Melissa Walker was born the youngest of three sisters on July 3, 1964 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She attended Brown University considering a career in law but instead after graduation local performance and out-of-town dates led her to launch a career as a vocalist in Washington, D.C., in 1990. She produced her own debut album in 1993 titled Little Wishes, which she sold at her performances.
Moving to New York she studied with pianist and master vocal accompanist Norman Simmons. In 1997, Walker signed to Enja Records and recorded May I Feel and released in Germany. She expanded her performing range with her rich, multi-octave textures and impeccable phrasing, formed her own group and appeared with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, directed by Wynton Marsalis. Her 1999 release of Moment of Truth marked her commercial U.S. album debut and two years later came I Saw The Sky.
She has been nominated for a Juno Award, won the U.S. Indie Award for Vocal Jazz, has created new material unrivaled in the American jazz tradition, and has appeared on a number of television networks and magazines. Melissa has performed across continents, working and/or recording with such talents as Hank Jones, Gary Bartz, Kenny Barron, Ray Brown, Christian McBride, Stefon Harris, Mokoto Ozone Phil Woods, Buster Williams, Russell Malone, Beny Green, Geoff Keezer, Steve Wilson, Ron Blake, Lenny White, Paul Bollenback, Steve Turre and Geri Allen. Vocalist Melissa Walker continues to perform, compose, record and tour.
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Tim Warfield, Jr. was born in York, Pennsylvania, began studying the alto saxophone at age nine. He switched to tenor saxophone during his first year at William Penn Sr. High School and participated in various musical ensembles. He won many jazz soloist awards including coming in second out of forty competitors at the Montreal Festival of Music in Canada. After high school, Warfield attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. After two years of matriculation he left to lead and co-lead several groups in the Central Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Washington area.
In 1990 he was chosen to be a member of trumpeter Marlon Jordan in his quintet. The following year he was selected to record Tough Young Tenors on the Island/Antilles label, joined George Wein’s Jazz Futures, Also in 1991, Warfield placed third at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. From 1994 to 1999, he was a member of bassist Christian McBride’s group, and then began a six-year collaboration with Nicholas Payton
Warfield has recorded eight albums on the Criss Cross label as a beginning with his debut release of A Cool Blue, selected as one of the top ten recordings of the year in a 1995New York Times critic’s poll. as was his 1998 recording Gentle Warrior (featuring Cyrus Chestnut, Tarus Mateen, Clarence Penn, Terell Stafford, and Nicholas Payton.
Tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield is currently serving as a board member and Chair of the Music Committee for the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz as well as an artist-in-residence at Messiah College. He continues to record, tour and perform in the hard bop, Neo-Bop,, post bop and straight-ahead jazz genres.
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Tony Miceli was born July 1, 1960 in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Willingboro, New Jersey. He starting playing classical guitar at an early age and then took up the drums, piano and trumpet. He played drums in a high school band called Minas Tirith. Graduating from high school he took drum lessons and secured admission into the University of the Arts. It was there that he was drawn to the vibraphone. Upon completion of his matriculation 1982, through the decade and into the Nineties he toured through Germany with a percussion group called Mallet Madness.
In the late 1990s Miceli created the Philadelphia based group Monkadelphia, a group “dedicated to performing the music of Thelonious Monk. Regularly performing in the Netherlands with the band Thelonious 4, he also plays in an Irish tribute band to the Modern Jazz Quartet.
In addition to performing Tony is an educator and by 2000 he was teaching at Temple University, the University of the Arts, teaching master classes in jazz improvisation and conducting numerous workshops throughout North America and Europe.
Over the course of a career that includes composing, recording and teaching vibraphonist Tony Miceli has performed with Chris Farr, Tom Lawton, Micah Jones, Gina rocjJim Miller, David Friedman, Joe Magnarelli, Dave Liebman, Elio Villafranco, Steve Slagele, Jimmy Bruno, Dave Stryker, Peter Bernstein, Gerald Veasley and Joanna Pascale. He continues to perform a wide variety of musical genres on both the club and festival circuits.
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Tata Güines was born Federico Arístides Soto Alejo on June 30, 1930 in, the poor town of Güines east of La Habana in the province of Havana in Cuba. He made his first drums out of milk cartons and sausages. But, by the 1950s he was working with such top Cuban musicians as Arsenio Rodriguez, Luciano “Chano” Pozo, Bebo Valdes, and Israel “Chachao” Lopez.
In the late 1950s he formed a band with the pianist Frank Emilio Flynn called Quinteto Instrumental de Musica Moderna, which was later changed to Los Amigos. Güines moved to New York City in 1957 and quickly immersed himself in the jazz scene paying with Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson and Miles Davis at Birdland. As a percussionist, he performed with Josephine Baker and Frank Sinatra.
Tata returned to Cuba in 1959 after Fidel Castro came to power in the Cuban Revolution which he helped fund by contributions from his earnings as a musician. For a while instrumentalists fell out of favor with the Cuban public and his popularity diminished. However, by 1979 his star began to shine once again with his work in the Estrellas de Areito sessions, recording for Egrem, the Cuban state record company, which revived the old descarga style.
By the 1990s, he was considered an old master and frequently toured. He recorded with the young conguero Miguel Diaz on the 1995 Pasaporte that garnered them the Egrem Album of the Year award, the equivalent of a Grammy in Cuba. He has played with pianist Bebo Valdes and singer Diego El Cigala Lágrimas Negras (Black Tears) that won a Latin Grammy, and has performed with saxophonist Jane Bunnett.
Conguero and tumbadora player, percussionist and composer Tata Güines, who during his career spanning six decades was known as the “King of the Congas” and who was important in the first generation of Afro-Cuban jazz, passed away on February 4, 2008 in his hometown of Havana.
Vladimir Tarasov was born in Archangelsk, Russia on June 29, 1947. He learned to play the drums in his youth and though chose them as his primary instrument he has transcended performance to become a composer as well. In 1968 at age 21 he moved to Vilnius, Lithuania where he has lived and worked. For many years Tarasov performed with the Lithuanian Symphonic Orchestra and other symphonic, chamber, and jazz orchestras in Lithuania, Europe and the USA.
From 1971 to 1986, Tarasov was a member of the well-known contemporary jazz music trio – GTC with Viatcheslav Ganelin and Vladimir ChekasinHe has recorded over 100 albums and CDs as a soloist, with the trio, as a sideman and with orchestras. He has performed and recorded with Andrew Cyrille, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Lauren Newton, and Josef Nadj to name a few.
Vladimir has worked and collaborated in the visual artist field with Ilya Kabakov and Sarah Flohr, participating in numerous one-person or group exhibitions around the world. He has composed music for film and theatre on both sides of the Atlantic, has directed a play and opera, and has been an educator and lecturer at universities and music academies in Bremen, Berlin and Dusseldorf – Germany, Stockton and Sacramento – California, and Pont Aven and Orleans, France. He has authored the books Trio and Tam Tam, has received a grant from the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany and has been awarded the Triumph Prize in Moscow for the highest achievements in literature and art. Drummer and composer Vladimir Tarasov continues to perform, compose and record.
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