Composer and flutist Bryan Kennard leads an active schedule as a writer and performer. He earned his MM in Jazz Composition from UT Austin, MM in Flute Performance from Youngstown State University, and BM from Mercyhurst University. During his time at UT, he was awarded the 2016 Stribling Award for Excellence in Jazz Studies and won a Downbeat Student Music Award for Best Graduate Jazz Small Group as a member of AIME.
Currently pursuing a DMA in Jazz Composition at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, Bryan serves as a TA for the Studio Music and Jazz department and as Coordinator/Composition Fellow for the Henry Mancini Institute. His music has been performed at such events as the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals, National Flute Association Convention, and Texas Music Educators Association Convention. Bryan’s work has also been presented in a master class with Billy Childs at the 2017 International Society for Jazz Arrangers and Composers Symposium. www.bryankennard.com
Altin Sencalar a Temple, Texas native started his musical education playing the cello at age 9. At age 11, he picked up the euphonium, then the trombone and has had the fortune to have studied with some of the finest musicians today. The list includes Michael Dease, Mike Roylance, Andre Hayward, Martin McCain, Freddie Mendoza, Rodney Whitaker, Diego Rivera, Etienee Charles, Xavier Davis, Jeff Hellmer, and many others. Along with excellent instructors, Altin has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with performers such as Bobby Shew, Chris Vadala, Marcus Printup, Andre Hayward, Doug Webb, Wycliffe Gordon, Michael Dease, Cyrus Chestnut, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Mike Williams, Terrell Stafford, and many others.
On the competition platform, Altin has received prizes and honors for both national and international competitions such as, The American Trombone Workshop, the International Trombone Association, Texas State Trombone Symposium Michael Rath Jazz Trombone Competition, Downbeat Student Music Awards, and being a Yamaha Young Performing Artist for the Low Brass Division. Along with national and international recognition, Altin remains as one of the most active musicians in Austin, TX and Detroit, MI. Recently named one of the top 10 horn players in the 2016/2017 Austin Chronicles, “Austin Music Awards” Altin, had the pleasure of being apart of many original groups in Austin which include Latin Grammy nominated bands, Austin Chronicle Award winning bands, Recording Label artist, and nationally acclaimed groups. Along with playing with local bands Altin has also played and opened for George Clinton and the P-Funk, The O’Jay’s, Chaka Kahn, Lisa Lisa and Full Force, The US Army Jazz Ambassadors, The US Army Blues, and many others. Altin has also performed and/or been featured at the Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, Texas Jazz Festival, National Tejano Convention, Music For All Festival, South By South West, Austin City Limits, and many other festivals across the United States.
Born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, John Arndt was drawn to music at an early age. Studying the piano since the age of six, he has traveled all over the U.S. and abroad performing with various artists. John received his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Piano Performance from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. In demand all over the country as a composer, arranger, producer, and pianist, John has been nominated two consecutive years for a Grammy through his work with the Christian band Gungor. John also produces the acclaimed ensemble The Brilliance.
Ron Brown’s musical career has taken him through many styles of music. His first big break came when he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra under Mercer Ellington. From Ellington it was on to Natalie Cole, Diana Ross, Anita Baker, and Whitney Houston, and more. In between these tours, there were countless sessions and television show performances with Stevie Wonder, Joe Sample, Aretha Franklin, and Al Jarreau. After years of being a sideman, Ron embarked on a solo career. His debut cd, “From My Eyes Only” was produced by Grammy nominated guitarist Doc Powell, and released on Discovery Records in 1997. With a desire to take his career to the next level, Ron established his own record label, Mankind Records. With that, he produced the critically acclaimed CD, “Urban Dreams” by the Urban Jazz Network, which featured performances by Kirk Whalum, Jonathan Butler, Kenny Garrett, and Mulgrew Miller. This cd blended the sounds of Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop, and Gospel. The music of his In The Spirit project, released in 2001, truly showcases Ron’s artistry, as well as reflecting his soul, weaving seamlessly through traditional hymns with upbeat contemporary arrangements. Ron’s 2003 release, “Were You There”, continued his quest to uplift hearts and souls. “Restored” was released 2006 and the new CD is “Sweet Spirit” 2011.
Originally from North Carolina, saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Seth Carper currently calls San Marcos, TX home. Seth received his DMA in Jazz Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. He leads the Seth Carper Quartet, co-leads the N.O.W. Jazz Orchestra, and is in high demand as a freelance musician. He spent five years in New York City performing, as well as teaching at The City College of New York and Third Street Music Settlement. Seth received his M.M. in Music Jazz Performance at CCNY studying with Grammy Award winning bassist, John Patitucci, and he earned his B.M. in Music Education/Saxophone from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He has previously served as director of bands at Holmes Middle School in Eden, NC, and taught saxophone and jazz improvisation as at Davidson College and Pfeifer University. Seth has shared the stage with such jazz greats as Ernie Watts, Vincent Herring, Maynard Ferguson, and Jerry Dodgion, and has also performed with many popular & classical groups, including Grammy winning groups The Temptations and The Four Tops, The O’Jays, Lou Christie, The Drifters, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Piedmont Wind Symphony of NC, The North Carolina Symphony, and The Reduced Opera Co. of London. He maintains a private sax studio and regularly performs with some of central Texas’ finest musicians. Seth lives with his beautiful wife, Kiira, and their two cats, Sunny and Herbie.
Clay Downham graduated from the University of Texas in 2016 (B.M. in Jazz Performance & B.A. in Philosophy, summa cum laude), where he studied with Professors Jonathan Dancy, Eric Drott, and Robert Hatten. Currently, Clay is pursuing a M.M. in Music Theory at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is teaching aural skills, class guitar, and private guitar lessons. Clay’s chapter “Virtual Incarnation in Schumann’s Carnaval,” forthcoming in Semiotics 2015, explores how various real or fictional characters may be imported into the expressive narrative of a piece of music—specifically, how Schumann stages a musical image of himself via fictional characters. This November (2016), at the Society of Music Theory/American Musicological Society conference in Vancouver, Clay will give a talk that traces the gradual distillation of interactive improvisation leading up to the celebrated “free jazz” recordings by Lennie Tristano’s Quintet in 1949.
Guitarist Ulrich Ellison was born and raised in Graz, Austria, though his ancestral roots go back to Ireland, from where many generations ago, his family moved to Central Europe. He grew up with the music of the eighties such as Mike Oldfield, Peter Gabriel or The Police, but his parents’ LP collection also featured Django Reinhard, Miles Davis and other jazz greats. At an early age he was drawn to the piano and soon was admitted to the local conservatory. ” I dig musicians that imprint a certain tone.” After highschool he left Graz to study at the acclaimed Vienna University of Music, exposing himself to classical music and theory. Ultimately this led to a serious interest in jazz, sparked by his teachers Harri Stojka, Alex Machacek, and later on, Karl Ratzer. His 2007′ debut release “Tales From The Kingdom Electric” got much critical acclaim and is heavily influenced by the fusion rock era of the 70´s. “No frontiers” could be the motto of the multicultural, eclectic brew of Ellison’s music. His baritone voice adds another dimension to his genre-crossing show. Backed up by Austin ´s top instrumentalists, this power trio has very few limitations, as can be witnessed by regular performances in Austin’s top club venues like Antone’s, the Elephant Room, Momo’s and the Saxon Pub.
Zac is a 2014 recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Arts award and attended the University of Texas at Austin, receiving his Master’s degree in Jazz Composition in 2016 under the tutelage of Dr. John Mills. Zac graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Saxophone Performance, studying in the private studio of Sam Skelton. zacevansmusic.com.
Domenico Gattozzi studied piano at the preparatory division of the Cleveland Institute of Music under Lucia Markovich. After moving to Austin, he pursued his musical studies and obtained a Bachelor of Music degree in jazz performance at the Butler School of Music under Jeff Hellmer. While at UT Austin, Domenico also studied classical piano under David Renner and Dr. Betty Mallard. He was involved in many musical activities in the Austin area, including serving as a rehearsal pianist at Ballet Austin, performing at multiple venues downtown including Truluck’s and the Elephant Room, appearing on the KUT radio station, and having his own studio of piano students. Domenico also performed a solo piano act at the 2010 “Jazz in Campo” Jazz Festival in Campodipietra, Italy, opening for Eddie Palmieri and the Afro-Caribbean Jazz All Stars. After earning his degree in music, Domenico attended medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas where he graduated in 2014 with Alpha Omega Alpha honor distinction. During medical school he held the position of music director at his parish church. Domenico recently recorded an album of his original work as a bandleader in June 2014, and is currently in residency training for neurosurgery at the University of Kansas in Kansas City.
Pat Harris (b.1984) is a bassist, songwriter, and composer with musical roots in classical, jazz, and American traditions. Originally from Michigan, he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in classical bass performance and a minor in philosophy from Central Michigan University (2007). He earned his Master’s degree in jazz studies with academic honors from the University of Texas at Austin (2009).
Harris maintains an active multi-genre performance schedule. He records and tours with the award winning nuevo tango ensemble the Austin Piazzolla Quintet, has been a mainstay with acclaimed songsmith Reed Turner, toured internationally with Leonard Cohen, and has collaborated with countless other world class artists in various settings. In addition to live and studio work, he has written and arranged music for commercials and radio, and has served as a musical director and producer for an eclectic assortment of projects.
Through his own Wigglestump Records label, Harris has released four recordings as a leader: Live 4/9/09 (2009), Traveling By Moonlight (2011), Hour Before the Mourning (2013), and his most recent album of original material, recorded under the band name The Forgotten Prophets, titled The End (2016). He writes extensively about his experiences connected to music on his Thoughts blog, and is working on his first philosophical book addressing the uniqueness of the live experience. www.gpatharris.com
Over the span of his 25-year music career, native Texan and Austin resident Elias Haslanger has carved a unique and distinguished place in jazz history as a saxophonist, composer, and band leader, whose playing and writing has drawn comparisons to John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, and Wayne Shorter. He has performed, recorded, and toured with many world-class artists including Ellis Marsalis, Maynard Ferguson, Christopher Cross, Charlie Hunter, Asleep at the Wheel, Alejandro Escovedo, Sheryl Crow, Grupo Fantasma, The Four Tops, and The Temptations, among many others.
Mentored by the legendary saxophonists Harvey Pittel and Dick Oatts, Elias studied saxophone at the University of Texas and then at the Manhattan School of Music. His interest in writing music culminated in a Master’s Degree in Composition at Texas State University in San Marcos. Elias has performed around the United States and Europe at clubs like Snug Harbor in New Orleans, Jazz Alley in Seattle, The Elephant Room in Austin, and The Blue Note in New York. He has also served as a guest artist/lecturer at universities around the nation.
Elias has 6 recordings as a leader and his latest, LIVE at the Gallery, was played on radio stations across the world and received 4.5 stars in Downbeat magazine. “Haslanger’s freewheeling licks roar with virtuosity and infectious joie de vivre.”
-Michael Jackson, DownBeat
Jazz trumpeter Thomas Heflin has been hailed as “a fluent trumpeter with a bright tone and a forward-looking style” by writer Scott Yanow. He currently lives and performs in New York City where he works as Program Manager of the Precollege Division at Manhattan School of Music. In 2005, Heflin placed second in the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Competition and has been featured or mentioned in Jazz Magazine, Cadence Magazine, The Pittsburgh Tribune Review and The International Trumpet Guild Journal. Heflin recently released his third album, “Live from Austin,” a collaboration with Ron Westray, former trombonist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Since moving to New York, he has headlined at Small’s and is a regular soloist with the house Big Band at Smoke Jazz Club. Heflin has performed with the likes of James Williams, Lou Rawls, Vincent Herring, Donald Brown, Eric Revis, Adonis Rose, Damion Reid, Joe Sanders and Neal Caine among many others.
Grammy award winning saxophonist, arranger and composer Mace Hibbard has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting and versatile saxophonists on the scene today. Born and raised in Waco, Texas, he attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Bachelors Degree in performance and a Master of Music in Jazz Studies. While in Austin, Mace developed as a composer and formed Odd Man Out, who released their self-titled debut on Viewpoint Records in 2000. In addition to his growing jazz career, Hibbard began developing his reputation as an outstanding performer in all genres, playing in ensembles as diverse as the Austin Symphony, singer-songwriter Drew Smith, the Creative Opportunity Orchestra, and The Stingers. Mace moved to Atlanta in 2003 where he continues his reputation as a gifted performer. Hibbard has also served as instructor of jazz saxophone at Georgia State University since 2005. Backed by his long time ensemble, Mace recently released his latest endeavor, Time Gone By. Time Gone By is a full throttle voyage firmly respectful of the traditions of jazz, but absolutely cognoscente of modern jazz idioms. Time Gone By is the second contribution by the Mace Hibbard Quintet. His first album, When Last We Met, was released in 2007 to rave reviews and worldwide airplay. Founded in 2005 in Atlanta, having a established, working band is especially important to Hibbard. Says Hibbard, “I’ve always been influenced by the bands of Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley and in the modern time, Branford Marsalis and Dave Holland, where the contributions of all of the musicians creates a strong ensemble. I feel that the chemistry and interplay that has developed over the years has really given this band a cohesive sound in how it interprets the music. All of the members of the band have great musical instincts and suggestions, and I want the band to be a platform where they feel their contributions have equal merit. On any given concert, you will hear compositions by all of the members of the band which I feel also adds to the band’s distinctive sound.
Paul Ostermayer has had a colorful and eclectic career as a woodwind player, playing across genre lines in varied situations across the globe. He has played jazz in Romania (University of Texas Jazz Ensemble) and in Central and South America (Dick Goodwin Jazz Quintet), in Los Angeles (Blood, Sweat and Tears, Passenger) and in New York City (Robben Ford, Paul Ostermayer Quintet). He has played pop music in Africa (Christopher Cross) and in Europe and Canada (Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes), also in blues clubs across the U.S. (Delbert McClinton). He has played contemporary “dance” music from Singapore to Barbados (Vali Entertainment), and contemporary classical music in the Big Apple (NY Philharmonic with Kurt Masur, Brooklyn Philharmonic with Lukas Foss, NYC Ballet Orchestra with Michael Tilson Thomas, American Saxophone Quartet). And he has shared the stage with such legends in entertainment as Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Rodney Dangerfield, Bette Midler, Mary Martin, Patti Page, Rich Little, Joel Grey, The Temptations, Lou Rawls, Ben Vereen, Cab Calloway, Doc Severinsen, Savion Glover, Nancy Wilson, Rita Moreno, Marilyn McCoo, and Queen Latifah. Paul received a Bachelors Degree in Music Theory and Composition and a Masters Degree in Saxophone Performance at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1991 he received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to study with Miles Davis’ saxophonist David Liebman, as well as studying privately in NYC with saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Joe Lovano, Bob Berg, and Al Regni. He studied flute with NY Philharmonic flutist Keith Underwood and clarinet with David Stanton. His compositions and performances have been featured on both National Public Radio’s Jazz Alive and PBS’ Austin City Limits. Other TV work includes The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Solid Gold, and The Phil Dohahue Show; a CBC documentary on Leonard Cohen, The Song of Leonard Cohen, Tap USA on French TV, Rock Pop on German TV, and Later with Jules Holland on British TV. Album credits include Leonard Cohen’s Recent Songs, Cohen Live, and Field Commander Cohen, Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat, Carole King’s City Streets, Asleep at the Wheel’s Framed, Mitch Watkins’ Underneath It All, Craig Peyton’s Songs from Home, George Mitchell’s Aftermath, Suzi Stern’s Seven Stars and Inside Stories, and The Rick Wald Big Band’s Castaneda’s Dream. Paul currently is Managing Director and owner of MTM Artists, an artists management agency specializing in both classical and jazz instrumentalists, many with ties to Juilliard School in New York.
Hamilton Price began playing Tuba at age 14 in his hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas. At 17, he switched his focus to the upright bass. He received his Bachelors degree in Classical Double Bass Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. Hamilton studied improvised music with bassist John Fremgen and pianist Jeff Hellmer, and studied Classical Double Bass with David Neubert. He played in Gerry Gibbs’ Thrasher Band for five years, which led him to Los Angeles where he lives today. Performances: Billy Childs, Geoffrey Keezer, Eric Reed, Joanne Brackeen, Tamir Hendelman, Tigran Hamasyan, Otmaro Ruiz, Patrice Rushen, Dewey Redman, Dave Liebman, Steve Wilson, Bob Sheppard, John Abercrombie, Gary Bartz, Sam Rivers, Ravi Coltrane, James Moody, Walter Smith III, Tom Scott, Hubert Laws, Terry Gibbs, Kevin Mahogany, Roberta Gambarini, Jon Hendricks, Anthony Wilson, Chico Pinheiro, Larry Koonse, Peter Sprague, Mike Stern, Larry Coryell, Tom Harrell, Randy Brecker, Gilbert Castellanos, Steve Turre, Brian Blade, Willie Jones III, Terreon Gully, Antonio Sanchez, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Mark Ferber, Clarence Penn, Vinnie Colaiuta, Francisco Mela, Peter Erskine, T.S. Monk, Lewis Nash, Gary Novak Teaching: Hamilton teaches privately, and has coached combos at both LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Performing Arts) and Harvard-Westlake Middle School. Discography: Geoffrey Keezer/Peter Sprague “Mill Creek Road” -SBE Records 2011 Mary Stallings “Dream” -High Note Records 2010 Denise Donatelli “When Lights are Low” -Savant Records 2010 -(Grammy Nominated) Josh Nelson “I Hear a Rhapsody” -self-release 2009 Denise Donatelli “What Lies Within” -Savant Records 2008 Terry Gibbs “Finding the Groove” -Jazzed Media 2007 Gerry Gibbs “Faces Unkown” -Sms Jazz 2006 Gerry Gibbs Big Band “Live at Luna” -Whaling City Sound 2006 Elias Haslanger “Dream Story” -self-release 2006 Valeri Grohovski “Double Bach” -self-release 2004 Eddy Hobizal “Anamnesis” -self-release 2003
A native of Charleston, SC, Mike Sailors began his musical training at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While in NC, he worked most notably with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra. With the NCJRO, Sailors appeared in concert with jazz luminaries Sean Jones, Don Braden, Byron Stripling and McCoy Tyner.
As a composer, he has written music for Peter Bernstein, Rodney Whitaker, Ryan Kisor, Sean Jones and a host of other artists and organizations including The Columbus Jazz Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Pops Orchestra, Mack Avenue Records and The North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra.
Sailors has appeared at The Rainbow Room, The NY Hot Jazz Festival, The Queens Jazz Festival, The Blue Note Jazz Festival, The Detroit Jazz Festival with The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, The London Jazz Festival, the Turner Classic Movie Cruise, CBS’s Good Morning America. He tours extensively with The Hot Sardines traveling throughout Europe, Japan and the US. He is also the Musical Director for Sleep No More – a Broadway show currently in it’s 6th year.
Recent recordings have found him in the studio with the Hot Sardines (Decca Records), as well as for the critically acclaimed documentary “Chinese Dreamland“, on which he is a featured soloist on it’s soundtrack.
Wayne Salzmann II
Wayne Salzmann II is best known for his work with Grammy winning guitar virtuoso, Eric Johnson, with whom he has played multiple world tours, and recorded several Billboard #1 albums. He is currently the drum-set Instructor at the University of Texas at Austin, and has given dozens of clinics and master classes at Universities and Music Conservatories worldwide. Salzmann has performed and/or recorded with a wide variety of artists such as Steve Miller, Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Satriani, Christopher Cross, Robben Ford, Mike Stern, Joe Bonamassa, Oz Noy, Sonny Landreth, Albert Lee, Bobby Mcferrin, Chris Potter, Jeff Coffin, Bill Watrous, Terence Blanchard, Esperanza Spalding, Carmen Bradford, Andre Hayward, and many more. He has been featured on dozens of albums, music videos, commercial jingles, television shows, and Hollywood film soundtracks. Salzmann is an active member of the Drum Set Committee for the Percussive Arts Society, and he proudly endorses DW Drums, Pedals, and Hardware, Zildjian Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, Puresound Snare Wires, Westone In-Ear Monitors, Reunion Blues Cases, and Vic Firth Drumsticks with whom he has a signature stick. www.waynesalzmann.com
Born in Brazil (1980), 2010 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award Winner Gabriel Santiago is a Composer/Arranger/ Acoustic and Electric Guitar Player. Called by JazzTimes Magazine “a young master at both the acoustic and electric guitars” and his compositions defined as “stunners”, Santiago holds a Doctoral Degree in Music Composition from the University of Texas at Austin, where he won the 2013 Outstanding Dissertation Award and the 2010 Eleanor A. Stribling Award for Excellence in Jazz Studies. His solid background also features studies with jazz masters Pat Metheny, Adam Rogers and Maria Schneider. Santiago has collaborated with a wide variety of artists including Esperanza Spalding, Chris Potter, Stefon Harris, John Clayton, Terence Blanchard, Janek Gwizdala, Carmen Bradford, André Mehmari, Romero Lubambo, Odair Assad, Gilson Peranzzetta and Recording Engineer Master Rupert Neve, being invited to be the first artist to record with Neve’s first ever line of microphones. Gabriel has been composing music for a wide variety of ensembles (ranging from Symphony Orchestra to Chamber ensembles, Big band to Jazz Combos), styles and medias including Film, TV, and Internet. His music is fresh and carries all of his influences that range from Brazilian Music to Jazz and Classical Music. www.gabrielsantiagoproject.com
David was born and raised in Austin, Texas where he earned a Bachelors degree in jazz performance from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010. He tours regularly with the BoDeans and has collaborated with many world class musicians such as Neil Caine, Carmen Bradford, Bill Watrous, and many others. Whether he’s in the studio or on the road, David is constantly seeking to cultivate positive relationships and create music at the highest level possible.
Pianist/composer and 2017 Doty Distinguished Alumna Award Winner Helen Sung hails from Houston, TX, where she attended the High School for the Performing & Visual Arts. During classical studies at the University of Texas at Austin (B.M. 1993, M.M. 1995), Sung met Jazz and went on to graduate from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance (at the New England Conservatory) and win the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition. Now based in New York City, Sung has worked with such luminaries as the late Clark Terry, Ron Carter, Victor Lewis, Steve Turre, Wayne Shorter, and MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter.
With six leader releases and featured appearances at festivals/venues including Newport, Monterey, Detroit, SFJAZZ, and Carnegie Hall, Sung is also stepping onto the international stage with tours in Europe, Asia, and Africa. She can currently be seen with such fine ensembles as the Mingus Big Band and Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning Mosaic Project.
A commissioned composer, Sung won a 2014 Chamber Music America “New Jazz Works” Grant. Inspired by her experience at the Monk Institute, Sung stays involved in music education through residencies and workshops, and serves on the jazz faculties at the Juilliard School and Columbia University.
Evolution and a fiercely open-minded approach to composition are the hallmarks of alto and soprano saxophonist Justin Vasquez’s artistry. Shedding dutifully before hitting the east and west coasts for critical apprenticeships, he has honed a boundary defying style as fluid and organic as it is impressive. On Triptych, his startlingly mature self-produced recording debut as a leader, Justin Vasquez – at 26 – is fast becoming a force in a genre he is still struggling to define. Evolution on an inordinately high level has been a constant in the life of Justin Vasquez. “I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and grew up in several other small towns,” he begins. Justin arrived at the University of Texas in Austin fully intending to study classical music, but was eventually drawn to the jazz department. Hitting the bandstand with drummer Gerry Gibbs, Justin got the golden early opportunity play and tour with jazz legends like Randy Brecker, Tom Harrell, Mike Stern, Sam Rivers and Dave Liebman. After graduating college in 2005, Justin spent two-and-a-half years in Los Angeles, performing in local big bands and forming the powerhouse group Los Cuatro (a quartet with Yellowjackets’ bassist Jimmy Haslip). He later moved to New York where he has been playing with the city’s top musicians such as Jojo Mayer, Elliot Mason, Janek Gwzidala, Tim Miller, Oli Rockberger, and Sean Rickman. To bring Triptych to life, Justin acquired some of music’s most cutting edge players: pianist Aaron Parks, guitarist Adam Rogers, bassist Orlando Le Fleming and drummer Clarence Penn. Adding distinctive colors to this wide-ranging palette are Gregoire Maret on harmonica and vocalist Gretchen Parlato. Justin’s composition, “Fields,” a moving heartland piece that moves between 11/4 and waltz time, recently won the ASCAP Jazz Composers Award. “My goals are to play with the very best musicians and to push myself as far as I possibly can,” Justin concludes, “communicating something worthwhile about my experience on this planet to people who want to listen.”
Paul G. White
Born in Miami, FL in 1973, Paul became infatuated with music at a very early age. His eclectic musical education began with his exposure to John Coltrane during his first years of college at Appalachian State University. Soon after he began to realize the potential for expression within this art form and fully committed himself to the study of good music, with an emphasis on jazz. After completing his degree at Appalachian State University he went on to graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin where he began to study more specifically jazz saxophone and composition. In 1999 he finished his Masters of Music in composition and then completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition with Jazz Emphasis in 2003. During his residency at both universities, Paul studied with a variety of composition and performance instructors including Dan Welcher, Rick Lawn, Rick Margitza, William Gora and Donald Grantham. Paul has performed with and has had the privilege of writing for many local and national musicians such as Phil Woods, Michael Brecker, Peter Erskine, Butch Miles, Frank Mantooth, Wayne Newton, Bob Newhart, Pete Rodriguez and many others. His compositions have been performed all over the country by many academic, professional and military ensembles, including Riverside Community College, New England Conservatory and the Temple Jazz Orchestra. Paul has played with various groups of varied styles of music all over the world and is the founding member of The Paul White Quintet, an Austin-based contemporary jazz quintet that has performed in many different venues throughout central Texas including several annual jazz festivals and The Acoustic Mayhem a 9-piece big band featuring some of the best local musicians. Paul is currently the Baritone Saxophonist for The US Army Field Band’s Jazz Ambassadors, located in the Washington, DC area. Paul was fortunate to travel to Mantova, Italy in 2005 to tour and record with the Mantua Jazz Trio.
Dr. Marcus Wilcher is a composer, arranger, and saxophonist currently based in Los Angeles, CA. Born in 1985 in to Michael and Gwendolyn Wilcher, Marcus grew up in the suburbs of Moreno Valley, California listening to Soul, R&B, and Hip-Hop. He began showing interest in jazz at age ten after hearing Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool. However, jazz wouldn’t become his focus until he entered college in 2003, where he developed a passion for composition and decided to pursue a career in music. Wilcher has attended and received multiple degrees from both Riverside City College and the University of Texas-Austin. Both schools frequently feature his compositions in concert. Most recently, Marcus was a finalist in the 2013 ArtEZ composition competition—part of the Grolsch International Jazz Festival—and received commissions from the New York Youth Symphony’s First Music program for both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 concert seasons.