Ross Whitaker was born in Lexington, Kentucky. After studying guitar at both Bellarmine University and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, he finished his B.A. in Music at the University of Kentucky in 2005. He later continued with graduate studies in musicology at the University of Kentucky, where he received his M.A. in 2013. His master's thesis categorized and analyzed "Louie Louie" borrowings in the officially released recordings of Frank Zappa. As a performer, Ross has garnered a broad range of experience. He has recorded with Wycliffe Gordon, shared the stage with Bob Mintzer and Lorrie Morgan, and opened for artists such as Karl Denson, Brian Auger, Billy Joe Shaver, and Snarky Puppy. Ross performs regularly in and around central Kentucky on both guitar and pedal steel guitar
Keigo Hirakawa is a jazz pianist with a unique sense of expressiveness and rhythm section interaction. Sought after for his willingness to be musically spontaneous on stage, he brings highly personal and energetic style of improvisation to ensembles. He distinguishes himself with his articulate use of harmonic and rhythmic vocabulary and his leadership style on the bandstand. Based in Midwest, Hirakawa can be heard throughout the US and internationally. He has appeared on stage alongside Donald Byrd, Joe Lovano, JD Allen, Duane Eubanks, Carla Cook, Bobby Lavell, Bob Moses, Allen Vizzutti, Eddie Bayard, and Richie Barshay. Trained in New York City and at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, he was a student of many world renowned jazz artists. He was the acting director of the Cornell University Jazz Ensembles in 2000-2001, during which time he welcomed Donald Byrd, Jimmy Heath, Wycliffe Gordon, Terell Stafford, Vincent Herring, and Joe Chambers onto the stage as guest soloists. He is a passionate clinician and educator, on faculty at the University of Dayton.
In this intimate offering, described as a “simpatico merging of two great musical minds and four talented hands” by Twin Cities Pioneer Press, violinist Regina Carter and pianist Xavier Davis have an electric connection on stage. Hailed as the foremost jazz violinist of her generation, Regina Carter’s quest for beauty combined with her passion for excellence did not escape the attention of the MacArthur Foundation, awarding her a prestigious “genius grant” fellowship. Regina has a very special musical relationship with Xavier Davis, and she has performed on-and-off with Davis since 2004. Featured on more than 50 albums and known as one of the most accomplished jazz pianists in the world, Davis is considered a virtuoso in his own regard. Coming together for a series of performances in 2018 and 2019, the Regina Carter & Xavier Davis duo program is a “near-telepathic” experience, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, as the two extremely accomplished musicians complement each other with their respective talents.
Vocalist Kelle Jolly, "The Tennessee Ukulele Lady", is one of East Tennessee's most celebrated jazz musicians. She and her husband, saxophonist Will Boyd, were the 2015 MLK Art Award recipients in Knoxville. She is the founder of Ukesphere of Knoxville, a ukulele group for all ages. As an ambassador of jazz, she has traveled to Muroran, Japan as Knoxville's Sister City representative at various jazz festivals and events. Kelle Jolly is the host of Knoxville's newest radio show on WUOT 91.9FM (www.wuot.org), Jazz Jam with Kelle Jolly, an hour-long show that celebrates great local, national and international singers of jazz. She is also the founder of the Women in Jazz Jam Festival (www.womeninjazzjamfestival.com).
Nancy Gail Shivel first found her voice in her father’s Nazarene church in Ashland, Kentucky, belting out some impromptu blues one morning in the middle of Sunday services. The rest of the family were up front performing when the youngest, all of 18 months, decided it was time to join the family chorus. Later, when the family toured churches and singing conventions throughout the South, they were dubbed, the Shivel Family Singers with Gail - The Little Girl with the Built-in Speakers.
The Bad Plus came together at the end of the 20th century and has avoided easy categorization ever since, winning critical hosannas and a legion of fans worldwide with their creativity, unique sound and flair for live performance. The intensely collaborative trio has constantly searched for rules to break and boundaries to cross, bridging genres and techniques while exploring the infinite possibilities of three exceptional musicians working in perfect sync.
Floyd has toured and performed extensively with Ray Charles, Rusty Bryant, Jeff Tyzik, Chris Howes, Byron Stripling, Sarah Morrow and his own trio. His current touring schedule includes performances as featured soloist with orchestras throughout the USA and Canada, including the Rochester Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, Detroit Symphony, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, and many others. Floyd is also a frequent soloist with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra where his soulful sound has backed artist such as Chuck Mangione, Houston Person, Branford Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Mavis Staples, Gerald Wilson, Wycliffe Gordon, John Clayton and countless others. His recent performances in Europe and Japan have garnered high praise and he continues to accompany the top jazz, blues and gospel artist in the country.
Bassist Christian McBride is a master musician who has appeared on over 300 records. He is easily one of the most accomplished bass players alive, and his resume as a bandleader is also quite impressive. The quartet includes Josh Evans, Nasheet Waits and Marcus Strickland, musicians that are regularly featured at Jazz at Lincoln Center and all over the city both as bandleaders and as sidemen with some of jazz’s biggest names. Fans of McBride’s other small groups will surely love this ensemble, and its unusual two-horns, no-piano lineup gives it a unique flavor. With just bass and drums holding down the rhythm section, McBride and Waits provide as rich and driving a foundation as any group could hope for.
Of Brooklyn-based saxophonist Noah Preminger, The New York Times declares: “Mr. Preminger designs a different kind of sound for each note, an individual destiny and story.” Preminger, just 31 and the winner of Downbeat Magazine’s Rising Star Best Tenor Saxophonist, has recorded numerous critically acclaimed albums. Three new recordings were released in late 2016/early 2017, including an all-ballads date on the French vinyl label, Newvelle Records, a recording inspired by Delta Mississippi Blues musicians, Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground and on Inauguration Day, 2017, Preminger released his 8th album as a bandleader, Meditations On Freedom, as a musical protest at ominous political developments in America.
Cuban born Axel Tosca Laugart is one of the most dynamic young pianists on the scene. Laugart benefitted from a wide range of musical experiences growing up in Cuba. Laugart has played with the Afro Cuban All Stars, Teresa Garcia Caturla, Sexteto Sendito, Jose Miguel Crego (known as “El Greco”), and a Latin Jazz group called the Bobby Carcases Group. Laugart was also part of the Hip-Hop scene in Cuba and had the opportunity to play with The Roots while they were in Cuba. He has also worked in the studio with Cuban conductor Miguel Ceruto.
Those who have entered Cuba through Jose Marti International Airport in Havana will know that upon arrival, they are greeted by beautiful video images of Old Havana on TV screens and the sultry voice of Xiomara Laugart singing “Hoy mi Habana”. And it is no coincidence because Xiomara Laugart is “The Voice of Cuba”. She has been representing her country and her people, performing at venues around the globe for over 30 years and with the greatest of international talents. She is a living legend in her native Cuba where she has recorded more than 15 albums.
“I called the great French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and I said ‘So, who’s the new cat? Who’s got the stuff? And he said Zach Brock.”
-Stanley Clarke, The Blue Note, NYC
Join us for our May edition of Origins Jazz Series, presenting Grammy-winning violinist Zach Brock, and his jazz trio Triptych with bassist Matt Ulery, and drummer Jon Deitemyer.
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Heralded as “the pre-eminent improvising violinist of his generation,” Zach Brock is a violinist and composer whose music draws on the traditions of jazz, classical, world, and popular music. Zach received a Grammy Award in 2017 for his work on Snarky Puppy’s album Culcha Vulcha and Downbeat Magazine named him the 'Rising star Violinist' of 2013.
His acclaim as a bandleader has grown through appearances at venues such as Carnegie Hall and festivals like “Tudo é Jazz” in Brazil, while his reputation as a sideman has spread through his work with legendary bassist Stanley Clarke, contemporary instrumental super-group Snarky Puppy, and jazz masters Phil Markowitz and Wycliffe Gordon.
Zach has made ten recordings as a leader or co-leader and is the first violinist to record for the venerable Dutch jazz label Criss Cross. Zach has also represented the U.S. Department of State as a Musical Ambassador in the Solomon Islands, has performed as a featured soloist for two Sundance Festival feature film scores, and is currently an “Artist In Residence” at Temple University in Philadelphia.
"Easily the most compelling saxophonist of his generation."
- Detroit Free Press
We're very excited to present one of the biggest living names in jazz, Chris Potter, live at the Lyric Theater.
A world-class soloist, accomplished composer, and formidable bandleader, Grammy Award winning saxophonist Chris Potter has emerged as a leading light of his generation. Potter’s music showcases limitless creativity and a vibrant sense of swing, prompting critics, musicians, and fans alike to cite him as the one of the finest saxophonists today.
The New Yorker calls Potter, “A tenorist who can remind you of Joe Henderson at his craftiest, he employs his considerable technique in the service of music rather than spectacle.”
Throughout his career, Potter has performed and recorded with artists as diverse as Steely Dan and Herbie Hancock, and has toured the world over with the Dave Holland Quintet, the Overtone Quartet, AZIZA, and the jazz-funk group, Chris Potter’s Underground.
The Dreamer is the Dream, by the Chris Potter Quartet, is the current chapter in Potter’s storied career.
Like many other art forms and industries, jazz is undergoing a reckoning with its patriarchal past. Join us at the Lyric Theatre for a conversation about the experience and journey of women in jazz.
The panel will feature OJS featured artist Jessie Laine Powell, Women in Jazz Jam Festival founder Kelle Jolly, saxophonist Meghan Pund, and the famous vocalist Gail Wynters. The panel will be moderated by Jay Alexander, Program/Music Director at 107.9FM "The Beat".
What better thing to do on a Saturday morning than to support a local business by drinking coffee and listening to jazz records? This listen-in will feature the unbelievably great record "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook", a favorite record of the Origins Jazz Series January artist Jessie Laine Powell.
"Cohesion is the truest constant in the music of Kneebody, a band that inhabits the borderland abutted by post-bop, indie-rock and hip-hop, without seeming to give much thought to the borders."
- The New York Times
Kneebody’s sound is… explosive rock energy paralleled with high-level nuanced chamber ensemble playing, with highly wrought compositions that are balanced with adventurous no-holds-barred improvising. All “sounds-like” references can be set aside; this band has created a genre and style all its own.
Kneebody is keyboardist Adam Benjamin, trumpeter Shane Endsley, electric bassist Kaveh Rastegar, saxophonist Ben Wendel and drummer Nate Wood. The band has no leader or rather, each member is the leader; they’ve developed their own musical language, inventing a unique cueing system that allows them each to change the tempo, key, style, and more in an instant.
Kneebody draws upon influences spanning D’Angelo’s Voodoo to music by Elliot Smith, Bill Frisell, and Miles Davis. Their live shows are known for intense sonic landscapes of the Radiohead ilk, for the rhythmic bombast of a Squarepusher or Queens of the Stone Age show, and the harmonic depth and improvisational freedom experienced at a Brad Mehldau concert.
What is a Listen-in?
A Listen-in is a communal listening experience, where music fans gather together, listen to an album and discuss its history and relevance.