led to another highly impacting experience when Sean was selected by Miller, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter for their Tribute to Miles tour in 2011.The trust and support of those giants led Sean to a decision to focus on performing with his own ensembles. He has just released his seventh recording: im.pro.vise = never before seen. He’s currently performing with the quartet on his latest CD, who have been working together since 2007 – with pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire. But Sean is also looking toward projects with new and larger ensembles, including orchestras. Heavily involved in education, Sean has recently joined the Berklee College of Music’s distinguished faculty as the Chair of the Brass Department. Sean also serves as Artistic Director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras and is working toward organizing the various Jazz orchestras all over the country. Sean is current Artist-in-Residence at San Francisco Performances and is a member of The SF JAZZ Collective.
Trumpeter Bijon Watson’s career as an artist-educator has taken him around the globe performing for audiences worldwide. Bijon’s passion for big band jazz inspired him to become a student of the great bands and has become a sought after lead trumpet player. Bijon’s played lead for Grammy-nominated bands including the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, John Daversa Progressive Big Band and John Beasley’s Monkestra. Bijon’s credits are vast and include iconic artists such as Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé, John Pizzarelli, Steve Tyrell, Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, Joe Williams and Nancy Wilson.
A mainstay on The Jazz Cruise marquee, bassist Tom Kennedy was already playing gigs with jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Barney Kessel, Eddie Harris, Nat Adderly and Stan Kenton by the time he entered his teens. His impressive resumé includes performances and recordings with James Moody, Freddie Hubbard, David Sanborn, Woody Shaw, Dave Weckl, Mike Stern, Diane Schurr, Patti Austin, Michael and Randy Brecker, Joe Sample, Margaret Whiting, Rosemary Clooney, Michael Feinstein and Bobby McFerrin. His skills on the electric and acoustic bass have been featured on over 150 recordings and earned him a spot on the international tour of jazz fusion group Steps Ahead. Over the course of his career, Tom has released four solo albums as well.
After watching the Beatles perform at the Ed Sullivan Theatre on Sullivan’s TV show, Will Lee knew his future was in music. At age 12, after moving from San Antonio to Miami, Lee joined his first band as drummer and singer, later becoming its bass player. As he made his way through a succession of bands, Will’s reputation spread throughout the music world, and brought New York looking for him. Brothers Randy and Michael Brecker called Will out of class one day and invited him to NYC to audition for their group Dreams. He got the gig, also playing with drummer Billy Cobham. After Dreams, Lee toured with Bette Midler, Horace Silver, Barry Manilow, The Brecker Brothers, and Herbie Mann. As bassist and singer, he has recorded with an extensive array of top performers including Ricky Martin, Burt Bacharach, Bee Gees, George Benson, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Luther Vandross, Mick Jagger, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Miami Sound Machine, Buddy Rich, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Grover Washington Jr., Cat Stevens, Vanessa Williams, Ryuchi Sakamoto, Kool & the Gang, Billy Joel, Barbara Streisand, Carly Simon, D'Angelo, Frank Sinatra, Mariah Carey, Pat Metheny, and Steely Dan, to name a few!
Will was also a television mainstay for many years as bassist for Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra on the popular Late Show with David Letterman—taped at the same Ed Sullivan Theatre that inspired his career in music those many years ago.
Bassist Christoph Luty is known for his big, natural sound, melodic bass lines and solos, and articulate arco playing. He studied bass with his mentor John Clayton–who has said “Christoph’s playing exemplifies…swinging bass lines, lyrical solos, and a great, natural sound that is huge and full”–and also earned his Master of Music degree from the University of Southern California. With the Jeff Hamilton Trio “Luty ‘sang’ with a rich sound recalling the sonorous lower register of jazz bass great Ray Brown,” as reviewed in The Capital-Journal. Christoph is presently a member of the Jeff Hamilton Trio, which performs concerts, club dates and workshops nationally and internationally. As the longtime bassist of the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra he has collaborated on concerts with artists like Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Diana Krall, Clark Terry, Dave Brubeck, James Moody and Shirley Horn. He has recorded with the likes of Milt Jackson, John Pizzarelli, Diana Krall and more. He also teaches jazz bass at California State University Long Beach, assists John Clayton at the University of Southern California, and teaches privately in his own studio.
Joe La Barbera has performed all over the world with some of the finest names in jazz since his arrival on the scene. From his first professional appearance at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas with Frankie Randall and the Buddy Rich band in 1968 to his work with jazz great Bill Evans and up to the present, he has always been in demand by world class artists.
Following Berklee College of Music in Boston and two years with the 173rd U.S. Army band at Fort Dix, New Jersey, Joe began his professional career on the road with Woody Herman and the Thundering Herd. The Chuck Mangione Quartet followed; then it was on to New York and working with Jim Hall, Phil Woods, Art Farmer, Gary Burton, Art Pepper, John Scofield, Don Sebesky, Bob Brookmeyer and Toots Thielmans to name just a few. 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. After Bill’s untimely death in 1980, Joe joined world renowned singer Tony Bennett recording some of Tony’s finest albums including “The Art of Excellence”.
In 1987, Joe took up residence in Los Angeles and has since worked and recorded with a Who’s Who of West Coast giants like Conte Candoli, Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Lanny Morgan, Jack Nimitz, Lou Levy and Teddy Edwards. Joe is a regular visitor to Japan with his own groups as well as a featured sideman.
Eric Marienthal has won 2 Grammy Awards and has been nominated 7 times as a member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. Having performed in over 75 countries and played on hundreds of CD's films and TV shows, Eric has also recorded 14 solo CD's including his latest entitled "Bridges" with guitarist Chuck Loeb. Eric's CD's have produced several top 10 radio singles including three #1's. Eric is the recipient of the Berklee College Of Music Distinguished Alumnus Award for outstanding achievements in contemporary music. Eric was also named one of the top 3 alto saxophonists in Jazziz Magazine's Reader's Poll along with Phil Woods and David Sanborn. For the past 19 years Eric has organized an annual charity concert for the High Hopes Head Injury Program in Tustin, CA. These concerts have raised awareness for this great organization and have raised over 1.5 million dollars.
Introduced to the saxophone by his father, Dick Oatts’ career began in the Midwest but took off once New York City got its hands on him in the late 70s. Along with the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Orchestra, his big band experience includes performances with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Mel Lewis, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Lester Bowie, Joe Lovano, Sam Jones-Tom Harrell, Paquito d’Rivera, Jim McNeely, Tito Puente, Kenny Wheeler and Gunther Schuller. Vocalists like Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Neene Freelon, Mel Torme and Milton Nascimento have relied on his talents, as have pop artists Luther Vandross, James Taylor and Everything But the Girl. Dick has also appeared in recordings and tours with Red Rodney, Eddie Gomez, Vic Juric, Bob Brookmeyer, Mel Lewis, Dom Salvador, Jerry Bergonzi, Flim & the BB’s, Fred Hersch, Dave Berkman, Soren Moller, Terell Stafford, Jon Faddis, Lalo Schiffrin, and Ray Mantilla. A professor of Jazz Studies at the Boyer School of Music at Temple University, Dick also is an artist-in-residence at the Amsterdam Conservatory. The Jazz Cruise is privileged to include an Artist of this caliber in its lineup.
Born in Newcastle, Australia, Nicki Parrott started her musical training at age four with the piano, followed by the flute, soon after. Nicki switched to double bass at the age of 15. She was nominated for the annual Australian Young Achievers Award by the Arts Council of Australia who granted her the funds to come to New York to study with Rufus Reid. In June 2000, Nicki began performing on Monday nights at the Iridium Jazz Club with the legendary guitarist and inventor, Les Paul. As part of the Les Paul Trio, Nicki worked side-by-side with guitar greats from Paul McCartney, Slash, Steve Miller to fellow Aussie, Tommy Emmanuel. Since then she has performed with such notable musicians as Michel Legrand, Joe Wilder, Randy Brecker, Clark Terry, Jose Feliciano, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli, Dick Hyman, Patti Labelle & the New York Pops Orchestra, Harry Allen, Marlena Shaw, David Krakauer, Ken Peplowski, Ann Hampton Callaway, Bill Mays, Scott Hamilton, Lillian Boutte, Larry Carlton and Houston Person, just to name a few. She has also performed in several Broadway shows and has made television and documentary appearances including Thank You Les, which recently debuted on PBS.
In 2007 and 2008, Nicki received back to back honors for Swing Journal’s Best Jazz Vocal Album (Moon River and Fly Me to The Moon, respectively). In 2010 her album Black Coffee (Venus) received Swing Journal’s Gold Disc award. Nicki has performed at most major festivals around the globe.
Trumpet/composer Michael Rodriguez was born on July 14, 1979 in Queens, New York. At the age of 8 Michael's Family moved to Miami where he began studying classical guitar. With much encouragement from his family he then began to play the trumpet in middle school and was later accepted at the prestigous New World High School of the Arts to study trumpet and guitar. Michael continued his trumpet studies with a full schalorship at the University of Miami. After completing two years at the U or M, he decided to transfer to the New School University in New York where he received his B.A.
Michael has performed with pianist Eric Reed, Clark Terry, Bobby Watson, Quincy Jones, Joe Lovano Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra, Chico O'farill Orchestra, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Pop Icon Jessica Simpson, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Carla Bley band, Harry Conick Jr., Eddie Palmieri Septet, Lincoln Center Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Smithsonian Jazz Orchestra, Bon Minzter, Gonzalo Rubalcaba. In addition to his demand as a performer, Michael also has many documented recording most notably with Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
Ted Rosenthal has performed worldwide as soloist, with his trio, and sideman with many jazz greats including Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Phil Woods, James Moody, Bob Brookmeyer and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He has also been a featured soloist with several major American orchestras including the Detroit Symphony. Winner of the 1988 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, Rosenthal has released 15 CDs as a leader. His latest, Rhapsody in Gershwin (2014), reached #1 in jazz album sales at iTunes. It features his arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue for jazz trio. A recipient of three NEA grants, Rosenthal also composes music ranging from jazz tunes to orchestral works and ballet scores, including for Alvin Ailey. Rosenthal is a faculty member at Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School and is a published author.
Renee Rosnes is one of the premier jazz pianists and composers of her generation. In 1986, she relocated from Vancouver, Canada to New York City, quickly establishing a reputation as a major talent. She has toured and recorded with bands led by such legends as Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, JJ Johnson, James Moody, Bobby Hutcherson, Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Buster Williams, and Ron Carter’s Foursight Band. She is a founding member of the all-star octet, the SFJAZZ Collective, with whom she toured for six years. As a leader, Renee has released 15 acclaimed albums and has appeared on numerous other recordings as a consummate sideman. Ms. Rosnes’ most recent recording is Written In The Rocks (Smoke Sessions), and features her all-star band of vibraphonist Steve Nelson, saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Bill Stewart. In 2003, SOCAN named Renee Composer of the Year, and she is a four time JUNO award winner. She has produced concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center as well as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Renee also frequently performs with her husband, pianist Bill Charlap, and in 2010 the couple released their debut two-piano recording, Double Portrait. The piano duo was also featured with Tony Bennett on four tracks of the Grammy nominated album: Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap: The Silver Lining.
Italian native Ada Rovatti started playing saxophone in high school after years of classical piano training.
After winning a scholarship from Berklee College of Music in Italy she divided herself between Boston where she studied with Joe Viola and George Garzone, and Italy, where she was working in Big Bands with guest artists such as Phil Woods, Lee Konitz and many others.After spending one year in Paris touring Europe and Africa she moved to New York City. She has performed with an impressive and diverse list of artists and bands such as: Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Miroslav Vitous, John McLaughlin, James Moody, Anne Ducros, Bob Mintzer, Victor Bailey, Joanne Brackeen, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Heath, Patti Austin and many others. In addition to her musical expertise Ada appeared in the movie ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ featuring Julia Roberts.
In 2003 she released her first 2 CDs as a bandleader with the Elephunk Band and with her quartet with guests Randy Brecker, Mike Stern and Don Alias. She also appears on the Grammy CD by Randy Brecker 34 th N Lex (best contemporary jazz Album of 2003) and on the acclaimed CD of John McLaughlin Industrial Zen(2006). Her 2005 release Airbop, featuring guest artists Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker and Don Alias, was nominated by one of the critics of All About Jazz as one of the top Ten CDs of the year. Her latest band leader album ‘ Green Factor” is a unique recording with a melting pot of irish/celtic/jazz/fusion influences with strong harmonies and sophisticated arrangements with guest artists Adam Rogers, Randy Brecker and Ivan Goff. She just released her new album DISGUISE featuring Zach Brock, Janek Gwizdala, Dana Hawkins, Randy Brecker, Dean Brown, Anne Drummond, Leo Genovese, Oli Rockberger and Adam Rogers. She has been playing with the Brecker Brother’s Reunion Band and soon is to be released a double CD/DVD live from the Bluenote NYC and studio session.
While following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, John Allred has made a pretty big name for himself along the way. The accomplished trombonist was a lead and featured soloist with the legendary Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd in the 80s. Today, he continues appearing with the orchestra under the direction of Frank Tiberi. John also has toured with the Harry Connick Jr. Big Band and performed with The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Toshiko Akioshi’s Big Band, Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks and the Louis Armstrong Centennial band. Now honing his stylistic skills in New York City, John brings his brilliance on the brass back to The Jazz Cruise in 2018.
With 12 recordings as a leader, more than 200 as a sideman and eight Grammy® awards to his name, baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan has set the bar high in the world of jazz. Winner of the 2014 DownBeat Readers Poll, the 2009 and 2011 Down Beat Critics Poll, the 2009 and 2010 Jazz Journalist Award, and the 2011 Jazz Times Critics and Readers Polls, Gary played early in his career with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. These days he is a regular member of the Dave Holland Big Band and Octet, The Joe Lovano Nonet, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Star Big Band. The in-demand musician also has collaborated with the likes of Diana Ross, Ray Charles and B.B. King. Gary is currently an adjunct professor of jazz saxophone at Amherst College, and The Jazz Cruise looks forward to him “schooling” its audiences in 2018.
Bass trombone virtuoso Jennifer Wharton is a familiar face on The Jazz Cruise stage as well as in Broadway theaters, recording studios and live performances with some of jazz’s greatest ensembles. A member of the Grammy®-nominated ensemble Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Jennifer also has collaborated with the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band, Woody Herman Orchestra, Gene Krupa Orchestra, Alan Ferber’s Extended Ensemble, South Florida Jazz Orchestra, DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, Jeff Fairbanks Jazz Orchestra and the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop. Her Broadway credits include The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Wonderland, 9 to 5, and Curtains.
Bassist and composer Martin Wind was born in Flensburg, Germany in 1968 and moved to New York in 1996 to study at New York University (NYU) with a scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service. Since his move to New York Martin has become a regular at all major jazz clubs and is also in demand as a session player; his credits include movies such as "The Alamo", "Intolerable Cruelty", " Mona Lisa Smiles", "Fur", "True Grit" and "The Adventures of Walter Mitty". In 1996 Martin Wind 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.
In 2000 he was the first Jazz musician to win the Cultural Award of his home state Schleswig-Holstein. Martin has released about 10 albums so far as leader/co-leader including his debut album Gone with the Wind (1993), Tender Waves (1996), Dreiklang (1997), Family (1999), The Soccerball (2002), Salt & Pepper (2007), Get it (2009), Theresia (2010) and MWQuartet - Live at JazzBaltica (DVD).
In 2014 Martin released the album Turn out the Stars - music written or inspired by Bill Evans on his newly founded "What if Music" Record Label. The recording features Martin's current Quartet consisting of Scott Robinson (tenor sax), Bill Cunliffe (piano) and Joe La Barbera (drums), as well as the Italian "Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana." Paquito D'Rivera called the album "disgustingly beautiful!" Currently Martin is a member of the trios of Bill Mays, Dena DeRose, Bill Cunliffe, Ann Hampton Callaway, Ted Rosenthal, as well as of Matt Wilson's Quartet "Arts and Crafts". Since 2013 he has also been touring with Belgian guitarist and jazz legend Philip Catherine, playing material from their duo album New Folks.
Rickey Woodard was born in Nashville, Tennessee, where he played in a family band with his brothers and sisters, playing Blues and R’n’B around the Nashville area. Rickey came up listening to such greats as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt. Rickey’s favorite saxophone players are Hank Mobley and George Coleman. After leaving Nashville, Rickey went to California and joined the Ray Charles Band. After eight great years, Rickey decided to pursue a solo career as both a leader and a sideman. Currently, he performs live frequently leading his own quartet and quintet as well as performing and recording with The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Frank Capp Juggernaut Band.
He has performed and recorded with such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Buble, Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra, The Temptations, Nancy Wilson and many others. Rickey has over 200 original compositions and extensive experience arranging for quartets and quintets. His latest recording, Pineapple Delight, consists of all original compositions arranged for a quintet.
Dick Golden is a 30-year broadcast veteran and beloved host of popular radio programs on jazz and the Great American Songbook. Following a highly successful career on Cape Cod, Dick joined George Washington University in 2005 as Special Assistant for Broadcast Operations.
Dick currently produces and hosts George Washington University’s award-winning cultural, educational program GW Presents American Jazz heard nationally on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio as well as Washington’s Federal News Radio. The series is produced in partnership with Tony Bennett’s Exploring the Arts Foundation and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Dick has also hosted GW Presents Beyond Category, another joint venture with Tony Bennett, which was honored as a finalist in the Culture and Arts category of the 2008 New York Festivals International Radio Awards competition. In addition, Dick serves as staff advisor to WRGW, the university’s student-run radio station. Dick has lectured at educational seminars for The Smithsonian Associates, and has hosted concerts for The Voice of America as well as programs with U.S. Service Bands in D.C.
Dick will give lectures, conduct interviews and host various events and film shows during the cruise. The Jazz Cruise is proud to include Dick Golden as part of its team.
Alonzo Bodden will keep the ship rolling—in laughter. Bodden, who won Season 3 on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, is a regular on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and “Comedy Congress,” as well as being a panelist on the Game Show Network’s “Mind of a Man.”
In 2011, he starred in the comedy special “Who’s Paying Attention” on Showtime, released a DVD, and hosts a podcast of the same name. That same year, he was a panelist on the syndicated show “Inside the Vault,” and voiced the character of Thunderon in the Power Rangers movie. Bodden has also hosted Speed Channel’s “101 Cars You Must Drive” and “America’s Worst Driver” on Travel Channel. Alonzo’s first big comedy break came when he was on the “New Faces of Comedy” showcase at industry festival, Just For Laughs in Montreal. Alonzo has made the rounds on the late night television circuit including appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,” and “The Keenen Ivory Wayans” show. His film credits include “Scary Movie 4,” “The Girl Next Door,” and “Bringing Down the House” starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah.
Alonzo has traveled around the world entertaining USO troops from Iraq to Greenland.