Bassist, Composer, Arranger and Producer, John Clayton, is a busy man. With a Grammy on his shelf and nine additional nominations, artists such as Diana Krall, Paul McCartney, Regina Carter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gladys Knight, Queen Latifah, and Charles Aznavour have had spots on his crowded calendar. In 1985 John, co-founded the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and rekindled The Clayton Brothers Quintet. In addition to individual clinics, workshops, and private students as schedule permits, John also directs the educational components associated with the Centrum Jazz Festival and Workshop, and Vail Jazz Workshop. Career highlights include arranging the 'Star Spangled Banner" for Whitney Houston's performance at Super Bowl 1990 (the recording went platinum), playing bass on Paul McCartney's CD “Kisses On The Bottom,” arranging and playing bass with Yo-Yo Ma and Friends on "Songs of Joy and Peace," and arranging playing and conducting the CD "Charles Aznavour With the ClaytonHamilton Jazz Orchestra," and numerous recordings with the Clayton Brothers, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Milt Jackson, Monty Alexander and many others.
Xavier Davis' professional career as a Jazz pianist took off when the legendary vocalist Betty Carter spotted his outstanding talent at the 1994 International Association of Jazz Educators convention in Boston while he was performing with his college ensemble. It was her who brought Xavier to New York, hiring him exclusively as the pianist of her working trio. Today, Xavier is one of the most accomplished Jazz pianists world wide. Having led master classes and clinics all over the world and coming from a family of music educators, passing on knowledge and skills to young musicians is very important to Xavier. As such, he is proud to be Associate Professor of Jazz Piano at Michigan State University. Xavier was also member of the teaching staff in the Jazz department of the Juilliard School of Music in New York for six years prior to that.
Xavier's development as a musician has been greatly influenced by the inspiration and guidance he has received from Carl Allen, James Williams, and Billy Hart, whom he sees and respects as his great mentors. In addition to Betty and Carl, Xavier has performed and recorded with many other world-famous Jazz artists like the legendary Freddie Hubbard, Tom Harrell, Christian McBride, Regina Carter, Stefon Harris, Abbey Lincoln, Wynton Marsalis, Don Byron, Nat Adderley, Nicholas Payton, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Greene, Steve Turre, Al Foster, and Jeremy Pelt among others. During the 1999 - 2000 season, Xavier worked with the Boy's Choir of Harlem as their Musical Director. He also played keyboard for the television series "Cosby." His talent has been featured on more than 50 albums. Xavier is part of the Christian McBride Big Band and was featured on Christian's album 'The Good Feeling', which won a GRAMMY award in 2012.
As a bandleader, Xavier has released two critically acclaimed albums - 'Dance of Life' and 'The Innocence of Youth'. "The pianist [Xavier Davis] simply knows how to make every note on his instrument sing, and he invariably finds the richest area of the keyboard for voicing his chords." says writer Bob Blumenthal. Jazz Times reviewer John Murph writes "...the music exudes a mature, nonchalant ease and cozy empathy that make this...a rewarding listen." Down Beat gave the CD, "Dance of Life," four stars, stating, "Davis steps out with an accomplished debut." Xavier is currently working on his long awaited follow-up to these albums.
In 2005, Xavier became the first person to receive the prestigious "New Works Grant" twice from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation under the auspices of Chamber Music America. He has won awards at several festivals as well as in Down Beat magazine.
Being a gifted composer, arranger, and producer of music, Xavier has composed and arranged music for outstanding artists like Carl Allen, Regina Carter, and Hans Schuman. He has co-produced the album "Wise Children" by Tom Harrell and recently produced the new album of singer Lizzie Thomas. Xavier is also a passionate and experienced film and commercial music composer/producer.
Paul Keller is one of the busiest bassists in the Detroit area. He has earned the nick-name "The House Bass Player For The StateOf Michigan" as each year, he logs so many miles traveling across the state to perform at various music venues. At hishome-base, the Firefly Club in Ann Arbor, MI, Paul leads the 15-piece Paul Keller Orchestra, which plays original, obscureand classic big band material from all periods of jazz history. Under Paul's expert leadership, the PKO (formerly known asthe Bird of Paradise Orchestra) has garnered critical and popular acclaim, accepting Washtenaw Council for the Arts "AnnieAwards" and Detroit Music Awards for excellence in performing arts. Their CDs are: Hallelujah Train, Project X, BINGO!,Paris Blues, A Tribute To Count Basie and A Tribute To Benny Goodman. These recordings spotlight Paul's finecompositions and arrangements. The Paul Keller Orchestra has enjoyed two tours of Europe. The PKO performs everyMonday night from 8:00 PM till 11:00 PM at the Firefly Club in Ann Arbor. PKO big band Monday nights at the Firefly Clubare a beloved Ann Arbor tradition!Paul has been recognized internationally for his association with pianist/singer Diana Krall and guitarist Russell Malone.From 1993 to 1997 he toured the world, first with Malone, then with with Krall and Malone. Together they performed at theNorth Sea Jazz Festival, the Blue Note Jazz Clubs of Japan, the Algonquin Hotel and the JVC, Newport and Playboy JazzFestivals, among many others. In 2006, Paul performed with Diana Krall for former US President Bill Clinton. Paul hasplayed with Diana on national TV on The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS), The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson(CBS), The Tavis Smiley Show (PBS) and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (NBC).Keller appears on Malone's CD BlackButterfly (Columbia) and on Krall's Grammy-nominated recording All For You (GRP/Impulse).In 1999, Paul formed BOPO Records, his own recording label. In 2002, the Bird of Paradise Orchestra became known asthe Paul Keller Orchestra and BOPO Records became PKO Records. The PKO Records catalog has now grown to include36 CDs by Keller and many other outstanding Midwest jazz performers. For more information about Paul Keller, his jazzgroups and the other featured artists on the PKO Records label, log onto www.pkorecords.com.Paul has played on over 60 CDs with artists such as Diana Krall, Russell Malone, Tom Saunders, Chuck Hedges, EddieHiggins, Larry Fuller, Johnny O'Neal, Bess Bonnier, Jon-Erik Kellso, Dan Barrett, Rebecca Kilgore, Phil DeGreg, Mr. B,Steve Wood, Rick Roe, Ellen Rowe, Marcus Belgrave, Franz Jackson, Pete Siers, Dan Faehnle and Larry Nozero. Paul hasalso performed in concert with jazz greats Joe Williams, Cab Calloway, Oliver Jones, Clark Terry, Red Holloway, GeneBertoncini, Jeff Hamilton, Scott Hamilton, Ken Peplowski, Jake Hanna, Terry Gibbs, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Mark Murphy,Doc Cheatham, Byron Stripling, Jay McShann, Barry Harris, Mulgrew Miller, Jessica Williams, Bill Mays, Kenny Drew, Jr.,Herb Ellis, Bucky Pizzerelli, Mark Elf and James Moody.Paul was honored by the West Michigan Jazz Society as their 2001 Jazz Musician of the Year and by the Detroit MusicAwards as the 2002 Outstanding Jazz Instrumentalist.
Andrew Bishop is a composer, improviser, saxophonist, and clarinetist in highly diversified musical idioms. He has received over 20 commissions from professional organizations and universities, numerous residencies, and recognition and awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Hewlett-Melon Foundation, and a nomination from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His orchestral composition "Crooning" was recorded by the Albany Symphony Orchestra on Two American Piano Concertos (Albany Records) featuring pianists Ursula Oppens and Ian Hobson. He has also completed composition and arranging projects for Matt Wilson, Steve Houghton, and is currently working on a chamber music project for saxophonist Dave Liebman. Dave Lynch of All Music Guide writes: "A composer of contemporary orchestral and chamber music, Bishop combines a jazzman's fire and flow with a rigorous compositional sensibility, resulting in a potent and highly satisfying blend."
As a composer and improviser Bishop’s music seeks to find the balance of these two forms of expression. His debut recording as a leader, Time and Imaginary Time (Envoi Recordings)—with drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Tim Flood—derives its title and inspiration from physics principles and uses a melodic fragment as an agent of variation to bind the divergent works. Donald Elfman of All About Jazz-New York writes: "This recording is a free-form, freewheeling delight. It's new music from a piano-less group, but the spirit is so playful, the soundscapes are so simple and rich, and the playing is so accomplished and together, that this dense and complicated_ new music falls richly and beautifully on the ears." Andrew Bishop’s Hank Williams Project (Envoi Recordings) draws on Bishop’s Midwestern roots with works that range from original compositions that elicit the moods and textures of country music and the lonesome landscapes of the great plains; and re-compositions and arrangements of Williams’ music. W. Kim Heron of the Detroit Metro Times gave it an “A+” writing: "Hear that lonesome postmodern whippoorwill? Bishop makes it sound utterly natural to take liberties with the bard of the country highway. Bishop alternately plays Williams tunes (and originals inspired by him) for laughs and for angst; he jazzes things up and slows them down to Williams-haunted dirges."
As a performer, Bishop in the words of Nate Chinen of the New York Timesis “happily pinballed between the supposed poles of tradition and experimentation.” He has performed with Gerri Allen, Reid Anderson, Greg Bendian, Karl Berger, Sandip Burman, Kenny Burrell, Eugene Chadbourne, Ray Charles, Gerald Cleaver, Drew Gress, Jerry Hahn, John Lindberg, Chris Lightcap, The Either Orchestra, Matt Maneri, The Manhattan Transfer, Tony Malaby, Ben Monder, Jeremy Pelt, Hank Roberts, Jacob Sacks, Craig Taborn, Clark Terry, Ben Waltzer, Matt Wilson, and John Zorn among others. He leads a number of his own groups including his trio Bishop/Cleaver/Flood and the avant-Americana/Chamber ensemble The Hank Williams Project. His current associations as a sideman included Gerald Cleaver's Violet Hour, The Ellen Rowe Quartet, the Tad Weed Freedom Ensemble, and Bottomed Out with guitarist and composer Ryan Mackstaller. Bishop has recorded over 30 compact discs as a sideman and his performance with the Ellen Rowe Quartet at the 2003 San Jose Jazz Festival was broadcasted on NPR's Jazzset with Dee Dee Bridgewater. He earned five degrees in music including a doctor of musical arts (DMA) in composition from the University of Michigan.
Steve Wood started his professional training at Oakland University where he studied with Marvin “Doc” Holladay and Sam Sanders. He also studied with legendary trumpeter, Marcus Belgrave in his Jazz Development Workshop. In 1990 Steve won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship to study with jazz great, George Coleman. In his professional career Steve has performed with many of the world's finest jazz musicians. He has released two CD's as a leader, “Unanswerable Questions” on Alembic records in 1993 and “Deep Woods” on Corridor Records in 2000. As a sideman, he has appeared on recordings with Don Mayberry, Ron English, Bill Heid, the Toledo Jazz Orchestra, Paul Keller, Scott Gwinnell, and others. He has toured Europe twice with the Paul Keller Orchestra, and maintains an active performance schedule at jazz clubs, concerts, and festival throughout Michigan and Ohio. Steve is currently teaching at the Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills MI and at Royal Music Studios in Royal Oak MI.
Matt Michaels- Late, great Detroit Jazz master, pianist/ composer/ arranger/ educator Matt Michaels was a Detroit music legend. Matt served as musical director for the Channel 7 Morning Show for seven years and the Detroit Playboy Club foreight. He had performed with a long number of notable musicians including Wes Montgomery, Peggy Lee, DocSeverinsen, Barbara Streisand, Carmen McRae, and Joe Williams. Locally he was mainly known as a member of the Jack Brokensha Quartet, Johnny Trudell’s band, and a leader of his own trio, which had recorded several CDs, most recently Live At Kerrytown Concert House (2005). As an educator, Matt was a Professor Emeritus at Wayne StateUniversity. At Wayne, he helped start the Jazz program in 1979 and developed it for 25 years. He has left a legacy of great jazz musicians who studied with him as students and fans all over the world.
Alex Graham- Alto saxophonist Graham has performed with several of today’s top jazz artists including RodneyWhitaker, Jim Rotondi, Sam Yahel, Nnenna Freelon, Louis Smith, Diane Schuur, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews,Mark Levine, Peter Bernstein, Steve Davis, Joe Magnarelli, Michael Wilner, Michael Weiss, Carl Allen, DavidHazeltine, Aaron Goldberg, Wessell Anderson, and Dena Derose. He has performed at festivals and clubs in theUnited States, Europe and Japan and has appeared on several recordings. In addition to having arrangementsperformed by vocalists like Diane Schuur and John Boutte, he has also composed and arranged for small group, bigband and studio orchestra. He has taught and lectured at the college level, including a “Jazz Performance Workshop”course at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY where he acheived his Doctorate in Jazz Studies. A residentof New York City for 10 years, Alex moved to Mackinac Island, Michigan after becoming the music director at Grand Hotel in 2001.Under his leadership, USA Today has praised Grand Hotel’s music as its best amenity. Graham’s previous CD on Origin Records, TheGood Life, received significant national airplay and critical praise.
Rob Pipho, one of the most respected names in Jazz to come out of Detroit, has been playing professionally for almost 30 years. During that time, he has recorded with many well known artists, including: Pianist Kirk Lightsey, Violinist Regina Carter, Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, Saxophonist Donald Walden, Saxophonist Wendell Harrison, Drummer Roy Brooks, Bassist Rodney Whitaker, Frank Zappa Bassist Ralphe Armstrong, Lenny Kravitz Drummer Cindy Blackman, Trombonist (& “shell” player in Saturday Night Live band) SteveTurre and many others…. In addition, he has performed live with
all of the above artists, along with many others, including: Freddie Hubbard, James Carter, Rick Margitza, David Fathead Newman, Tim Ries, Ira Sullivan, Larry Fuller, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Hurst, Jeff Tain Watts, Geri Allen, Andrew Speight, Art Van Damme, Kariem Riggins, Ted Curson, Warren Chaisson and many others….
Rob is on the Music Faculty at Wayne State University. He plays vibraphone and piano, and teaches jazz theory, function and harmony to students of all instruments. He also writes music for industrial projects for clients ranging from radio stations to automobile companies. He plays Festivals and Concerts worldwide, as well as Corporate Events & Private Engagements. In addition, he has been providing entertainment booking services to the Metropolitan Detroit area for more than 15 years.
Vincent Chandler, Detroit Trombonist, attended University of Michigan and USC (The Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz) where he studied music education and jazz studies. His classical teachers were Joseph Skrynski and Dennis Smith, and his jazz teacher was primarily Donald Walden along with indirect lesson from jazz artest such as Kenn Cox, Harold McKinney, Rodney Whitaker, James Carter, Teddy Harris and others.
His first professional experience was with Chicago Pete and The Detroiters, James Chaney and other blues artists, which led to gigs with all of the Detroit Allstars. Outside of Detroit artists he has played with The Gerald Wilson Big Band, The Lincoln Center Big Band, Jimmy Heath, John Faddis, Joe Henderson, Stefon Harris, and Clarke Terry. He is a current member of the Roy Hargrove Big Band.
Vincent is now the leader of one of the most exciting young groups to come out of the Metro Detroit area called Urban Transport.
James Hughes is a freelance jazz saxophonist in Detroit. He holds a bachelor's and master's degree in music from Wayne State University where he studied saxophone with Chris Collins and Larry Nozero. He has performed with jazz giants Dave Liebman, Jimmy Heath, Jerry Bergonzi, Eddie Daniels, Richie Cole, The Clayton Brothers, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. He has other notable performances with Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban, and the O'Jays. James has given master-classes at Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, University of Toledo, and Wayne State University. He has conducted jazz bands at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for five years and has maintained a teaching studio for over 20. James has recorded many albums as a sideman including Scott Gwinnell's Basement Vibes and Brush Fire, Carl Cafagna's Live at the Detroit Jazz Festival and Keith Vreeland's Bad Dog.
Rooted in Detroit's rich history, and encouraged by his artistic and musical family, Chris Codish's notable talent on the keys is inspired by an eclectic mix of influences. "It comes down to feeling and intent," Chris explains. "If it touches me, I dig it."
Chris's proficiency at piano, organ, and mini moog makes him a versatile artist who can lift spirits at church or lift you out of your seat at a nightclub. On organ, he has worked with nearly all of the great jazz guitar players living in the Detroit area, doubling on left-hand bass. Since 1999, he has been the organist at Godland Unity, a Detroit-based Unitarian church. He also tours with Alexander Zonjic, whose band he joined in 2004, and through this experience, he has had the opportunity to play with such talented musicians as Jeff Lorber, Angela Bofil, and Bob James. He also continues to work with long-time friend and mentor Johnnie Bassett, among others, and his own band, The Brothers Groove (TBG), an eclectically inspired funky jazz trio. Through his collaborations with Johnnie Bassett and TBG, Chris has come into his own as a songwriter, vocalist, and lyricist with more than 50 songs to his credit.
Chris became a student of the piano at the age of five. He studied at Michigan's Wayne State University with venerable Detroit musicians Matt Michaels (arranger for Barbra Striesand) and Rob Pipho (vibraphonist). In 1994, he took over jazz-organist Bill Heid's spot in Johnnie Bassett and the Blues Insurgents. He toured Europe four times, recorded five CDs, served as the unofficial musical director and, with his father, Bob Codish, contributed over 15 songs to Johnnie's repertoire. Chris has also toured internationally with Larry McCray, Lucky Peterson, and Alexander Zonjic.
Chris has played on major label releases for Sponge (Wax Ecstatic, For All the Drugs in the World), John Arnold (Style and Pattern), Gene Dunlap (I Still Believe), and Thornetta Davis (Sunday Morning Music). He has performed or recorded with: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Robert Bradley's Black Water Surprise, The Howling Diablos, Jill Jack, Susan Calloway, The Chisel Bros, Shipwreck Union, Zug Izland, Perry Hughes, The Reefermen, Black Beauty (featured on a BBC TV program), W.C. Handy Award winner Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones, Wendell Harrison, Dr. Prof. Leonard King (Oopapada), Dee Dee McNeil, Shahida Nurullah, international dance music producer Scott Grooves, and others too numerous to mention.
In 1997, Chris won a Detroit Music Award (DMA) for "Blues Performer or Group Deserving Wider Recognition." Since then he has won seven more DMAs, and several more for his work in collaboration with TBG. In March of 2000, Real Detroit Weekly readers voted him "Best Keyboardist" in their annual "Best of Detroit" issue.
Chris formed TBG in 1999 with James Simonson and Mike Caskey. In 2001, they swept the awards for "Outstanding Jazz Group" and "Outstanding Jazz Recording" (Clamp it Down). "So Glad You Came," the title track on the group's second album, is featured on WDET Live Vol. III, with such performers as Joe Jackson and Suzanne Vega.
Chris's keyboard playing combines traditional jazz organ, piano and synthesizer, with a heavy dose of funk attitude, a deep understanding of the blues, and his own understated personal humor. His voice is described as a mix of Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Dr. John and Frank Zappa.
From creative and musical beginnings in one of the country's richest cities for developing musical talent, Chris has worked hard both as a student of his instrument and as a student of life to hone his skills, which have made him one of Detroit's most sought after musicians, whose work speaks for itself.
Bassist, composer, performer, and teacher Miles Brown is a versatile musician who has earned bachelor and doctorate degrees from the Eastman
School of Music in jazz performance studies as well as a master’s degree from the Mannes College of Music in classical bass performance. As a jazz performer, Miles has led groups featured
at the Syracuse Jazz Festival, the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the JVC Jazz Festival, and the Blue Note. He has played with jazz masters such as Sam Rivers, Joe Magnarelli, Ralph
Alessi, Walt Weiskopf, Harold Danko, Bill Dobbins, Joe Lovano, Ben Monder, and Kenny Werner; and he has recorded on the Native Language, Leading Tone, and Yummy House labels.
Teaching is extremely important and rewarding to Miles. During the Spring 2008 semester, Miles served as the sabbatical replacement for Jeff Campbell, Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at the Eastman School of Music. Miles comes to Oakland University from Cornell University, where he served as the Gussman Director of Jazz during the 2008-9 school year. As Director and the only full-time faculty member of Cornell’s jazz program, Miles enjoyed organizing concerts and collaborating with guest artists such as Charlie Haden, Sam Rivers, and Steve Wilson. In April 2009, he organized the 18th Annual Cornell Jazz Festival. Guest artists included Chuck Israels, Todd Coolman, and Jeff Campbell, among others.
Miles has directed big bands, coached jazz combos, led methods classes and taught improvisation courses at Cornell University, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Rochester, the Michigan Music Educators Association, Kings Park High School, and Signature Band Camp. While teaching, he shares his philosophy that learning about jazz must combine knowledge about past traditions as well as a drive to push music into new directions. Miles has also led master classes at Ohio University, Ithaca College, Duke University, Hamilton College, and the University of South Carolina.
Miles has a passion for new music and is the bassist in the contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound. He has performed with this chamber ensemble in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, Amsterdam’s Muziekgebow, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Skirball Cultural Center, the World Financial Center, Russia’s Hermitage Theatre, and the Miller Theater at Columbia University, among others. As a performer of new music, Miles has recorded on labels such as Nonesuch Records and Cantaloupe Records.
Numerous ensembles have performed Miles’ compositions and arrangements. Alarm Will Sound has performed his compositions at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. His music can also be heard on Native Language Records. Miles’ newest CD, titled Share My Life, contains many of his newest compositions.
April Arabian Tini is a vocal educator and solo artist. She recently completed her eleventh year as an adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Music at Wayne State University. She has also held faculty positions at Berklee College of Music, Northwestern University, Western Michigan University and Oakland University, where she taught voice and directed jazz and show choirs as well as musical theater productions. April has worked as a clinician, adjudicator, guest conductor and performer throughout North America, Europe and Japan. April is currently the director of choirs and musical theater at Orchard Lake Middle School in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
April has sung on national television and radio commercials and with the symphony choruses of Boston and Chicago. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Western Michigan University, where she directed Gold Company and GC II. April is also a clinician on the staff of Show Choir Camps of America. April continues to perform in jazz groups, and she is active as a writer, director, performer and clinician in today’s vocal jazz and show choir movement.
Walter White grew up in a musical family near Detroit, Michigan and was inspired by recordings of Louis Armstrong, Maynard Ferguson, and Rafael Mendez. Trained at Interlochen, Juilliard, and the University of Miami, and The Banff Centre, his dynamic trumpet playing led him to work with leading jazz artists including Bob James, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler, Gunther Schuller, and the Mingus Big Band.
Walter has toured Japan with the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra , Dave Matthews & the Super Latin Jazz Orchestra, the Toshiko Akioshi/ Lew Tabackin Big Band, and pop singer Wendy Moten. During the early 1990's, Walter toured and recorded with his boyhood hero, trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, and is featured on the CD, Live from London, playing The Fox Hunt, a sizzling duet with Maynard recorded live at England's famed jazz club, Ronnie Scott's.
Walter received critical acclaim for his work with the San Jose/ Cleveland Ballet, conducting and soloing with an 18 piece swing band, playing composer Bill Duncan's "Go Daddy-O!", a piece choreographed by the S.J.C.Ballet's artistic director Dennis Nahat. Walter also received raves for his solo appearance with the Bremerton Symphony, playing Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in Eb and Homage to Armstrong, a medley highlighting Louis Armstrong's strong instrumental style, arranged by Walter for solo trumpet, jazz trio, and orchestra.
Mr. White began working with conductor Erich Kunzel in 1996 and has appeared as guest soloist with the Cincinnati Pops and the Baltimore Symphony. He is a frequent guest performer with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Kunzel and maestro Neeme Jarvi, and recorded Duke Ellington's "A Tone Parallel to Harlem", with the DSO and Jarvi for Chandos Records in 1994.
Walter was a finalist in the Smithsonian's prestigious Louis Armstrong International Jazz Trumpet Competition and his 1980' s collaborations with saxophonist Rick Margitza led to winning Hennessy's National Jazz Search and a spot in the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Walter's playing has graced the sound tracks of records, movies, and television; most notably network sitcoms TAXI, and The Cosby Show. He has authored a recording for music practice entitled, Walter White Long-tone Accompaniment and frequently composes and produces music for television and has arranged for horn sections, vocal groups, brass ensembles, and orchestras.
Walter's own groups include the Walter White Jazz Quartet and the fusion group IF-U-NU. An avid educator, he holds master classes and clinics at leading music schools around the globe.
Saxophonist, flautist, composer and arranger Russ Miller is currently an Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where his duties include teaching jazz improvisation, jazz lab bands and jazz arranging and orchestration classes. His 30-year professional music career includes performances with Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy DeFranco, J.C. Heard, Rob McConnell, Jon Faddis, Joe Williams, Milt Hinton, Rosemary Clooney and Sammy Davis Jr. among others. In addition Russ has performed with his own group and with others at the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Michigan Jazz Festival, Music on the Plaza in Grosse Pointe and at various local venues. Recorded performances include: J.C. Heard Orchestra - Some of This, Some of That (Hiroko Records), Bill Heid - Wet Streets (Savant Records), John Cooper Orchestra - Baecker Jazz Worship Service (Baecker Music Productions) and on Jeannine Miller’s recently released recording Two For The Road (PKO Records) which in addition to featuring Russ on sax and flute, features his arrangements of classic jazz standards for big band, woodwinds, brass, strings and jazz quartet.
Jazz drummer Sean Dobbins got his start as sought-after Detroit area jazz sideman at a young age, when he would regularly play with Blue Note artist Louis Smith. As Sean's Career progressed, he found himself the recipient of many awards and accolades including the "Woody Herman Jazz Award", an award for outstanding musicianship, as well as the Louis Armstrong Scholarship. Due to Sean's great talent both as a player and an educator, he has been the focus of countless news articles and jazz radio programs.
Though still young by jazz standards, Dobbins has amassed an impressive list of playing companions. He has performed/toured/recorded with Johnny Basset, Benny Golson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Frank Morgan, Joey DeFrancesco, George Cables, James "Blood" Ulmer, Marcus Belgrave, Larry Willis, Rodney Whittaker, Claude Black, Johnny O'Neal, Paul Keller, Tad Weed, Kurt Krahnke, Jon Hendricks, David "Fathead" Newman, Donald Walden, Cyrus Chesnut, Barry Harris, David Baker, Randy Johnston, Marion Hayden, Mose Allison, and a host of other great musicians.
Sean's sound can best be described as hard-driving, solid rhythm with refreshing melodic sensibility. Some of Sean's influences include Art Blakey, Jeff Hamilton, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Ed Thigpen, Sonny Payne, and also Detroit area greats Gerald Cleaver and the one and only Elvin Jones. A product of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Sean has stayed devoted to education throughout his life. Early mentor Louis Smith, an Ann Arbor Public Schools band teacher, impressed the importance of a good education upon Sean at an early age. Sean is known in his community as a band director, drum teacher and positive influence for many.
In 1999 Sean was asked to become the director of the Ann Arbor Public Schools Summer Jazz Program. This program was designed to help educate and inspire young artist as they began their quest of learning jazz. In 1998, a year before Sean's arrival, the program was in jeopardy of being cancelled due to low enrollment. In 2000, a year after Sean took over the reigns, the enrollment more than tripled and a year later, the group was featured on WEMU, a national jazz radio program.
As a father of three, Sean knows, understands, and accepts the challenge of continuing the art from through clinics, master classes, and concerts for up and coming musicians. Sean makes it a point of incorporating educational opportunities into all of his road trips.
Sean is no stranger to local or national headlines; he frequently plays at venues such as the Firefly Club (Ann Arbor), Baker's Keyboard Lounge (Detroit), the Music Hall Jazz Cafe (Detroit), Murphy's Place (Toledo) and Buddy Guy's (Chicago). His recent recordings include "Odyssey" (PKO Records), "Revealing" (Reparation Records), and "Christmas Songs for Jazz Lovers" (PKO Records), and Blue Horizons featuring Sean and his quintet, the Modern Jazz Messengers.
Look for Sean live with his new groups: "Dobbins, Krahnke and Weed", "The Modern Jazz Messengers", and also various local and national acts.
Mark Byerly's career as a trumpet player, composer, and arranger has spanned over 20 years, with experience in a vast array of genres including Jazz, Latin, Pop, Rock,and R&B music. As a student of Western Michigan University's School of Music, Mark became one of the top call trumpeters for bands traveling through the Midwest. The Temptations, Cab Calloway, Leslie Gore, Johnny Mathis, and Bobby Vinton are but a few names in the entertainment business to utilize Marks talents at an early age.
Upon graduating with a degree in Jazz Studies, Mark toured the United
States and Sweden with the Artie Shaw Orchestra. Moving to New York City, he found success as a freelance trumpeter on the Latin music scene working with the late Puerto Rican vocalist Frankie Ruiz, percussion legend Papo Pepin, and the late Latin Jazz pianist Hilton Ruiz. His abilities as a creative improviser have led him to perform with many jazz notables including Abbey Lincoln, Buddy DeFranco, and David Liebman. Mark has also recorded and performed numerous live engagements with former RCA recording artists The Verve Pipe, and appeared on front-man Brian Vander Ark's debut solo recording for Brash Records, Resurrection, playing a variety of instruments.
Relocating to the Detroit area in 1997, Mark quickly became one of the most desired musicians in town. His sound has been used on countless record dates and television and radio commercials produced in Detroit. He is also a driving force behind the jazz group Bop Culture, which features a number of Mark's original compositions and has met with critical acclaim from the media and jazz radio.
In 2003, Mark began playing trumpet and writing horn arrangements for Jive recording artist Justin Timberlake. As part of the '03/'04 Justified World Tour, he has performed in over 10 different countries worldwide, and appeared on numerous television shows including Austria's Wetten Das?, MTV's Live From London, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live, Ellen Degeneres, NBC's Justin in Memphis featuring Al Green, and the 2004 Grammy Awards with trumpet master Arturo Sandoval. Other television appearances include Jimmy Kimmel Live! with Virgin Records recording artist Dwele.
Mark and the Motor City Horns have recently joined legendary Hall Of Fame rocker Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band as part of the hugely successful '06/'07 Face The Promise Tour.
In addition to touring and recording, Mark holds the position of Jazz Trumpet Instructor at the University of Toledo. Through his studio, Longview Sound, he has also engineered and produced recordings for Bop Culture, JazzStage Productions, Urban Transport, and the latest Unknown Records release from pianist Rick Roe, “Sphere”, featuring bassist Rodney Whitaker. Well known for the versatility and personal approach he brings to any situation, Mark Byerly has become one of the most sought-after musicians to be found anywhere.
Mark uses Keeley modified Mello Wah and Boss DD3 effects pedals. The Motor City Horns use Audio Technica microphones.
Since 1984, Chris Buzzelli has been on the faculty of Bowling Green State University where he is Professor of Guitar and Jazz Studies, and director of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble. He has also served as adjunct faculty at the University of Michigan and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and has presented clinics and masterclasses at regional and national conferences and other colleges and universities around the nation. He has written articles for Jazz Educators Journal, Just Jazz Guitar, and American String Teacher, and has published a number of solo guitar arrangements and guitar ensemble compositions. He has contributed to numerous publications for Mel Bay Publications including their “Jazz Standards” series, “Guitar Ensemble” series and “Master Anthology of Jazz Guitar Solos” series, and is author of “The Complete Book of Seven-string Guitar”. Many of his arrangements for vocal jazz ensemble are published by Sound Music Publications. He appears on several recordings, with two released under his own name. Buzzelli maintains an active performing schedule, mostly in the Northwest Ohio area, but has also played in some nationally recognized venues including the Classic American Guitar Show in Long Island, New York, the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society event held each summer in Nashville, and the first World Guitar Congress held in Towson, Maryland.
Kris Johnson is an empathetic, intelligent, and efficient trumpeter, composer, arranger, film scorer, and educator based in Detroit, Michigan. Kris's professional career is expansive for an artist so young, including: playing in and arranging for the renowned Count Basie Orchestra; directing the University of Utah Jazz Studies program; composing several musicals, including "Jim Crow's Tears" and "Hastings Street: The Musical"; scoring films, such as the Emmy-nominated web series "King Ester"; producing successful personal projects, such as his #looptherapy album and his Kris Johnson Big Band YouTube series.
Currently, Kris works as the Director of the Michigan State University Community Music School Detroit, and continues his freelance work as a composer and performer. Kris also teaches through his online platform, Office Hours with Kris.