Ben Allison was born November 17, 1966 in New Haven, Connecticut and began guitar lessons at age nine at the Neighborhood Music School and privately with guitarist George Raccio. In the mid-Eighties he studied West African, Haitian and Cuban drumming traditions with Richard Hill and attended the ACES Educational Center for the Arts and Wilbur Cross High School. His senior high school year saw him studying with bassist Steve Swallow and too classes in 20th Century Music and Early Childhood Development at Yale University. In 1985 he attended New York University as a University scholar and pursued a degree in jazz performance and bass studies. During this period he studied with Joe Lovano, Dennis Irwin, Jim McNeely and Steve LaSpina.
By 1992, Allison and several colleagues formed the Jazz Composers Collective, a musician-run, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the creation and performance of new music and building audiences for jazz. The Collective ran for 12 seasons, featured works of 50 composers, participation of more than 250 musicians and premiered more than 300 new works.
1996 saw the release of Ben’s debut album Seven Arrows as a leader, followed two years later with Medicine Wheel, Third Eye in 1999 and the rest is history as he has accumulated 11 albums under his name. Recording with the Collective members Frank Kimbrough, Ron Horton, Michael Blake, and Ted Nash, he would also record another dozen as co-leader or sideman with Lee Konitz, Jeremy Pelt, Larry Goldings, Mamadou Diabate, Curtis Stigers and Steve Bernstein.
As an educator, Allison began working as an adjunct professor and bass instructor at the New School University in 1996, has taught instrumental lessons and ensembles at the Third Street Music School, was a guest instructor at the Siena Jazz Foundation in Italy, the Souza Lima Ensino de Musica in Sao Paulo, Brazil and is a member of the Teaching Artists Collaborative at the Weill Music Center at Carnegie Hall, teaching music fundamentals to Harlem public school children..
Bassist, composer, bandleader, educator and activist Ben Allison is a three time Down Beat Critics Poll Rising Star, received the Bird Award, and serves on the board of the New York chapter of NARAS as VP and chairs Advocacy while continuing to perform and tour.
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Matthew Parrish was born on October 14, 1969 in central California into a family that loved music that listened to jazz, rock and classical music. He started playing trumpet in middle school but switched to bass just prior to an audition at Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts. Accepted into the music program as a n acoustic bass student in jazz studies.
Matthew’s career began in Philadelphia during his teens and early twenties playing with Shirley Scott, Mickey Roker, Bobby Durham, Cecil Payne, Johnny Cole, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Jimmy Oliver, Danny turner and fellow youngsters Orrin Evans and Byron Landham. He went on to tour with Al Grey and performing with Clark Terry, Marion McPartland, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lou Donaldson, Joe Cohn, Savion Glover and Bill Charlap.
He has continued to pursue his career playing and/or recording in the bands of Greg Osby, Jon Jang, James Newton, Stefon Harris, and Regina Carter. A gifted composer and arranger Parrish has recorded his own compositions on his debut album Circles on the Hipnotic Records label as well as on the recordings by David Leonhardt, Denise Montana, Ben Schacher and Carter.
With several milestones under his belt having performed with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, James Williams, Paquito D’Rivera and Etta Jones to name a few more, he currently tours around the world with Freddy Cole, Houston Person and Vana Gierio. With his own band he gives concerts in Philadelphia, featuring Amazonian performers and is no stranger to the club scene in New York, Boston and DC. As an educator he teaches and mentors young children through adult age in assemblies, master classes and lectures throughout the United States.
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Steve Swallow was born October 4, 1940 in Fair Lawn, New York. As a child, he studied piano and trumpet before turning to the double bass at age 14. While attending a prep school, he began trying his hand in jazz improvisation. While attending Yale and studying composition he left oin 1960, settled in New York and began playing in Jimmy Guiffre’s trio with Paul Bley. By 1964 he was with Art Farmer’s quartet where he began to write and during this period his long association with Gary Burton’s various bands commenced.
The early 1970s saw Swallow switching exclusively to the five-string electric bass guitar, encouraged by his favorite drummer Roy Haynes. Along with Monk Montgomery and Bob Cranshaw was one of the firsts to do so. He was an early adopter of the high C string and use of the upper register.
In 1974-76 Steve taught at the Berklee College of Music, contributed several of his compositions to the Berklee students who assembled the first edition of The Real Book. He later recorded an album of the same name, with the picture of a well-worn, coffee-stained Real Book on the cover. By 1978 he became an essential and constant member of Carla Bley’s band and her romantic partner since the 1980s. He toured extensively with John Scofield in the early Eighties, returning to this collaboration several times over the years.
Swallow has consistently won the electric bass category in Down Beat yearly polls, both Critics’ and Readers’, since the mid-80s. His compositions have been covered by, among others, Bill Evans, Chcick Corea, Stan Getz, Gary Burton and Jim Hall, who recorded his very first tune, Eiderdown. He has performed or recorded with Don Ellis, Dave Douglas, Steve Kuhn, Pete La Roca, Joe Lovano, Michael Mantler, Gary McFarland, Pat Metheny, Paul Motian, Jimmy Raney, Zoot Sims, Tore Johansen and George Russell.
Bassist Steve Swallow, who performs in the genres of cool, fusion, avant-garde, free, post-bop and hard bop jazz, has fourteen albums to his credit as a leader an co-leader and continues to perform, compose, record and tour.
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Howard Roberts was born on October 2, 1929 in Phoenix, Arizona and began playing guitar at the age of 8. By the time he was 15 he was playing professionally locally. He moved to Los Angeles in 1950 and with the help of Jack Marshall he began working with musicians, arrangers and songwriters including Neal Hefti, Henry Mancini, Bobby Troup, Chico Hamilton, George Van Eps and Barney Kessell.
Around 1956 Troup signed Howard to Verve Records as a solo artist and he he decided to concentrate on recording. He recorded both as a solo artist and “Wrecking Crew” session musician, a direction he would continue until the early 1970s. He would go on to play guitar on television themes such as The Twilight Zone, The Munsters, Bonanza, The Brady Bunch, Green Acres, Get Smart, Batman, Beverly Hillbillies, Andy Griffith, Peter Gunn, Mannix, Dick Van Dyke, I Dream of Jeannie, The Odd Couple and Mission Impossible among others. He also performed the theme for the classic Steve McQueen film Bullitt.
In 1961, Roberts designed a signature guitar, which was originally produced by Epiphone, a division of Gibson. The Howard Roberts signature was borne by two other models made by Gibson: the Howard Roberts Custom and the Howard Roberts Fusion III.
By 1963, Roberts recorded Color Him Funky and H.R. Is A Dirty Guitar Player, his first two albums after signing with Capitol Records. They both featured the same quartet with Roberts (guitar), bassist Chuck Berghofer, Earl Palmer on drums and Paul Bryant alternating with Burkley Kendrix on organ. He would go on to record nine albums with Capitol before signing with ABC Records/Impulse Records.
Over the course of his career he recorded with David Axelrod, June Christy, Buddy Collette, Milt Jackson, Hank Jones, John Klemmer, Charles Kynard, Herbie Mann, Thelonious Monk, Lalo Schifrin, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, Gabor Szabo and Larry Williams, to name a few. As a member of the Wrecking Crew, he was a part of Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ and played guitar on some of the most famous songs in pop music history.
From the late 1960s, Roberts began to focus on teaching rather than recording. He traveled around the country giving guitar seminars, and wrote several instructional books. For some years he also wrote an acclaimed column called “Jazz Improvisation” for Guitar Player magazine. he developed accelerated learning concepts and techniques, which led to the founding of Playback Music Publishing and the Guitar Institute of Technology. As a co-founder of GIT, now known as the Musicians Institute, his philosophy remains an integral part of the curriculum.
Guitarist Howard Roberts, who played rhythm and lead guitar, bass and mandolin, passed away of prostate cancer in Seattle, Washington on June 28, 1992. His life in music inspired the opening of Roberts Music Institute in Seattle, Washington, which is currently owned by his son, Jay Roberts.
Dave Holland was born on October 1, 1946 in Wolverhampton, England and taught himself to play stringed instruments, beginning at four on the ukelele, then graduating to guitar and later bass guitar. He quit school at the age of 15 to pursue his profession in a top 40 band, but soon gravitated to jazz. After seeing an issue of Down Beat magazine where Ray Brow had won the critics’ poll for best bass player, he went to a record store, and bought a couple of LPs featuring Brown backing pianist Oscar Peterson and also two Leroy Vinnegar albums. He was also drawn to Charles Mingus and Jimmy Garrison.
A move to London in 1964 saw Dave played acoustic bass in small venues and studying with James Edward Merrett, principal bassist of the Philharmonia Orchestra, who taught him to sight read and then recommended he apply to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. HoBy age 20, he was keeping a busy schedule in school, studios and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. There he played in bands that supported such touring American jazz saxophonists as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Joe Henderson as well as John McLaughlin, Evan Parker, John Surman, Chris McGregor, John Stevens and Kenny Wheeler.
In 1968, Miles Davis and Philly Joe Jones heard him at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, playing in a combo that opened for the Bill Evans Trio. Jones told Holland that Davis wanted him to join his band, replacing Ron Carter. Two weeks later he was given three days’ notice to fly to New York for an engagement at Count Basie’s nightclub and his two years with Davis began. His first recordings with Davis were in September 1968, and he appears on half of the album Filles de Kilimanjaro with Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams. He also appeared on the albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew that led to his playing more electric bass with a wah-wah pedal as Davis’ music evolved into more electronic and amp-based.
Post Davis, Holland briefly joined the avant-garde jazz group Circle with Chick Corea, Barry Altshul and Anthony Braxton and recorded a few albums. He would go on to work as a leader and as a sideman with many other jazz artists in the 1970s recording and performing with Sam Rivers, Airto Moreira, Steve Grossman, Keith Jarrett Jack DeJohnette, Gary Bartz, Stan Getz, John Abercrombie and Bonnie Raitt. During the 80’s he worked with his first quintet featuring of Steve Coleman, Kenny Wheeler, Julian Priester or Robin Eubanks; formed a trio with DeJohnette and Coleman, and a quartet with Coleman, Kevin Eubanks and Marvin “Smitty” Smith.
From the 1990s onward Holland renewed an affiliation with Joe Henderson to record So Near, So Far, Porgy & Bess and Joe Henderson Big Band. He reunited with Betty Carter for the Feed The Fire recording, Herbie Hancock’s recordings of The New Standard and the Grammy Album of the Year session, River: The Joni Letters.
Dave continued to create new groups, new music and new recordings winning Best Large Ensemble Album Grammys for his work; he has won Down Beat’s Critics Poll for Musician of the Year, Big Band of the Year, and Acoustic Bassist of the Year, the Jazz Journalists’ Association also honored him as Musician and Acoustic Bassist of the Year; and has received the Miles Davis Award at the Montreal Jazz Festival, among numerous other honors and doctorates from Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory and the Birmingham Conservatory in England..
As an educator, he has served as the artistic director of the Banff Summer Jazz Workshop, has tught workshops and master classes worldwide at universities and music schools, and is President of the UK-based National Youth Jazz Collective. Double bassist, composer and bandleader Dave Holland continues to perform, record and tour.
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