Oliver Lake was born in Marianna, Arkansas on September 14, 1942 but was raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He began playing percussion followed by alto saxophone. His piercing, bluesy, biting sound is his trademark and his explosive unpredictable solos are akin to Eric Dolphy.
During the 1960s Oliver taught school, worked in several contexts around St. Louis and led along with Julius Hemphill and Charles “Bobo” Shaw, BAG, the Black Artists Group.
In 1972 Lake moved to Paris for two years working with his colleagues from BAG, returned to New York and immersed himself into the then burgeoning jazz loft scene.
By 1977 he co-founded the World Saxophone Quartet with David Murray, Julius Hemphill and Hamiet Bluiett. Over the next two decades the group crossed over to new audiences, in part, due to their late 80s albums of Ellington and popular R&B tunes. Lake has recorded for Freedom, Black Saint, and Black Lion, Novus, Gramavision, Blue Heron Gazell, Soul Note and other record labels.
Oliver Lake, alto and soprano saxophonist, flutist whose mainstay in the avant-garde and free jazz realm continues to create, perform, record and tour as a member of the WSQ and as a leader.
Brian Lynch was born September 12, 1956 in Urbana, Illinois but grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The young trumpeter apprenticed with pianist Buddy Montgomery and organist Melvin Rhyne while earning a degree from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. While living in San Diego 1980-81, he gained further valuable experience in the group of alto master Charles McPherson.
Moving to New York in late 1981 Brian was soon hired by Bill Kirchner, performing and recording with Kirchner’s nonet, then Horace Silver, and the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra while simultaneously on the Latin scene with salsa bandleader Angel Canales, Hector LaVoe and Eddie Palmieri. By 1988 he was a part of the final edition of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers followed by Phil Woods and Benny Golson.
In recent years Lynch has worked with the Buena Vista Social Club, co-led bands and Latin sessions with Conrad Herwig, with Eddie Palmieri won best Latin Jazz Album of the Year Grammy for Simpatico, has immersed himself in the Afro-Cuban culture with “Spheres of Influence” collaborating with the likes of Edsel Gomez, Luis Perdomo, Robby Ameen, Ernesto Simpson, Richie Flores and Pedro Martinez to name a few.
As an educator he is a faculty member at the University of Miami, New York University and the North Netherlands Conservatory, has taught at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, Eastman School of Music, Dartmouth College, University of North Texas and Columbia University among others. Trumpeter Brian Lynch continues to perform, record and tour worldwide.
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George Mraz was born Jiří Mráz on September 9, 1944 in Pisek Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, now the Czech Republic. He began his musical studies on violin at age seven and started playing jazz in high school on alto saxophone. He attended the Prague Conservatory in 1961 studying bass violin and graduating in 1966. During that time he was performing with the top jazz groups in Prague.
His first introduction to jazz was through the Voice Of America radio and Louis Armstrong which opened him to a vast new world of possibilities across the ocean. After finishing his studies George moved to Munich and played clubs and concerts throughout Germany and Middle Europe with Benny Bailey, Carmel Jones, Leo Wright, Mal Waldron, Hampton Hawes, Jan Hammer and others.
Mraz was greatly influenced by Ray Brown, Scott LaFaro, Paul Chambers, and Ron Carter. In 1968 he ventured to Boston on a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music and played at Lennie’s on the Turnpike and the Jazz Workshop with such artists as Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Joe Williams and Carmen McRae. By ’69 he was playing with Dizzy Gillespie and then on the road with Oscar Peterson for two years followed by a six- year residency with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.
From the late seventies on he worked with Stan Getz, New York Jazz Quartet, Chet Baker, Hank Jones, Paul Motian, Zoot Sims, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, Joe Lovano, Carmen McRae, Joe Henderson, Tommy Flanagan and the list of jazz luminaries is to long to elaborate. He was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet and Quest. Bassist and alto saxophonist George Mraz continues to perform, record and tour.
Judy Bady was born on September 3, 1956 in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She went on to matriculate through William Paterson University with a degree in Music Studies. One hears the influence of her great predecessors with her vocal artistry, having a dramatic & rich vocabulary of musically composed American song. After a couple of auspicious performances with Bobby McFerrin at his concert performances, he advised her to leave Kalamazoo and pursue her singing career.
Moving to New York City in 1988 and delved into the artistic scene. Four years later she again appeared with McFerrin in an impromptu duet at the JVC Jazz Festival, again the following year for several songs at the Blue Note
She has performed and/or recorded with such luminaries as Hamiet Bluiett, Doug Carn, Andrew Cyrille, Jon Faddis, Billy Harper, Jon Hendricks, John Hicks, Oliver Lake, Bill Lee, Bobby McFerrin, Rene McLean, Hilton Ruiz, Paul Serrato and Francesca Tanksley, among others.
The vocalist, actress and writer has won multiple Down Beat music awards including Best Jazz Vocalist and was featured in the international award-winning documentary, “Jazzwomen: The Female Side of Jazz”.
Vocalist Judy Bady, with an emotional range from tender to swinging in her singing, recorded her debut album as a leader and titled it “Blackbird” in 2003. She continues to perform and record.
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Essiet Okon Essiet was born on September 1, 1956 in Omaha, Nebraska to Nigerian parents. His father worked for the U.S. and Nigerian governments, moving the family from city to city. While living in Wisconsin he began studying violin at age 10 later switching to bass viola at 14.
As a child, his wide travels with his family gave him early exposure to many cultures, folkways, languages, and religions fostered his worldview of strength through diversity. This gave Essiet the ability to fluently mix styles, though he predominantly plays in the modern idiom.
Essiet was Art Blakey’s last bassist, playing with him for 2 years and recording on three sessions. He has performed with Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Benny Golson, Mulgrew Miller, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Bobby Watson, Billy Higgins, Kenny Kirkland, Joe Henderson, Johnny Griffin, Kevin Mahogany, Kurt Elling and Geri Allen and the Blue Note All Stars to name a few.
Since 1985 he has been at the Conservancy in The Hague as a lecturer. One of the most in demand bassist in jazz, Essiet currently leads Ibo, a Nigerian jazz project.
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