Paco de Lucía was born Francisco Sánchez Gómez in Algeciras, Cadiz, Spain on December 21, 1947. His father introduced him to the guitar at a very young age and was extremely strict in his upbringing, forcing him to practice up to 12 hours a day, every day. Combined with natural talent, he soon excelled and in 1958, at age 11, he made his first public appearance on Radio Algeciras. A year later he was awarded a special prize in the Jerez flamenco competition.
At age 14 Paco was touring with the flamenco troupe of dancer Jose Greco and in 1964 he recorded the first of three albums with guitarist Ricardo Modrego. From 1968 to 1977 he would record 10 albums with flamenco singer Camaron de la Isla.
In 1979, de Lucía along with John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell formed The Guitar Trio, briefly toured Europe and released Meeting of the Spirits, a video recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Al Di Meola later replaced Coryell and since 1981 the trio has recorded three albums.
Over the course of his career, Paco De Lucia, considered one of the finest guitarist in the world, has appeared in the western film Hannie Caulder, recorded on the soundtrack of Don Juan DeMarco, led his own sextet with brothers Ramón and Pepe, continues to record jazz, classical and flamenco albums, has won the Prince of Austrias Award, and has been awarded doctorates from the University of Cadiz and Berklee College of Music. On February 25, 2014 he passed away of a heart attack at age 66 in Playa de Carmen, Mexico. He was posthumously award a Latin Grammy for Album of the Year for his album Canción Andaluza the same year.
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Jimmy Owens was born December 9, 1943 in New York City. In the 1960s, he was a member of the hybrid classical and rock band Ars Nova, and then became a member of the New York Jazz Sextet playing with at times were Sir Roland Hanna, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Benny Golson, Hubert Laws, and Tom McIntosh.
Between 1969 and 1972, Jimmy was a sideman on the David Frost Show under musical director Dr. Billy Taylor. During this stint he played alongside Frank Wess, Seldon Powell Barry Galbraith and Bob Cranshaw.
As an educator Jimmy is an active member of the jazz education community, sitting on the board of the Jazz Foundation of America and the Jazz Musicians’ Emergency Fund to help individual musicians.
Over the course of his career the trumpeter, composer, arranger, lecturer and music education consultant has performed and recorded as a leader and sideman with Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, Joe Zawinul, Gerald Wilson, Duke Ellington, Hank Crawford, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and Herbie Mann among many others. Since 1969, he has led his own group, Jimmy Owens Plus.
Ray Drummond was born on November 23, 1946 in Brookline, Massachusetts to an Army colonel and through his childhood attended 14 schools around the world. He played trumpet and French horn from the age of eight, then a high-school music teacher encouraged him to switch to the bass.
Briefly settling in northern California he matriculated through Claremont Men’s College and went on to Stanford Business School where he got his Masters in business administration. During those San Francisco years he played with Bobby Hutcherson, Michael White, Ed Kelly, Tom Harrell and Lester Young’s niece, Martha Young.
Moving to New York in 1977, Drummond worked as a session bass player for Betty Carter, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Woody Shaw, Hank Jones, Jon Faddis, Milt Jackson, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Barron, Pharoah Sanders and George Coleman.
In addition to working as a sideman and leading his own bands, Ray is an educator and has taught at the Monterey Peninsula College of Music and the California State University and has conducted master classes at Berklee College of Music, Purdue University, the University of Massachusetts and the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki, Finland.
Bassist Ray Drummond continues to co-lead The Drummonds with Renee Rosnes while recording as a sideman and can be heard on more than three hundred albums with the likes of Kevin Mahogany, Toots Thielemans, David Murray and Benny Golson to name a few.
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Geoffrey Keezer was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on November 20, 1970 to music teachers. He began studying piano at the age of three and by 1989 at 18, after one year of study at Berklee College of Music he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
His professional career has spanned many projects and genres such as performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, composing commissioned pieces for the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Saint Joseph Ballet, Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and the Nancy Zeltsman Marimba Festival all while releasing a dozen albums as a leader and touring.
Geoffrey has received the Chamber Music America’s 2007 New Works grant, has appeared as a sideman on countless recording sessions, has played bass in a rock band, contributed artwork to David W. Mack’s comic “Kabuki”, and has performed with world-class musicians Joshua Redman, Diana Krall, Christian McBride, Barbara Hendricks, Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Benny Green, Joe Locke and Mulgrew Miller.
Keezer’s “Live in Seattle”, a collaboration with vibes player Joe Locke, won the Golden EarShot Award for “Concert of the Year” and his latest musical adventure, Áurea, is a Grammy nominated, multinational Afro-Peruvian jazz recording featuring the hottest players from New York City and Lima, Peru. In 2013 he released his latest solo project Heart Of The Piano, continues to lend his talents to educate at such institutions of higher learning as the New School, the Brubeck Institute, Indiana University, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and others, all while continuing to arrange, perform, record and tour both as a leader and sideman.
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Dolo Coker was born Charles Mitchell Coker on November 16, 1927 in Hartford, Connecticut but was raised in Florence, South Carolina and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The first musical instruments Coker played in childhood were the C-melody and alto saxophones, learning them at a school. By age thirteen he was starting to play piano and after moving to Philadelphia he studied piano at the Landis School of Music and at Orenstein’s Conservatory.
During his Philadelphia years Coker played piano with Jimmy Heath, then became a member of Frank Morgan’s quartet, but it wasn’t until 1976 that he recorded as a leader. Signing with Xanadu Records he cut four albums and worked extensively as a sideman for Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Lou Donaldson, Art Pepper, Philly Joe Jones and Dexter Gordon.
For the next several years pianist Dolo Coker continued to work as a sideman until he passed away of cancer at the age of fifty-five on April 13, 1983.
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