WYCLIFF GORDON, Trombone

Wycliffe Gordon enjoys an extraordinary career as a performer, conductor, composer, arranger, and educator, receiving high praise from audiences and critics alike. Gordon tours the world performing hard-swinging, straight-ahead jazz for audiences ranging from heads of state to elementary school students. His trombone playing, hailed as “mixing powerful, intricate runs with sweet notes extended over clean melodies,” has been universally hailed by jazz critics. Gordon received the Jazz Journalists Association 2002 and 2001 Award for Trombonist of the Year, the Jazz Journalists Association 2000 Critics' Choice Award for Best Trombone and has been nominated for the Jazzpar Award. In addition to a thriving solo career, he tours regularly leading the Wycliffe Gordon Quartet, headlining at legendary jazz venues throughout the world. Gordon is a former veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and The Gully Low Jazz Band, and has been a featured guest artist on Billy Taylor's “Jazz at The Kennedy Center” Series. Gordon's extensive performance experience includes work with many of the most renowned jazz performers of the past and present. Gordon's musical prowess has been captured on numerous recordings, including nine solo CDs and three co-leader CDs. His latest solo effort, “Cone's Coup,” is scheduled for release in May 2006. Gordon is featured on numerous recordings with The Wynton Marsalis Septet, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and numerous others as evidenced in his extensive discography. Wycliffe Gordon is also a gifted composer and arranger. He was commissioned to compose a vibrant new score for the 1925 classic silent film “Body and Soul” (notable as the screen debut of Paul Robeson), which was premiered at the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra's 2000-01 season opening night performance at Avery Fisher Hall. Gordon's “I Saw The Light,” a musical tribute to Muhammad Ali, was commissioned and premiered by The Brass Band of Battle Creek in March 2004. Both works are scheduled for release on DVD in summer of 2006. Gordon's compositions have been performed by The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Wynton Marsalis Septet, The Wycliffe Gordon Quartet, The Brass Band of Battle Creek and numerous other ensembles, and performed in programs throughout the U.S. and abroad including concert halls in New York, Los Angeles, Aspen, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Germany, London, Finland and Switzerland. His compositions are also featured as a part of the PBS series “Marsalis on Music.” Recent concert seasons have included premieres of compositions by Mr. Gordon for a variety of ensembles both in the Unites States and internationally. The first in a series of print editions of his big band, small ensemble and choir compositions will be available in fall of 2006. Gordon's television appearances have included the Grammy Awards, the PBS special documentary “Swingin’ with the Duke,” and two Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra--”Uptown Blues, Ellington at 100” (a collaboration with the New York Philharmonic) and “Big Train.” Gordon also appeared in Ken Burns’ documentary “Jazz.” Other television appearances include “A Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert” and “Live from Lincoln Center: The Juilliard School at 100 Years.” Gordon is featured in BET's 13-part series “Journey with Jazz at Lincoln Center” and was guest artist and commentator in NPR affiliate WVIA's special program on Tommy Dorsey (along with the late Skitch Henderson, just days before Henderson's death). Gordon also appeared with the Wynton Marsalis Septet in the feature film “Tune In Tomorrow” starring Peter Falk, Keanu Reeves and Barbara Hershey. Gordon is rapidly becoming one of America’s most persuasive and committed music educators. He currently serves on the faculty of the Jazz Studies Program at The Juilliard School, a position he has held since the founding of the program. His work with young musicians and audiences from elementary schools to universities all over the world is extensive, and includes master classes, clinics, workshops, children's concerts and lectures--powerful evidence of his unique ability to relate musically to people of all ages. Gordon is currently working on a collection of trombone quartets, trios and duos to be entitled “Trombone Majesty,” with expected publication in late 2006. In addition, his first method book “Wycliffe Gordon's Suggested Studies for Trombone,” a compilation of the materials, exercises and approaches he uses in his teaching and in his own practice regimen, will be released in January 2007. Gordon teamed with trombonist Joseph Alessi of the New York Philharmonic and students in both of their studios at Juilliard in creating and presenting the master class “Two Sides of the Slide” for Jazz at Lincoln Center. The master class is available in its entirety as part of a streaming video series offered by the Education Department of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Gordon is the youngest member of the U.S. Statesmen of Jazz, and in many tour performances has served and continues to serve as a musical ambassador for the U.S. State Department. Born in Waynesboro, Georgia, Gordon was first introduced to music by his late father, Lucius Gordon, a classical pianist and teacher. His interest in the trombone was sparked at age twelve by his elder brother who played the instrument in his junior high school band. Egged on by sibling rivalry, Gordon's relentless pleading of his parents led to his first trombone. A year later, an aunt bequeathed Gordon her jazz record collection, and so began his passion for jazz music.

HOUSTON PERSON, Saxophone

He’s one of the best . . . He’s got bull chops!” – Dizzy Gillespie. Dubbed “the natural heir to the Boss Tenor crown worn so long and so well by Gene Ammons” (Bob Porter), global performer Houston Person knows the music business inside out, from booking his own tours to producing his own albums. As eclectic as he is talented, Person has recorded everything from disco and gospel to pop and r&b, in addition to his trademark, soulful hard bop. After years as producer and house tenor for HighNote Records and touring with the late Etta Jones, Person is now known as a master of popular songs played in a relaxed, highly accessible style. Person grew up in Florence, South Carolina, and remembers his parents listening to lots of music at home, including jazz. First playing piano before switching to the tenor sax at age 17, he went on to study music at South Carolina State College (where he is included in the school’s Hall of Fame), and later pursued advanced studies at Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. As a member of the United States Air Force band stationed in Germany, he played with Eddie Harris, Cedar Walton, and Don Ellis, later working as a sideman for organist Johnny "Hammond" Smith in the mid 1960s. Person built his reputation as a leader with a series of soulful recordings for Prestige in the 60s. However, for a large part of his career he was best-known for his legendary partnership with the great vocalist, Etta Jones, which lasted over 30 years until her death in 2001. Recently he has performed with vocalist Barbara Morrison, the great Ernie Andrews and in the past has worked with Ernestine Anderson, Della Griffin and Dakota Staton. Houston’s appearances as sideman are legion, and include recordings with Etta Jones, Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Dakota Staton, Horace Silver, Charles Earland, Charles Brown, and many others. As a record producer, he has worked with many artists, including Etta Jones, Freddy Cole, Charles Brown, Buck Hill, Dakota Staton, and Ernie Andrews. In 1990, his recording with Ron Carter, “Something in Common” (Muse), won the Independent Jazz Record of the Year Award, and he received an Indie Award for his recording, “Why Not?” (Muse). Other awards have included the prestigious Eubie Blake Jazz Award (1982) and the Fred Hampton Scholarship Fund Image Award (1993), and he has been honored with a "Houston Person/Etta Jones Day" in Hartford County, MD (1982) and in Washington, DC (1983). Houston Person has recorded over 75 albums as a leader on Prestige, Westbound, Mercury, Savoy, and Muse, which became HighNote Records. His HighNote recordings as both tenor artist and producer, “My Buddy: Etta Jones Sings the Songs of Buddy Johnson” and “Etta Jones Sings Lady Day,” were Grammy finalists in the Best Jazz Vocal category in 1999 and 2000, respectively. HighNote has issued a three-disc collection of some of his finest recordings along with four new tracks all recorded at the famed Rudy Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Entitled “The Art and Soul of Houston Person” (HCD 7200), this is the first multi-disc retrospective of an artist’s recorded work to be issued by the label. Wrote Gary Giddens in the Village Voice, “I have always admired Houston Person for his huge tone, bluff humor, and pointed obbligato…Person lucidly rides the beat with figures you think you've heard but haven't. These are not recycled licks or clichés; they simply seem familiar, like family… gray hair aside, Person is unchanged, an unmoved mover of certain jazz essentials.” Ask him what’s important in his music, and Houston Person notes that, “It's important that it's relaxing…Relaxes you and makes you feel good… I'm going to always play the things that I think contributes to good jazz.

BERNARD PURDY, Drums

Bernard Purdie was born June 11, 1939 in Elkton, Maryland as the eleventh of fifteen children. Purdie began already as a six-year-old to bang out rhythms on improvised equipment. At 14 years of age he purchased his first real drum set and became the most important provider for the family - earning his pay with country and carnival bands. This "schooling" enabled Purdie to "feel my way into nearly every kind of music, 'cause I had to know all styles and was never afraid to try something new." Purdie moved to New York in 1960 after finishing high school and played with (among others), Lonnie Youngblood before landing his first hit with King Curtis. This led to his engagement with Aretha Franklin in 1970 - the beginning of an unparalleled career. Since then, Purdie has been a regular guest in the studios of the stars of Jazz, Soul, and Rock, working together with Paul Butterfield as well as Larry Coryell, Miles Davis, Hall & Oates, Al Kooper, Herbie Mann, Todd Rundgren and Cat Stevens, as well as regularly producing his own solo albums under his own name. Liner Notes from Purdie "Soul To Jazz." 3-96. With Brecker Brothers, ACT Music & Vision GMBH. Which musician did Aretha Franklin definitely NOT want missing from the line-up when she recorded her most inspired albums at the beginning of the seventies Who provided the back-beat for Steely Dan's "Aja", and for whom have Isaac Hayes, Donny Hathaway, B.B. King, "Sweet" Lou Donaldson, Joe Cocker and Hank Crawford reserved that stool behind the drum kit? The list is incomplete, it must be, because no other drummer in the last three decades has seen the interior of a recording studio as often as Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. The 57 year-old native of Elkton, Maryland has laid down the beat on over 3000 albums to date. This short list does however, prove an idea of the unique qualities this man possesses. Colleagues describe the drummer's style as the "funkiest soul beat" in the business, and Purdie has decidedly never limited his talents to the realm of jazz but rather has consistently sought out new musical experiences beyond it's borders. He has anchored sessions with the Rolling Stones, James Brown and Tom Jones with equal ease and proven that - with all his attention to precision playing - terms such as "drive" and "GROOVE" are definitely not missing from his vocabulary. This is certainly why his rhythms have appeared as samples on nearly every "Acid Jazz" record released in the past few years - the new genre that has so successfully hosted the renaissance of Soul Jazz. Furthermore because it is a special pleasure to personally harvest the fruits from trees one has planted oneself - Purdie has now gathered together a flock of like-minded souls and created the new album - "Soul To Jazz". It will certainly, so much can be sure, stun those who seek to copy his style - if not completely draw their attention. These 13 songs prove that the pioneer of the hybrid of blend of Jazz, Soul and Funky Tunes is still light years ahead of his imitators. For loads more on Bernard Purdie visit his official Website at http://www.bernardpurdie.com

JOHN COLIANNI, Piano

John Colianni grew up in the Washington, D.C. metro area and first heard Jazz on swing-era LP re-issues (Ellington, Goodman, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Armstrong, etc.) in his parents' home. A performance by Teddy Wilson in Washington attended by John when he was about 12 years old also left a strong impression, as did a Duke Ellington performance. In 2006, looking for an outlet for his high velocity piano improvisations, John formed the John Colianni Quintet. In July 2007, the group recorded its first CD, "Johnny Chops" (Patuxent Records), which was released this year. Les Paul offered the piano spot in his group to John in August 2003. Les had not used a pianist in his combo since the 1950s and, in looking for suitable candidates, sought the advice of guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, who recommended John. In Les Paul's recent autobiography, "Les Paul: In His Own Words," Les writes an appreciative description of John's playing style and musical contributions to the re-vamped Les Paul Quartet. John is also seen and heard on the PBS documentary, "Les Paul: Chasing Sound." Showing keyboard aptitude, a suitable teacher for John was sought by his parents. Local musicians recommended Les Karr, who, in addition to teaching, was well known as an outstanding pianist. Weekly lessons began in the eighth grade, when John was 14. Les Karr himself studied under Teddy Wilson at Juilliard in New York. Les was also the first cousin of pianist Dick Hyman. For John's lessons, Les emphasized technique and introduced studies of the Mathe' System, a method that advances digital dexterity and maximizes the capacity for speedy, high-velocity piano playing. John, noted for fleet "chops," often cites the important role these exercises play. Still in high school, John began playing piano professionally on the Washington, D.C. jazz scene, which, during that period, included a number of colorful jazz clubs such as The Pigfoot, Mr. Y's Gold Room, One Step Down, Blues Alley, The Bayou, The Famous Ballroom (Baltimore), Frankie Condon's (Rockville), and other establishments. These were John's first performance venues, and he played among veteran D.C. musicians including Ella Fitzgerald's bassist, Keter Betts, who recruited 16-year-old John for the revue "Jazz Stars Of The Future." Jazz Studies Director George Ross recruited John, still in tenth grade, to play regularly with the University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble. An event years earlier set the stage for John's interest in music. Duke Ellington, the most celebrated musician from Washington D.C. passed through town with his orchestra. A very young John was mesmerized and afterward presented Duke with the Ellington autobiography "Music Is My Mistress," which Duke signed with a personalized message. (Ellington is high on the list of pianists who have influenced John. Others include Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, George Shearing, Count Basie and Teddy Wilson.) The Coliannis relocated to the Jersey Shore during John's senior year in high school. It was there that John caught the attention of Carlton Drinkard, former accompanist to the one and only "Lady Day" Billie Holiday. Drinkard (aka "Piano Man" in the criticaly acclaimed film "Lady Sings The Blues") assembled John's trio, and coached him in creating new arrangements and performing before live audiences. Soon afterward, when he was 19, John visited Lionel Hampton backstage at an Atlantic City casino. He landed a spot in Hampton's orchestra and traveled and recorded for three years with Hampton and band members that included tenor sax great Arnett Cobb, saxists Paul Jeffrey and Tom Chapin, drummers Frankie Dunlop, Oliver Jackson and Duffy Jackson, bassists George Duvivier and Arvell Shaw, and others. To read Hampton's personal account of his association with John, visit the Reviews/News page at www.johncolianni.com. Not too long after the Hampton gig, John entered and won a cash prize in the first annual Thelonius Monk Piano Competition in 1987. In the 1980s, John played a variety of gigs, including a stint with the New Orleans-inspired band of movie director/clarinetist Woody Allen. Allen's band played steadily at Michael's Pub in New York, and it was there that John came to the attention of Mel Torme', who was appearing at the same club. Hearing one of John's recordings through the venue's sound system, Torme' promptly hired John as his pianist – without an audition. John worked for Torme' from early 1991 to mid 1995, touring and recording six albums. “Acoustic modernist absorbing the pianism of Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson.” – Jazziz

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