Kent Kessler was born January 28, 1957 in Crawfordsville, Indiana and grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He began playing trombone at age ten and when his family moved to Chicago when he was 13, he became intensely interested in jazz. While attending St. Mary Center For Learning High School, he began taking electric bass lessons and jazz theory in the middle of the 1970s.
In 1977 Kent formed the ensemble Neutrino Orchestra, spent a year in Brazil in 1980, took time studying off and on at Roosevelt University in Chicago; and formed a group called Musica Menta, which played regularly at local Chicago venue Link’s Hall.
Kessler began playing double bass in the 1980s and it became his primary instrument when he was asked in 1985 to join the NRG Ensemble, toured Europe, recruited Ken Vandemark, recorded for ECM Records and the two would go on to collaborate extensively on free jazz and improvisational projects such as the Vandemark 5, DKV Trio and the Steelwool Trio.
From the 1990s on Kent would work with the leading Chicago musicians such as Hamid Drake, Fred Anderson and Joe McPhee as well as several European musicians. In 2003, Kessler released a solo album, Bull Fiddle, on OkkaDisk. Kessler performs alone on nine of the twelve tracks and with Michael Zerang on three. The double-bassist who remains active is best known for his work in the Chicago jazz and avant-garde scene.
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Jimmy Bond was born on January 27, 1933 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He started playing bass in junior high school in Philadelphia. While only so much interest can be generated with accounts of a player’s high school days, in this case the details include jamming with the likes of Gene Ammons and Charlie Parker.
Starting in the summer of 1955, the bassist was working with the extremely popular trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, a connection that resulted in dozens of record releases. He went on to backup Ella Fitzgerald from 1956 to 1957, but in the ’60s he began to break away from what had seemed to be his genre of choice.
The Bond studio recordings of the ’60s and ’70s involved sessions with Randy Newman, the Jazz Crusaders, Phil Spector and Fred Neil among others. As one of a few studio players who shunned the electric bass and his studio involvements included stints with Tim Buckley, Frank Zappa and Lightnin’ Hopkins as well as Jimmy Witherspoon and Nina Simone.
Adolescent boys couldn’t help noticing the name of this dependable bassist in the wake of James Bond becoming a superhero in the ’60s. When he attended a conference, it was no doubt to get a recording session started. The talk would have been about what key a song is in or how quickly it should move, hardly the stuff of international intrigue. But the main reason these aforementioned lads were noticing the Bond name in the first place was because this was a bassist who shifted his talents from the jazz bandstand to the recording studio, perhaps out of necessity but with great skill and subtlety nonetheless.
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Steve Wiest was born John Stephen Wiest on January 26, 1957 in Cleveland, Ohio. Taking up the trombone in his youth he attended Blair High School and played in the band. He went on to matriculate through University of Southern Mississippi and then through University of North Texas.
From 1981 to 1985, Steve was a featured trombonist and arranger with the Maynard Ferguson Band, he has been a professor for twenty-six of the thirty-four years that he has been a professional trombonist, composer, and arranger. From 2006 to 2014, he was Associate Professor of Music in Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas College of Music and during that time he was also the director of the One O’Clock Lab Band.
A three-time Grammy nominee individually, for composing and collaboratively for ensemble, Steve Wiest has in excess of two dozen albums to his name and 58 arrangements and compositions to his credit, which include 10 original compositions from his current project, The Dover Stone: Concerto for Folded Space.
His resume of performances or recordings reads like a who’s who list with Weather Report, Sarah ‘Vaughan, Bill Cosby, Buddy Rich, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy tner, Al Foster, Eddie Gomez, Slide Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea and the Gil Evans Orchestra on it, just to name a few.
Trombonist and educator Steve Wiest is currently in his first year as Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Commercial Music at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music, and is the Coordinator of the 21st Century Music Initiative at the school. He continues to perform, compose and arrange jazz and big band.
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D.D. Jackson was born on January 25, 1967 in Ottawa, Canada. He started playing piano as a child, eventually graduating from the Manhattan School of Music. He would go on to become an alumnus of the Lehman Engel BMI Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop.
Jackson performs all over the world with his groups and has also appeared and recorded with some of the most distinguished names in jazz and beyond including: David Murray, Art Davis, Ray Drummond, James Spaulding, James Carter, Dewey Redman, Oliver Lake, Billy Bang, Regina Carter, Dafnis Preto, Cindy Blackman, Billy Hart, Andrew Cyrille, Mor Thiam, Mino Cinelu, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and others.
He is also an accomplished classical pianist, released a recording of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, he wrote a regular column “Living Jazz” for Downbeat magazine and the related “D.D. Jackson Living Jazz Podcast”.
Jackson is an alumnus of the Manhattan Producers Alliance, was a composers for The Wonder Pets and 3rd & Bird; scored the entire 26-episode season of The Ocean Room, won a Juno Award, is currently based in New York City teaching at Hunter College and the Harlem School of the Arts and has recorded twelve CDs as a leader and co-leader.
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Mitchel Forman was born January 24, 1956 in Brooklyn, New York and began studying classical piano at the age of seven. At 17 he entered the Manhattan School of Music for three years of study and began working with bands in New York. Shortly after graduation he began touring and recording with Gerry Mulligan’s big band and quartet, followed by a stint with Stan Getz.
In 1980 Mitchel began a solo career with a piano performance at the Newport Jazz Festival and the subsequent recording became his first album, Live at Newport. He went on to work with Phil Woods, Carla Bley, Mel Torme and Astrud Gilberto; record for Soul Note Records and tour Europe regularly.
He joined guitarist John McLaughlin for a year and a half, recorded Mahavishnu and Adventures in Radioland. Then he joined Wayne Shorter and in between touring, contributed to and recorded Phantom Navigator.
In 1985, Forman began leading his own band and recorded his group debut for Magenta Records “Train of Thought”. At the same time he continued to work with other well-known jazz and music figures, including John Scofield, Mike Stern, Janis Siegel, Dave Samuels, Diane Schuur, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, “Freddie Hubbard and numerous others.
Pianist Mitchel Forman continues to record and play under his own name and has recently started his own record label, Marsis Jazz. His move to California has him co-leading the band Metro with guitarist Chuck Loeb and performing around Los Angeles with his own bands.
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