Alwin Lopez Jarreau was born March 12, 1940 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to a minister/singer father and church pianist mother. He started out sing church concerts and benefits with his family and PTA meetings with his mother. He attended Ripon College where he sang with a group called the Indigos but graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and went on to earn his Masters in Vocational Rehabilitation from the University of Iowa. He then worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor in San Francisco and moonlighted with a jazz trio led by George Duke.
By 1967, Al found success with acoustic guitarist Julio Martinez and the duo became the star attraction at Gatsby’s, a small Sausalito nightclub, which ultimately guided his decision to make singing his profession. Heading south the duo hit the L.A. hotspots, appeared on Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and David Frost shows, and sang at The Improv between rising star comics like Bette Midler, Jimmie Walker and John Belushi.
Jarreau made jazz his primary occupation and in 1975 he signed with Warner Brothers dropping his critically acclaimed debut album, “We Got By”, that catapulted him to international fame and was soon followed by his second release “Glow”. He wrote and performed the Grammy-nominated theme to the 1980s television show “Moonlighting” and is also well known for his scat singing and the ability to imitate conventional guitar, bass, and percussive instrumentation.
Al was a featured vocalist on USA for Africa’s “We Are The World”, toured extensively, got his symphony program under way, performed on the Broadway production of “Grease” and signed with Verve. He has toured and performed with Joe Sample, Kathleen Battle, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Rick Braun and George Benson among others. The seven-time Grammy winner in jazz, pop and R&B categories received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He continues to tour, perform and record.
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Alejandro Santos was born on April 11, 1956 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is widely-recognized both in his home country of Argentina and internationally as an extraordinary flutist and multi-instrumentalist playing the piccolo, bass flute, native wood-flutes, tenor and soprano sax, piano, and synthesizers.
He has developed a career as a composer with a unique style, which fuses modern jazz with traditional Argentinean rhythms like candombe, tango, and folk music. He has collaborated on recording and performing projects with Dino Saluzzi, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Anthony Jackson, Bob Moses, Claudio Roditi, Toquinho, Maria Creuza, Fito Paez and others. Since 2001 he has steadily worked with Al Di Meola’s World Symphony and has recorded on De Meola’s latest album “Flesh on Flesh”.
Alejandro released three solo albums with RCA and GNA/Invasion Records, one of them: 5 Carnavales 4, released in the States, received excellent reviews and reached into the top 30 jazz playlist of the Gavin Report magazine. Alejandro Santos currently performs with his quartet that includes bandoneon, bass and drums.
Joey DeFrancesco was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania on April 10, 1971 into a family of musicians – a multi-instrumentalist grandfather and Hammond B3 player father. Joey DeFrancesco started playing the piano at the age of four, switching to the B3 shortly after. By age six, he was sitting in on his father’s gigs; by ten playing out on his own and sitting in with organ legends like Jack McDuff and Richard “Groove” Holmes. He went to high school with bassist Christian McBride, where the two were often scolded for altering their big band charts.
At seventeen years old Miles Davis asked Joey to join his band, touring Europe and recording Amandla with Davis. He became well known in the 1990s, however, through his work with John McLaughlin’s trio Free Spirits. He has also played with jazz guitarists Pat Martino, Paul Bollenback, Jimmy Bruno, Dave Stryker, Danny Gatton as well as trumpet player Big Jim Henry and many others.
DeFrancesco’s career as a leader began with his first recordings on Columbia, and later with Muse, Big Mo, and HighNote. He listened to and learned from Jimmy Smith, ultimately paying homage with his 1999 release “The Champ”. In 2000 he recorded the album “Incredible!” with Jimmy and finished “Legacy” shortly before Smith’s passing in 2005. He has also paid tribute to Don Patterson with “Tribute to Don Patterson: The Philadelphia Connection” released in 2004.
Jazz organist, trumpeter and vocalist Joey DeFrancesco has been selected by the Down Beat Critics and Readers Poll as the top jazz organist every year since 2003. He currently plays an average of 200 nights a year on the road with various musicians.
Steve Gadd was born April 9, 1945 in Irondequoit, New York and when he was seven his drummer uncle encouraged him to take lessons. By eleven he had sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. After graduating from Irondequoit’s Eastridge High, he attended the Manhattan School of Music for two years before transferring to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, playing in wind ensembles and concert bands.
After matriculation in the late ’60s, Steve played regularly with Chuck and Gap Mangione, making his recording debut on Gap’s solo album, “Diana in the Autumn Wind” in 1968. Drafted into the Army he spent the next three years drumming in the Army Music Program as a part of the Jazz Ambassadors. Discharged, Gadd returned to Rochester, formed a band and traveled to New York City where eventually the trio split. Gadd stayed on finding work as a studio musician that led to his short tenure with Chick Corea and Return To Forever.
During the ’70s and ‘80s, he toured internationally, recorded with Paul Simon and also with Al Di Meola’s Electric Rendezvous Band. In 1976, Gadd and other session musicians in New York City, including Richard Tee, Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree formed the group Stuff. Their work included appearances on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
By the end of the 1970s, Steve Gadd was an accomplished drummer bringing orchestral and compositional thinking, great imagination and a great ability to swing to his playing. In 2005 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music for outstanding contributions to contemporary music. He is one of the highest paid session drummers in popular music.
Paul Jeffrey was born in New York City on April 8, 1933 and started learning to play the saxophone as a child. After graduating from Kingston High School in 1951, he received his B.S. in music education at Ithaca College in 1955. He spent the late 1950s touring with Illinois Jacquet, Elmo Hope, Big Maybelle, and Wynonie Harris. In 1960 Jeffrey toured the US with B.B. King, and freelanced around New York City and toured with bands led by Howard McGhee, Clark Terry, and Dizzy Gillespie.
1968 marked Paul’s first studio work as a leader, recording the “Electrifying Sounds” for Savoy Records. He toured with the Count Basie Orchestra, began working with Thelonious Monk from 1970-1975, was hired by George Wein to organize a 15-piece band for a tribute concert to Monk at Carnegie Hall in 1974 at which Monk made a surprise appearance, replacing Barry Harris on the piano.
Jeffrey also enjoyed a lasting association with Charles Mingus throughout the 1970s while making three additional studio recordings as leader on the Mainstream Records label. He also enjoyed a prolific career as an educator teaching saxophone, arranging and jazz history at Columbia University, Jersey City State College, Livingston College of Rutgers University, as jazz ensemble director at the University of Hartford, and artist in residence and director of jazz studies at Duke University; a position he held until his retirement in 2003.
He also organized the NC/Umbria Jazz Festival and the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival while serving on the NC Council of the Arts and the Durham Arts Council. In 2009, tenor saxophonist and arranger Paul Jeffrey recorded a tribute to Thelonious Monk for the French label Imago Records.
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