New Edition was formed in 1978 out of Boston by Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie Devoe, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant. The R&B group continues to fill the hearts of fans with their soulful charisma and sensuous rhythms since their inception with early hits like “Candy Girl” and “Mr. Telephone Man.” They are widely known for influencing boy band groups of the 80’s and 90’s, including Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block. New Edition recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2012 Soul Train Awards and are rumored to be working on their eighth studio album, following up on the 2004 release of One Love.
(New Edition members Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie Devoe, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant will be performing at Richmond Jazz Festival)
David Sanborn has worked in many genres which typically blend various instrumentals and traditional jazz. He released his first solo album, Taking Off, in 1975, but has been playing the saxophone since before he was in high school, where he was first inspired by the great Chicago blues artists near his hometown of St. Louis. By the age of fourteen, he was able to play with legends such as Albert King and Little Milton. After moving to New York City and studying with George Coleman, Dave started his solo career, where he later collaborated with such artists as Paul Simon and James Taylor. His 1979 release of Hideaway became a popular hit and further propelled Dave’s ascent with the single, “Seduction” being featured in the movie, American Gigolo. In his three-and-a-half decade career, Dave has released 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards, and has had eight Gold albums and one Platinum album. He continues to be one of the most highly active musicians of his genre.
Ms. Lauryn Hill is a Neo soul, Rock, and Pop Fusion artist who broke onto the scene as a member of the Fugees in the early 90’s. After two album releases with the group, including the multi-platinum The Score, she began recording and producing as a solo artist. Her 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill gained her global recognition and won her five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist. Following her debut album and an MTV Unplugged release, she decided to take a break from the spotlight of the music industry to focus on family. She has released numerous singles since. Hill has six children and continues to captivate crowds around the world with her spirited and exhilarating performances.
Her father was a trailblazer in music, deemed “one of the most durable figures in American popular music.” Though he did not survive to see his daughter follow in his same footsteps with her own solo career, it is no denying that Nat King Cole was a great contributor to his daughter’s rise to musical success.
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1950 to singers Nat King Cole and Maria Cole, Natalie was surrounded by music from birth. At just 6 years old, she recorded “I’m Good Will, Your Christmas Spirit” with her father, and at 11, she started performing around the community. Upon her father’s death in 1965, the family relocated to Massachusetts, where she later enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, before transferring to the University of Southern California, pledging the Upsilon Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She would then transfer back to the University of Massachusetts, where she later earned her bachelor’s in 1972.
Despite being the daughter of a vocal legend, Natalie Cole has managed to carve out her own successful jazz musical career, selling millions of albums worldwide. Throughout the decades, she has continued to develop as an artist, yet never straying too far from her legendary father’s legacy.
Macy Gray began singing and making music in her 20s from countless jams and listening sessions in living rooms, studios, and rehearsal spaces. She released her debut single, “I Try,” for which she received a Grammy Award forBest Female Pop Vocal Performance. Since then, Macy has collaborated with many artists, including Justin Timberlake, Fergie, and Natalie Cole. Macy creates a musical fusion of Pop and Rock, while bringing her soulful presence. Currently, Macy is on her national 2015 tour for her latest album, The Way.
A Charlotte, North Carolina native, Anthony Hamilton grew up surrounded by various musical influences. With a start in his church choir, he transitioned as a teen into performing solo at various nightclubs and talent shows.
Throughout the course of his singing career, Hamilton has paved his own way to fame, having received 12 Grammy Award nominations to date. With comparisons to Bill Withers and Bobby Womack, Anthony Hamilton has established himself as one of the most soulful vocalists in Neo soul. His rich, gravely vocal tone resonates with fans all over the world.
Grammy Award-nominated saxophonist Joshua Redman is one of the most esteemed and charismatic artists of his generation. Joshua emerged as a straight-ahead jazz artist in the 1990s while immersing himself in the New York jazz scene. Nominated for two Grammys, he has garnered top honors in critics and readers polls of DownBeat, Jazz Times, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone, to name a few. Joshua is currently touring with his own trio, performing music from his latest album, Trios Live.
Born Pat Azzara in Philadelphia in 1944, Pat was first exposed to jazz through his father. He began playing guitar when he was twelve years old and left school in tenth grade to devote himself to music. Martino became actively involved with the early rock scene in Philadelphia, alongside stars like Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Bobby Darin. His reputation soon spread among other jazz players, and he was recruited by bandleader Lloyd Price to play hits such as Stagger Lee on-stage with musicians like Slide Hampton and Red Holloway. Martino moved to Harlem to immerse himself in the “soul jazz” played by many. Martino has taken several breaks from his career due to illness within his family and with himself, but today, Martino lives in Philadelphia again and continues to grow as a straight-ahead/Latin jazz musician.
The Rebirth Brass Band hit the jazz scene in 1983 when it was formed by the Frazier Brothers out of New Orleans. Initially, the band began playing the streets of the French Quarter and has since performed at festivals and gigs around the globe. While committed to the traditional brass band style, they’ve also been immersed in the realms of other genres to create their signature sound. The Grammy-winning group continues to reverberate its unique style and sound from New Orleans to venues worldwide.
Rooted in a deeply held commitment to create music out of the rich textures of African-American legacy and traditions, Grammy Award-winning Sweet Honey in the Rock possesses a stunning vocal prowess that captures the complex sounds of blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, hip hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation. The a capella gospel ensemble continues to sing and perform worldwide spreading their history as African-American women.
Joseph Lewis Thomas, Jr. grew up surrounded by music. Joe and his four siblings were actively involved in the Pentecostal Church where both of their parents were ministers. Church gave Joe an opportunity to develop his musical talents, which landed him an early signing to a record deal right after high school. Following a disappointing first outing in the recording studio, Joe focused on writing, producing and offering background vocals for artists such as SWV, Usher and Tina Turner, gradually building his public profile by contributing songs to several successful soundtracks. Joe signed with Jive Records, recording his double platinum album My Name Is Joe and earning himself a reputation as one of the hardest-working R&B artists in the music Industry.
Spanish Harlem Orchestra
The Grammy Award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra was originally conceived by Aaron Levinson in 2000 and has since established itself as a standard bearer of contemporary Latin jazz. The world-renowned pianist, arranger and producer Oscar Hernández directs the thirteen-member ensemble which has reintroduced the classic sounds of New York City Salsa to music lovers worldwide. Although the group is popular in appeal with contemporary audiences, Spanish Harlem Orchestra draws inspiration from Latin music’s roots and enduring traditions. As the group enters its 15th year, they continue to stand out as one of the most formidable and authentic Latin jazz groups to date.
Jazz Funk Soul with Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp & Chuck Loeb
Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp and Chuck Loeb make up the newly formed group—Jazz Funk Soul—seeping with top-notch talent with a rich background in jazz, R&B, Funk and Soul (jazz fusion).
Lorber began playing piano at four years old in 1956 and has since become one of the most influential and popular acts in the jazz fusion scene that began in the 1970s as a marriage of traditional jazz, R&B, Funk and other electrifying sounds.
Everette Harp hit the international stage in 1988 and contributes to the trio’s ability to convey powerful emotions through his mastery of the saxophone behind beautiful melodies, lyrical playing and sensuous rhythms.
Chuck Loeb’s signature guitar style has been a part of collaborations and productions with legends ranging from Bob Dylan to Chet Baker and Jim Hall. Loeb has composed over 250 songs with nearly 20 years as a studio musician, with sessions ranging from jazz to Pop to Broadway to Rock & Roll, Classical and even Folk music. The trio recently released their highly esteemed self-titled debut album in June 2014.
Commonly known as the prince of sophisticated soul, Will Downing, Brooklyn vocalist and composer, has hovered on the cusp of stardom since the late ’80s. Downing is known in the contemporary jazz genre for his rich baritone vocals and interpretations of genre classics that stretch back to the early 1980s.
Playing in his father’s church choir at an early age, Whalum’s renowned tenor saxophone playing has graced many albums of worship and gospel music. Forged from his Memphis, Tennessee, gospel roots and his 1980’s initiation into the thriving Houston, Texas, nightclub scene, Kirk Whalum’s big, rich tenor sound is unmistakably his. His talent and versatility has made Whalum one of the few commercially successful contemporary smooth jazz performers. As a solo artist, session musician, and father, Whalum found that the late 1980s and early 1990s were a busy period.
Whalum was also active as a movie soundtrack composer and arranger on films such as The Prince of Tides, Boyz in the Hood, and Grand Canyon, all of which were released in 1991. His saxophone solo on Whitney Houston’s rendition of the Dolly Parton song “I Will Always Love You” from the soundtrack of the movie The Bodyguard helped the song spend 14 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. In 1997 he signed with Warner Brothers and released Colors, an album inspired by his interest in promoting cross-cultural harmony.
Marc Antoine, born in Paris (France), is a guitarist, composer and producer who started his musical career in 1974 at 11 years old and has since performed and recorded with greats such as George Benson, Cher and Rod Stewart. Antoine created his own imprint Frazzy Frog Music in 2010, reflecting his signature sound that has been inspired by his world travels and resonates the mixture of genres found around the globe.
Brian Simpson is a celebrated keyboardist, composer and studio musician who has been the ‘go-to’ man for the likes of everyone from Janet Jackson to Stanley Clarke. Simpson is known for his eloquent approach to jazz fusion, playing sophisticated harmonics, bluesy overtones and R&B flavor as well as his unparalleled ability to compose unforgettable melodies and irresistible tones.
Gerald Veasley fell in love with jazz upon working on a local Philadelphia jazz radio station. Gerald is an American jazz bass guitarist, who started releasing his own records in 1992. Later, he was named Jazziz Magazine’s “Best Bassist,” which solidified his place in the jazz scene with his dynamic, soulful approach to music. He has worked with countless musicians, showing his versatility in jazz, helping him to become an internationally renowned bassist. Currently, Gerald is focusing on his own band while he tours internationally and stateside.
Cécile McLorin Salvant started playing piano at age five and joined the Miami Choral Society at age eight, before heading to Paris for her college years, where she continued to develop and perform as a singer. In 2010, she took the straight ahead jazz world by surprise when she walked away with first place at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Much of her style has been influenced by roots in classical and baroque vocal music as well as jazz. She followed the competition with the release of her debut recording, WomanChild and has since recorded works by John Lennon/Yoko Ono and Erik Satie. Cécile continues to captivate the world with the sounds and styles of straight ahead jazz, making her one of the most talented singers of her generation.
Kamasi Washington is a vibrant and dynamic American straight-ahead/fusion jazz saxophone player. With his versatile range, he added a modern spin while starting his new 10-piece band called “The Next Step.” Kamasi has collaborated with artists such as Lauryn Hill, Jeffrey Osborne, Mos Def, and Quincy Jones. Recently, he contributed his emotionally intense playing to Kendrick Lamar’s newest album, To Pimp A Butterfly. Kamasi has recently released his debut album The Epic, a 171-minute, three-record, multi-genre journey fusing straight-ahead jazz, soul, hip-hop, and gospel.
Norman “Jeff” Bradshaw is a Philadelphia born native with a larger than life personality that reflects his eloquent style and skill behind the trombone. He released his debut solo album “Bone Deep” in 2003 and has since evolved his sound into a prolific and inseparable part of the jazz world. His sound can best be described as Soul/Jazz and Hip-Hop/Funk with R&B undertones that blend perfectly for an instrumentally unique vibe. His Jeff Bradshaw & Friends project first materialized with the 2012 release of Bon Appetit, which included collaborations with Marsha Andrews, PJ Morton of Maroon 5, Ms. Jade and many more. The ability to utilize his sound in a mixture of genres puts Bradshaw among the few to stand out as a progressively influential artist in the jazz scene.
Carmen Lundy began her musical career in Miami as a jazz vocalist and composer over four decades ago when there were very few young, gifted and aspiring Jazz vocalists on the horizon. Ms. Lundy is celebrated throughout the world for her renowned lyrical talent and is highly regarded for her jazz innovation. One of her most notable recognitions came when Miami-Dade’s County Office of the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners proclaimed January 25th “Carmen Lundy Day”, along with handing Ms. Lundy the keys to the City of Miami. Carmen recently released her 14th album, “Soul to Soul” in 2014 and has produced over 100 songs throughout her career.
After launching his music career early in his life, Monk then propelled into the music that had captivated him and his generation. He first toured with a group called Natural Essence, and afterward, along with his sister Barbara, formed his own band. To honor his father’s legacy and support the efforts of education, Monk turned his attention toward forming the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. As chairman, Monk has been at the forefront of helping to create a number of programs that range from sponsoring music education for students in the form of full scholarships to funding and supporting after-school athletic programs. The Institute’s activities reach from Boston to Los Angeles and from New York to Orlando.
Monk holds a unique improvisational style and has made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire. He is the second-most recorded jazz composer, and his compositions and improvisations feature dissonances and angular melodic twists, consistent with his unorthodox approach to the piano, which combines a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations.
Jeremy Pelt has become one of the most notable young trumpeters to hit the jazz world in recent years with ten album releases and numerous global tours to date. His talent behind the trumpet has landed him collaborations and performances with Cliff Barbaro, John Hicks, Lonnie Plaxico, Bobby Short and Frank Wess, to name a few. Pelt was voted Rising Star on the trumpet five years in a row by Downbeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalist Association. He is currently in the midst of his tour throughout the U.S. and Europe in support of his latest release, Tales, Musings, and Other Reveries.
Nichole Stephens, born in Akron, Ohio, started her musical journey to the concert halls of LA and Italy when she started dancing and singing at three years old. By the time she arrived at the Akron School of Performing Arts, she regularly performed and traveled under her signature smooth jazz sound. Nichole writes and records her own music and has collaborated with a variety of other artists. Her performances and releases throughout the years are inspired by a belief that the power of music can inspire, motivate and bring positive vibes to the world. She is currently working on an inspirational compilation and donates to foundations focused on helping caregivers of autistic family members.