Rozanne Levine was born October 19, 1945 in New York City and grew up in the Bronx. She studied clarinet and guitar as a youth, performing with the school orchestra as a clarinetist. She went on to matriculate through the New York University College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in Psychology. During the same period she took clarinet lessons with Perry Robinson.
By the end of the 1970s she was clarinetist in William Parker’s and Patricia Nicholson Parker ‘s Centering Music / Dance Ensemble. Since the early 1980s, she has also worked with saxophonist Mark Whitecage in his Glass House Ensemble. In 1993 she again joined William Parker and became a member of the Improvisors Collective. At the same time, she founded her group, Christal Clarinets, with Perry Robinson, Anthony Braxton and Joe Fonda.
Levine also worked with Jemeel Moondoc, Theo Jörgensmann, Steve Swell, Gerry Hemingway, Billy Bang, Polly Bradfield, Tristan Honsinger, Dennis Charles, Charles Brackeen, Jemeel Moondoc among others. In the duo RoMarkable with Mark Whitcage, she improvises to his sound sculptures. She composes chakra tuning for her ensemble and uses her own photographs as a starting point for collective imprints. In 1989, she received the commission Grant From The Painted Bride Art Center for her musical and photographic work.
Improvisational clarinetist, composer and photographer Rozanne Levine passed away on June 18, 2013.
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Howard Vincent Alden was born in Newport Beach, California on October 17, 1958. Growing up in Huntington Beach, he played piano, harmonica, the four-string tenor guitar, and then four-string banjo at age ten. After hearing recordings of Barney Kessel, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and other jazz guitar greats, he got a six-string guitar and started teaching himself to play.
As a teenager he played both instruments at venues in the Los Angeles area and studied guitar with Jimmy Wyble when he was 16. In 1977 he studied jazz guitar for a year at the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) in Hollywood with Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, and Howard Roberts. While there he assisted Roberts in organizing and preparing curriculum materials, then conducted some of his own classes at GIT.
Making his first trip to the east coast in the summer of 1979, he played in the trio led by vibraphonist Red Norvo for 3 months at Resorts International in Atlantic City. Moving to New York City in 1982, Howard played an extended e engagement at Café Carlyle with jazz pianist/songwriter Joe Bushkin. Soon afterwards, he was discovered by Joe Williams and Woody Herman. 1983 saw him collaborating with Dick Hyman, appearing with him and a host of other musicians at Eubie Blake’s 100th birthday concert.
With Dan Barrett he formed the Alden-Barrett Quintet in 1985 which played in the swing idiom, as he has done for most of his career. He also began partnerships with Kenny Davern and Jack Lesberg, joined George Van Eps, innovator of the seven-string guitar, on tour and recorded albums with him, switching to the seven-string himself in 1992.
Alden has recorded the guitar performances for Sean Penn’s character Emmet Ray in the Woody Allen 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown, and taught Penn how to mime the performances for the film. He has received Best Emerging Guitar Talent by JazzTimes, Talent Deserving Wider Recognition, from Down Beat four times, named Guitar Player of the Year by American Guitar Museum and included on the Down Beat list of Top 75 Guitarists. He continues to perform and compose.
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Kazumi Watanabe (渡辺香津美) was born on October 14, 1953 in Tokyo, Japan. He learned to play the guitar at the age of 12 from Sadanori Nakamure at the Yamaha Music School in Tokyo. He released his debut album as a leader at the age of 18 in 1971. By 1979, he had put together a jazz rock band with some of Japan’s leading studio musicians, and recorded the album Kylyn. The same year, he toured with the pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra.
The 1980s saw him touring as guest soloist with different groups – Steps, the Brecker Brothers, and Word of Mouth, led by Jaco Pastorius. Watanabe created the jazz-rock/jazz-fusion band Mobo in 1983 with saxophonist Mitsuru Sawamura, pianist Ichiko Hashimoto, Gregg Lee on guitar, Shuichi Murakami on drums, and Kiyohiko Senba.
During the eighties Kazumi also released the jazz-rock albums To Chi Ka (1980), Mobo Club (1983) Mobo Splash(1985), and Spice of Life (1987). A DVD was issued from the tour which featured drummer Bill Bruford and bassist Jeff Berlin, who also played on the record.
In the 1990s Kazumi assembled an all-Japanese line-up called Resonance Vox with Vagabonde Suzuki on bass, Rikiya Higashihara on drums and Tomohiro Yahiro on percussion, releasing several adventurous fusion albums. Over his career he has released four dozen albums as a leader, four DVDs of live performances and has worked with numerous musicians such as Lee Ritenour, Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, Jeff Berlin, Bill Bruford, Sly and Robbie, Wayne Shorter, Patrick Moraz, Marcus Miller, Richard Bona, and Peter Erskine.
Since 1996, he has been a visiting professor of music at Senzoku Gakuen College and has been chosen Best Jazzman 24 years in a row by Swing Journal magazine’s annual poll. Jazz fusion guitarist Kazumi Watanabe continues to perform, record, tour and teach.
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Frank Colón was born October 13, 1951 of Puerto Rican descent in Washington, D.C. but moved to Puerto Rico with his parents at the age of five. His musical instruction began at age eleven, beginning with classical piano lessons, under the guidance of Angelina Figueroa and Rafael Figueroa, both members of Puerto Rico’s most prestigious classical music family.
Colón kept up his piano studies throughout his teenage years, trying his hand at pop guitar, electric bass, and trap drums, as well as being very active in municipal and collegiate sports, martial arts, and amateur theater. Throughout this period in his life he worked with various local pop music groups throughout the island of Puerto Rico.
Moving back to Washington, D.C. in 1970 he attended college at American University, where Frank majored in Political Science. During this time, his musical orientation changed from melodic instruments to percussion and upon completion of his university requirements, he turned full-time to his music.
In 1976, Colón moved to New York City, on a call to work with his friend and mentor, the legendary drum master, Julito Collazo. Through Julito’s guidance, he became proficient at playing the Batá drums, sacred to the Orisha in the Santería religion.He has played Brazilian percussion since the time he lived in Washington, D.C.
Frank was performed and recorded with The Manhattan Transfer, Wayne Shorter, Weather Report, Mary J. Blige, Harry Belafonte, Gato Barbieri, Chet Baker, Pat Metheny, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Gilberto Gil, Larry Coryell, Jimmy Smith, Milton Nascimento, Tania Maria, Ernie Watts, Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Valentin, Jon Lucien, João Bosco, Michael Wolff, Billy Taylor, Gal Costa, Dianne Reeves, Michel Camilo, Nestor Torres, Felix Cavalieri, Airto, and George Benson, among numerous others..
Percussionist Frank Colón has released two albums as a leader and continues to perform, record and tour.
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Johnny O’Neal was born October 10, 1956 in Detroit, Michigan and his playing was influenced by pianists Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum. In 1974, he moved to Birmingham, Alabama and worked as a musician, never needing a day job to make ends meet. There he worked with locals Jerry Grundhofer, Dave Amaral, Cleveland Eaton, and Ray Reach.
Moving to New York City in 1981 to perform with Clark Terry, he also landed a regular job at the Blue Note, accompanying among numerous others, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Nancy Wilson, Joe Pass and Kenny Burrell. From 1982 to 1983 Johnny was a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985.
During the Nineties he lived in Atlanta, Georgia and performed prolifically at Churchill Grounds and Just Jazz, before settling in Canada for a few years. He has recorded with Art Blakey, Russell Malone, Magic City Jazz Orchestra, SuperJazz Big Band and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars, among others.
On the recommendation of Oscar Peterson, O’Neal portrayed Art Tatum in the 2004 movie Ray, recreating Tatum’s sound on the song Yesterdays. He has been profiled in the 2006 DVD Tight, was featured in Lush Life: Celebrating Billy Strayhorn, performing with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and received a standing ovation.
Neo-bop pianist, vibist and vocalist Johnny O’Neal, whose playing ranges from the technically virtuosic to the tenderest of ballad interpretations, was a 1997 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and continues his career performing, recording and touring.