Trilok Gurtu was born in Mumbai, India on October 30, 1951 to Hindu Brahmin parents and attended Don Bosco High School. His mother, singer Shobha Gurtu, encouraged him to learn playing tabla, and he studied playing the instrument under Shah Abdul Karim. He didn’t begin playing western drum kit in the 1970s and developed an interest in jazz, and played played with Charlie Mariano, John Tchicai, Terje Rypdal, and Don Cherry.
One of Trilok’s earliest recordings was around 1977 in the record Apo-Calypso in an album of the German ethnic fusion band, Embryo. His mother also sang in that record, and later joined him in his first solo CD, Usfret. In the 1980s, Gurtu played with Swiss drummer Charly Antolini, John McLaughlin, Jonas Hellborg, Kai Eckhardt, Dominique DiPiazza and opened for Miles Davis in Berkeley, California in 1988. He went on to play and record three albums with Oregon after the death of drummer Collin Walcott. In the early 1990s he resumed his career as a solo artist and a bandleader.
In 1999, Zakir Hussain and Bill Laswell founded a musical group, Tabla Beat Science, bringing Trilok, Karsh Kale and Talvin Singh into the fold. Before going dormant in late 2003 they released three albums. He went on to record the album, Miles Gurtu, with Robert Miles, collaborate with the Arkè String Quartet and perform with Ricky Portera, Nick Beggs, Mario Marzi, Terl Bryant, John De Leo.
Percussionist, drummer and composer Trilok Gurtu has won awards from DRUM! Magazine, Carlton Television Multicultural Music Awards, Down Beat’s Critics Poll and has been nominated for the BBC Radio 3 World and continues to perform, compose, record and tour.
Sameer Gupta was born July 1, 1976 in San Francisco, California and is a percussionist, tabla player, and composer. He is the founder of the jazz ensemble The Supplicants and drummer for the Marc Cary Focus Trio.
Gupta has performed with Kosmic Renaissance, vidyA, Grachan Moncur III, Victor Goines, Vincent Gardner, Sekou Sundiata, Sonny Simmons, Marcus Shelby, Calvin Keys, Richard Howell, Dayna Stephens, and Julian Lage.
With his playing has been described as kinetic, bass-heavy, and tender, he made his recording debut in 2006 with Marc Cary on Focus, adding Marc Cary and Focus Trio Live in 2010. He released his debut album as a leader, Namaskar that same year, and has also recorded with Srinivas Reddy and Ross Hammond. Percussionist Sameer Gupta continues to compose, perform and record.
Marcus Lamar Miller was born on September 9, 1970 in Chesapeake, Virginia and began his musical journey at the age of three playing drums in his mothers church. During his elementary school years, 3rd-5th grade, he studied classical harp with the principal harpist for the Norfolk Symphony. Between the years 1983-88 he recorded on three albums with several mass choirs of the United Holy Church of America Inc. His high school and college years were spent backing rock, reggae, funk, Appalachian folk and jazz bands.
He went onto attend Washington & Lee University studying four-years of African, European, and Latin American histories. Setting his sights west to continue studies in music, Marcus landed in Berkeley, California in 1993 and began working with numerous local bands in the San Francisco bay area.
Miller landed a CNN spotlight of up and coming jazz musicians before touring and performing 1995 and 1996 with Ben Harper throughout Europe, Japan, and North America. He then moved to Anaheim after the tour, began a stint with Disney, started studying African traditional drumming with percussionists Leon Mobley and Angel Figueroa, and was a founding member of Leon Mobley & Da Lion.
Marcus has since gone on to perform with such artists as Ashanti, Sheila E, Andre Cymone, Barbara McNair, the Watts Prophets, Bennie Maupin, Vinx, Jimmy Sommers,Tony Furtado, and Ozomatli. He has collaborated with such choreographer/dancers as Lula Washington, Cleo Parker Robinson, Winifred Harris, Bonnie Homesy, Toni Pierce, Marguerite Donlon, and wife Tamica Washington-Miller.
Educating children is one of his biggest passions and teaches regularly at the New Roads School and holds private lessons. He founded YDLA, a performance group called the Young Drummers of Los Angeles, and works with various organizations throughout California facilitating drum workshops for the youth. His Freedom Jazz Movement serves as his main vehicle of musical expression, fusing traditional African rhythms with a East Coast swing. Drummer, composer, bandleader and educator Marcus L. Miller continues to perform, record and educate.
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Hugh Ramopolo Masekela was born on April 4, 1939 in Kwa-Guqa Township of Witbank, South Africa. He began singing and playing piano as a child. At the age of 14, after seeing Kirk Douglas in the film Young Man With A Horn he took up playing the trumpet. He was given his first trumpet was given to him by anti-apartheid Archbishop Trevor Huddleston at St. Peter’s Secondary School.
Quickly mastering the instrument under the tutelage of Uncle Sauda of Johannesburg’s Native Municipal Brass Band, Masekela along with some of his schoolmates formed the Huddleston Jazz Band, South Africa’s first youth orchestra. By 1956, after leading other ensembles, he joined Alfred Hebrert’s African Jazz Revue.
In 1958 he wound up in the orchestra of South Africa’s first musical blockbuster King Kong, followed by touring the country for a sold-out year with Miriam Makeba and the Manhattan Brothers’ Nathan Mdledle in the lead. By the end of 1959 Hugh along with Dollar Brand, Kippie Moeketsi, Makhaya Ntshoko and Johnny Gertze formed the Jazz Epistles. They became the first African jazz group to record an album and perform to record-breaking audiences in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Following the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre of 69 peacefully protesting Africans he left the country with the help of Huddleston, Yehudi Menuhin and John Dankworth for London’s Guildhall School of Music. Befriended by Harry Belafonte on a visit to the U.S. he gained admission to Manhattan School of Music studying classical trumpet.
By the late Sixties he had hits with Up, Up & Away and Grazing In The Grass, appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, and was featured in the film Monterey Pop. In 1974, Masekela and friend Stewart Levine organized the Zaire 74 music festival around the Rumble In The Jungle boxing match.
He has played primarily in jazz ensembles, with guest appearances on recordings by The Byrds and Paul Simon. Since 1954 Hugh’s music protested about apartheid, slavery, government and the hardships individuals were living but also vividly portrayed the struggles and sorrows, as well as the joys and passions of his country. In 1987, he had a hit single with Bring Him Back Home, which became an anthem for the movement to free Nelson Mandela.
Trumpeter Hugh Masekela also plays the flugelhorn, cornet, and trombone and is a composer and singer. He has some four dozen albums to date in his catalogue, has won two Grammy Awards with seven nominations, received two honorary doctorates, and serves as a director on the board of The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization that provides a daily meal to students of township schools in Soweto. He continues to perform, record and tour.
Guillermo Serpas was born on August 1, 1969 in San Salvador, El Salvador and grew up in an environment of rich musical tradition of legendary singers and masterful guitarists of the popular folklore. A gifted musician he was inspired him to learn the highly versatile and lyrical classical guitar. By his early teens he was studying with Maestro Candido Morales.
In 1983, the family moved to Calgary, Alberta bringing the young artist new artistic experiences to embrace. He immersed himself in the music genres of blues, jazz and rock. Guillermo soon joined several local bands and experimented with these different styles, while keeping his focus on classical guitar. He went on to acquire formal studies at the University of Calgary, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in music in 1996.
With his deep Latin roots ever present in his music Serpas has infused rhythmic elements of jazz, salsa, bolero, samba, blues and rock in his performing. Always present is the exotic percussion from his Latin American folklore creating a unique mosaic of sound. He released his debut recording Mi Sol y MI Luna in 2006 with his sophomore project following in 2011 titled Guitarra Bohemia. Guitarist Guillermo Serpas continues to perform, record and tour.
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