Michael Cochrane was born September 4, 1948 in Peekskill, Westchester County, New York. A pianist by choice, in 1956 he started piano lessons at the age of eight. He continued to perform throughout his high school years in band program under the direction of Vincent Corozine. During these teen years was when he received his first exposure to jazz and the big band sound.
He would go on to enroll at Boston University studying science and math while taking an after school music program at Berklee College of Music. By his junior year in school, the jazz bug had bitten, he switched majors, graduated with a degree in psychology and became a regular on the local Boston jazz scene.
For the next four years Boston was home until he moved to New York City and began a long collaboration with trumpeter Hannibal Marvin Peterson. They toured the world and eventually recorded One With the Wind for Muse Records. He has performed and/or recorded with artists including Sonny Fortune, Jack Walrath, Eddie Gomez, Valery Ponomorev, Paul Nash, John Clark, Clark Terry, Nancy Monroe, Chip White, Michael Brecker, Chico Freeman, Galen Abdur Razzaq, The Spirit Of Life Ensemble, Bob Ferrel, The New World Quintet, Ted Curson, Oliver Lake, Oliver Lake, Sonny Fortune, Tom Harrell, Bob Malach, Dennis Irwin, James Madison and many more.
He has recorded for SteepleChase Records, as well as Soul Note and Landmark Records. Michael has received fellowships from the National Endowment For The Arts, the The Puffin Foundation and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. Pianist Michael Cochrane has studied with Jaki Byard, Eleanor Hancock and Madame Margaret Chaloff, and is currently a New York University Jazz Piano faculty member and continues to perform, record and tour.
More Posts: piano
Anthony Branker was born August 28, 1958 in Elizabeth, New Jersey and raised in Piscataway and Plainfield, New Jersey. He attended the music program and graduated from Piscataway High School, then went on to Princeton University for his B.A. in Music, the University of Miami for a Master of Music in Jazz Pedagogy and finally to Columbia University, Teachers College receiving degrees of Master of Education and Doctor of Education; with specialties in Music and Music Education.
Hailing from Trinidad and Barbados heritage his family boasts a musical director and pianist with the Platters, a composer and pianist who worked with the Copasetics and Billy Strayhorn, and a music producer and bassist who has worked with Roberta Flack, Cyndi Lauper, Simply Red and others.
His lists of fellowships, commissions, compositions and collaborations while at Princeton University are extensive. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has conducted symphonies, orchestras and ensembles all over the world. Branker has performed and recorded with the Spirit of Life Ensemble and has shared the stage in a variety of musical settings with such artists as Ted Curson, Talib Kibwe, Guilherme Franco & Nova Bossa Nova, Steve Nelson, Marcus Belgrave, Billy Higgins, John Hicks, Michael Cochrane, Calvin Hill, Bobby Watson, Jacky Terrasson, Steve Nelson, Bob Mintzer, Don Braden, Ralph Peterson Jr.,Orrin Evans, Antonio Hart, Clark Terry, Phil Woods, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, Ted Curson, Oliver Lake, Frank Foster, Benny Carter, Conrad Herwig, Eddie Henderson, James Weidman, Stanley Jordan, Benny Carter, Ralph Peterson, Terence Blanchard, Big John Patton, Roscoe Mitchell, Gary Burton,among numerous others, and has performed in the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Dinah Was: The Dinah Washington Musical.
As an educator Anthony recently retired from Princeton University after 27 years on the faculty and the endowed chair in jazz studies, serving as founding director of the Program in Jazz Studies, director of university jazz ensembles program, and associate director of the Program in Musical Performance.
In 1999 with medical problems stemming from two brain aneurysms and the discovery of an arteriovenous malformation caused trumpeter, composer, educator, scholar, and conductor Anthony Branker to give up trumpet playing and to take a leave of absence from teaching.
More Posts: trumpet
Ron Escheté was born in Houma, Louisiana on August 19, 1948 and after receiving his first guitar at the age of 14, he joined a quartet and was working clubs in Louisiana before he had even graduated from high school. Attending Loyola University he majored in classical guitar and minored in flute, studying with classical guitarist Paul Guma. Shortly after leaving Loyola he toured with Buddy Greco, setting his sites on the Los Angeles, California music scene.
In 1970 Ron moved to California, working and recording with vibist Dave Pike. By 1975 he joined pianist Gene Harris and quickly establish his reputation as a premier accompanist. However, it was in 1988 that he stepped into the spotlight as a leader during a gig in San Diego. That pivotal moment would lead to a contract with Concord Records and the release of his debut solo recording A Closer Look in 1994. Since then he has released more than a dozen albums as a leader.
As an educator Escheté has dedicated nearly twenty-five years teaching music at many colleges and universities, not limited to North Texas State University, Utah State University, Loyola University, Louisiana State University at New Orleans, California State Universities at Long Beach and Fullerton, and Musicianís Institute in Hollywood. He has authored three books: Melodic Chord Phrases, The Jazz Guitar Soloist and a book of Howard Roberts solos titled Super Solos.
Over the decades the consummate sideman has worked and recorded some 30 albums with among others Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Diana Krall, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Buddy Greco, Mort Lindsey, Dave Pike, Dewey Erney, Mort Weiss, Gene Harris, and Ray Brown. Guitarist Ron Escheté continues to perform, record and tour.
More Posts: guitar
Eddie Gale was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 15, 1941 and early in life he studied trumpet with Kenny Dorham. In the early 1960s he was introduced to Sun Ra by drummer Scoby Stroman and spent many hours exposed to Sun Ra’s philosophy about music and life. During this period he explored the use of trills, placement of whole tones and then a space chord, all ideas he could not find in exercise books.
During the 1960s and 1970s, he toured and recorded extensively with Sun Ra, until Ra’s death in 1993. In 1972 he moved to San Jose California, has helped to bring jazz into the 21st century by delving into the hip-hop world with the Oakland group Coup and by the late 1990s. Eddie has held regular creative music workshops at the Black Dot Cafe, a grassroots performance space in Oakland ran by artist/activist Marcel Diallo and his Black Dot Artists Collective.
Gale also held He has recorded with Cecil Taylor, Larry Young, and Elvin Jones, and performed with John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Booker Ervin, and Illinois Jacquet.
Trumpeter Eddie Gale, known for his work in free jazz, has recorded his debut album as a leader Ghetto Music in 1968 and has since recorded four more as well as several more as a sideman. He continues to record, perform and educate young musicians.
More Posts: trumpet
Howard Lewis Johnson was born August 7, 1941 in Montgomery, Alabama. In the 1960s he worked with Charles Mingus, Hank Crawford, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Archie Shepp, and Hank Mobley on the album A Slice of the Top.
He began a long association with Gil Evans in 1966, arranger of a horn section that backed Taj Mahal on Mahal’s 1971 live album, The Real Thing, which featured three other tubists/multi-instrumentalists, Bob Stewart, Joseph Daley and Earl McIntyre. Howard played with The Band on their Rock of Ages live album, The Last Waltz and into the late 2000s with The Band drummer, Levon Helm’s Band. During the 1970s, he was the band conductor of the Saturday Night Live Band; he can be seen in several musical numbers, including playing bass saxophone in the King Tut sketch.
He has also led three tuba bands, collaborated with Tomasz Stanko, Substructure, Tuba Libre and GRAVITY, perhaps his best-known band. In 1981 he performed at the Woodstock Jazz Festival, held in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Creative Music Studio.
He had a minor role in the 1983 film, Eddie and the Cruisers as Wendell’s replacement and also appeared in episodes of Matlock and Hill Street Blues. Johnson famously accompanied James Taylor in a performance of Jelly Man Kelly on Sesame Street in 1983, and also on tin whistle when Taylor sings to Oscar The Grouch.
Tubist, baritone saxophonist, arranger, conductor and bandleader Howard Johnson, who also plays bass clarinet, trumpet and other reed instruments, continues to perform, record and tour.