Esa Pietilä was born on December 9, 1964 in Finland and started learning the saxophone as a youth, taking his inspiration from Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. He studied saxophone and composition in the Sibelius- Academy jazz department in Helsinki and privately in United States with David Liebman.
Pietilä started his career as a jazz musician and later on expanded his expression to many different musical genres. Performing with his jazz groups Liberty Ship and Esa Pietilä 3, he also has duo collaborations with contemporary classical & new music chamber musicians, and has soloed with chamber orchestras and other larger ensembles. He performs totally free improvisations at his solo concerts.
He has worked with conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, with Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. Esa has premiered the saxophone concerto of Kalevi Aho, Eero Hämeenniemi and Pietilä´s concerto Graffiti Play for chamber orchestra & contemporary jazz trio.
His jazz collaborators have been Paal Nilssen-Love, Harvey Sorgen, Michael Jefry Stevens, Mathias Eick, Jeff Siegel, Karl Berger, Mark Helias, Brian Melvin, Heiri Kaenzig, Christoph Baumann, Baenz Öster, Franziska Baumann, Mike Nock, Ron McClure, Claudio Fasoli, Anders Begcrantz, Odean Pope, Hilmar Jensson, Raoul Björkenheim. Markku Ounaskari, Ulf Krokfors, Iro Haarla.
Saxophonist and composer Esa Pietilä, who in his home country, received the Yrjö Jazz award in 2016 for his original, genre-defying work in the field of avant-garde jazz, continues to work diversely in the field of contemporary music.
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Ernie Farrow was born on November 13, 1928 in Huntington, West Virginia and is the half-brother to Alice Coltrane. It is said that he was responsible for introducing her to jazz. He had his own bands throughout high school and emerged in the professional jazz scene in the first half of the ’50s, working with a series of demanding bandleaders including Terry Gibbs and Stan Getz.
Farrow’s relationship with Yusef Lateef began around 1956, performing alongside Hugh Lawson and drummer Louis Hayes and recording a dozen albums with him from 1957 to 1964. Over the course of his short career he also worked with Barry Harris and John Williams among others.
A few years later he began leading his own group, based out of Detroit and was a strong influence on his younger piano-playing sister. In the ’60s he was featured on bass in a terrific classic jazz piano trio fronted by Red Garland.
Best known as a bassist, he however, started on piano before adding bass and drums. Multi-instrumentalist Ernie Farrow, who played piano, double bass, and drums, passed away on July 14, 1969.
Bill Elgart or Billy Elgart was born on November 9, 1942 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. A student of Alan Dawson, he studied at the Berklee College of Music. By the 1960s he was playing with Carla Bley, Paul Bley, Marion Brown, Sam Rivers, Lowell Davidson, Mark Levinson, Roswell Rudd, John Tchicai, Jack Walrath and Glenn Ferris. In 1968 he made his recording debut on Mr. Joy, with Paul Bley and Gary Peacock.
Moving to Europe in 1976, Bill settled first in Salzburg, Austria and later in Ulm, Germany. He played with Karl Berger, Dave Holland, Ed Schuller and Wayne Darling over the course of the 1980s and 1990s. He was a member of the group Zollsound 4 with Carlo Mombelli, Lee Konitz, and Thomas Zoller. He played in the Sundial Trio with Peter O’Mara from 1982 to 1990, and in 1991 he worked with Caoma alongside Ed Schuller, Sigi Finkel and Tomasz Stanko. He and Stanko also played with Vlatko Kucan in the 1990s.
Elgart worked on the Annemarie Roelofs Projekt, alongside Berger, Frank Möbus, Vitold Rek, and Ingrid Sertso. He has performed as a sideman on recordings by Leszek Zadlo, Manfred Bründl, Kenny Wheeler, Carlo Mombelli, Charlie Mariano, Arrigo Cappelletti, Franco D’Andrea, Wolfgang Lackerschmid, Claudio Fasoli, Sigi Finkel and Paolino Dalla Porta. He has also worked with Tim Berne, Barre Phillips, Eddie Gómez, Conny Bauer, Sheila Jordan, David Friedman and Matthias Schubert. Drummer Bill Elgart continues to perform and record.
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Barbara Sfraga was born on October 28, 1956 in Bay Shore, Long Island, New York. Pursuing her vocal talent she attended Long Island University from 1974-76 before moving to Connecticut, attending the University of Bridgeport from 1976-78 and majoring in classical voice.
After discovering the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Anita O’Day, she became seriously interested in jazz singing. This was soon followed with her discovery of the innovations of Mark Murphy, Betty Carter and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, and in the 1980s, she began singing jazz in New York clubs.
In 1996, Barbara founded In Concert with our Community, an organization whose initial goal was using cultural events to raise funds for children’s organizations. 1998 saw her recording her debut album as a leader titled Oh, What A Thrill, bringing in guests as Mark Murphy, who wrote the liner notes and pianist Fred Hersch.
In 2003, her sophomore album, Under the Moon, was released by the Chicago-based A440 label. the risk-taking jazz vocalist and lyricist Barbara Sfraga, who sings in the avant-garde and post bop genres, continues to perform, tour and write.
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Rozanne Levine was born October 19, 1945 in New York City and grew up in the Bronx. She studied clarinet and guitar as a youth, performing with the school orchestra as a clarinetist. She went on to matriculate through the New York University College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in Psychology. During the same period she took clarinet lessons with Perry Robinson.
By the end of the 1970s she was clarinetist in William Parker’s and Patricia Nicholson Parker ‘s Centering Music / Dance Ensemble. Since the early 1980s, she has also worked with saxophonist Mark Whitecage in his Glass House Ensemble. In 1993 she again joined William Parker and became a member of the Improvisors Collective. At the same time, she founded her group, Christal Clarinets, with Perry Robinson, Anthony Braxton and Joe Fonda.
Levine also worked with Jemeel Moondoc, Theo Jörgensmann, Steve Swell, Gerry Hemingway, Billy Bang, Polly Bradfield, Tristan Honsinger, Dennis Charles, Charles Brackeen, Jemeel Moondoc among others. In the duo RoMarkable with Mark Whitcage, she improvises to his sound sculptures. She composes chakra tuning for her ensemble and uses her own photographs as a starting point for collective imprints. In 1989, she received the commission Grant From The Painted Bride Art Center for her musical and photographic work.
Improvisational clarinetist, composer and photographer Rozanne Levine passed away on June 18, 2013.
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