Gaspare De Vito was born on August 17, 1978 in Naples, Italy. He studied with Gianluigi Troversi, Eugenio Columbo and musical composition with Giancarlo Schiaffini. An auspicious meeting of Steve Grossman and Greg Osby was fundamental to the freedom of his original music.
Blending his Neopolitan and Meditteranean roots with hip-hop in his early teens, he would go through funk, jazz, Cuban traditional and South African music gave him the basis for his music. He has performed and recorded as a leader and a session player throughout Europe.
He has performed and recorded with Butch Morris, Alvin Curran, Tristan Hosinger, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Eugenio Colombo, Francesco Bearzatti, Fabrizio Puglisi, Vincenzo Vasi, Nicola Guazzaloca, Pasquale Mirra, Marco Dal Pane, Luisa Cottifogli, Maisha Grant and numerous others.
Alto saxophonist, flautist and composer Gaspare De Vito who has been voted Best Italian saxophonist in 2007 and co-founded the Suoniforme record label, continues to record, tour and perform internationally.
Bill Trujillo was born on July 7, 1930 in Los Angeles, California and started clarinet lessons at the age of four, then switched to tenor saxophone after seeing Lester Young perform with Count Basie in Los Angeles. His mother, a dance teacher at the famous Palomar Ballroom, regularly took him and his older brother to hear big bands when they were in residence at the Palomar, the Paramount, and other popular LA show places.
Learning to read music before he could read words and after Lincoln High School, where his friend and classmate was Lennie Niehaus played, Trujillo started his long professional career at the age of 16 with the West Coast based Glenn Henry Band. The band also boasted a young trombone player named Jimmy Knepper. During the ’40s, Bill played with Alvino Rey and other West Coast groups. In 1953, he joined Woody Herman with whom he remained until the following year when Bill Russo beckoned he joined the quintet but then playing in Chicago. Eventually finding the Windy City too cold, he returned to L.A. where he played in the orchestras of Charlie Barnet and Jerry Gray, and gigged with small groups.
At the behest of his longtime friend Lennie Niehaus, Trujillo joined Stan Kenton band in 1958, however, road trips often lasting a year or more put too much of a strain on his young family. Moving to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1960 he played with Nat Brandywynne and he has been there ever since. He became a mainstay in show orchestras at the Tropicana, Flamingo, Thunderbird and the Dunes playing behind Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and many other. After a labor dispute in 1989 dried up this source of work, he returned to playing in big bands and small groups throughout the country.
In 1999 he led his debut album It’s Tru followed by his 2006 It’s Still Tru with Carl Fontana on the TNC label. As an educator, saxophonist Bill Trujillo teaches clarinet, flute, and all saxophones while continuing to perform in Las Vegas.
James Melvin Lunceford was born on June 6, 1902 on a 53 acre farm in the Evergreen community, west of the Tombigbee River, near Fulton, Mississippi. They moved seven months after his birth to his other’s hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and as a child he learned several instruments. By high school they were living in Denver, Colorado where he studied music under Wilberforce J. Whiteman, father of bandleader Paul Whiteman. He went on to continue his studies at Fisk University. By 1922, he was playing alto saxophone in a local band led by the violinist George Morrison which included Andy Kirk, another musician destined for fame as a bandleader.
In 1927 he organized a student band at Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee called the Chickasaw Syncopators, and later changed to the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Under the new name, the band started its professional career in 1929 and made its first recordings in 1930. He gained recognition as the first public high school band director in Memphis. After a period of touring, the band accepted a booking at the Harlem nightclub The Cotton Club in 1934 for their revue ‘Cotton Club Parade’ starring Adelaide Hall. His orchestra, with their tight musicianship and the often outrageous humor in their music and lyrics, made an ideal band for the club, and his reputation began to steadily grow.
The band’s style of playing was based its ensemble work and for using a two-beat rhythm, called the Lunceford two-beat, as opposed to the standard four-beat rhythm, a distinction made possible by the imaginative arrangements by trumpeter Sy Oliver. Comedy and vaudeville also played a distinct part in Jimmie’s presentation incorporating costumes, skits and jabs at mainstream white bands.
Over the next decade the orchestra recorded on the Decca and Vocalion labels, toured Europe extensively, lost arranger Oliver to the Dorsey band and appeared in the movie Blues In The Night. Unfortunately, most of Lunceford’s sidemen were underpaid and left for better paying bands, leading to the band’s decline.
On July 12, 1947 while signing autographs at a local record store in Seaside, Oregon, saxophonist, flautist and bandleader Jimmie Lunceford collapsed and passed away on the way to the hospital. Accounts from other bandmates who also got sick within hours of the meal, substantiate the claims that they were poisoned by a disgruntled restaurant owner unhappy with having to serve Negroes. However the official autopsy has his caused of death as coronary occlusion.
Ira Sullivan was born May 1, 1931 in Washington, D.C. and was taught trumpet by his father, saxophone by his mother and played both in the 1950s Chicago, Illinois with Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Wardell Gray and Roy Eldridge, garnering a reputation as a fearsome bebop soloist. After playing briefly with Art Blakey in 1956, he mastered alto and baritone saxophone before moving south to Florida and out of the spotlight in the early Sixties.
Sullivan was reluctant to travel which limited his opportunities to play with musicians of the first rank, but he continued to play in the Miami area, often in schools and churches. Hanging out with local younger players Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny, led to teaching and to broadening of his own musical roots to include the lessons of John Coltrane’s music and elements of jazz rock.
Adding flute and soprano saxophone to his armoury, Ira moved to New York City and in 1980 formed a quintet with legendary bop trumpeter Red Rodney where they worked on new material and fostered young talent to produce some fresh and stimulating music. He and his longtime friend and collaborator jazz pianist and vibraphonist Stu Katz, co-led a multi-night performance with at Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase in Chicago.
Ira has performed and/or recorded with Red Rodney, Erin McDougald, Rob Block, Art Blakey, Frank Catalano, Kelly Sill, Charles Heath, Eddie Harris, Roland Kirk, Marc Berner, Lin Halliday, J. R. Monterose, Rita Reys and Billy Taylor and numerous others.
Trumpeter, flugelhornist, flautist, saxophonist, and composer Ira Sullivan has recorded as a leader and currently teaches at the Young Musicians Camp each summer at the University of Miami and remains an active musician on the jazz scene.
Pat LaBarbera was born Pascel Emmanuel LaBarbera on April 7, 1944 in Mt. Morris, New York. He began as a soloist in Buddy Rich bands from 1967–1973 and went on to work with Elvin Jones in 1975 and touring Europe with him in 1979. While working with Rich, he was also working in groups led by Woody Herman and Louie Bellson, as well as playing with Carlos Santana.
He moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1974 and is a on the faculty at Humber College. LaBarbera has played a major role in the development of a generation of Canadian saxophonists. He has released a handful of albums as a leader since 1975 and another two-dozen as a sideman. In 2000, he won a Juno Award for Best Traditional Instrumental Jazz Album for Deep in a Dream.
He is the brother of trumpeter John LaBarbera with who he is a part of his big band, and drummer Joe LaBarbera and worked with the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra, Denny Christianson, Jan Jarczyk. Tenor, alto and soprano saxophonist, clarinetist, and flautist Pat LaBarbera continues to teach, perform and record.