BANDLEADER / ARRANGER / MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Trumpeter, composer and arranger Igmar Thomas is a visionary artist and linchpin of the modern vanguard. His fluency in swing, and knack for transmuting the genres of the African diaspora make him one of the most sought-after minds in contemporary music. An alumnus of Berklee College of Music and former student of trumpeters Nicholas Payton and Roy Hargrove, Thomas’ role varies from sideman and section leader to bandleader and musical director on international tours for artists like Esperanza Spalding, Kamasi Washington and Ms. Lauryn Hill. He proudly serves as an ambassador of black musical culture at the helm of Igmar Thomas & The Cypher and the acclaimed Revive Big Band. Thomas’ boundless creativity enables him to be a conduit for the harmonious synthesis of various genres, eras and styles. His approach to musicianship has empowered others to embrace the freedom inherent in rejecting purist notions and making music outside of the box.
New Orleans-born trumpeter, keyboardist, singer, and composer Nicholas Payton is a dynamic performer, steeped in acoustic jazz and post-bop, whose music often finds him exploring genres far beyond the confines of the jazz tradition. His musical accolades include a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, with four additional Grammy nominations. He has collaborated with Ray Brown, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Jill Scott, Clark Terry, Joe Henderson and countless others. Though his primary medium has been music, Payton’s frequencies resound beyond the sonic realm. Creator of the movement #BAM, Payton is a prolific cultural writer and social media influencer commenting on subjects such as race, politics, and Black American Music.
DJ Raydar Ellis is equal parts hip hop connoisseur and jazz aficionado, masterfully combining the two genres and creating music people can add to the soundtrack of their lives. Whether he's producing songs, rocking the mic as an emcee, spinning party-goers into a frenzy, or educating his students at Berklee, Ellis is cementing his place as a major player on several fronts in the music scene. Most recently, he served as DJ/MC for The Revive Big Band at Central Park SummerStage and for the opening night of MoMA's Jacob Lawrence event. Raydar is also the official remixer and a credited producer on Revive/Blue Note's Supreme Sonacy LP. Much like Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Ellis manages to reach beyond music, touching on deeper political and social issues while still remaining lighthearted, relatable and current.
Native New Yorker, saxophonist and composer Andrew Gould has established himself as one of the most in demand players on the NYC music scene. He has performed with James Moody, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Wallace Roney, Jon Faddis, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Mambo Legends Orchestra, David Weiss, Bobby Sanabria, Ray Angry and many more. Andrew was a 2013 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition Semi Finalist and has been featured on multiple GRAMMY nominated recordings. Andrew has recently released his debut album "First Things First" on the Outside In Music label, which has received great critical acclaim. He also composes for and tours worldwide with R&B/Soul band Nuf Said. Other exciting projects include recording and performing with the 8 Bit Big Band, Steven Feifke Big Band, Dan Pugach Nonet, the Revive Big Band, and horn section work and writing with GRAMMY winning hip hop producer 88 Keys for Warner Music.
Saxophonist Brent Birckhead is an award-winning artist whose aesthetic is an intersectional amalgam of traditional and popular styles. Unbound by genre, Birckhead’s approach to woodwind artistry is driven by his compulsion for creative risk and his deep respect for legacy. His place in the continuum of a storied lineage begins with his surname, Birckhead, and extends to his extensive musical education and work ethic as a visionary approach to his life as a rising leader. Educated at Howard University (BME, MM), Birckhead was named best blues/pop/rock soloist and outstanding instrumental jazz soloist by DownBeat Magazine’s SMA. In 2011 Brent was named "Best Alto Saxophonist" by the Washington City Paper. The Baltimore native's talent earned him the honor of performing and touring with legendary artists including Lauryn Hill, Nas, Wale, Eric Benet, Larry Graham, George Duke and many more. In February of 2020 Birckhead released his debut album on Revive Music.
After 10 albums as a leader, multi-instrumentalist and composer Dr. Brian Landrus has become one of the most in demand low woodwind musicians. In recent years Landrus has consistently placed in the top five baritone saxophonists in the world through Downbeat Magazine’s and JazzTimes Magazine’s International Critics Polls.
Landrus was voted #1 Rising Star Baritonist in Downbeat Magazine’s 2015 Critics Poll and his release The Deep Below has been called “A star vehicle” by The New York Times. Landrus has performed with music giants such as Fred Hersch, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Nicholas Payton, Esperanza Spalding, Prince, Michael Cain, The Four Tops, West Side Story-NYC Broadway, The Beach Boys, Jerry Bergonzi, Danilo Perez, and many more. Landrus earned his PhD in composition at Rutgers University, two Master of Music degrees in jazz composition and jazz performance at the New England Conservatory, and a Bachelor’s degree at University of Nevada Reno.
Myron Walden is a gifted multi-instrumentalist, lauded for the rich earnestness of his sound and clarity of tone and his distinctly impassioned stage presence. He is the leader of an expanding number of musical projects, reflecting the varied aspects of a growing musical identity. He is an in-demand sideman, a founding member of Brian Blade’s Fellowship Band and a regular band member of the ensembles of such jazz legends as the late Ray Barretto and Freddie Hubbard. With as broad and exciting a musical vision as Walden has already realized, and judging by the creative momentum he has recently established, the future appears to hold no bounds. Walden sees things first and foremost on a spiritual level.
Saxophonist, flautist, and composer, Anthony Ware regularly performs from New York to China. Though often fronting his group the Anthony Ware Coretet in which he serves as the bandleader, he can also be found accompanying world-renowned artists on international tours. Collaborations include artists such as two-time GRAMMY Award Winner Dee Dee Bridgewater, trumpeter Theo Croker’s DVRK Funk, and Chinese pop artist Khalil Fong. Ware also features on various recordings, topping the list with J. Cole’s 2016 platinum album “4 Your Eyez Only”. A warm and engaging teacher, he has taught at the Soumas School of Music, The New Jersey Jazz Institute, and Jazz Connections Summer Camp, as well as taught masterclasses at the Thelonious Monk Institute in Los Angeles and Dynamix in Shanghai, China. Combining styles and genres, Ware believes that ‘you have to tell the truth of yourself, the history and the present to really do the art justice.’
DownBeat Critics’ Poll winner Marcus Strickland has steadily proven to be an essential part of the jazz continuum since he stepped on the scene in the early 2000s. He is emerging as one of the most multi-faceted and proliﬁc writers and performers of his generation. Strickland’s genre-bending propensity has produced fascinating and unconventional collaborations and this time around is no different; the members of this eclectic ensemble have worked individually with artists like Kanye West, Bilal and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He received a Grammy nomination for his work on Christian McBride’s New Jawn. Strickland’s development as a producer is the nexus of this project whose music comes mostly from taking his beats and applying acoustic instrumentation and improvisation. “Once you combine the many textures, layers and number crunching of [drum] programming with human spontaneity, the possibilities are inﬁnite and it becomes yet another instrument for human invention.”
American Jazz trumpeter, vocalist and composer Jumaane Smith whose credits include performing on 5 Grammy Awards winning records, two Emmy nominated tv performances, concerts at the White House, the Grammy Awards with Stevie Wonder, on the Today Show, Tonight Show, Oprah Show, Good Morning America and American Idol. Albums featuring Jumaane have sold more than 50 million copies. Jumaane has spent the last 15 years touring extensively and recording with Michael Bublé as lead trumpeter and vocalist. Jumaane has worked with Quincy Jones, and Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin and many others. In 2013 Jumaane toured as guest soloist for Jackie Evancho’s, “Songs of the Silver Screen” world tour backed by a 60 piece symphony orchestra. Originally hailing from Seattle, Washington Smith received a full scholarship to attend the Juilliard School of Music. He has scored multiple films, and has released two albums as composer and bandleader.
Ryan Resky has performed as a freelance trumpeter across the U.S. including serving as the Lead Trumpeter for the Radio City New York Spectacular in 2016 as well as several seasons of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular since 2012. In addition, Ryan has also performed for Broadway Musicals, (On the 20th Century, Side Show, Pippin, Legally Blonde, Chicago, The Full Monty, Kiss Me, Kate) as well as artists including Jill Scott, Robert Glasper, Bilal, Gregory Porter, Terrance Blanchard, Bobby Vinton, John Pizzarelli, Jane Monheit, & Harolyn Blackwell. Resky plays lead trumpet of the Revive Big Band led by Igmar Thomas.
Producer, engineer and trumpeter, James Cage started his musical journey at age 8 with the piano in Stone Mountain Georgia. Soon James’ interest turned to the trumpet. After high school he was awarded a full scholarship to Hampton University and finished his undergrad degree at Georgia State University. In 2003 he was selected for one of the 2 trumpet positions at The Juilliard School’s Jazz Studies Program founded by Wynton Marsalis. As a professional, Cage regularly plays lead trumpet for Musical Director Ray Chew (American Idol, Dancing With The Stars) and has played on stage with Alicia Keys, Pharell, Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and Jay-Z to name a few. Cage is also an accomplished music producer/mix engineer with songs placed with Nickelodeon and the Viacom TV networks.
Internationally renowned musician, composer and bandleader, Marquis Hill has worked tirelessly to break down the barriers that divide musical genres. Contemporary and classic jazz, hip-hop, R&B, Chicago house, neo-soul—to Hill, they’re all essential elements of the profound African-American creative heritage that he holds. Notable honors include first place at the ITG Improvisation Competition, the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, and the 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition for solo trumpet. He also received first place in DownBeat Magazine’s Rising Star poll in 2016. Throughout his journey he has supported artists such as Marcus Miller, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Joe Lovano and Chicago peer Makaya McCraven. Today, Hill maintains a nonstop touring schedule with his project The Blacktet, and the intensely interactive, utterly unique band has become a kind of graduate school for next-level talent.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he moved to New York City in 2003, where he attended the Manhattan School of Music on a full-tuition scholarship. As a member of the NFAA Stan Getz/Clifford Brown Fellowship All-Stars, Dizack toured the United States, Canada, and Japan. In 2004, he was named third place winner of the International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition, winner of the John Coltrane Scholarship, first place winner of the National Trumpet Competition in 2005 and competed in the Monk competition in 2007. Some of his notable collaborations include Bobby Watson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Kendrick Scott, Walter Smith III, Eric Harland, Thundercat, Billy Childs, Kamasi Washington, Jon Batiste & many more. Philip Dizack is one of the most important and fluid trumpeters of his generation, recognized by DownBeat Magazine as one of “25 Trumpet Players for the Future”.
Shareef Clayton, a jazz trumpeter, is a native of Miami, Florida. In 2012 Shareef recorded the album "Multiverse" with the “Bobby Sanabria Big Band”, receiving a Grammy nomination. Clayton performs regularly with Macy Gray, Melody Gardot, Bobby Sanabria, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Past collaborations include Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Michael Mcdonald, Ruben Blades, and at venues such as NBC Studios, Walt Disney World, Blue Note Jazz Club, BB King's Club & Grill, Birdland, Iridium Jazz Club, Jazz Standard, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He also spends some of his time as an educator, sharing his knowledge with the next generation of musicians at various schools and institutions.
Theo Croker is one young musician who is not afraid of greatness, or the hard work and dedication it takes to get there. Born and raised in Leesburg, Florida on July 18, 1985, Theo first picked up a trumpet at age eleven after a visit to New York City where he heard his grandfather, legendary trumpet player Doc Cheatham, play at Sweet Basil. In years to follow, it would become clear that his talent is innate; he inherited this unique gift from his grandfather. Croker now having received a Grammy nomination for his album Star People Nation, three-time Echo Award nominee, and a Theodore Presser Award recipient, it is clear that creativity is in his blood. Notable features include J. Cole, Common, Ari Lennox, with collaborations including Dee Dee Bridgewater, Roy Hargrove, Benny Golson, Kareem Riggins, Chronixx, China Moses, and countless others.
Born in Largo, Florida, Jonathan Powell took up the trumpet at the age of twelve. In 2001, he moved to New York and landed a gig with the Colombian Band, La Creacion. In 2003 he earned praise for his participation in Sam Rivers Fluid Motion and was named Best Latin Jazz Trumpeter by The Latin Jazz Corner in 2007. The same year he formed the group, Nu Sangha, which means "community" in Tibetan and released the highly acclaimed Transcend, a fusion of Rock and Electronica Infused Jazz. When he's not leading his group, Jonathan performs with a wide variety of artists, including Eddie Palmieri and his Latin Jazz Septet and Salsa Orchestra, Arturo O' Farrill's Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Miguel Zenon, Gregorio Uribe, Pedro Giraudo, Ricky Martin and JT Taylor of Kool and the Gang.
Trombonist Frank Lacy has played with jazz paragons Henry Threadgill, Oliver Lake, and Julius Hemphill, yet can also count Dizzy Gillespie and Abdullah Ibrahim among the prominent leaders for whom he's worked. Lacy spent a year-and-a-half as music director for Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and played with Bobby Watson's Horizon band. Lacy was born and raised in Houston, TX. Before beginning his advanced musical studies in the late '70s, Lacy earned a university degree in physics. Lacy attended Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he met and jammed with Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby, and Marvin "Smitty" Smith. He later attended Rutgers in New Jersey. Lacy's first record as a leader was Tonal Weights and Blue Fire (Enja/Tutu, 1991). Working often as a section player; he's worked with big bands led by David Murray and McCoy Tyner, as well as Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy and the Mingus Big Band.
James Rogers can be found playing bass trombone in New York any night of the week performing in a wide variety of styles. As a founding member of the Guidonian Hand Trombone Quartet, Mr. Rogers focuses on chamber music performance and expanding the repertoire for low brass. He has also been honored to perform with ensembles such as TILT Brass, Either/Or Ensemble, and the SEM Ensemble. Positions are held with Symphony in C, Chamber Orchestra of New York, and trombone instructor at the Kaufman Music Center.
Jimmy O'Connell is a NYC based jazz trombonist and studio musician, and is one of the most in demand trombone players on the scene today. Relocated to New York in 2009, O’Connell pursued and attained a Master’s Degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and has since been performing around NYC and the tri-state area. He has performed at some of NYC’s premiere venues such Carnegie Hall, the Blue Note, Smalls, and others as a leader and a sideman, and has shared the stage with jazz greats like Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Paquito D’Rivera, Tituss Burgess and many others. He is also known for being the lead trombonist in the internationally renowned 8 Bit Big Band, led by Charlie Rosen. O'Connell is the leader of his own sextet as well as involved in many other projects both locally and internationally.
Jerrick Matthews is a trained professional musician and educator located in New York City, NY. Internationally noted musician with musical experience with artists like Rodney Whitaker, Damien Sneed, Igmar Thomas and Michael Dease and many more. Educated at the University of Southern Mississippi, Bachelor of Music/Jazz Studies, and Michigan State University, Master of Music/Jazz Studies. He has extensive experience in teaching, arranging, composing and a skill set to perform with any noted artist.
Trombonist Matt McDonald has performed at numerous jazz festivals and venues around the world, including North Sea, Montreux, Umbria, Spoleto, and Ottawa Jazz Festivals, as well as, The Blue Note, Birdland, Carnegie Hall, The Jazz Standard, and many others. Since moving to New York in 2003, he has performed with countless ensembles including the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Wynton Marsalis, Steven Van Zandt's "Disciples of Soul", The Max Weinberg Big Band, Mambo Legends Orchestra, Danny Seraphine’s “CTA”, Gregorio Uribe, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Christian McBride Big Band, and the Jimmy Heath Big Band. In 2007, he was invited to travel to Manizales and Medellin, Colombia to perform as one of the “Promising Artists of the 21st Century.” Starting January of 2014, Matt began curating a jazz series in Harlem at “Silvana”, featuring some of the most versatile musicians in New York City.
Three-time GRAMMY-nominated trombonist-composer-arranger Alan Ferber has been called “one of the jazz world’s premier composers and arrangers for larger groups” by All About Jazz NY. For the last seven years, he has been recognized as one of the leading trombonists of his generation in DownBeat magazine’s International Critics’ Poll and Readers’ Poll. Ferber was the recipient of a New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America. He has performed or recorded with Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society, the Dr. Lonnie Smith Octet, the Ted Nash Big Band, the Charlie Hunter Quintet, the Lee Konitz Nonet, the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Dr. Dre, Michael Buble & countless others. He has been a clinician and soloist with numerous universities including Stanford University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Miami. Ferber’s aesthetic prescribes a deep knowledge of the jazz tradition as a means toward meaningful innovation.
Considering the range of music that Marshall Gilkes has played over the course of his career, it would be easy to assume that the trombonist/composer is a musical chameleon, able to alter his sound to fit into whatever situation he finds himself. It seems unlikely that an individual sound would be able to express itself in such diverse contexts as the lush impressionism of the Maria Schneider Orchestra; the exotic chamber jazz of Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda’s trio; or the fiery combustion of New York’s thriving Latin music scene. Notable collaborations include Chris Potter, Ron Carter, Mike Stern, and Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He works regularly with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Edmar Castañeda Trio while teaching and offering master classes at institutions including The Banff Center, Berklee College of Music, the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and the Brubeck Institute.
Baltimore, MD native/trombonist Corey Wallace has gained the respect and admiration of many in his relentless pursuit of all things good music and amazing life experiences. He was selected as the 2012 Best Trombonist by the Washington [D.C.] City Paper for his “technical fluidity and for the heavy dose [of] introspection that sits right on the surface of his playing”; more recently, he was again selected as Best Trombonist in the 2019 NYC Reader Jazz Poll (sponsored by Hot House Magazine/Jazzmobile) in a deep field of legends and luminaries - Wycliffe Gordon, Steve Davis, John Fedchock, and Ryan Keberle - not just for his playing, but for being a staple and anchor on the NYC scene, across generations. He is well versed and feels equally at home in various styles of music and is always eager to contribute with musicians and artists. Extensive study, talent, perspective, and knowledge have afforded him opportunities and ongoing gigs with many legends, powerhouses, and his contemporaries in genres people refer to as jazz, R&B, hip hop, gospel, pop music, and otherwise. As a freelancer and artist, Wallace has made a place for himself and continues to be a vital part of the NYC scene as a leader, collaborator, and member of the community. As a teaching artist, he has taught at the Baltimore School for the Arts, the Harlem School for the Arts, in the New York Public School System, and is a current faculty member in a variety of programs at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He also has a growing number of private students dedicated to studying the trombone and learning from his wide array of life and music experiences. Wallace is currently based out of New York City, NY. He leads the Corey Wallace DUBtet, a group dedicated to creativity and integrity in Black American Music and beyond.
Mark Whitfield graduated from Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, the world’s foremost institution for the study of Jazz and modern American music in the spring of 1987. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his to his native New York to embark on a career as a Jazz Guitarist that afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with legendary artists including with Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Sting, Steven Tyler, D'Angelo, Mary J. Blige, John Mayer, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Diana Krall, Christian McBride, Chris Botti, Roy Hargrove, and his greatest teacher and mentor George Benson. He earned a Grammy nomination for his work on Kenny Garrett’s 2013 project, Pushing the World Away. An enlightened creative, Mark Whitfield paints with contemporary hues on the canvas of traditional jazz.
In a jazz world brimming with brilliant and adventurous pianists, Marc Cary stands apart by way of pedigree and design as one of New York’s best jazz pianists. His career led him to sharing stages with Dizzy Gillespie, Arthur Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Carmen McRae, Ndegeocello, Erykah Badu, Ms. Lauryn Hill and countless others. Cary has received awards including Best New Jazz Artist Award 200 from Billboard/BET, Grammy nominations for work with Roy Hargrove, Betty Carter, Stefon Harris & Abbey Lincoln, and was named one of DownBeat Magazine's "25 for the future of Jazz”. Cary's ensemble profile has three distinct faces: his Focus Trio; and his collective Indigenous Peoples, which merges poetic rhyme flow, soulful chanting and a sense of groove at home in the stellar realms of 'interplanetary funkmanship.' The tradition of supple and virile Black futurism is abundantly evident.
Plenty of young musicians show promise, but very few enjoy the sort of meteoric rise that pianist, keyboardist and composer James Francies is currently experiencing. At only 24, he’s played with jazz headliners like Pat Metheny, Chris Potter, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Stefon Harris, Eric Harland, and Terrace Martin, and in the R&B world with Ms. Lauryn Hill, José James, Common, and NAS. His resume also includes studio time for Chance the Rapper’s Grammy-winning hit “No Problem”, Mark Ronson , Childish Gambino, YEBBA, and Kodak Black. Francies’ first international tour was with Chris Dave and the Drumhedz. Francies’ own group, Kinetic, has garnered buzz at events like Newport Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, NYC Winterfest, and BRIC JazzFest. He has subbed for James Poyser on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and is now collaborating with The Roots emcee Black Thought on a Broadway show.
Bassist Ben Williams is a forward-thinking musician crossing easily between straight-ahead, funk, and gospel-influenced jazz. Introduced as one of the “25 for the Future” by DownBeat Magazine in 2016, he is an in-demand sideman and has performed with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Mulgrew Miller and Terence Blanchard. Williams is also a regular member of Stefon Harris' hip-hop-influenced Blackout ensemble, and the genre-bending Revive Big Band. Williams won the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition judged by Ron Carter, Dave Holland, Christian McBride, John Pattitucci, and subsequently signed a recording deal with Concord Records. Two years later, he released his debut album as a bandleader, State of Art, and his album Coming of Age in 2015. In 2016, Williams was a member of Pat Metheny’s Unity Band, which won a GRAMMY Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Williams released his third album in 2020, I Am A Man.
Bassist Burniss Earl Travis II is based out of New York, consistently touring internationally with world-renowned acts. Though he sprung from the Chopped & Screwed scene, he gained the confidence to pursue a career as a bassist upon meeting vibraphonist Stefon Harris. He honed his skills by playing with a local orchestra before entering into the Houston jazz scene, and from there his career took off. Travis’ collaborative partners include Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Bilal, Marc Cary, and Gretchen Parlato. He has performed on multiple projects receiving Grammy Awards, including Black Radio (Robert Glasper Experiment), Black Radio 2 (Robert Glasper Experiment), Live in NYC (Gretchen Parlato).
New York drummer John Davis tapped on his mother's lap before he could talk or walk. His energy and innovative style gave him the opportunity at a young age to obtain gigs on his own around Fernandina Beach as early as his freshman year of high school. In 2004, he received scholarships to attend the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where he began studying under Jazz education legend, John Riley. Since moving to New York he's performed at prominent venues including the Zinc Bar, the Jazz Standard, The Blue Note and Dizzy's Coca-Cola. Davis has performed in Atlanta, Georgia with jazz pianist Eric Reed from Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and traveled to Europe to perform at the United Colors of Benetton's 20th Anniversary. It only takes one performance to know he has something special and that he's not a fly-by night type performer.