Barbara Sfraga was born on October 28, 1956 in Bay Shore, Long Island, New York. Pursuing her vocal talent she attended Long Island University from 1974-76 before moving to Connecticut, attending the University of Bridgeport from 1976-78 and majoring in classical voice.
After discovering the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Anita O’Day, she became seriously interested in jazz singing. This was soon followed with her discovery of the innovations of Mark Murphy, Betty Carter and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, and in the 1980s, she began singing jazz in New York clubs.
In 1996, Barbara founded In Concert with our Community, an organization whose initial goal was using cultural events to raise funds for children’s organizations. 1998 saw her recording her debut album as a leader titled Oh, What A Thrill, bringing in guests as Mark Murphy, who wrote the liner notes and pianist Fred Hersch.
In 2003, her sophomore album, Under the Moon, was released by the Chicago-based A440 label. the risk-taking jazz vocalist and lyricist Barbara Sfraga, who sings in the avant-garde and post bop genres, continues to perform, tour and write.
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Marc Alan Johnson was born on October 21, 1953 in Omaha, Nebraska but grew up in Texas. By the age of 19, he was working professionally with the Fort Worth Symphony, and during his matriculation at the University of North Texas, he played in the One O’Clock Lab Band and was also the principal bassist in the NTSU Symphony.
1978 saw Johnson joining pianist Bill Evans in what would be Evans’s last trio. He toured and recorded with Evans until the pianist’s death in 1980. In 2007 together with his wife Eliane Elias, he released an Evans tribute album, Something For You.
Marc has recorded albums with Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer, Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, Eliane Elias, Enrico Pieranunzi, Charles Lloyd, Joey Baron, Philly Joe Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, Toots Thielemans and the list goes on.
As a leader he led Bass Desires, a quartet with Bill Frisell, John Scofield and Peter Erskine, recording several albums for JMT, Verve and ECM record labels. He has received the Danish Music Award for Best Foreign Release, and bassist Marc Johnson continues to collaborate with Eliane as well as compose, record, perform and tour.
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Benjamin James Aronov, known as Ben or Benny, was born October 16, 1932 in Gary, Indiana. He played in local jazz and dance ensembles as a teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was a student at the University of Tulsa from 1951 to 1952, then was conscripted into the U.S. Army, stationed in Texas and played in a military band.
In 1954 he relocated to Los Angeles California and began playing at The Lighthouse, as well as with musicians such as Terry Gibbs, June Christy, and Lena Horne. But by 1961 Ben moved to New York City, enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1966.
Following this, he worked with Al Cohn, Benny Goodman, Jim Hall, Morgana King, Lee Konitz, Peggy Lee, Liza Minnelli, George Mraz, Mark Murphy, the National Jazz Ensemble, Ken Peplowski, Tom Pierson, Zoot Sims, Carol Sloane, and Warren Vache. For 18 years he was the pianist in the Broadway production of Cats from 1982 to 2000.
After leaving Broadway pianist Ben Aronov moved to Aix-en-Provence, France, where he remained until he passed away on May 3, 2015.
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Kenny Garrett, born October 9, 1960 in Detroit, Michigan and his father played saxophone as a hobby. After graduating from Mackenzie High School in 1978 he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, led by Mercer Ellington. He moved on to join the Mel Lew Orchestra playing the music of Thad Jones followed by a stint with the Dannie Richmond Quartet that focused on the music of Charles Mingus.
1984 saw him recording his first album as a bandleader, Introducing Kenny Garrett, on the Criss Cross label. Moving to Atlantic Records he recorded Prisoner of Love and African Exchange Student. Since 1990 the majority of Garrett albums are co-produced by pianist/composer Donald Brown beginning with signing with Warner Bros. Records label, releasing Black Hope in 1992. Songbook, his first album made up entirely of his own compositions, recorded in 1997, was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Over the course of his ongoing career Kenny has performed and recorded with among others, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Brad Mehldau, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Brian Blade, Marcus Miller, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones, Geri Allen, Jack Walrath, Cedar Walton, Rodney Kendrick, Charnett Moffett and Mulgrew Miller. Best known in many circles for the five years he spent playing with Miles Davis during the trumpeter’s electric period.
Garrett has won a Grammy Award, has been nominated for a Soul Train Award, a Grammy and a NAACP Image Award nominations for Seeds from the Underground, was awarded an Echo Award in the Saxophonist of the Year in 2013 and has received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Berklee College of Music. Post-bop saxophonist and flautist Kenny Garrett who has released nineteen albums as a leader and over thirty as a sideman, continues to pursue his solo career.
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Matt Wilson was born Matthew Edward Wilson on September 27, 1964 in Knoxville, Illinois. After studying percussion at Wichita State University he moved to New York City in 1992. Since hismove he has performed and/or recorded with Lee Konitz, Cecil McBee, and Dewey Redman, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Charlie Haden, Bob Stewart, Denny Zeitlin, Ron Miles, Marty Ehrlich, Ted Nash, Jane Ira Bloom, Bobby Hutcherson, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Michael Becker, Kenny Barron and Dena DeRose, among others.
He leads the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts and Crafts, Christmas Tree-O and the Carl Sandburg Project. Wilson has has performed in concert at the White House hosted by President Obama along with Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Chris Botti, Randy Brecker, Antonio Hart and James Genus. He was the artist in residence at the Litchfield Jazz Festival and conducted over 250 outreach programs promoting jazz and the Jazz for Young Peoples concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Drummer, composer, bandleader, producer, and educator Matt Wilson has been nominated for a Grammy, was for 5 consecutive years voted #1 Rising Star Drummer in the Downbeat Critic’s Poll, voted Drummer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, recorded sixteen albums as a leader, and continues to perform, tour and record.
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