Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson was born on November 27, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in the tough Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights neighborhoods. By 14 he was deeply immersed in jazz at the urging of his father, who was a drummer. He played alto saxophone in local clubs from his early teenage years, and studied at the Jazzmobile workshops with Frank Wess, Charles Davis and Frank Foster. He met Branford Marsalis who convinced him to study with clarinetist Alvin Batiste at Southern University in Louisiana.
Anderson began touring with the Wynton Marsalis Septet, collaborating with Marsalis through the middle of the 1990s helping to make some of the most defining music. He continued to sit in the first alto chair with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. In 1994, he signed and released his debut album, “Warmdaddy In The Garden of Swing” with Atlantic Records followed by his sophomore release “The Ways of Warmdaddy” and then “Live at the Village Vanguard”.
Over the years he develop his sound combining New Orleans jazz with the sweeping blues style of Cannonball Adderley. He has played with contemporaries Eric Reed, Irvin Mayfield, Steve Kirby, Xavier Davis, Jaz Sawyer and Ben Wolfe among others while maintaining an East Lansing, Michigan restaurant called “Gumbo & Jazz”.
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Russell Malone was born November 8, 1963 in Albany, Georgia. He began playing at the age of four with a toy guitar his mother had bought him, influenced by musicians such as B. B. King and The Dixie Hummingbirds. However, his most influential musical experience was seeing George Benson perform on television with Benny Goodman. He learned technique from listening to recordings of Benson, Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian among others.
Malone played with jazz organist Jimmy Smith, followed by a residency with the Harry Connick Jr. Big Band and in 1995, Malone became part of the Diana Krall Trio, that had three albums nominated for a Grammy. Following his tenure with Krall, he went on to tour regularly leading his own quartet, has played with Dianne Reeves, Romero Lubambo, Ron Carter, Bobby Hutcherson, the late Mulgrew Miller, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hank Jones, Benny Green, Bill Frisell and Sonny Rollins.
The essentially self-taught swing and bebop jazz guitarist has recorded several sessions for Columbia, Impulse, Venus, Verve and Telarc record labels and since 2004 has recorded on the MaxJazz label with his latest 2010 session being “Triple Play”. Russell Malone has amassed to date 18 albums in his catalogue and continues to perform, record and tour.
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Hailing from the West Coast, California native, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt was born on November 4, 1976. His primary interest was strictly classical music until he started high school when he began playing in the jazz band. After matriculating Berklee College of Music he set his sights on New York and before long got noticed by many top jazz musicians and got his first professional gig playing with the Mingus Big Band, allowing him to grow and nurture long lasting associations.
Pelt has had the good fortune to play with such jazz luminaries, such as Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Charlie Persip, Keter Betts, Frank Foster, John Hicks, Ravi Coltrane, Winard Harper, Vincent Herring, Ralph Peterson, Lonnie Plaxico, Nancy Wilson, Bobby Short, Cedar Walton and many too numerous to list. Coupled with those collaborations he has been a featured trumpeter in the Roy Hargrove Big Band, The Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Big Band. Currently, he is member of the Lewis Nash Septet, the Frank Foster Loud Minority, and The Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band featuring Louis Hayes.
Jeremy maintains a consistent forward momentum while transmitting a modern-day sense of urgency with his songs. Pelt’s major focus is on writing music for each of his three bands: “Creation”- a sextet, “Noise” - a semi-electric band and “The Jeremy Pelt Quartet”.
He has been voted “Rising Star on the Trumpet” by Downbeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalist Association two years in a row. Jeremy Pelt has toured throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Virgin Islands and Brazil, and continues to perform and record.
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Kurt Elling was born November 2, 1967 in Chicago, Illinois who first became interested in music through his father and growing up sang in choirs and played various musical instruments. As a child he listened to Tony Bennett, learned counterpoint from the motets of Bach and sang in his high school choir. He played violin, French horn, piano and drums but wasn’t exposed to jazz until he attended college listening to Dave Brubeck, Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock and Ella Fitzgerald among others. He went on to pursue a master’s in philosophy of religion but left one credit short to pursue a career as a jazz vocalist.
Kurt began to perform around Chicago in basement clubs and jam sessions, scat singing and improvising his own lyrics while working day jobs to survive. He started listening to the minimalism and emotion of Chet Baker and to Mark Murphy exposing him to the poetry of Jack Kerouac. He recorded a demo in the early 90s that resulted in signing with Blue Note and the subsequent releasing of seven albums with the label.
He has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning Best Vocal Jazz Album for 2009’s Dedicated To You. He often leads the Down Beat critics poll and has been awarded the Prix Billie Holiday from the Académie du Jazz. Elling is a baritone with a four-octave range, a writer, and composer who performs vocalese. Kurt Elling has sung and recorded with Bob Belden, Joanne Brackeen, Oscar Brown, Jr., Orbert Davis, Jon Hendricks and Bob Mintzer to name a few. Since 1995, he has collaborated with pianist, composer, and arranger and musical director Laurence Hobgood, regularly leading a quartet.
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Russell Gunn was born October 20, 1971 in Chicago, Illinois but grew up in East St. Louis when his family moved when he was nine. His interest in music led Russell to the trumpet and at Lincoln high school he joined the band where his cousin Anthony Wiggins, the band’s featured trumpeter, and the band director fueled his musical interest. Gunn spent two years at Jackson State University on a full music scholarship, moved back to East. St. Louis, freelancing and working odd jobs. While performing at Cicero’s in St. Louis in 1993 saxophonist Oliver Lake happened to hear the young trumpeter, and immediately invited him to perform at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
This was followed by a fortuitous appearance at a 4am jam session at the Blue Note where Denis Jeter, an assistant to Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center, heard and recommended him for the third trumpet chair in Marsalis’ Blood on the Fields. Receiving rave notices for his work with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Russell started earning recognition as one of the most dynamic and exciting musicians of his generation. Continuing to freelance with Lake and various other top jazz artists, Gunn began leading his own groups and in 1994 and issued his first recording for the legendary Muse record label, “Young Gunn”.
Always fascinated with hip-hop Russell suffered undue criticism from the neo-conservative jazz mainstream for his culture style of dress, however, Russell’s virtuoso abilities and command of all musical styles from funk to the avant-garde evidenced a serious new talent on the scene. His eclectic musical approach had him collaborating with Cee-Lo, Maxwell, D’Angelo, Ne-Yo, Branford Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
With a singular style that incorporates the influences of masters like Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, and the underrated Booker Little, Gunn has continued to gain recognition for his own music through touring and well-received albums, including the Grammy-nominated Ethnomusicology, Vol. 1 and Ethnomusicology Vol. 2.
Understanding his range means listening as he interprets the standards on Mood Swings, putting on a twist as he Plays Miles Davis, challenging the parameters of freedom in jazz with his latest Ethnomusicology project “Return Of Gunn Fu” or his requiem with Love Stories. Trumpeter Russell Gunn continues to compose, record, perform, tour worldwide and push the jazz envelope with his groups “Bionic” and “Electrik Butterfly”.
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