“Willie has a West Coast swagger in his swing, with a looseness that isn’t lackadaisical and an edge that isn’t overwhelming.” ... Eric Reed, pianist and composer
With an unparalleled style of rhythmic expression, drummer Willie Jones III is one of the world’s leading jazz drummers. In addition to honoring his monumental influences - the late greats Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins - Jones’ bold articulation and constantly innovative sense of swing are results of his life-long musical experience.
Grammy award winning member of Arturo Sandoval’s band and long-time member of Roy Hargrove’s Quintet, Willie has recorded with a who’s who of jazz including the likes of Horace Silver, Kurt Elling, Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker and Herbie Hancock.
Born in Los Angeles, California on June 8, 1968, WILLIE JONES III’s earliest exposure to music was through his father, Willie Jones II, an accomplished and notable jazz pianist, who offered guidance and inspiration to his gifted son. Dedicated to the further development of his skills, the younger Jones spent the next few years working diligently with acclaimed drummers and music instructors and began performing with distinguished musicians by the time he was in his teens. He completed his academic training after receiving a full scholarship to the California Institute of the Arts where he studied under the tutelage of the legendary Albert “Tootie” Heath. Before he was a semifinalist in the 1992 Thelonious Monk Jazz Drum Competition, Jones co-founded jazz band Black Note. Influenced by the rich soulful energy of the West Coast bop movement, Black Note’s hard-swing sound propelled them to first place in the prestigious John Coltrane Young Artist Competition in 1991. Jones contributed his skillfulness as both musician and producer on all four Black Note recordings: 43rd & Degnan and L.A. Underground (World Stage Records), Jungle Music (Columbia) and Nothin’ But the Swing (Impulse!). By 1994, the band had toured Europe and across the U.S. and was the opening act for Wynton Marsalis.
Near the end of 1994, while Jones was reaching for a higher level of drumming dexterity, he gained the privilege of playing sideman to the renowned vibist Milt Jackson, where Jones learned the importance of pacing and sensitivity. Meanwhile, his musical career continued to unfold. From 1995 through 1998, he was a member of Arturo Sandoval’s band and is featured on Sandoval’s GRAMMY® award winning release Hot House (N2K). Subsequently, Jones recorded with Horace Silver on Jazz Has a Sense of Humor (Impulse!).
From 1998-2005, Jones was a member of Roy Hargrove’s Quintet and is featured on Roy Hargrove’s CD releases on Verve: Moment To Moment, Hard Groove, Nothing Serious and RH Factor’s Distractions. Jones can be heard on a host of recordings including Kurt Elling’s GRAMMY® nominated Night Moves (Concord) and Eric Reed’s Here (Max Jazz). Jones has worked with Sonny Rollins, Ernestine Anderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Wynton Marsalis, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Houston Person, Billy Childs, Eric Reed, Ryan Kisor, Eric Alexander, Bill Charlap, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and Hank Jones. In 2000, Jones’ released his debut CD, Vol 1…Straight Swingin’ on his own label, WJ3 Records. He continues to reveal his proficiency as a composer as well as a producer on Vol II…Don’t Knock The Swing (2002); Volume III (2007); WE 2 (2008), a trombone and piano recording featuring Wycliffe Gordon and Eric Reed; The Next Phase (2010); and Jones’ latest release Groundwork (2016).
Born in Racine, Wisconsin, GERALD CANNON’s initial inspiration was his father Benjamin, a guitarist, who bought him his first electric bass at the ripe young age of 10. He began playing bass in his father’s group ‘The Gospel Expressions’ and he never looked back. Gerald attended The University of Wisconsin at La Crosse where he met jazz great Milt Hinton. This meeting not only changed Gerald’s major in college from physical education to music, it also changed the rest of his life.
Gerald transferred to the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, where he spent the next four years studying jazz bass, classical bass and piano. He also studied art at Marquette University, which nurtured a natural talent and love of painting. Outside of school, Gerald began working as musical director with singer and mentor Penny Goodwin. This experience led to the creation of his own quintet ‘Gerald Cannon’s Jazz Elements,’ which laid the foundation for a solid reputation as a leader and composer in his own right.
At age 28, Gerald arrived in New York City. He immediately began earning his living playing bass in the subway and jamming at the Blue Note with renowned musicians Russell Malone, Winard & Philip Harper and Justin Robinson. From there, prestigious gigs arose with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Dexter Gordon, Cedar Walton Trio with Billy Higgins, Jimmy Smith, Little Jimmy Scott, James Williams, Hamiett Bluiett, Ed Thigpen, Frank Foster, John Bunch, Eddie Harris, Stanley Turrentine and Bunky Green.
After a short stint back home, Gerald returned to New York to work with Buddy Montgomery and Andy Bey. Good fortune followed when acclaimed trumpeter Roy Hargrove came to a club where Gerald was working. For the next seven years, Gerald performed as a member of Roy’s band at major jazz festivals all over the world, including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Cape Town Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, and the Montreal Jazz Festival. He also was a part of the award winning Crisol tour where Gerald played with great Cuban musicians like master percussionist Jose Luis “Chanquito” Quintana, Miguel “Anga” Diaz, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Chucho Valdes and studied with excellent bassist Orlando “Cachahito” Lopez and pianist Ruben Gonzalez.
Gerald carries the knowledge passed on to him by legendary bassists Ray Brown, Sam Jones, Ron Carter and Buster Williams and continues the legacy by conducting master classes throughout the U.S. and Europe. He taught at the Oberlin Conservatory in 2014, the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, the New School in New York and at Long Island University. He also gave a number of master classes at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater and Eau Clair, at Emery University in Atlanta, Georgia and at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Gerald was also a faculty member of the prestigious Conservatory of Maastricht, Holland.
After leaving Roy Hargrove, Gerald held the bass chair for legendary drummer Elvin Jones until his passing in 2004. Gerald considers his time spent with Mr. Jones a profound period of spiritual and creative growth. Since then, Gerald has worked with jazz heavy-weights Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Pat Martino, Louis Hayes and The Cannonball Legacy, Ernestine Anderson, Carmen Lundy, Abbey Lincoln, Gary Bartz, Joe Lovano, Cyrus Chestnut, Larry Willis, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Steve Turre, Eric Reed, the Dexter Gordon Legacy Ensemble and many other all-star combinations, as well as with his own quartet. He continues to conduct Master Classes around the world and remains the Musical Director for the McCoy Tyner Trio.
Gerald debuted as producer with the CD ‘Mad about the Boy’ featuring jazz vocalist Jeanne Gies. This recording includes the vocal rendition of Gerald’s original composition ‘Peri.’
The consummate sideman, Gerald has now stepped out front as a leader with the debut of his self-titled recording GERALD CANNON (Woodneck Records.) Along with stellar versions of well-loved standards, this recording spotlights Gerald’s critically acclaimed originals including ‘Little G’s Walk’ and ‘Jeanne’s Dream.’
Gerald’s creativity and passion is expressed not only in his music, but also in his painting. He recently had his first art showing in New York City and hosts exclusive viewings for interested art enthusiasts. A US tour of his paintings paired with musical selections begins in 2016 and his highly anticipated sophomore album is underway with plans to release later next year.
Like the masters before him, Gerald Cannon has established a fearless, solid groove that distinguishes him as a principal figure in jazz. He will go down in history as a signature jazz bassist and composer of this century.
RALPH MOORE was born in London, England and grew up in a crowded inner city area. He showed no particular musical interest until his mother bought him a trumpet when he was 13. Moore studied with the late Alan Briggs, a local musician, in Brixton, and was soon sitting in with pub bands. Briggs had a tenor sax and Moore fell in love with the look of the instrument and soon made the switch.
In 1972 he moved to California to live with his American father, and graduated from Santa Maria High School where he played in the jazz orchestra and collected several music awards. In 1975 he enrolled at Berklee College of Music, where he studied with saxophonist Andy McGhee, and three years later received the Lenny Johnson Memorial Award for outstanding musicianship from the college.
He was launched on a professional career with a tour of Scandinavia, and later joined Frank Quintero for recording and a tour of South America. He moved to New York City in 1981 and within two months had joined the Horace Silver Quintet for an association that lasted four years and included tours of Europe and Japan. Subsequently, Ralph has worked with the quartet of drummer Roy Haynes, Charles Mingus Dynasty and, most recently, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. In the summer of 1987 he was preparing for another extensive overseas tour with Dizzy Gillespie’s Reunion Big Band. On record he has already been heard with guitarist Kevin Eubanks, pianist Bill Mays, trumpeters Valery Ponomarev, Freddie Hubbard, and Roy Hargrove, Horace Silver, and with trombonist Jimmy Knepper on Dream Dancing. He is also featured on the Brian Lynch Sextet; and was a member of J.J. Johnson’s quintet in the early 90’s. Moore was featured on the 1991 Concord Jazz release, The Ray Brown Trio with Ralph Moore a Concord Jazz release, subtitled Moore Makes 4.
JEREMY PELT has become one of the preeminent young trumpeters within the world of jazz. Forging a bond with the Mingus Big Band very early on, as his career progressed, Pelt built upon these relationships and many others which eventually lead to collaborations with some of the genre’s greatest masters. These projects include performances and recordings with Cliff Barbaro, Keter Betts, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Ravi Coltrane, Frank Foster, Winard Harper, Jimmy Heath, Vincent Herring, John Hicks, Charli Persip, Ralph Peterson, Lonnie Plaxico, Bobby Short, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, Nancy Wilson and The Skatalites, to name a few.
Pelt frequently performs alongside such notable ensembles as the Roy Hargrove Big Band, The Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Big Band, and is a member of the Lewis Nash Septet and The Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band featuring Louis Hayes.
As a leader, Pelt has recorded ten albums and has toured globally with his various ensembles, appearing at many major jazz festivals and concert venues.
Pelt’s recordings and performances have earned him critical acclaim, both nationally and internationally. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal by legendary jazz writer and producer, Nat Hentoff, and was voted Rising Star on the trumpet, five years in a row by Downbeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalist Association.
Pelt is currently touring throughout the United States and Europe in support of his latest release, “Tales, Musings, and Other Reveries” (Highnote Records, 2015).
ERIC REED says: “I don’t view art as contemporary, modern, traditional, old or new,” says pianist-composer Eric Reed. “Nor do I endorse cliques or camps. I promulgate integrity in all things.”
Through more than a quarter-century as a first-caller on the jazz scene, Reed has articulated this inclusive conception as a leader of numerous ensembles, solo performer, composer, producer, educator and sideman with numerous artists. Whatever the context, whatever the style, he consistently animates the flow with fresh ideas, virtuosic chops, intellectual clarity and an unwavering will to groove.
On a remarkable series of recent recordings, Reed illuminates his aesthetic scope, navigating diverse terrain with intense focus and sagely concision. Consider, for example, one of Reed’s most recent releases, The Adventurous Monk, a 2014 date on which he offers idiomatic yet personalized, loose yet cohesive interpretations of ten works by the genius pianist-composer Thelonious Monk. It’s Reed’s third Monk project since 2009, when he made The Dancing Monk, followed in 2011 by The Baddest Monk, on which he addresses the iconic songs with just the right admixture of maverick recklessness and natural command. “I imbibed heavily on Monk’s music as I became more immersed in composition and my journey as an artist,” Reed remarks. “The rhythmic, harmonic and melodic variety in his pieces inspire, allow and compel me to embrace the challenge of trying to convey messages in a non-verbal manner.”
A similar spirit of grounded exploration infuses Reed’s most recent release and first live recording, Groovewise, on which he navigates mainly original music on the bandstand. The spontaneity of live performance comes through on Stand!, a jubilant-to-introspective 2009 studio date on which Reed presents 11 pieces inspired by biblical themes. On two other in-studio trios—Something Beautiful from 2011 and Here, a 2006 session —Reed coalesces his own pieces with repertoire from popular songs, less-traveled jazz classics and gospel, deploying a wide range of moods and dynamics in the manner of a live set. Different in ambiance but equally impromptu is Reed’s Reflections Of A Grateful Heart, a contemplative, subdued solo recital of hymns, spirituals and gospel songs from his pen and, among others, Edwin and Walter Hawkins, Richard Smallwood and Billy Taylor.
“The older I get, the more I start to see my musical, spiritual and personal influences as all one stream of consciousness,” Reed says. “When I was younger, I was exposed to music in my house, my neighborhood or in school; I didn’t care about what it was labeled. When I became a professional musician in my teens, the lines between the different styles were drawn in big red marker. Now, I’m not concerned about highlighting or codifying the imposed differences. The musical experiences are all tied together.”
Reed developed the core principles of his musical sensibility almost from the time he began to speak. “Before I could even reach the pedals,” he recalls, he was playing for and enhancing worship services for the congregants in the small Baptist storefront church in West Philadelphia where his father, a quartet singer, sang and preached. “My earliest experiences in the Holiness church were colored with charisma; people were moved largely by emotion,” he says of that functional setting. “Music played a major role in manipulating these emotions, even inciting people to dance. I developed my ear in an extraordinary way; if someone started to sing, I could quickly find their key and begin to accompany them.”
Noting their son’s exceptional talent, Reed’s parents signed him up for private piano lessons at age 5, which continued at South Philly’s prestigious Settlement Music School. In the meantime, his aunt and uncle scoured flea markets for records. “They found these records by Horace Silver, Art Blakey and Dave Brubeck. Additionally, in our home, all kinds of music could be heard on the stereo and the radio because my parents and older siblings were into gospel and popular forms of music.” Reed recalls. “I listened to everything.”
When Reed was 11, his family migrated to Huntington Park, California, a suburb near Los Angeles with a well-stocked neighborhood library where he continued to self-educate, reading various biographies, theory books and absorbing records. Soon, he enrolled in The Community School of Performing Arts (now The Colburn School), where his mentor Jeff Lavner, introduced him to even more recordings. In 1986, Wynton Marsalis conducted a master class there and took immediate notice of Reed. Marsalis connected the school to tenor saxophonist-educator-arranger Harold Battiste Jr., who was asked to develop an improvisational workshop. Eric reminisces, “Mr. Battiste was a soulful and lovely human being. He was patient and loving with me, taking me to clubs all around L.A. to check out music.”
Wynton recalls, “Eric had great ears and already had formed his musical personality. He had a phenomenal level of talent for his age; I’ve only met four or five musicians with that extreme ability. He’s intelligent and curious; you don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining stuff to him. And there’s his pedigree: he grew up in the church, so he had direct exposure to the vernacular.” By his late teens, Reed, who had won several local music competitions, began to work professionally with tenor saxophone legends Teddy Edwards and Buddy Collette, Clora Bryant, Billy Higgins, Gerald Wilson and The Clayton Brothers.
After matriculating at California State University, Northridge, Reed officially assumed the piano chair with Marsalis in June 1990 — and moved to New York City, which remained Reed’s base of operations for close to two decades. From the jump, Reed became deeply entrenched in New York’s hardcore jazz scene, entering the rotation at Bradley’s, the legendary New York piano saloon, where masters bonded with students, providing a platform for Reed and his peers to cut their teeth. He documented seminal and now classic works on a series of trio and combo albums, It’s All Right To Swing, The Swing and I, Musicale, Pure Imagination and Manhattan Melodies.
Supplementing his career as a performer, Eric delved into the film & TV world, scoring music for the 1999 Eddie Murphy comic vehicle, Life, as well as other independent films. Reed curated concerts and produced studio dates for other artists, notably in a series called Jazz Composer Portraits for Manhattan’s Miller Theater from 2001-03, eliciting creative, unified performances of music by pianists Elmo Hope and Donald Brown, drummer James Black, alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy, bassist Ben Wolfe and the legendary Billy Strayhorn. “I like taking on the challenge of trying to make something my own, while attempting to honor the composer’s intentions,” Reed says. “I’ve embraced the songbooks of many composers and being able to draw from these different sources has helped me to find my own compositional voice. Some people find their voice early; some find it later. Earlier on, composing was more something that I did by default because I had a studio date coming up. On It’s All Right To Swing and Musicale, it was about the arrangement and presentation of the piece. Now, I incorporate more of my improvisational ideas into the way I write. I trust the musicians to interpret it and whatever happens, happens.”
Reed also began to teach privately under the auspices of Juilliard School of Music, the New School and Manhattan School of Music, helping to direct young luminaries like Aaron Diehl and Kris Bowers towards paths that “might help enhance what they were already doing and get them to become more developed musicians. This is why I don’t call myself a teacher, but a mentor. The bandstand is where the real education is,” Reed says. “The only way musicians truly learn what’s valuable is by being in the trenches. I thank God that so many of the old guard embraced me. I was so blessed.”
In 2008, Eric moved back to his beloved Los Angeles, jumping feet first into the local scene as musical director for Regina Taylor’s critically acclaimed musical Crowns, which ran for the entire summer at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center and the Pasadena Playhouse. From 2010-2012, Reed was back in familiar territory – the church. Fondly, he states, “It was almost like reliving a part of my childhood. I played for a while with the Los Angeles Gospel Messengers, the last group formed by the legendary James Cleveland. I also served at a church as a Minister of Music and was working with other groups around the city. L.A. is a place where I feel at my freest; the geography and the climate encourage a certain openness and peaceful existence. This move is the beginning of what will be a challenging and exciting chapter of my life. It has also allowed me to revive and deepen my spiritual connection to God.”
This new chapter includes, among other prospects, occupying the piano chair with Buster Williams & Something More: “Buster is my favorite of all bandleaders I’ve had. He has had such a profound influence on my humanity, showing me that evolution as an artist is perennial.” Reed says. Recently, Eric has chosen to take a respite from recording, opting to regroup and revamp. He explains, “My evolution as a spiritual being is even more essential than as an artist; one is always listening to and embracing what’s happening in the world – expressing and creating. These elements fuse with your humanity. It’s taken me my whole career to realize what I’m actually supposed to be doing, which extends beyond performing – which is everything! I desire to share all of that with young artists who are looking down the road, offering as much access as possible to those who desire to manifest their innermost self through music. This is what my next recording will embrace and yield – a wholly emotional offering unlike anything I’ve previously done.”
Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016
7:30pm, Yukon Arts Centre
Willie Jones III - drums
Gerald Cannon - bass
Ralph Moore - tenor saxophone
Jeremy Pelt - trumpet
Eric Reed – piano