Monika Herzig was born June 12, 1964 in Germany and studied piano in her childhood. After receiving a scholarship in 1987 from the pedagogical institute in Weingarten, Germany for a one-year exchange program at the University of Alabama. Arriving in the United States in 1988 with one suitcase and a guitar, she went on to complete her Doctorate in Music Education and Jazz Studies at Indiana University, where she is a faculty member.
She recorded with the jazz fusion group BeebleBrox and has produced four albums as leader of the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project. Peace on Earth was released locally in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2008 and was released nationally in 2009 on the Owl Studios label.
She was awarded 1994 Best Original Composition, Let’s Fool One by DownBeat, was a two times finalist with BeebleBrox in 1994–1996, was a winner with Oliver Nelson Jr., WTPI Winter Jazzfest Competition in Indianapolis, and in 2000, 2003 and 2005 was the recipient of the Individual Artist Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission. Pianist Monika Herzig continues to perform, record and tour.
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Alex “Sasha” Sipiagin was born June 11, 1967 in Yaroslavl, Russia and began learning to play the trumpet at the age of twelve. He studied at the Moscow Music Institute and the Gnessin Conservatory in Moscow where he received his Baccalaureate. In 1990 he competed in the International Louis Armstrong Competition sponsored by the Thelonious Monk Institute in Washington, D.C. winning top honors. Moving from Russia to the United States in 1991 and began his career shortly thereafter.
His first gigs were with the Gil Evans Band and George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band and soon became a favored player for various bands including the Gil Goldstein’s Zebra Coast Orchestra, drummer Bob Moses’ band Mozamba, the Mingus Big Band, Mingus Dynasty, the Mingus Orchestra, the Dave Holland Big Band, Sextet and Octet groups.
He has recorded and performed with Michael Brecker, Mulgrew Miller, Eric Clapton, Dr.John, Aaron Neville, Elvis Costello, Michael Franks, Dave Sanborn, Deborah Cox, legendary producer Phil Ramone and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, among others. Alex has recorded fifteen albums as a leader, for the most part on the Criss Cross Jazz label.
He is a founding member of the collective Opus 5, along with Seamus Blake, David Kikoski, Boris Kozlov and Donald Edwards. Trumpeter and flugelhornist Alex Sipiagin, who teaches at the Groningen Prince Claus Conservatory, Academy of Music, Basel, Switzerland as well steady professorship at NYU and continues to compose, perform and record.
Koby Hayon was born June 5, 1972 in Jerusalem, Israel and studied guitar at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Tel Aviv. While there he gained experience as a guitarist with the DGK Trio, Hulon Big Band, and many other notable groups.
Moving to the United States in 2001, he earned his BFA in Jazz Performance at SUNY Purchase, was a recipient of the Ullendorff Memorial Foundation Scholarship, and studied with John Abercrombie, Hal Galper, Todd Coolman, and Jon Faddis. In 2009, Hayon formed the Koby Hayon Jazz Trio. With bandmates Kermit Driscoll and Jerome Morris, he fuses his heritage with his vast musical training by performing classic Israeli songs in a jazz setting, as well as his own compositions. In addition he is part of Trio Shalva with pianist Assaf Gleizner and percussionist Nadav Snir-Zelniker.
As a sideman, Hayon has performed and toured throughout Western New York and Canada, playing and recording with countless bands, from Dixie/Swing Band, led by the legendary Sol Yaged, to playing alongside bassist Bill Crow and with various bands playing traditional Israeli music.
In addition to playing live music where he can be heard regularly at the 55bar, Cornelia St. Cafe, Watercolor Cafe, Birdland and other reputable New York clubs. Hayon is the musical director of “Nigunim – A Festival of New Improvised Jewish Music” and through his efforts, the festival became a recipient of the Arts Project Grant from Westchester Arts Council.
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Hilaria Kramer was born June 1, 1967 in Frauenfeld, Switzerland and began to play trumpet, when she was ten years old. From 1983, she attended the vocational school department of Jazz school St. Gallen, where she studied under Benny Bailey and Art Lande.
Finished with her studies she then went to Italy and worked with the Claudio Fasoli Quintet, with Gianluigi Trovesi. She has performed with Steve Lacy, Enrico Rava, Joe Henderson, Bob Mover, Sal Nistico, Chet Baker or Sangoma Everett.
In 1988, she led a recording session of her debut album, Hilaria Kramer Quartet and released the following year on the Unit Records label. In 1991, she performed on the TV program Ladies in Jazz with singers like Nina Simone and Carmen McRae.
In the years to follow she has performed with Uli Scherer toured around Europe, has recorded 18 albums, and was awarded the Jazz Prize of the Fondation Suisa for her contributions and her work in various organisations to support Swiss jazz. Trumpeter, composer and band leader Hilaria Kramer continues to perform, record and tour.
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Gonzalo Rubalcaba was born Gonzalo Julio González Fonseca in Havana, Cuba into a musical family on May 27, 1963. He adopted his great grandmother’s name, Rubalcaba, for professional use as did his father. He began studying classical piano and drums at the age of eight. Earning his degree in music composition from Havana’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1983, he began playing in clubs, music halls and toured France with Orquesta Aragón.
Discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1985, he garnered international attention in jazz circles and it was soon afterwards that he began performing regularly at major festivals. That same year he formed his own ensemble, Grupo Projecto. Emigrating to America in 1993, since then he has released twenty-nine albums as a leader on Blue Note, Impulse and 5Passion labels, and another so fifteen albums as a sideman with Ignacio Berroa, Ron Carter, Francisco Céspedes, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Richard Galliano, Charlie Haden, Katia Labèque, Tony Martinez, David Sanchez and Pat Martino among others.
Grammy Award-winning Afro-Cuban pianist and composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba has been nominated eleven five times for a Grammy Award, Billboard Music Award, and the Latin Grammy Award and brought home two Grammy Awards and two Latin Grammy Awards for Best Latin Jazz Album at both ceremonies. Settling in South Florida in 1996 he balances touring, recording, composing and teaching as a faculty member of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
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