Nina Moffitt was born on March 3, 1987 in Brooklyn, New York and began piano lessons at the age of five. She took up percussion in her father’s church ensemble and finally became a vocalist by leading the church congregation throughout her formative years. Attending the LaGuardia Arts High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan, she studied classical music, gospel, jazz, and new music composition. Simultaneously she studied jazz voice privately at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
By 2005 Moffitt was singing with the All City Jazz Band at Lincoln Center, was granted an Honorary Mention from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in the category of jazz voice, and performed as a backup singer with pop star Josh Groban.
Graduating from Oberlin College with honors for her work in cultural and linguistic anthropology, not only did Nina study with world renowned Oberlin Conservancy professors like Lorraine Manz and Marcus Belgrave, she performed with the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble for four years, led jazz worship services at First Church of Oberlin and Trinity Church in Cleveland.
She cites Joni Mitchell, Sarah Vaughan, Wayne Shorter, and Nina Simone as her influences and has added bossa nova phrasing to her arsenal having studied Portuguese in Brazil. Vocalist Nina Moffitt has recorded her debut album Where I Have Been with her quintet and continues to perform with her band in the New York area.
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Gavin Barras was born on March 2, 1981 in Kendal, Cumbria in Northwest England. Due to his tuition benefactors, Roberto Carillo-Garcia and Corin Long, he was afforded the opportunity to study music at the University of Manchester. Whilst studying classical music, he continued developing his love for jazz and received lessons from Steve Berry in jazz bass.
Barras notes his bass influences include Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Wilbur Ware, Charlie Haden, Christian McBride, George Mraz, Hein van de Geyn and electric bassist Jaco Pastorius. Notwithstanding, he is heavily influenced by Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Enrico Pieranunzi and Billy Higgins.
Performing around the world has lent his talents to play jazz festivals and clubs Ronnie Scott’s, Dizzy’s Jazz Club and the Royal Festival Hall with the likes of Tim Garland, Iain Dixon, Ed Jones, Neil Yates, Steve Waterman, Les Chisnall, Dan Whieldon, Zoe Rahman, Mike Walker, Stuart McCallum, Gary Boyle Luke Flowers, Dave Walsh and Eryl Roberts to name a few.
A founding member of the jazz quartet EU4, Gavin is currently a member of the Dan Whieldon Trio, Jadid Ensemble, Sarah Ellen Hughes Band, 6Pac Jazz Sextet, Nat Birchall Band, Matthew Halsall Band, Unfurl and Steve Plews Trio.
Keeping busy is not an option for Gavin having recorded as a leader his debut album in 2008, and a second in 20011 while taking the sideman chair on bass for recordings on three albums with the Matthew Halsall Quintet that required him to put on his composer hat. He has appeared on Jamie Cullum’s BBC Radio 2 jazz show, been involved in several live sessions for BBC 6 Music and for Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Show on BBC Radio One with both the Matthew Halsall and Nat Birchall Bands.
In between performing, recording and touring Gavin is committed to teaching and, in addition to a large portfolio of students at his home, he has worked as a tutor at the Dartington Jazz Summer School for the last five years and has been involved in Live Music Now as a member of 6Pac Jazz Ensemble delivering regular education workshops in schools, prisons, young offenders institutions and hospitals.
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My Blue Heaven is a popular song written by Walter Donaldson one afternoon at the Friars Club in New York City while waiting for his turn at the billiard table. At the time the song was written Donaldson was under contract to Irving Berlin, working for Irving Berlin Inc. publishing company. George A. Whiting wrote lyrics adapted for Donaldson’s music, and for a while, performed it in his vaudeville act.
The song was first used in the 1950 film of the same title starring Betty Grable and Dan Dailey. The song was eventually used once again in the 1990 crime comedy of the same name that starred Steve Martin and Rick Moranis. By the time it appeared in the soundtrack it had been a jazz standard for many years having been recorded by Jimmie Lunceford, Don Byas, Mary Lou Williams, Benny Carter, Maxine Sullivan, Erroll Garner, Red Norvo, Oscar Peterson, Lena Horne, Teddy Wilson and numerous others.
The Story: 1950 – Kitty (Grable) and Jack (Dailey), portray married radio stars who are expecting a baby. When she miscarries, they move from radio to television and and become determined to adopt a baby. 1990 -Vincent “Vinnie” Antonelli (Martin) is a good-hearted larger than life mobster in the witness protection program. Barney Coopersmith (Moranis) is an uptight FBI agent assigned to protect Vinnie and his wife Linda and puts them in a small California suburb. Both wives leave, Vinnie and Barney get closer but has a hard time keeping him at low profile. Come to find out this town is full of mobster in witness protection. Enter two hit men, new love interests for both and eventually Vinnie becomes a prominent figure in the town.
Aidan Carroll was born on January 21, 1984 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and grew up in the blues-infused city with his musical parents’ unwavering support. He studied music classical, rock and roll and R&B drumming avidly from a young age beginning with playing drums in his father’s band at age 10. After winning numerous awards on classical marimba and percussion, Carroll was drawn to the bass and to the world of jazz and improvisation.
In high school Aidan attended the Classen School of the Advanced Studies where he eventually switched from percussion major to bass major to play in jazz band and orchestra. He performed regularly with his school jazz band in big band and combo formats at local functions, and seasoned his experience with several awards at state competitions. Receiving a full jazz scholarship to the University of Central Oklahoma, he played in the top jazz big band all four years, as well as the orchestra and wind ensemble.
Prior to a move to New York City and matriculating through the City College of New York under the tutelage of John Patitucci, Aidan attended the Banff Creative Workshop and worked with the likes of Dave Douglas, Rez Abassi, Donny McCaslin and others.
A consummate sideman Carroll has recorded with Fred Hersch, Seamus Blake, Ralph Alessi, and toured with the Dan Tepfer Trio, Logan Richardson’s SHIFT, multilingual singer Marta Topferova, Zimbabwean singer Chiwoniso (R.I.P.), Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, and Melody Gardot.
His debut album “Original Vision” is due out in March 2015. In the meantime he is touring with Grammy winner Lisa Fischer, when not regularly working with his New York peers playing in town with groups led by Sullivan Fortner, Chris Dingman, Julian Shore, John Raymond, Richie Barshay, Jason Palmer and others.
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Born January 14, 1982 in California, Ben Stapp grew up as a brass musician before turning to jazz. Studying with his mentor, the late Tommy Johnson, the voice of the Jaws’ theme, at UCLA, he was awarded a fellowship during this period to play principal tuba in the Henri Mancini Orchestra. He obtained his masters from RNCM in Manchester, England where he studied with tuba legend Roger Bobo, and for composition, Anthony Gilbert.
While living in Europe, he played in numerous Euro/international festivals including Festival do Sodeste, Gulbenkian August Music Festival, Festival of New Music in Krems and the Barcelos Music Festival. Back in New York, tubist and composer Stapp hit the forefront in city’s creative music scene. His debut CD release, Ecstasis featuring Tony Malaby and Satoshi Takeishi, has received a critical acclaim from the New York Times and All About Jazz.
He has recorded for Clean Feed in Portugal, Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra in LA, Franz Hautzinger in Austria, James Gourlay in England, and has appeared with the NYJA All Stars on CNBC. Ben Stapp now plays and subs with such tuba luminaries like Howard Johnson and Bob Stewart. He also directs and composes for his large ensemble, the Zozimos Collective and continues to perform and tour.
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