Ben Wolfe was born on August 3, 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland but was raised in Portland, Oregon. Early on in his career he formed a duo with Harry Connick Jr. and went on to be his musical director, recording over a dozen albums and soundtracks. He then joined the Wynton Marsalis Septet, remaining until it disbanded. This engagement was followed being an part of Diana Krall’s touring band, playing on many of her recordings, including the Grammy Award winning project When I Look In Your Eyes.
As a member of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO), Ben has performed with Joe Henderson, Doc Cheatham, Jon Hendricks, Harry “Sweets” Edison, and Billy Higgins as well as recording with Branford Marsalis, James Moody, Eric Reed, Carl Allen, and Benny Green.
Wolfe has been awarded the 2004 New Works: Creation and Presentation Program Grant by Chamber Music America and funded through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. As a result he composed his extended composition Contradiction: Music for Sextet. He has also composed the score for Matthew Modine’s film short I Think I Thought.
Double bassist, composer and educator Ben Wolfe currently performs, records and teaches in the Jazz Division of the Juilliard School in New York City.
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Billy Kilson was born William Earl Kilson on August 2, 1962 in Washington, DC. He started on trumpet at ten, switched to trombone at 11, then to drums at 16. He studied at the Berklee College of Music from 1980 to 1985, took private lessons from Alan Dawson during 1982-89, and then toured Europe with Walter Davis.
Kilson has played with such notable jazz musicians as Ahmad Jamal, Dianne Reeves, Greg Osby, George Duke, Steps Ahead, Tim Hagans, Terumasa Hino, Bob James, Dave Bob Belden, Kevin Mahogany, Kirk Whalum, Chris Botti, Freddie Jackson, Donald Brown and Paula Cole.
He is perhaps best known for his work with Dave Holland playing on the 1999 Grammy Award nominated album Prime Directive and his Grammy-winning 2002 release What Goes Around. He also has chops as a leader with his own quartet ensemble along comprised of James Genus and Tim Hagans. Releasing his debut compact disc in 2006 as a leader, titled Pots and Pans, it was followed by a sophomore DVD project, Rhythm Dancer, in 2012. Drummer Billy Kilson continues to record, perform and tour.
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Guillermo Serpas was born on August 1, 1969 in San Salvador, El Salvador and grew up in an environment of rich musical tradition of legendary singers and masterful guitarists of the popular folklore. A gifted musician he was inspired him to learn the highly versatile and lyrical classical guitar. By his early teens he was studying with Maestro Candido Morales.
In 1983, the family moved to Calgary, Alberta bringing the young artist new artistic experiences to embrace. He immersed himself in the music genres of blues, jazz and rock. Guillermo soon joined several local bands and experimented with these different styles, while keeping his focus on classical guitar. He went on to acquire formal studies at the University of Calgary, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in music in 1996.
With his deep Latin roots ever present in his music Serpas has infused rhythmic elements of jazz, salsa, bolero, samba, blues and rock in his performing. Always present is the exotic percussion from his Latin American folklore creating a unique mosaic of sound. He released his debut recording Mi Sol y MI Luna in 2006 with his sophomore project following in 2011 titled Guitarra Bohemia. Guitarist Guillermo Serpas continues to perform, record and tour.
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Claudia Acuña was born July 31, 1971 in Santiago, Chile and raised in Concepcion. She was inspired as a child to perform a variety of music, including folk, pop and opera by Victor Jara and Violetta Parra. Her attention turned to American popular music and jazz at the age of 15 when she first heard Erroll Garner, Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra. Upon returning to her birthplace in 1991, she quickly gained prominence on the local jazz scene through live performances and radio broadcasts with visiting artists.
By 1995, Acuña had decided to move to New York City and she began performing at jam sessions and clubs including the Zinc Bar, Smalls and with her own band at the Jazz Gallery. During this period she met pianist/composer Jason Lindner, who remains her musical director. She released her debut album, Wind from the South in 1999 for Verve Records followed by Rhythm of Life in 2001 and Luna in 2004.
In 2009 she moved to the Marsalis Music label and recorded her first session En Este Momento. Claudia has been featured on various recordings with Peck Almond, George Benson, Joey Calderazzo, Avishai Cohen, Mark Elf, Tom Harrell, Antonio Hart, Arturo O’Farrill and Guillermo Klein. She has been the co-curator of a Chilean music festival, the spokesperson for World Vision Chile, her cover of the Antonio Carlos Jobim tune “Suddenly” was featured on the soundtrack for the movie Bossa Nova.
Venturing outside the jazz medium the vocalist garnered substantial exposure by recording a single with House producers MKL and Soy Sos of 3 Generations Walking titled Slavery Days. Vocalist Claudia Acuña continues to perform, tour and record for her Cambridge, Massachusetts based record label, Marsalis Music.
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Scott Wendholt was born on July 21, 1965 in Denver, Colorado. He first picked up the trumpet in the third grade and began improvising in the fifth. Linda Walker and Ed Barnes, were two teachers he was inspired by, the latter ran a citywide elementary school group that played some Blues and a reasonable facsimile of jazz and provided at least some tools for jazz improvisation.
His major influences at the time were Al Hirt, Chuck Mangione, and Spyro Gyra until the ninth grade, when Greg Gisbert, a classmate and trumpeter, hipped him to Art Blakey’s “Straight Ahead,” featuring Wynton Marsalis and he started taking trumpet lessons in high school. Scott went on to study At Indiana University in David Baker’s Jazz Studies Program earning his bachelor degree.
A move to Cincinnati was fortuitous for the young trumpeter getting on the scene, landing him at the King’s Island amusement park with a Rock-and-Roll band. From there he went to work with the Blue Wisp Big Band, and working sideman gigs. It was a good training ground to be a leader, for learning appropriate tunes for small group gigs and learning how to hang out.
In 1991 Scott put together a quartet to play at Augie’s, a Harlem bar near Columbia University and the group lasted three and a half years. Then 1992, saw Vincent Herring hiring him for his first real legitimate sideman gig. Then a year later in 1993 Scott recorded his debut album The Scheme of Things on the Criss Cross Jazz label. He would go on to work inside the big band culture in New York City with the likes of Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bob Mintzer, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the Carnegie Hall Big Band and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.
Wendholt has worked with Gisbert, Javon Jackson, John Gunther, Ralph Bowen, Chris Botti, Don Braden, Rim Ries, Roberta Piket, Bobby McFerrin, Dwayne Burno, Mike Abbott, Al DiMeola, Lounge Lizards, Sophie B. Hawkins, Peter Abbott, Brad Leali, John Fedchock, Woody Herman, Ira Coleman, Billy Drummond, Eric Alexander, Anthony Wonsey, Bob Mintzer, Bill Cunliffe, Phil DeGreg, Vincent Herring, Jim McNeely, Mingus Big Band, Buddy Rich and the list goes on and on.
Not one to reside in a single musical genre, the Mile High City trumpeter and flugelhorn player Scott Wendholt continues to perform, record and compose.