Edward Simon was born July 27, 1969 in Punta Cardón, Venezuela into a musical family as both his brothers, Marlon and Michael Simon are also noted professional musicians. Sent to the United States by his father at the age of fifteen to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, he studied classical piano with Susan Starr. After that, beginning in 1989 he studied with Harold Danko at the Manhattan School of Music and played with Kevin Eubanks and Greg Osby.
His stay in New York City saw Simon playing with Herbie Mann, Paquito D’Rivera, Bobby Hutcherson, Jerry Gonzalez, John Patitucci, Arturo Sandoval, Manny Oquendo, and Don Byron. He was a member of Bobby Watson’s band Horizon from 1989 to 1994, and since 2002 has been a member of the Terence Blanchard Group.
Recording his debut album as a bandleader in 1994, that same year Edward was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. The following year he composed his Rumba Neurotica for the Relache Ensemble and composed his Venezuelan Suite on behalf of Chamber Music America.
He has since performed on several Grammy-nominated jazz albums. Besides his trio he also leads the Sexteto Venezuela, the Afinidad Quartet, and the group Simon, Simon & Simon, with his brothers, he teaches at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. Pianist Edward Simon is currently an artist in residence at Western Michigan University and continues to compose, record and perform.
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Gonzalo Rubalcaba was born Gonzalo Julio González Fonseca in Havana, Cuba into a musical family on May 27, 1963. He adopted his great grandmother’s name, Rubalcaba, for professional use as did his father. He began studying classical piano and drums at the age of eight. Earning his degree in music composition from Havana’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1983, he began playing in clubs, music halls and toured France with Orquesta Aragón.
Discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1985, he garnered international attention in jazz circles and it was soon afterwards that he began performing regularly at major festivals. That same year he formed his own ensemble, Grupo Projecto. Emigrating to America in 1993, since then he has released twenty-nine albums as a leader on Blue Note, Impulse and 5Passion labels, and another so fifteen albums as a sideman with Ignacio Berroa, Ron Carter, Francisco Céspedes, Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Richard Galliano, Charlie Haden, Katia Labèque, Tony Martinez, David Sanchez and Pat Martino among others.
Grammy Award-winning Afro-Cuban pianist and composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba has been nominated eleven five times for a Grammy Award, Billboard Music Award, and the Latin Grammy Award and brought home two Grammy Awards and two Latin Grammy Awards for Best Latin Jazz Album at both ceremonies. Settling in South Florida in 1996 he balances touring, recording, composing and teaching as a faculty member of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
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Etienne Bouyer was born on March 18, 1982 in Saint-Denis on the island of Reunion and took violin lessons from age four to 11, opting to play the saxophone. In 1995 he played tenor saxophone in the big band of the Conservatoire d’Antibes and joined the Nice CNR in 1997, where he studied classical saxophone and contemporary music.
1999 saw Etienne gaining admittance to the Baccalauréat Général in Paris, France to study in the American School of Modern Music. For the next five years he studied saxophone, harmony, arrangement and composition, writing for big band and string quartet. Leading an active professional life while studying, he plays in numerous bands and orchestras of all styles including big band, salsa, gypsy and co-founded La Brocante, recording and performing in concert in France and Morocco.
In 2004 he joined the Didier Lockwood Music Center and where he studied with a host of musicians like André Villéger, Pierrick Pedron and Stéphane Guillaume among others. During this period Bouyer met many other musicians with whom he works regularly, taking part in the electro-jazz project Blözar and forming his quartet, the Etienne Bouyer Group with Pierre Antoine, Martin Berauer and Alexis Sébileau.
Following graduation he began teaching, studying privately in New York City with Dave Liebman and Sam Newsome, taking a week-long master class with Charlie Haden and began working with the Belgian violinist Cécile Broché, that led to recordings. He returned to Europe to study in Paris and Brussels, taking master classes with Bob Mintzer, François Jeanneau and creating the Collective Of Active Composing. Etienne has been a member of the Yuval Amihai Ensemble that won the Jazz Festival Tremplin in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.He has performed with Avishai Cohen, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Bojan Z, Kyle Eastwood and Manu Katché.
Tenor and soprano saxophonist Etienne Bouyer teaches at the Conservatory of Music and Dance of Châtenay-Malabry and the Conservatoire with Regional Radiation of Amiens Métropole. He currently Is the coordinator of the Jazz & Current Music Department at the Amiens Metropole Regional Conservatory and continues to perform, record and compose.
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Layla Angulo was born on March 12, 1976 in Seattle, Washington into a long line of artists and musicians, and started playing the piano at age 6, the saxophone at age 10 and began performing in jazz clubs while high school. After graduation, she played in various funk, jazz, pop, and salsa groups. She performed as the horn section leader of various salsa bands around the Northwest and developed the idea to write her own music soon after.
By her early 20’s, Layla was living in Santiago de Compostela, Spain where she began building her Latin jazz career, performing her new music with Spanish and Cuban musicians. Following this stint in Europe she returned to the States, she recorded Live at the Triple Door in 2005 with a thirteen piece orchestra and performing original music. This jumped her career, garnered her two Honorable Mentions awards in the International Songwriting Competition and catapulted Costa Rican singer, Carlos Cascante, who became the singer for the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.
Her sophomore project and her first studio recording was titled Mientras where she wrote for her voice and enlisted a line up of all-star musicians including Oscar Stagnaro, Arturo O’Farrill, and Orlando “Maraca” Valle. Her third release TriAngulo combines the talents of New York’s top salsa, bachata and merengue musicians.
Angulo, who professionally goes by Layla, moved to New York City and toured with reggaeton superstar Don Omar, has toured with Tito Puente Jr., Beyonce’s horn players the Sugarhorns and played with many other Grammy award winning artists.
She is one of the only female saxophone players/singers/band directors in the world of Latin music today. Saxophonist, composer, singer and band director has won several songwriting competitions and continues to perform, record and tour.
Janine Santana was born January 28th in Brooklyn, New York of Puerto Rican and Finnish ancestry and spent her childhood in Brooklyn and youth in Trenton, New Jersey. She developed a love for Afro-Cuban/ Caribbean traditions and Jazz and began working and studying as a professional actor at a very young age, long before studying music at Aims Community College.
A 1994 move to Denver, Colorado focused her more on performance, music recording and broadcasting. She leads a 6-12 piece Latin Jazz Ensemble and her well received 2009 recording Soft as Granite had Janine working with alto saxophonist Richie Cole, trumpeters Greg Gisbert and Brad Goode, and arranger/percussionist José Madera.
Conguera, percussionist, leader, arranger, studio musician, broadcaster, artist, designer, writer and actor Janine Santana currently continues to perform, record and collaborating with generations of jazz and Latin jazz musicians on a brand new project with the likes of Luques Curtis, Bobby Porcelli, David Amram, Jose’ Madera on timbales and arrangements, Ricky Gonzalez as producer/pianist/arranger and Ray Vega on trumpets.