Francesca Tanksley was born the daughter of an American and an Austrian on November 21, 1957 in Vicenza, Italy. Growing up in Munich, Germany, her father worked for Radio Free Europe and from the age of seven took piano lessons. At the age of 16, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts where she studied piano and composition at the Berklee College of Music.
After two years Francesca returned to Munich where she worked with Al Porcino, Charly Antolini and Rudi Fuesers. Moving to New York City in 1980 she worked with trombonists Melba Liston for two years. During this time she began her long-term collaboration with saxophonist Billy Harper, and her first recording session were made with Robin Eubanks and Steve Turre on Dedication.
Tanksley has worked with Clifford Jordan, Cecil Payne, David Newman, Nick Brignola, Slide Hampton, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Bill Hardman and Erica Lindsay. She is the music director the Erica Lindsay – Howard Johnson Quintet.
She works with a quintet and in a trio with bassist Clarence Seay and drummer Newman Taylor Baker, colleagues from Harper’s band, with whom she recorded her debut album Journey, released on DreamCaller label. Pianist Francesca Tanksley teaches at Berklee College of Music and continues to perform, compose and record.
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Bennie Wallace was born November 18, 1946 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and began playing in local clubs with the encouragement of East Ridge, Tennessee High School band director and drummer Chet Hedgecoth and professional reed player Billy Usselton, who appeared as a guest at a stage band festival and heard Wallace with the East Ridge High School Swing Band.
After studying clarinet at the University of Tennessee, Wallace settled in New York in 1971 with the encouragement of Monty Alexander, who hired him and recommended him to the American Federation of Musicians local, which virtually guaranteed his entry. He went on to play with Barry Harris, Buddy Rich, Dannie Richmond and he released his debut recording with Flip Phillips and Scott Hamilton in 1977.
Bennie has cited Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins among many major saxophone influences. He recorded on the Blue Note label in 1985 that had given him much of the key music of his formative years. The eclectic cast on the album Twilight Time reflects the mix of musical styles he encountered in the local club scene of Chattanooga.
He toured and recorded with trombonist Ray Anderson, exploring a broad repertoire not always associated with jazz, and also provided original music for Ron Shelton’s films Blaze and White Men Can’t Jump. Tenor saxophonist Bennie Wallace has released twenty albums as a leader, has recorded with George Gruntz, Eric Watson, Mose Allison and Franco Ambrosetti as well as continuing to perform, record and tour leading his own band.
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Ted Rosenthal was born on November 15, 1959 and raised in Great Neck, Long Island, New York. He began playing by ear at a young age, and started studying at 12 with Tony Aless, a sideman with Charlie Parker and Stan Getz. In high school, he studied briefly with Jaki Byard and Lennie Tristano, and attended workshops with Billy Taylor, Woody Shaw and others.
Finding limited opportunities to study jazz at the conservatory level, Ted found joy in in studying classical piano at the Manhattan School of Music. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance while continuing to pursue his love of jazz outside the classroom. After college, he continued his classical piano studies with Phillip Kawin while playing jazz in and around New York.
Rosenthal won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 1988, launched his solo career, released his first CD as a leader New Tunes, New Traditions, with Ron Carter, Billy Higgins and Tom Harrell. The album interweaves Thelonious Monk songs with his original compositions. In the early 1990s with the last Gerry Mulligan Quartet, recording three CDs with Mulligan and performed in major jazz festivals throughout the world. After Mulligan’s death, Rosenthal became musical director of The Gerry Mulligan All Star Tribute Band, featuring Lee Konitz, Bob Brookmeyer and Randy Brecker. The group’s CD, Thank You, Gerry!, was nominated for a Grammy award in 1998.
As a sideman Ted has performed in small groups led by Art Farmer, Jon Faddis, Phil Woods, Jay Leonhart, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Lewis Nash, George Mraz, Bill Charlap, Dick Hyman, Helen Merrill, Mark Murphy and Ann Hampton Callaway, to name a few.
Pianist Ted Rosenthal, a recipient of 3 NEA grants, currently holds faculty positions at the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music in New York City, is a member of the Juilliard Jazz Quintet and continues to perform, record, compose and tour as a leader and sideman.
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Ernie Farrow was born on November 13, 1928 in Huntington, West Virginia and is the half-brother to Alice Coltrane. It is said that he was responsible for introducing her to jazz. He had his own bands throughout high school and emerged in the professional jazz scene in the first half of the ’50s, working with a series of demanding bandleaders including Terry Gibbs and Stan Getz.
Farrow’s relationship with Yusef Lateef began around 1956, performing alongside Hugh Lawson and drummer Louis Hayes and recording a dozen albums with him from 1957 to 1964. Over the course of his short career he also worked with Barry Harris and John Williams among others.
A few years later he began leading his own group, based out of Detroit and was a strong influence on his younger piano-playing sister. In the ’60s he was featured on bass in a terrific classic jazz piano trio fronted by Red Garland.
Best known as a bassist, he however, started on piano before adding bass and drums. Multi-instrumentalist Ernie Farrow, who played piano, double bass, and drums, passed away on July 14, 1969.
Bill Elgart or Billy Elgart was born on November 9, 1942 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. A student of Alan Dawson, he studied at the Berklee College of Music. By the 1960s he was playing with Carla Bley, Paul Bley, Marion Brown, Sam Rivers, Lowell Davidson, Mark Levinson, Roswell Rudd, John Tchicai, Jack Walrath and Glenn Ferris. In 1968 he made his recording debut on Mr. Joy, with Paul Bley and Gary Peacock.
Moving to Europe in 1976, Bill settled first in Salzburg, Austria and later in Ulm, Germany. He played with Karl Berger, Dave Holland, Ed Schuller and Wayne Darling over the course of the 1980s and 1990s. He was a member of the group Zollsound 4 with Carlo Mombelli, Lee Konitz, and Thomas Zoller. He played in the Sundial Trio with Peter O’Mara from 1982 to 1990, and in 1991 he worked with Caoma alongside Ed Schuller, Sigi Finkel and Tomasz Stanko. He and Stanko also played with Vlatko Kucan in the 1990s.
Elgart worked on the Annemarie Roelofs Projekt, alongside Berger, Frank Möbus, Vitold Rek, and Ingrid Sertso. He has performed as a sideman on recordings by Leszek Zadlo, Manfred Bründl, Kenny Wheeler, Carlo Mombelli, Charlie Mariano, Arrigo Cappelletti, Franco D’Andrea, Wolfgang Lackerschmid, Claudio Fasoli, Sigi Finkel and Paolino Dalla Porta. He has also worked with Tim Berne, Barre Phillips, Eddie Gómez, Conny Bauer, Sheila Jordan, David Friedman and Matthias Schubert. Drummer Bill Elgart continues to perform and record.
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