Leon Parker was born August 21, 1965 in White Plains, New York. He studied drums from age 11 and had classical training in his teens. He went on to study jazz under the tutelage of Barry Harris.
Leon made his recording debut with Harvie S and released his debut as a leader in 1994 with Above & Below on the Epicure label. Since then he has released three more projects and his 1998 album, Awakening, rose to #20 on the Billboard list of Top Jazz Albums.
Parker has collaborated on and recorded a du project with Charlie Hunter titled Duo, recorded with Dewey and Joshua Redman, Jesse Davis, MTB comprised of Brad Mehldau, Mark Turner and Per Bernstein, Jacky Terrasson, Don Braden, Franck Amsallem, Virgina Mathew, James Carter, Giovanni Mirabassi and Gianiuca Renzi,
Jazz percussionist and composer Leon Parker continues to perform, record and tour often playing with a minimalist drum kits, sometimes consisting of only one cymbal.
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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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Billy Kilson was born William Earl Kilson on August 2, 1962 in Washington, DC. He started on trumpet at ten, switched to trombone at 11, then to drums at 16. He studied at the Berklee College of Music from 1980 to 1985, took private lessons from Alan Dawson during 1982-89, and then toured Europe with Walter Davis.
Kilson has played with such notable jazz musicians as Ahmad Jamal, Dianne Reeves, Greg Osby, George Duke, Steps Ahead, Tim Hagans, Terumasa Hino, Bob James, Dave Bob Belden, Kevin Mahogany, Kirk Whalum, Chris Botti, Freddie Jackson, Donald Brown and Paula Cole.
He is perhaps best known for his work with Dave Holland playing on the 1999 Grammy Award nominated album Prime Directive and his Grammy-winning 2002 release What Goes Around. He also has chops as a leader with his own quartet ensemble along comprised of James Genus and Tim Hagans. Releasing his debut compact disc in 2006 as a leader, titled Pots and Pans, it was followed by a sophomore DVD project, Rhythm Dancer, in 2012. Drummer Billy Kilson continues to record, perform and tour.
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Massimo de Majo was born in Rome, Italy on July 8, 1957 and began studying music at a very young age. By 1980 while matriculating through Rome University studying Music and Literature he earned a Masters Degree in Percussion Instruments. He went on to study, apprentice and refine his skills under David Liebman, Elvin Jones, Marvin Bugalu Smith, Horace Parlan, Billy Hart, Max Roach, Richie Beirach, Wayne Shorter, Buster Williams, Harold Land, Carlos Santana and Larry Coryell.
He has developed an intense energy flow, wide dynamics and an acute sense for interplay, being comfortable playing free form music, as well as within more structured frameworks. Over the course of his career de Majo has spent most of his life outside Italy performing across Europe, the United States, Scandinavia and Japan. Though not widely known to the general public, the percussionist is regarded as a musicians’ musician and sought after on the jazz circuit.
During the last thirty years, focusing mostly on performing and teaching, he has recorded with Horace Parlan, Per Goldschmidt, Al Swainger, Andy Williamson, Biancamaria Stanzani Ghedini and Philip Clouts, among others. As a composer he has also created pieces for the theatre, contemporary dance, video, sound design and installation art. Drummer Massimo de Majo is also an educator and sits on the faculty of the University of Malta teaching several different courses in the Music Department. He continues to perform and record.
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Vladimir Tarasov was born in Archangelsk, Russia on June 29, 1947. He learned to play the drums in his youth and though chose them as his primary instrument he has transcended performance to become a composer as well. In 1968 at age 21 he moved to Vilnius, Lithuania where he has lived and worked. For many years Tarasov performed with the Lithuanian Symphonic Orchestra and other symphonic, chamber, and jazz orchestras in Lithuania, Europe and the USA.
From 1971 to 1986, Tarasov was a member of the well-known contemporary jazz music trio – GTC with Viatcheslav Ganelin and Vladimir ChekasinHe has recorded over 100 albums and CDs as a soloist, with the trio, as a sideman and with orchestras. He has performed and recorded with Andrew Cyrille, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Lauren Newton, and Josef Nadj to name a few.
Vladimir has worked and collaborated in the visual artist field with Ilya Kabakov and Sarah Flohr, participating in numerous one-person or group exhibitions around the world. He has composed music for film and theatre on both sides of the Atlantic, has directed a play and opera, and has been an educator and lecturer at universities and music academies in Bremen, Berlin and Dusseldorf – Germany, Stockton and Sacramento – California, and Pont Aven and Orleans, France. He has authored the books Trio and Tam Tam, has received a grant from the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany and has been awarded the Triumph Prize in Moscow for the highest achievements in literature and art. Drummer and composer Vladimir Tarasov continues to perform, compose and record.
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