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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Pal Joey makes its second appearance as a 1957 drama musical film starring Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. The Lady Is A Tramp and My Funny Valentine (Babes In Arms/1937), There’s A Small Hotel (On Your Toes/1936), I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (Too Many Girls/1939) were introduced in their respective Broadway plays and all make their debut in the film, while I Could Write A Book and Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered make sophomore appearances. All of the above compositions composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart became jazz standards.
The Story: The setting is San Francisco; Joey Evans (Sinatra) is a second-rate singer, a heel known for his womanizing ways, calling women “mice”, but still charming and funny. When Joey meets Linda English (Novak), a naive chorus girl, he has stirrings of real feelings. However, that does not stop him from romancing a former flame and ex-stripper, now society matron Vera Prentice-Simpson (Hayworth), a wealthy, willful, and lonely widow, in order to convince her to finance his dream, “Chez Joey”, a night club of his own.
Soon Joey is involved with Vera, each using the other for his/her own somewhat selfish purposes. But Joey’s feelings for Linda are growing. Ultimately, Vera jealously demands that Joey fire Linda. When Joey refuses, Vera closes down “Chez Joey”. Linda visits Vera and agrees to quit in an attempt to keep the club open. Vera then agrees to open the club, and even offers to marry Joey, but Joey rejects Vera. As Joey is leaving for Sacramento, Linda runs after him, offering to go wherever he is headed. After half-hearted refusals, Joey gives in and they walk away together, united.
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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Mike Ellis was born in New York City in on January 18, 1957 where he was raised by artistically inclined parents during the fabulous Sixties. He began his musical training at age of eight on clarinet, piano and drums. By 19, he was working professionally and teaching.
Ellis paid his dues attending Berklee College, New School and the Institute of Artistic & Cultural Perception (I.A.C.P.) where Billy Pierce, Steve Lacy, Steve Grossman, Alan Silva and David Liebman were particularly helpful and influential as teachers and mentors during his early career.
Ellis’ eclectic approach to music has labeled it “World Jazz”, a term that may seem vague but it sums up what he’s been doing recently with Brazilian and African percussionists, seasoned international jazz artists and Siberian throat singers. After nearly 100 concerts in New York with Speak in Tones, he has performed alongside Antoine Roney, Graham Haynes, Terreon Gully, Phoenix Rivera, Taurus Mateen, Brian Carrott, Curtis Lundy, Bruce Cox, Daniel Moreno, just to name a few.
He recorded his last two projects in Salvador Bahia Brazil “Subaro” Speak in Tones and “Bahia Band” under his own name and on his label AlphaPocket Records. Some of the musicians on these projects include Jerry Gonzalez, Cheikh Tidiane Seck, Mo Brasil, Bira Reis, Adam Rudolf, Jean-Paul Bourelly and Darryl Hall.
Music has taken him around the world, from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall to the Tokyo Jazz club scene and everything in between. Currently residing in Paris, he attends to his professorial and compositional duties while remaining active on the Parisian jazz scene performing regularly at Paris Clubs such as the Duc des Lombards, Sunset and the Baiser Sale. A few of his regular sidemen include John Betsch, J.J. Avenel, Michael Felberbaum, Brice Wassy, Bobby Few, Alain Jean Marie, Munir Hossn. All this, soprano saxophonist Mike Ellis accomplishes when he is not busy with projects in Brazil and New York.
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“Thank Heavens For Little Girls” is from the 1958 Academy Award-winning film Gigi. Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner composed the song and lyrics and it went on to win the Academy Award for Best original Song in 1958. A cover version by Billy Eckstine peaked at #8 in the UK Singles Chart in 1959. The film starred Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jordan.
The Story: Set in turn-of-the-20th century Paris, the film opens with Honoré Lachaille, a charming old roué among high society. Dodging marriage Honoré is concerned with his bored nephew who enjoys hanging out with his mamita, Madame Alvarez and her precocious and carefree granddaughter Gigi. However she is sent away to be groomed as a courtesan and learn etiquette and charm. The two young people spend a lot of time together with the thought of taking Gigi as a mistress. Finally Gaston finds the thought unbearable with the help of high society. Taking Gigi home, he wanders the streets until finally ending back at Madame Alvarez’s door asking for Gigi’s hand in marriage. They couple are elegant, beautiful, and happily married. Honoré has been a framing device for the film, which can be seen as a romantic victory of love over cynicism.