Monika Herzig was born June 12, 1964 in Germany and studied piano in her childhood. After receiving a scholarship in 1987 from the pedagogical institute in Weingarten, Germany for a one-year exchange program at the University of Alabama. Arriving in the United States in 1988 with one suitcase and a guitar, she went on to complete her Doctorate in Music Education and Jazz Studies at Indiana University, where she is a faculty member.
She recorded with the jazz fusion group BeebleBrox and has produced four albums as leader of the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project. Peace on Earth was released locally in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2008 and was released nationally in 2009 on the Owl Studios label.
She was awarded 1994 Best Original Composition, Let’s Fool One by DownBeat, was a two times finalist with BeebleBrox in 1994–1996, was a winner with Oliver Nelson Jr., WTPI Winter Jazzfest Competition in Indianapolis, and in 2000, 2003 and 2005 was the recipient of the Individual Artist Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission. Pianist Monika Herzig continues to perform, record and tour.
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Jon Georg Balke was born on June 7, 1955 at Furnes, Ringsaker, Norway and started playing classical piano, but switched to blues at 12, and eventually migrated into jazz. At the age of 18 he joined Arild Andersen’s quartet.
By the mid-1980s he was working on his own and has become one of Norway’s leading jazz composers. He was active in the groups of Radka Toneff, the Afrofusion group E´olén, Oslo 13 and Masqualero in the early 1980s. From 1989 he focused on his own projects, such as JøKleBa with Audun Kleive and Per Jørgensen, and the Magnetic North Orchestra.
Forming the percussion group Batagraf in 2002, he created a series of multimedia concerts at Vossajazz festival, labeled Ekstremjazz that included the extreme sports of parachuting, paragliding, hang-gliding, and bmx biking. In 2016 he launched the solo piano concept Warp, with a subtle use of live electronics accompanying the grand piano in live performances.
Pianist and composer Jon Balke has received numerous awards for his contributions to jazz, has been an artist in residence at Moldejazz and currently works with his Magnetic North Orchestra.
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Hilaria Kramer was born June 1, 1967 in Frauenfeld, Switzerland and began to play trumpet, when she was ten years old. From 1983, she attended the vocational school department of Jazz school St. Gallen, where she studied under Benny Bailey and Art Lande.
Finished with her studies she then went to Italy and worked with the Claudio Fasoli Quintet, with Gianluigi Trovesi. She has performed with Steve Lacy, Enrico Rava, Joe Henderson, Bob Mover, Sal Nistico, Chet Baker or Sangoma Everett.
In 1988, she led a recording session of her debut album, Hilaria Kramer Quartet and released the following year on the Unit Records label. In 1991, she performed on the TV program Ladies in Jazz with singers like Nina Simone and Carmen McRae.
In the years to follow she has performed with Uli Scherer toured around Europe, has recorded 18 albums, and was awarded the Jazz Prize of the Fondation Suisa for her contributions and her work in various organisations to support Swiss jazz. Trumpeter, composer and band leader Hilaria Kramer continues to perform, record and tour.
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John William Barber was born May 21, 1920 in Hornell, New York outside Rochester and was also known as Bill Barber or Billy Barber. He started playing tuba in high school and studied at the Juilliard School of Music. After graduating, he travelled west to Kansas City, Missouri, where he played with the Kansas City Philharmonic and various ballet and theatre orchestras.
Joining the United States Army in 1942 he played in Patton’s 7th army band for three years. After the war, he started playing jazz, joining Claude Thornhill’s big band where he became friends with trombonist Al Langstaff, Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan in 1947. Bill became one of the first tuba players to play in a modern jazz style, playing solos and participating in intricate ensemble pieces.
Barber became a founding member of Miles Davis’s nonet in 1949 in what became known as the Birth of the Cool recording sessions. He then worked in theatre pit orchestration of the King and I, Paradiso and the City Center Ballet before joining up with Davis and Gil Evans in 1957 to record albums such as Sketches of Spain, Miles Ahead, Quiet Nights and Porgy and Bess. He also performed on John Coltrane’s album Africa/Brass.
During the 1950s and Sixties her recorded several albums with Art Blakey, Bob Brookmeyer, Kenny Burrell, Gigi Gryce, Slide Hampton and Pete Rugolo. Completing a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music he chose to go into education and became an elementary school music teacher in Copiague, New York. He continued to play where possible including with the Goldman Band.
In 1992, he recorded and toured with a nonet led by Gerry Mulligan, reworking material from Birth of the Cool. From 1998 to 2004 he was part of The Seatbelts, New York musicians who played the music of the Japanese anime Cowboy Bebop.
Tubist Bill Barber, who never led a recording session, passed away of heart failure in Bronxville, New York on June 18, 2007.
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Ross Tompkins was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 13, 1938 and went on to attend the New England Conservatory of Music. This he followed with a move to New York City in 1960 where he worked and recorded with Kai Winding from 1960 to 1967.
During the Sixties he also performed with Eric Dolphy, Wes Montgomery, Bob Brookmeyer & Clark Terry, Benny Goodman, and Bobby Hackett, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims into the Seventies. A move to Los Angeles, California in 1971 found him playing and recording with Louie Bellson, Joe Venuti, and Red Norvo through the 1970s and Jack Sheldon in the 1980s.
He was best known for his longtime association with The Tonight Show Band under the leadership of Doc Severinsen, becoming a member of the band from 1971 until Carson’s retirement in 1992. He recorded for Concord Jazz as a leader in the second half of the 1970s.
He recorded for Concord Records as a leader in the second half of the Seventies decade, and in the eighties and Nineties recorded for Famous Door, Progressive, HD and Arbors record labels, culminating in a dozen albums. As a sideman he recorded 53 albums with J.J. Johnson, Tommy Newsom, Herb Ellis, Snooky Young, Bill Watrous, Joe Newman, Tony Mottola, Howard Roberts, Lorraine FEather, Peanuts Hucko, Red Norvo, Bob Cooper, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Jack Lemmon, Conte Candoli, Polly Podewell and Plas Johnson among others.
Pianist Ross Tompkins passed away of lung cancer at the age of 68 on June 30, 2006.
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