Makoto Ozone 小曽根真 was born on March 25, 1961 in Kobe, Japan. He began playing organ at two and by seven was an improviser. He appeared on Japanese television with his father from 1968 to 1970. Impressed with the playing of Oscar Peterson, at twelve he switched to piano. In 1980 he entered the Berklee College of Music.
Makoto later worked with vibraphonist Gary Burton, recording four albums with him. In 1983 he recorded as a leader his debut in 1983 before returning to his native Japan.
Ozone has collaborated with vocalist Kimiko Itoh, appearing as a duo at the Montreux Jazz Festival and produced her album Kimiko, winning the 2000 Swing Journal jazz disk grand prix for Japanese vocalist. He has recorded with Ellis Marsalis, Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Randy Brecker, Paquito D’Rivera, Anna Maria Jopek, Jake Shimabukuro, Misuzu Kanno and Gayle Moran Corea, among others.
He has several recordings as a trio leader or co-leader with Burton that are now coveted imports. Pianist Makoto Ozone continues to perform, record and tour.
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Sherman Irby was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on March 24, 1968. He found his calling to music at age 12 and in high school he played saxophone and recorded with gospel immortal James Cleveland. Graduating from Clark Atlanta University with a B. A. in Music Education, in 1991, he joined Johnny O’Neal’s Atlanta-based quintet.
1994 saw Irby moving to New York City and immediately became a part of the jazz scene at Smalls jazz club. Catching the attention of Blue Note Records. He subsequently recorded his first two albums, Full Circle in 1996 and Big Mama’s Biscuits in 1998 on the label. He toured the U.S. and the Caribbean with the Boys Choir of Harlem in 1995, and was a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from 1995 to 1997. During that tenure, he also recorded and toured with Marcus Roberts, Roy Hargrove and was part of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program.
After a four-year stint with Roy Hargrove, he focused on his own group, in addition to being a member of Elvin Jones’ ensemble and Papo Vazquez’s Pirates Troubadours. Since 2003, Irby has been the regional director for the Jazz Masters Workshop, mentoring young children, and a board member for the CubaNOLA Collective. Saxophonist and composer Sherman Irby formed Black Warrior Records and has released Black Warrior, Faith, Organ Starter and Live at the Otto Club under the new label. Post-bop alto saxophonist Sherman Irby has re-joined Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and currently continues to perform with his quartet and his group Organomics.
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Stephen Scott was born March 13, 1969 in Queens, New York. He started piano at the age of five, and progressed rapidly to the point where he was taking private lessons at Juilliard at 12. Grounded in classical music, he was also exposed to reggae and salsa on the radio. It was in high school that he was introduced to jazz, giving Justin Robinson credit.
By the age of 18, Scott was playing in the Betty Carter band and soon began performing or recording with the likes of the Harper Brothers, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson and Bobby Hutcherson.
Beginning in 1991, as a leader and solo artist, Stephen recorded a stream of mainstream albums for Verve and Enja record labels, using mixtures of fellow young lions Roy Hargrove, Craig Handy, Peter Washington, Christian McBride, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Lewis Nash and esteemed veterans like Joe Henderson, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones as sidemen. Henderson returned the invite on his commercial breakthrough Lush Life, the same year and also recorded with Freddie Hubbard and Sonny Rollins.
Jazz pianist Stephen Scott continues to perform, tour and record fusing his neo-bop music base with soul jazz tendencies with Latin rhythms.
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Dena DeRose was born on born February 15, 1966 in Binghamton, New York and began playing the piano at age three and soon became a fan of jazz. As a child she also played the organ and percussion, and played the piano in school bands. By her teenage years, she would to drive to New York City to see jazz musicians like Hank Jones and Mulgrew Miller.
After high school, Dena was offered a scholarship to Concordia College but chose to attend Binghamton University. At 21,she was diagnosed with capel tunnel syndrome and arthritis cusing her suffering severe pain in her right hand. Forced to stop playing the piano for close to a year she became depressed and turned to drugs and alcohol to help her cope. One night she was in a bar listening to Doug Beardsley’s trio when someone suggested that she get up and sing and she started singing regularly with the trio.
After approximately another 18 months, she had two surgeries on her right hand that enabled her to begin playing piano again. She moved to New York City in 1991 to further her career. Her debut album Introducing Dena DeRose came in 1995 on the Amosaya Records label and a year later was renegotiated and leased to the Sharp Nine label. Her sophomore album, Another World, was released in 1998 with a septet of musicians including Steve Davis, Steve Wilson, Ingrid Jensen and Daniel Sadownick, followed by two more releases. Moving to the MaxJazzlabel she released her fifth album with Martin Wind and Matt Wilson.
She has worked with Ray Brown, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Bill Henderson, Houston Person, Bruce Forman, Judy Neimack, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, Steve Turre, Mark Murphy, Gene Bertoncini, Wycliffe Gordon, Marvin Stamm, Jay Clayton, Alex Riel, Billy Hart and Ken Peplowski, to name a few.
As an educator, DeRose has been the Vocal Professor and Head of Jazz Vocals at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, Austria, a regular teacher at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, and also teaches periodically at other summer camp and workshop programs including the Litchfield Summer Camp, Taller de Musics in Spain and the Prince Claus Conservatoire in Groningen, Holland.
Noel Lorica was born on January 29, 1968 in Manila, Philippines and played in a rock band as a teenager. His mother urged him to take piano lessons but his love was always the acoustic guitar. Musically at that time he got exposed to the music of George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Paul Desmond, and the modern jazz instrumentalists. Leaving home he first migrated to San Francisco then went east and worked in New York and around Philadelphia.
He later moved to South Florida where he found Latin Beats and jazz influences were all around. Finding his perfect musical fit he started to concentrate on perfecting his craft through tireless practice and soulful dedication. His music today is an expression of his musical and personal journey.
Noel has received critical acclaim for his skill & artistry, has had two PBS specials, and with his band Treebo has played major festivals around the world. He has opened for Marcus Miller, has won Jazz Song of the Year and Best Jazz Instrumental solo, Best Instrumental Arrangement, and has been featured in Billboard and Italian Jazz magazines.The guitarist has released four albums and currently continues to perform jazz and Latin music.
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