Rodney Franklin was born on September 16, 1958 in Berkeley, California and at the age of six he took jazz piano lessons at Washington Elementary School. He was taught by Dr Herb Wong who was a jazz journalist, disc jockey and music teacher.
Influenced by McCoy Tyner, George Duke, Chick Corea and Lonnie Liston Smith he would develop his own sound. Franklin worked with John Handy in San Francisco, California as well as Bill Summers, Freddie Hubbard and Marlena Shaw. He recorded his debut album in 1978 In The Center on the CBS label at age of 20.
1980 saw the release of the album You’ll Never Know which garnered some major chart success and additional six albums were albums were recorded for CBS during the Eighties and worked with bassist Stanley Clarke. Though Rodney gained some notoriety in the United States he was much more popular in the United Kingdom.
Moving to the BMG record label in 1988 he recorded Diamond Inside Of You, introducing vocals by Jennifer Holliday, who would go on to find fame on Broadway in Dreamgirls. By the Nineties he produced and released one album on the Nova label, however, pianist Rodney Franklin continues to composer and work in various music genres in and out of jazz.
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Pat Martino was born Pat Azzara in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 25, 1944 and began playing professionally at the age of 15 after moving to New York City. He resided with Les Paul for a while before moving into a suite in the President Hotel on 48th Street. He started playing jazz clubs like Smalls Paradise and would play at Smalls for six months of the year and then in the summer play at Club Harlem in Atlantic City.
Early in his career Martino played and recorded with Lloyd Price, Willis Jackson, Eric Kloss, Charles Earland, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Jack McDuff, Don Patterson, Trudy Pitts, Jimmy Smith, Gene Ludwig, Bobby Pierce and Joey DeFrancesco.
He has been awarded Guitar Player of the Year in Down Beat Reader’s Poll in 2004, NARAS Songs from the Heart Award, been nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Live at Yoshi’s, and Best Jazz Instrumental Solo on ‘All Blues‘ and has received Philadelphia Alliance Walk of Fame Award and National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences “2nd Annual Heroes Award among others.
The list of jazz musicians he has performed and recorded as a sideman with are John Handy, Jimmy Heath, Charles McPherson, Sonny Stitt, The Philadelphia Experiment as well as released three-dozen albums as a leader. Guitarist and composer Pat Martino, noted for his mathematical approach to the instrument and plays in the post-bop, fusion, mainstream and soul jazz idioms, continues to perform and tour.
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Stanley Jordan was born July 31, 1959 in Chicago, Illinois and when he was six, he started on piano, then switched to guitar at eleven. He began his career playing in rock and soul bands, however in 1976, he won an award at the Reno Jazz Festival. AIt was while attending Princeton University that he studied music theory and composition with Milton Babbitt, computer music with Paul Lansky, and performed with Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie.
In 1985, Bruce Lundvall became president of Blue Note Records and Stanley was the first person he signed. They released his album Magic Touch, which sat at No.1 on Billboard ‘s jazz chart for 51 weeks, setting a record. He has worked with Quincy Jones, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Michal Urbaniak, Richie Cole, The Dave Matthews Band, The String Cheese Incident, Phil Lesh, Moe, and with Umphrey’s McGee, among others.
A favorite at festivals he has played Kool Jazz Festival, Concord Jazz Festival, and the Montreux International Jazz Festival to name a few. He has released fourteen albums as a leader, another seventeen across musical genres as a sideman, released three videos, more than a dozen television appearances, has written seven papers and presentations on guitar and technique, and has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award and four Grammy Awards.
Guitarist Stanley Jordan, whose technique involves tapping his fingers on the fretboard of the guitar with both hands, has appeared in the film Blind Date with Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger, has scored short film and tv specials and continues to compose, perform and record.
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Randy Bernsen was born on July 15, 1954 in Needham, Massachusetts. He began his professional career in the mid-1970s , playing guitar with local groups. He collaborated with the rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears on their 1977 tour, where he was second guitarist alongside Mike Stern until he left the band.
Randy went on to work with Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, Bob James and Peter Erskine. His debut album as a leader came in the form of Music for Planets, People & Washing Machines on the MCA , label in 1986, that received critical acclaim from Down Beat and Guitar Player.
1987 saw Bernsen releasing his sophomore project Mo ‘Wasabi with Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker, Marcus Miller, Steve Gadd, Toots Thielemans and Bobby Economou supporting his effort. Once again he received great praise from among others, JazzIn and USA Today. His third MCA project however did not hold up to the standard.
Spending some time touring Asia and composing TV music, he settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and then joined Joe Zawinul’s band in 1992, replacing Scott Henderson. This move gave him the opportunity to record of Zawinul Syndicate’s Lost Tribes album.
Picking up a house gig at a Fort Lauderdale club resulted in Bernsen’s next CD in 1997 titled Live at Tavern 213, that featured excellent improvisation by the guitarist, bassist Pete Sebastian and drummer John Yarling. This led to a Mexico tour in 1998 with violinist/vocalist Nicole Yarling, saxophonist Richard Brookens, bassist Javier Carrion, and drummer Archie Pena that ultimately yielded Bernsen’s 2001 CD Live in San Miguel de Allande. Performing with his own band, recording 6 albums as a bandleader, guitarist Randy Bernsen continues to pursue his music career.
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Dave Grusin was born Robert David Grusin on June 26, 1934 in Littleton, Colorado to pianist mother and violinist father who emigrated from Riga, Latvia. He went on to study music at the University of Colorado at Boulder and received his degree in 1956.
He produced his first single Subways Are for Sleeping in 1962 and his first film score for Divorce American Style five years later. He would go on to score Winning, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Midnight Man and Three Days of the Condor, The Graduate, The Champ, The Fabulous Baker Boys, On Golden Pond, Tootsie, Mulholland Falls and The Goonies. He has been nominated six times for Academy Awards for his scoring and in 1988, he won an Oscar for Best Original Score for The Milagro Beanfield War.
In 1978 he had started GRP Records with his business partner, Larry Rosen, and began to create some of the first commercial digital recordings. He also composed the original opening fanfare for TriStar Pictures film studio. Through the end of the century he continued to score films, television theme songs and episode music.
From 2000 through 2011, Dave concentrated on composing classical and jazz compositions, touring and recording with collaborators, including guitarist Lee Ritenour, with whom he was nominated three times and won a Grammy for the album Harlequin. won a Grammy Award in 1985.
Throughout his career he has conducted the Andy Williams Show orchestra, was musical director and arranger for the Catarina Valente TV show, lived in Amsterdam, received honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and the University of Colorado, College of Music. Pianist, composer, arranger and producer Dave Grusin has and continues to collaborate with James Taylor, Renée Fleming, Paul Simon, Sérgio Mendes, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Patti Austin, Billy Joel, Dave Valentin and Sadao Watanabe, among others.
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