Mitchel Forman was born January 24, 1956 in Brooklyn, New York and began studying classical piano at the age of seven. At 17 he entered the Manhattan School of Music for three years of study and began working with bands in New York. Shortly after graduation he began touring and recording with Gerry Mulligan’s big band and quartet, followed by a stint with Stan Getz.
In 1980 Mitchel began a solo career with a piano performance at the Newport Jazz Festival and the subsequent recording became his first album, Live at Newport. He went on to work with Phil Woods, Carla Bley, Mel Torme and Astrud Gilberto; record for Soul Note Records and tour Europe regularly.
He joined guitarist John McLaughlin for a year and a half, recorded Mahavishnu and Adventures in Radioland. Then he joined Wayne Shorter and in between touring, contributed to and recorded Phantom Navigator.
In 1985, Forman began leading his own band and recorded his group debut for Magenta Records “Train of Thought”. At the same time he continued to work with other well-known jazz and music figures, including John Scofield, Mike Stern, Janis Siegel, Dave Samuels, Diane Schuur, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, “Freddie Hubbard and numerous others.
Pianist Mitchel Forman continues to record and play under his own name and has recently started his own record label, Marsis Jazz. His move to California has him co-leading the band Metro with guitarist Chuck Loeb and performing around Los Angeles with his own bands.
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Joe Farrell was born Joseph Carl Firrantello on December 16, 1937 in Chicago Heights, Illinois and learned to play saxophone and flute. During the Sixties he played with The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and recorded with Charles Mingus, Andrew Hill, Jaki Byard, Players Association, and Elvin Jones.
In the 80s Joe released two albums with the group Fuse One, played sax and oboe on pop recordings by Hall & Oates, played with Airto and Flora Purim, his final recordings making their “Three-Way Mirror” project. He is best known for his series of albums as a leader for the CTI record label and for being an original member of Chick Corea’s Return To Forever.
Kanye West, Method Man, Redman and Common have sampled Farrell’s music “Upon This Rock”, without approval that subsequently resulted in a lawsuit by his daughter.
Tenor and soprano saxophonist and flautist Joe Farrell died of bone cancer on January 10, 1986 in Los Angeles, California at age 48.
Amina Figarova was born on December 2, 1966 in Baku, Azerbaijan and began studying music as a child. She started learning piano and expanded into composition and arrangement. Attending the Baku Conservatory as a youth, her immediate plans were to become a classical concert pianist.
A course in jazz performance at the Rotterdam Conservatory, however, led to Amina matriculating through Berklee College of Music. She recorded the first of her ten CDs in 1995 titled Attraction on the Media Music label then signed with Munich Records and has had a prolific and collaborative relationship releasing nine albums for the label.
Pianist Amina Figarova has toured extensively, developing a tight-knit ensemble that, despite inevitable personnel changes, has attained a distinctive and inimitable voice by concentrating on all-original repertoire for almost 18 years.
With a dozen albums under her belt the pianist continues to perform, record and tour with her husband, flautist Bart Platteau, who is a member of her international sextet.
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Clare Fischer was born October 22, 1928 in Durand, Michigan and started general music study in grade school with violin and piano as his first instruments. By age 7 he was picking out four-part harmony on the piano and by 12 was composing classical music and creating instrumental arrangements for dance bands.
In high school he added cello, clarinet and saxophone to his arsenal of instruments and studied music theory, harmony and orchestration privately. He started his own band at 15, writing all the arrangements, went on to college studying music composition and theory as a piano major. After graduation and a stint in the Army as the arranger for the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point, N.Y., he returned to Michigan State and received his Masters in 1955.
He went on to arrange for the vocal quartet Hi-Lo’s that would later become a major influence on Herbie Hancock, would record under his own name in 1962 for Pacific Jazz, play with Bud Shank, Joe Pass and Cal Tjader among others, arrange for Sergio Mendes and Willy Ruff, began playing organ and composed his most famous compositions, Pensativa and Morning.
By the mid-‘70s Fischer was pioneering the electric keyboard, reconnected with Tjader started his group Salsa Picante, won a Grammy for his album 2+2 and Free Fall, forayed into R&B doing orchestral sweeteners, worked with Rufus with Chaka Khan, The Jacksons, Earl Klugh, The Debarges, Shot-gun and Atlantic Starr and pop artists such as Paul McCartney, Prince, Celine Dion and Robert Palmer, picking up numerous gold records.
From the Eighties on Clare has been commissioned to score symphonic work using Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn themes, working with Branford Marsalis, the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra, arranged for Spike Lee’s Girl 6, has conducted clinics and master classes at numerous universities, and continued to record in small group and orchestral settings until his death in Los Angeles, California on January 26, 2012 at age 82..
Wynton Learson Marsalis was born October 18, 1961 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of a jazz pianist. At an early age he exhibited an aptitude for music and by age eight he was performing traditional New Orleans music in the Fairview Baptist Church band. At 14, he performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic and during high school played with the New Orleans Symphony Brass Quintet, the New Orleans Community Concert Band, the New Orleans Youth Orchestra, the New Orleans Symphony, various jazz bands and with a local funk band, the Creators.
At age 17, Wynton was the youngest musician admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center where he won the school’s Harvey Shapiro Award for outstanding brass student. Moving to New York City he attended Julliard in 1979 and picked up gigs around town. He joined the Jazz Messengers led by Art Blakey in 1980 and in the years that followed he would perform with Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sweets Edison, Clark Terry, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and countless other jazz legends.
Marsalis has written, produced and hosted Marsalis On Music, an educational television series on jazz and classical music, National Public Radio aired the first of Marsalis’ 26-week series, titled Making the Music, was awarded a Peabody Award, has written five books, co-founded the jazz program at Lincoln Center that evolved into Jazz at Lincoln Center, opened Frederick P. Rose Hall, the first ever institution for jazz with three performance halls, recording, broadcast, rehearsal and education facilities.
Wynton Marsalis, jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and educator is currently the Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center and Music Director for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He was won nine Grammy Awards in both jazz and classical genres, and received the first ever Pulitzer Prize for Music.