Mike Mainieri was born Michael T. Mainieri, Jr. on July 4, 1938 in Bronx, New York. He is a pioneer in introducing the electronic vibraphone, known as a “synth-vibe”.
Mike has recorded with such jazz musicians as Buddy Rich, Wes Montgomery, Jeremy Steig, Bob James, Lauro Nyro, Dire Straits, Michael Franks, David Sanborn, Neil Larsen, Robben Ford, Manny Albam, Kenny Burrell, Paul Desmond, Art Farmer, Jim Hall, Urbie Green, Joe Henderson, Pat Martino, Michael Brecker and Sonny Stitt.
Mainieri has released seven albums as a leader, 11 with Steps Ahead and another dozen as a sideman as well as videos for a variety of labels. As a producer, he produced three albums for Carly Simon. Jazz-fusion vibraphonist Mike Mainieri continues to perform, record, tour and produce.
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Tony Miceli was born July 1, 1960 in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Willingboro, New Jersey. He starting playing classical guitar at an early age and then took up the drums, piano and trumpet. He played drums in a high school band called Minas Tirith. Graduating from high school he took drum lessons and secured admission into the University of the Arts. It was there that he was drawn to the vibraphone. Upon completion of his matriculation 1982, through the decade and into the Nineties he toured through Germany with a percussion group called Mallet Madness.
In the late 1990s Miceli created the Philadelphia based group Monkadelphia, a group “dedicated to performing the music of Thelonious Monk. Regularly performing in the Netherlands with the band Thelonious 4, he also plays in an Irish tribute band to the Modern Jazz Quartet.
In addition to performing Tony is an educator and by 2000 he was teaching at Temple University, the University of the Arts, teaching master classes in jazz improvisation and conducting numerous workshops throughout North America and Europe.
Over the course of a career that includes composing, recording and teaching vibraphonist Tony Miceli has performed with Chris Farr, Tom Lawton, Micah Jones, Gina rocjJim Miller, David Friedman, Joe Magnarelli, Dave Liebman, Elio Villafranco, Steve Slagele, Jimmy Bruno, Dave Stryker, Peter Bernstein, Gerald Veasley and Joanna Pascale. He continues to perform a wide variety of musical genres on both the club and festival circuits.
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Pepsi Auer was born Josef Auer on June 14, 1928 in Munich, Germany. He first played accordion in a youth orchestra, then he taught himself to play the vibraphone in 1936. A move to America in 1945 saw him performing in jazz clubs and by 1949 he moved to the piano. He would go on to work in the combo of Freddy Christmann in 1954, ultimately taking leadership two years later.
Pepsi worked with Freddie Brocksieper in 1958, the German All Stars in ’58, worked and toured from 1958 to 1960 with Albert Mangelsdorff jazz ensemble and then with Kurt Edelhagen. By the Sixties his style of approach mimicked Bud Powel and Horace Silver and in 1962 he worked in the Bayerischen Rundfunks.
Auer accompanied Stan Getz, Eric Dolphy and Benny Bailey on their tours of Germany, as well as with Miriam Klein. He would team up once again with Freddie Brocksieper from 1955-1964 and participate in recording sessions as well as with the German All Stars. From the mid-1960s he worked as a studio musician and increasingly composed music for television such as “A Summer With Nicole”.
In 1967 he took part in the Montreux Jazz Festival as a member of the Jazz Orchestra of the Bayerischer Rundfunk, where he and Don Manza were co-leaders. Pianist, vibraphonist and composer Pepsi Auer passed away on March 29, 2013.
Isla Eckinger was born on May 6, 1939 in Dornach, Switzerland. As a child he played cello and moved on to trombone in his teens. After studying trumpet at the Conservatory in Basel, he taught himself the bass. When he turned professional, his first gig was playing with Oscar and Miriam Klein.
In the 1960s Eckinger accompanied international visiting musicians such as Ben Webster, Buck clayton, Don Byas and Johnny Griffin. A move to Munich saw him working with Mal Waldron, Joe Haider and Philly Joe Jones.
Entering the world of academia Isla taught at the Swiss Jazz School from 1970 to 1976 during which time he also performed with Haider, Peter giger and Heinz Bigler in the Group Four for Jazz. He also kept in good company working on several projects with Slide Hampton, George Gruntz, Horace Parlan, Benny Bailey and Dexter Gordon.
By 1975 Eckinger was touring Japan with Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy and Manfred Schoof and Italy with Chet Baker in ’76. By the end of the decade he was a member of the Wolfgang Engstfeld Quartet. He went on to work with Klaus Weiss, Fritz Pauer and Dizzy Gillespie.
Mid-1980s drew him to Los Angeles, California to record as a sideman with Chuck Manning on his 1991 release LA Calling. Trombonist and vibraphonist Isla Eckinger currently plays with Roman Schwaller, Jimmy Cobb,, Charly Antolini, Andy Scherrer and Paul Haag.
Mark Sherman was born April 17, 1957 in Manhattan, New York City to a Juillliard trained soprano mother who performed with the Cleveland and Boston symphonies, so it was natural that he studied classical piano as a child.
Sherman graduated from The High School of Music and in 1975, then went on to study classical percussion at Juilliard. He performed in ensembles under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Sir George Solti, Zubin Mehta and Herbert Von Karajan. While there he would jam regularly with Wynton Marsalis. During the course of his career, Sherman also studied with Elvin Jones, Rohland Kohloff, Justin Diccocco, Roland Hanna and Jackie Byard among others.
While still in his teens, Mark played drums in a trio with pianist Kenny Kirkland who he introduced to Wynton. At 21, he began working on Broadway and in New York’s active studio scene, playing percussion, piano, drums and vibraphone. In 1980 he released his first album Fulcrum Point on Unisphere records. The decade saw him in studio working on commercial jingles.
Sherman spent a lot of his time in the studio in the 1980s, working on commercial jingles. Pianist Mike Renzi took him under his wing, connecting him with Peggy Lee and other singers performing with Lee, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Lena Horne and Ruth Brown. In 1986 he signed with Columbia Records and released his major label debut, A New Balance.
He continued to perform with Peggy Lee in the early 1990s, began a seven-year playing relationship with Larry Coryell, became an active studio musician, and played on numerous films and Broadway soundtracks. Reemerging as a leader playing vibraphone, he also continued his active career as a sideman, recording with Capathia Jenkins, Jennifer Holiday, Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Minnelli and others.
Sherman continued to release his own albums on Miles High Records, won the Rising Star (Vibes) category in the Down Beat Critics Poll in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and has been a Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Vibraphonist, pianist and drummer Mark Sherman is currently on the faculty of Juilliard jazz program, New Jersey City University and the New York Jazz Workshop.