Larry Goldings was born August 28, 1968 in Boston, Massachusetts and studied classical piano until the age of twelve. While in high school at Concord Academy his primary influences were Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, Dave McKenna, Red Garland and Bill Evans. As a young teenager, Larry studied privately with Ran Blake and Keith Jarrett.
Goldings moved to New York in 1986 to attend a newly formed jazz program under the leadership of Arnie Lawrence at The New School. During college he studied piano with Jaki Byard and Fred Hersch. While still a freshman, Sir Roland Hanna invited him to accompany him to a three-day private jazz party in Copenhagen. While there, he met Sarah Vaughan, Kenny Biurrell, Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones and had the opportunity to play in the band with Vaughan, Harry Sweets Edison and Al Cohn.
As a college student, Larry embarked on a worldwide tour with Jon Hendricks, working with him for a year. A collaboration lasting almost three years with guitarist Jim Hall followed. By 1988 he began developing his organ chops and secured a regular gig at Augie’s Jazz Bar, now Smoke on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He was featured with several bands, and his own trio with guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart got its start there.
His first release was Intimacy Of The Blues in 1991 followed by sixteen more albums as a leader and has appeared as a sideman on hundreds of recordings. Over the course of his career, Goldings distinctive keyboard sound has been sought out more and more by pop, R&B, Brazilian, and alternative artists, such as, Madeleine Peyroux, John Scofield, Carla Bley, Michael Brecker, De La Soul, India Arie, Tracy Chapman, Pat Metheny, Dave Grusin, Norah Jones, John Mayer, Sia, John Pizzarelli, Steve Gadd, Rickie Lee Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Luciana Souza, and the list goes on and on.
In 2007, Larry, DeJohnnette and Scofield captured a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album Individual or Group for their live album, Trio Beyond – Saudades. He has been twice awarded Best Organist/Keyboardist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, and twice Best Jazz Album for Awareness and Big Stuff by the New Yorker Magazine.
As a composer his music has been used in the films Space Cowboys, Proof and Funny People. Brecker, Scofield, DeJohnette, Hall, Sia, Toots Thielemans, Curtis Stigers, James Taylor and Jane Monheit among others have recorded his compositions. Organist and keyboardist Larry Goldings continues to perform, record, tour and compose.
Stix Hooper was born Nesbert Hooper on August 15, 1938 in Houston, Texas. He developed an interest in music, drums and percussion at a very early age and starting in junior high, under the direction of George Magruder, the school’s band director, he began devoting much of his time to the study of all aspects of music including composition and song writing.
Studying at Phyllis Wheatley High School, spearheaded by band director, Sammy Harris, Stix eventually formed a band called the Swingsters, later on the Modern Jazz Sextet. While matriculating at Texas Southern University he received continual coaching from members of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and other local professional musicians.
A move to the West Coast, he studied music at California State University, Los Angeles and also received coaching from well-known private instructors and his personal mentors. During this time the Jazz Crusaders were formed eventually becoming the Crusaders, a world-renowned entity.
Hooper has performed, collaborated, composed with and produced for a wide range of music greats, including Arthur Fielder, George Shearing, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, B.B. King, Grant Green, Grover Washington, Jr., Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye, Nancy Wilson, The Rolling Stones and numerous others.
He is credited with creating an original style of drumming called “Jazz Funk” that has been incorporated in jazz as well as other musical genres. In addition, Stix Hooper has contributed through his work with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences serving as the National Vice Chairman and the first African American to do so, having previously served three terms as President of the Los Angeles Chapter of NARAS, the first ever three term President, and only the second African American President of that chapter.
Among the numerous acknowledgements and accolades he has garnered are 12 Grammy nominations, No. 1 awards from various music media, named one of the top drummers/musicians by Down Beat, Playboy and other publications, and has received an invitation to the White House, keys to major US cities and several international honors. Soul jazz, jazz funk and mainstream drummer Stix Hooper continues to compose, perform, record and tour.
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Rahsaan Roland Kirk was born Ronald Theodore Kirk on August 7, 1935 in Coumbus, Ohio and grew up in the neighborhood called Flytown. He felt compelled by a dream to transpose two letters in his first name to make Roland. He became blind at an early age as a result of poor medical treatment. In 1970 he added “Rahsaan” to his name after hearing it in a dream.
Rahsaan preferred to lead his own bands and rarely did he perform as a sideman, although he did record lead flute and solo on Soul Bossa Nova with arranger Quincy Jones in 1964, as well as drummer Roy Haynes and had notable stints with bassist Charles Mingus. His playing was generally rooted in soul jazz or hard bop but his knowledge of jazz gave him the ability to draw from ragtime to swing to free jazz. In additional to classical influences he borrowed elements from composers like Smokey Robinson and Burt Bacharach, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.
His main instrument was the tenor saxophone and two obscure saxophones: the stritch, a straight alto sax lacking the instrument’s characteristic upturned bell and a manzello, a modified saxello soprano sax, with a larger, upturned bell. Kirk modified these instruments himself to accommodate his simultaneous playing technique. He also played flute, clarinet, harmonica, English horn, recorder and trumpet, as well as incorporating an interesting array of common items such as garden hose, alarm clocks and sirens.
At times Rahsaan would play a number of these horns at once, harmonizing with himself, or sustain a note for lengthy durations by using circular breathing or play the rare, seldom heard nose flute. Many of Kirk’s instruments were exotic or homemade, but even while playing two or three saxophones at once the music was intricate, powerful jazz with a strong feel for the blues. Politically outspoken, he would often talk about issues of the day in between songs at his concerts, such as Black history and the civil rights movement and lacing them with satire and humor. According to comedian Jay Leno, when he toured with him as his opening act, Kirk would introduce him by saying, “I want to introduce a young brother who knows the black experience and knows all about the white devils… Please welcome Jay Leno!”
In 1975, Kirk suffered a major stroke that led to partial paralysis of one side of his body. However, he continued to perform and record, modifying his instruments to enable him to play with one arm. He died from a second stroke on December 5, 1977 after performing in the Frangipani Room of the Indiana University Student Union in Bloomington, Indiana.
His influence went well beyond jazz to include such rock musicians as Jimi Hendrix, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Eric Burdon and War, T.K. Kirk, Hope Clayburn, Jonny Greenwood and Ramon Lopez, all who idolized or paid tribute to, and David Jackson, George Braith and Dick Heckstall-Smith who took to playing multiple saxophones, and Steve Turre, Courtney Pine who utilizing his circular breathing during play. He left to us nearly four-dozen albums as a leader and another eleven with aforementioned Jones, Mingus and Haynes, and Tubby Hayes, Tommy Peltier, Jaki Byard and Les McCann.
Rickey Woodard was born August 5, 1950 in Nashville, Tennessee and picked up his first music experiences playing saxophone in the family band. He went on to attend Tennessee State University and following graduation joined the Ray Charles band, spending seven years with him.
Woodard became a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, has recorded with Frank Capp, and is a member of Jeanine and Jimmy Cheatham’s Sweet Baby Blues Band. In 1988 he moved to Los Angeles and started playing sessions for Concord Records that soon led to a recording contract.
By 1993 Rickey embarked on a series of yearly visits to the Peterborough Jazz Club in England. There he was billed with veteran British jazz musicians such as Dick Morrissey, John Burch and Tony Archer. In 1994 he was a part of the recording session Seven Sensational Saxophones – Fujitsu-Concord 26th Jazz Festival with Jesse Davis, Gary Foster, Bill Ramsay, Ken Peplowski, Chris Potter and Frank Wess.
He recorded his debut album The Frank Capp Trio Present Rickey Woodard in 1991 and has released seven more as a leader or co-leader in the company of Joe Chambers, Eric Reed, Cedar Walton, Ernie Watts, Pete Christlieb, Gerry Wiggins, Chuck Berghofer, Tony Dumas, Roy McCurdy, James Williams, Christian McBride and Ray Brown. As a sideman he has another ten projects as a sideman working with Horace Silver, Kenny Rogers, Nnenna Freelon and Diana Krall.
Saxophonist Rickey Woodard continues to lead his own quartet, perform and tour with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, The Juggernaut and The Cheathams.
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Ken Watters was born July 6, 1964 in Huntsville, Alabama. He attended the University of North Texas and became a part of the Lab Band program. He studied trumpet with internationally renowned teacher Leonard Candelaria prior to studying in New York City with Lew Soloff and Wynton Marsalis.
Ken is a member of several noted performing groups, including Tabou Combo, Natalie Cole Band, the Magic City Jazz Orchestra, Ray Reach and Friends and the W.C. Handy Jazz All-Stars. He recorded his debut release with his Haitian-Caribbean jazz septet RIYEL and has recorded a total of six projects as a leader.
He has recorded and released three CDs titled “Brothers” with his trombonist brother Harry. His latest musical project is an ongoing venture co-led alongside vocalist Ingrid Felts, called the Watters-Felts Project. The jazz-oriented sextet included pianist Keith Taylor, bassist Abe Becker, percussionist Darrell Tibbs and drummer Marcus Pope.
Trumpeter Ken Watters is also an educator currently sitting as an adjunct professor at University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he directs the UAH Jazz Ensemble I. He continues to perform, record and tour.
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