Christopher Stephen Botti was born October 12, 1962 in Portland, Oregon and raised in Corvallis, although he also spent two years of his childhood in Italy. His earliest musical influence was his mother, a classically trained pianist and part-time piano teacher and started playing the trumpet at nine-years-old, and committing to the instrument at age 12 after hearing Miles Davis play My Funny Valentine.
1981 saw Chris selected as a member of McDonald’s All American High School Jazz band which marked his first Carnegie Hall performance. At 17, he enrolled at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, by convincing his high school to allow him to fulfill his remaining senior year credits there which allowed him to play Portland clubs at night. Mount Hood’s band under Larry McVey, was a proving ground and regular stop for Stan Kenton and Mel Tormé when they were looking for new players.
After graduating from high school, Botti studied at the Indiana University School of Music, received two NEA grants and studied with trumpeter Woody Shaw and saxophonist George Coleman during two consecutive summer breaks. Leaving Indiana University during his senior year for short touring stints with Frank Sinatra and Buddy Rich, in 1985, he moved to New York City to hone his craft as a studio musician.
The Nineties had him in a decade long touring and recording relationship with Paul Simon and where he also performed/recorded with Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, Scritti Politti, Roger Daltrey and others. He also met saxophonist Michael Brecker, co-produced a track on the Brecker Brothers’ Out of the Loop titled Evocations, and the album won a 1995 Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance.
His solo debut, First Wish,released in 1995 began a succession of recordings on the Verve record label. He became a member of the experimental, jazz fusion-oriented group Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, composed the score and recorded a soundtrack for the 1996 film Caught and closed out the century touring with Sting as a featured soloist that ultimately changed the course of his career.
In 2001 Chris signed with Columbia Records through an introduction by Bobby Colomby, drummer and founding member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, who also became his producer and manager. As his career advanced another succession of releases proved his jazz/pop crossover appeal, he played Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball weekend honoring her African American heroines, and in 2006, Billy Childs, Gil Goldstein and Heitor Pereira won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? with Sting from Botti’s album To Love Again – The Duets.
He has performed and recorded with Andrea Bocelli, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Tyler, Josh Groban, Katharine McPhee, John Mayer, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Burt Bacharach, Gladys Knight, Jill Scott and Renee Olstead, among others. Trumpeter Chris Botti has hosted a radio show for several years where smooth meets cool jazz as he continues to perform, record, produce, compose and tour.
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Matt Wilson was born Matthew Edward Wilson on September 27, 1964 in Knoxville, Illinois. After studying percussion at Wichita State University he moved to New York City in 1992. Since hismove he has performed and/or recorded with Lee Konitz, Cecil McBee, and Dewey Redman, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Charlie Haden, Bob Stewart, Denny Zeitlin, Ron Miles, Marty Ehrlich, Ted Nash, Jane Ira Bloom, Bobby Hutcherson, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Michael Becker, Kenny Barron and Dena DeRose, among others.
He leads the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts and Crafts, Christmas Tree-O and the Carl Sandburg Project. Wilson has has performed in concert at the White House hosted by President Obama along with Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Chris Botti, Randy Brecker, Antonio Hart and James Genus. He was the artist in residence at the Litchfield Jazz Festival and conducted over 250 outreach programs promoting jazz and the Jazz for Young Peoples concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Drummer, composer, bandleader, producer, and educator Matt Wilson has been nominated for a Grammy, was for 5 consecutive years voted #1 Rising Star Drummer in the Downbeat Critic’s Poll, voted Drummer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, recorded sixteen albums as a leader, and continues to perform, tour and record.
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Nicholas Payton was born on September 26, 1973 in New Orleans, Louisiana to bassist and sousaphonist Walter Payton. He took up the trumpet at the age of four and by age nine was sitting in with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band alongside his father. He began his professional career at ten years old as a member of James Andrews’ All-Star Brass and was given his first steady gig by guitarist Danny Barker at The Famous Door on Bourbon Street. He enrolled at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and then at the University of New Orleans.
After touring with Marcus Roberts and Elvin Jones in the early Nineties, Payton signed with Verve Records and his first album as a leader, From This Moment was released in 1994. In 1996 he performed on the soundtrack of the movie Kansas City, and in 1997 received a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo for his recording Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton.
After seven albums on Verve, Nicholas moved to Warner Bros. Records, and has collaborated with among others Trey Anastasio, Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Daniel Lanois, Dr. John, Stanley Jordan, Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, Zigaboo Modeliste, Marcus Roberts, Jill Scott, Clark Terry, Allen Toussaint, Nancy Wilson, Dr. Michael White, and Joe Henderson.
He is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective, joined The Blue Note 7 honoring the 70th Blue Note Records anniversary and formed a 21-piece big band ensemble called the Television Studio Orchestra. In addition he recorded and released Bitches, a love narrative on which he played every instrument, sang, and wrote all of the music, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra commissioned and debuted his first full orchestral work, The Black American Symphony and formed his own record label, BMF Records. Payton has been a Distinguished Artist and Visiting Lecturer at Tulane University and belongs to a growing group of race scholars and activists committed to social justice. His writings are provocative as witnessed with his most notable pieces On Why Jazz isn’t Cool Anymore describes the effects of cultural colonization on music.
Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has recorded sixteen albums as a leader, another eight as a sideman wth Eric Alexander, Elvin Jones, Joanne Brackeen, Jimmy Smith and Allen Toussaint among others and continues to perform, compose, write and record,
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Jim Tomlinson was born September 9, 1966, in Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, England. He grew up in Northumberland and did not study music formally until well into his 20s. He played saxophone and ran a band as a hobby whilst studying for his degree he attended Oxford University where he studied philosophy, politics and economics while playing clarinet and saxophones, mostly the tenor, and developing his interest in jazz.
As a postgrad at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama he establish himself on the local jazz scene. With his reputation quickly spreading he was soon working with noted musicians Matt Wates, David Newton and Michael Garrick, recording with the latter on his 1997 session For Love Of Duke And Ronnie.
In the 90s he led his own quartet, touring the UK extensively in the UK and was often in the musical company of singer Stacey Kent. They married in 1991 and he appeared on her albums for Candid Records. Singed to Candid also, Jim released his debut album as leader, Only Trust Your Heart in 2000 giving him not only a UK but and international audience as well. This was followed by his sophomore project in 2003 titled Brazilian Sketches in 2003.
Tomlinson has gone on to work in a wide variety of groups, from Brian Ferry to experimental big band composer, Michael Garrick to leading and touring with his own quartet.
Tenor saxophonist Jim Tomlinson has released three albums, has been nominated for a Grammy and continues to compose, record and perform.
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Bradford Alexander Mehldau was born August 23, 1970 in Jacksonville, Florida. His family moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, when he was 10, a move that introduced him to a new piano teacher and classical music an away from playing mostly simple pop tunes and exercises from books. By 14 he was listening more to jazz, including recordings by saxophonist John Coltrane and pianist Oscar Peterson.
Mehldau attended William H. Hall High School, played in its concert jazz band and from the age of 15 until he graduated from high school he had a weekly gig at a local club. He performed at weddings and other parties before winning the Berklee College’s Best All Round Musician Award for school students in his junior year.
Moving to New York City in 1988 he studied jazz and contemporary music at The New School, studied under pianists Fred Hersch, Junior Mance and Kenny Werner and drummer Jimmy Cobb. In 1989 Brad was part of saxophonist Christopher Hollyday’s band that toured for several months and a result assimilated the music of his principle influences Wynton Kelly and McCoy Tyner, and began to develop his own sound. By 20 he was playing in Cobb’s band with fellow student guitarist Peter Bernstein.
During the 1990s Mehldau first recorded on Hollyday’s The Natural Moment and toured of Europe with him, developed his left-hand playing, led his own trio and played at New York’s Village Gate. As a sideman he performed with saxophonist Perico Sambeat on tour and released his debut recordings as co-leader from a May concert in Barcelona, Spain. He went on tour with saxophonist Joshua Redman
Mehldau graduated from The New School in 1993 and formed his first long-term trio in 1994, with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy. He recorded his debut as a leader Introducing Brad Mehldau for Warner Brothers. He went on to work with Lee Konitz, Charlie Haden, contribute to the soundtrack recorded for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, release a compilation of standards on Live at the Village Vanguard: The Art of the Trio Volume Two followed by Songs: The Art of the Trio Volume Three. Not shying away from recording he ultimately has released 33 albums as a leader and has been a sideman on another 61 as well as nie soundtracks. He has performed and recorded with Pat Metheny, Dayna Stevens, Warren Wolf, Michael Brecker, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joel Frahm, Wayne Shorter, Petra Haden, Vinicius Cantuária, John Patitucci, Charles Lloyd, Fleurine, Willie Nelson, Avishai Cohen, Anthony Wilson, Grant Stewart and Jesse Davis on the short list.
He has won Down Beat’s Readers Poll piano award in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2011, and 2012, was the 2006 winner of the Miles Davis Prize, awarded by the Montreal International Jazz Festival, received the Wigmore Medal and has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards. Pianist Brad Mehldau continues to perform, record and tour.
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