About the Artist
Esperanza Spalding: Widely hailed as a child prodigy on the double bass within months of when she first cradled the imposing instrument as a 15 year old, Esperanza Spalding has hardly stopped to catch her breath in the six years since. Today the Portland, Oregon native is a teacher at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, where she balances a hectic schedule of performing with such jazz icons as tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and singer Patti Austin with composing and arranging for her own group. She's already performed at many of the world's leading jazz clubs, concert halls and festivals, including elite venues in Canada, the UK, Switzerland, the US and Brazil. And she's making her recording debut as a leader with Junjo, a bracing trio session for the Barcelona, Spain-based AYVA Music label. Not bad for a 21 year old former high school dropout, and those who know this effervescent young woman the best believe she's just getting started. Within a period of just three years, she landed ongoing engagements with Lovano and Austin and was able to work with such renowned artists as pianist Michel Camilo, bassist Charlie Haden, vibraphonist Dave Samuels, violinist Regina Carter and guitarist Pat Metheny, among many others. To a person, they were all duly impressed with the ambitious young woman's talent and professional attitude. "She communicates her upbeat personality in everything she plays," comments noted Berklee alumnus and fabled jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton. "She's definitely headed for a great career, and it will be soon." Born in Portland in 1984, Esperanza's creative intuitions were not easily satisfied in the public school system. After dropping out, she was home schooled for a year before venturing back into the high school ranks as a 15 year old. While she still considered the classes "boring," the experience did produce her first encounter with the acoustic bass. "One day, I walked into the music room, and there was a new bass there the school had just bought," she remembers vividly. "The music teacher taught me how to play some blues with that corny walking bass line, the 1-3-5-6 thing. He said, `Esperanza, you're really swinging! You mean to say you've never played bass before?' I played for about an hour, and I got a blister about the size of a grape, but pretty much from that day on, playing the bass was an awesome thing. And the great thing was that, unlike the violin, where you get that ugly, scratchy sound, I could play and get a nice sound. I didn't know anything about jazz at that time, but playing the bass was just the coolest thing. It was so hip that you could just pick up an instrument and be making music, and it sounded great." Finally dropping out of high school for good, she jumped right into classes at Portland State University as a 16 year old. It didn't take long before one of her professors recognized that her talent could be better served at a specialized institution like Berklee. She received a scholarship to the college, entered an accelerated degree program and earned her BA in just three years. In the spring of 2005, she was signed on as an instructor by none other than college president Roger Brown. "They liked the idea of having an instructor the age of many of the students," Esperanza comments, "someone who hadn't been seasoned in a university setting, and had actually been out playing and can talk to students about the realistic aspect of being young and making a career for themselves." During her six years of professional playing experience, the young bassist has experimented with a wide variety of styles, including hip-hop, blues, funk, pop fusion, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and, of course, jazz. "I kind of shied away from listening a lot to recorded music and really enjoyed just playing," she remembers of her mid teens. "I would rather have played for six hours than listen to a jazz record for 45 minutes. But what turned me around was when an acquaintance came to a gig and gave me a copy of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. I said, `I can't listen to this stuff. It's so boring. People playing solos for 10 minutes!' I went home and listened to it and said, `Oh my god! Wow, this is amazing! I could do this all night!' And I listened to that album probably 200 times in the first week. That made me realize that I needed to start listening to more jazz." Esperanza had already appeared as a sideman on half a dozen recordings before producing Junjo with drummer Francisco Mela and pianist Aruán Ortiz, both exceptional young musicians from Cuba. "It's bouncy and jumpy and of the moment," she says of the recording. "I never knew what the other members are going to come up with, and I always had to be very conscious of constantly exchanging and bouncing ideas off of one another." Her vocal talents, which are prominently displayed on the album, came from years of just singing along with her favorite music. Her knack for vocalizing impressed a pianist friend who suggested that the trio she was in at the time could get paid for being a quartet if she sang. It worked, and a fulfilling new aspect of her career was born. The nine-track Junjo includes original works by Esperanza, pianist Ortiz and drummer Mela in addition to handpicked classics by Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti ("Loro"), Jimmy Rowles ("The Peacocks"), and Chick Corea ("Humpty Dumpty"). On "Loro," her vocalese licks are an album highlight, approximating the bop-influenced solo line that in another setting might be covered by a trumpet or sax. On the title tune, she scats rapid-fire in unison with Ortiz's piano line. "Cantora de Yala" is a special treat; Esperanza sings in Spanish, her sole accompaniment her own supple bass playing. The highly simpatico and relaxed mood that pervades Junjo produces highly focused and keenly perceptive performances by all three trio members and results in a particularly revealing insight into the many talents of the album's gifted young leader.
Dave Brubeck: David Warren "Dave" Brubeck (born December 6, 1920) is an American jazz pianist. He has written a number of jazz standards, including "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "The Duke". Brubeck's style ranges from refined to bombastic, reflecting his mother's attempts at classical training and his improvisational skills. His music is known for employing unusual time signatures, and superimposing contrasting rhythms, meters, and tonalities. His long-time musical partner, alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, wrote the Dave Brubeck Quartet's best remembered piece, "Take Five", which is in 5/4 time and has endured as a jazz classic. Brubeck experimented with time signatures throughout his career, recording "Pick Up Sticks" in 6/4, "Unsquare Dance" in 7/4, and "Blue Rondo à la Turk" in 9/8. He is also a respected composer of orchestral and sacred music, and wrote soundtracks for television such as Mr. Broadway and the animated mini-series This Is America, Charlie Brown. Regina Carter: Regina Carter (born August 6, 1966, Detroit, Michigan) is an American jazz violinist. Carter began as a classical violinist at the age of four, studying the Suzuki Method until she was nine. She is the cousin of famous jazz saxophonist James Carter. Carter attended Cass Technical High School with a close friend, jazz singer Carla Cook, who introduced her to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald. In high school, Carter performed with the Detroit Civic Orchestra, played in a pop-funk group named Brainstorm, and studied jazz with Marcus Belgrave. Carter received a degree in music from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music inBoston before forging her jazz career in 1987.
Joshua Redman (born February 1, 1969) is an American jazz saxophonist and composer who records for Nonesuch Records. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition in 1991. Redman, who is both African American and Jewish American, was born in Berkeley, California, to jazz saxophonist Dewey Redman and Renee Shedroff. He was exposed to many kinds of music at the Center for World Music in Berkeley, where his mother studied South Indian dance. Some of his earliest lessons in music and improvisation were on recorder with gamelan player Jody Diamond. He graduated from Berkeley High School , class of 1986, after having been a part of the award-winning Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble for all 4 years of high school. In 1991, he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Social Studies from Harvard University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Society. During college, he used his mother's maiden name, as Josh Shedroff. Redman won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, also in 1991, and began focusing on his musical career. Redman continued to develop his style throughout the 1990s, beginning with a sideman appearance on Elvin Jones' Youngblood alongsideJavon Jackson (recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in April 1991), and following up with an appearance on his father Dewey's 1992 recordChoices. On his second album as a leader, Wish, he was joined by a notable lineup consisting of guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Billy Higgins; he would later tour this album as The Joshua Redman Quartet, featuring Christian McBride in place of Charlie Haden. He continued to work with various quartets, including one with pianist Brad Mehldau until forming a new trio, Elastic, with keyboardist Sam Yahel and drummer Brian Blade. The trio debuted under the moniker Yaya3, producing one album under this name. The same group of musicians made up the core on Redman's Elastic album, before becoming known as the Joshua Redman Elastic Band. Some of his works were featured on The Weather Channel's Local On The 8s. In addition to his efforts with Elastic, Redman was the artistic director of San Francisco's SFJAZZ Collective from 2004-2007. Redman has made a guest appearance on an episode of the TV showArthur as the uncle of Francine, one of the main characters. The episode also depicts him in a boxing match against classic cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He worked with Yoko Kanno in the Japanese blues group, The Seatbelts that did the music for Cowboy Bebop. He also appeared on Reading Rainbow, episode 127 "Hip-Cat," in which Redman discussed with host Levar Burton the importance of music and how jazz had affected his life, which he followed with a live performance. Redman also performed on the soundtrack of the made for TV film "Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story" (1995). Redman has also appeared on recordings and in live performances by Umphrey's McGee. On his album, Back East, Redman paid tribute to Sonny Rollins' 1957 album Way Out West, teaming up with musicians including Brian Blade, Christian McBride, Al Jackson, Joe Lovano, and his late father. Redman was also an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards' judging panel to support independent artists. Unfortunately, with the decline of session studio work Redman's contributions are gradually being replaced with computer-based synthesized music.
Dianne Reeves (born 23 October 1956) is an American jazz singer, known for her live performances as much as her albums. She is considered one of the most important contemporary jazz singers. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado. At the age of 16, Reeves was singing at the George Washington High School (Denver) in Denver, in a high school big-band. That same year the band played at a music festival (Convention of the National Association of Jazz Educators). Her band won first place and it was there she met the trumpeter Clark Terry, who became her mentor. A year later Reeves began studying music at the University of Colorado, before she moved in 1976 to Los Angeles. In L.A. her interest in Latin-American music grew. She began experimenting with different kinds of vocal music and finally decided to pursue a career as a singer. She met Eduardo del Barrio, toured with his group "Caldera" and sang in Billy Childs' jazz band "Night Flight". Later she toured with Sergio Mendes. From 1983 until 1986 Reeves toured with Harry Belafonte as a lead singer. This period saw her first experiences with world music. In 1987 Reeves was the first vocalist signed to the reactivated Blue Note/EMI label. Reeves moved back to Denver from Los Angeles in 1992. Reeves sang at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Reeves' Musical Director, Peter Martin (jazz pianist) tours regularly with her.
The Bad Plus are a jazz trio from the United States, consisting of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King, originating from Minneapolis, MN. Iverson, Anderson and King first played together in 1989 but established The Bad Plus in 2000. The band recorded their first album, a self-titled effort released on Fresh Sound, after playing only three gigs together. A live performance at the Village Vanguard was heard by Columbia Records representative Yves Beauvais, and the band was signed to Columbia in 2002. Their major label debut album, These Are the Vistas, was released in2003. This was followed by Give in 2004 and Suspicious Activity? in 2005. After parting ways with Columbia, the group signed to Heads Up Records (a division of Telarc), and released the album Prog in 2007. In early Spring of 2008 they finished recording their next studio album, For All I Care, which features vocalist Wendy Lewis. It was released in autumn 2008 in Europe and in spring 2009 in the US. Anderson and King are originally from Minnesota, and Iverson is from neighboring Wisconsin. King is also part of the Minnesota-based groups Love-Cars; Halloween, Alaska; and Happy Apple. However, he has said that he is only in three working bands because Halloween, Alaska is more of a studio band. The trio's music combines elements of modern Avant-garde jazz with rock and pop influences. The band have recorded versions of songs by Nirvana, Aphex Twin, Blondie, Ornette Coleman, Pixies,Rush, Tears for Fears, Neil Young, David Bowie, Yes, Interpol, and Black Sabbath. Blunt Object: Live in Tokyo includes a cover of Queen's "We Are the Champions" along with the jazz standard "My Funny Valentine". Suspicious Activity? contains a cover of the theme from "Chariots of Fire", while a version of "Karma Police" by Radiohead appeared on the 2006 album Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads. The band has said that they changed their sound a little bit for their sixth album, For All I Care.
Alfredo Rodriguez - Born in Havana, Cuba, Alfredo trained in the famous Manuel Saumell Classical Music Conservatory, after in the Amadeo Roldan Music Conservatory and after in the Instituto Superior de Arte until his lucky break came in 2006 when he was selected as one of twelve pianists in the world to play at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival. In Montreux, Alfredo was noticed by legendary music producer Quincy Jones. Just like Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and the many other enormous talents that Quincy Jones has discovered, Alfredo struck a chord in Quincy and Quincy decided to begin working together with Alfredo. In January of 2009, Alfredo came to United States to begin a new life and made the really dificult decision to leave his family behind,his roots and his country following his music. In his first year since moving to the United States, Alfredo Rodríguez has played to capacity crowds at the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in front 18000 people; the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas; the Detroit Jazz Festival; the Monterey Jazz Festival; the famous Newport Jazz Festival; the San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and many others. His New York,Los Angeles,Boston and San Francisco debuts in clubs sold out. Alfredo was invited to be part of Larry Rosen's "Jazz Roots" series, and also featured famous Latin Pianists Eddie Palmieri and Michel Camilo. Opening for Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and others. Alfredo played at the LA Symphony's official welcome for Gustavo Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl. He also happens to be working on his debut album with music producer Quincy Jones. It's a lot for his first year, but this 24-year-old is definitely not slowing down. Most recently, he co-wrote with Quincy Jones the music for the song "Better City, Better Life" which was chosen to be the Official Theme Song of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and he performed the song at the closing ceremony of the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival . Also he did his first China Tour. In july of 2010 Alfredo did his first European Tour with his Trio playing at XVI International Open Air Festival (Poland) , Jazz a Vienne Festival (France), North Sea Jazz Festival (Netherland), Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy), Montreux Jazz festival (Switzerland) - with the Quincy Jones All Stars Group ,Featuring : Richard Bona, Lionel Loueke, Paulinho da Costa and Francisco Mela. In August of 2010 Alfredo did his "Rhapsody in Blue" debut with the Pasadena Symphony and POPS. Alfredo's influences range from Bach, Beethoven, and Stravinsky to Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, and Quincy Jones.In his words, "All that brings something to my learning, not only as a musician, I consider it part of my influences" . In the words of Quincy Jones, "He is very special and I do not say that easily because I have been surrounded by the best musicians in the world my entire life and he is one of the best."
Nicole "Nikki" Yanofsky (born February 8, 1994) is a Canadian jazz-pop singer from Hampstead, Quebec. She looks up to Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. She loves the era of the 60's and 70's. She has performed internationally at jazz festivals and major concert venues both solo and alongside such artists as Wyclef Jean, Celine Dion, Marvin Hamlisch and The Count Basie Orchestra. She is involved in charitable causes and has released her first studio album on her own label, A440 Entertainment, and on Decca Records outside of Canada. Yanofsky sang Canada's national anthem at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She also performed during theclosing ceremonies and the Paralympic opening ceremony.
Gilad Hekselman: Since his arrival to New York in 2004, Gilad Hekselman has been earning a reputation as one of the most promising guitarists in New York. In only four years this native Israeli has shared the stage with many top names from the New York jazz scene including Chris Potter, Mark Turner, John Scofield, Anat Cohen, Sam Yahel, Jeff Ballard, Gretchen Parlato, Avishai E. Cohen, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Ari Hoenig, Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks, Greg Hutchinson, Reuben Rogers, François Moutin and Eric McPhearson. He has played the Blue Note, The Jazz Gallery, Smalls, 55 Bar, Dizzy's Club, Minton's Playhouse, and toured in Switzerland, Japan, Scotland, Canada, Norway, Hungary, and Israel. He has also played in world famous Jazz festivals such as Montreux JF, Duke Ellington JF, San Francisco JF and Tel Aviv JF. Gilad is the Winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition. A string of performance dates followed that achievement in 2006, highlighted by the Gibson Les Paul guitar he received from Claude Nobs: he opened for guitar legend Paco De Lucia at the Montreux Jazz Festival, performed at the IAJE conference in New York, at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola - Jazz at Lincoln Center. Gilad's debut album SplitLife released by Smalls Records in the summer of 2006 and featuring bassist Joe Martin and drummer Ari Hoenig, received rave reviews from the press. In June 2008, Gilad's second album Words Unspoken was released by LateSet Records. The album, featuring bassist Joe Martin, drummer Marcus Gilmore and tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, has already started getting attention by the press and by the jazz community. This year, Gilad will take part in a CD by Walt Disney Records called Disney Jazz. His music will be presented among pieces performed by artists such as Dave Brubeck, Joshua Redman, Diane Reeves, Roy Hargrove, and many other jazz legends. Born in Israel in 1983, Gilad studied classical piano from age six to nine before going on to guitar and from age 12 to 14 he was performing regularly with the band of a weekly children's television show. At 15 he entered the Thelma Yellin School of Arts, graduating with Excellence from the Jazz Department at 18. Gilad is a recipient of the America Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship for his previous studies abroad.
Mark Rapp: There's a new breed of young trumpeters coming down the road. These new young lions have studied the playing and music of bop and hard bop masters such as Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan and Kenny Dorham, among others. Having looked at the innovations of forward-thinkers like Don Cherry, Lester Bowie and Dave Douglas, the young firebrands have also not neglected the funk, jazz-rock, soul and fusion of artists like Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock. The resultant music they create melds and brings together the radio music of their youth with the history of their horn to find fresh ways to approach and fashion a style of playing more oriented toward groove without losing modern approaches to upper chordal harmonic structures so prevalent in the jazz music of the late 20th century. Perhaps one of the best examples of the direction being taken by this new breed is played by Mark Rapp.