The Septet was formed in 1999 and has had mostly the same band members since its inception with recent changes to reflect the evolution of the direction of the music. Performances over the years included regular opportunities at the Knitting Factory, Makor, Cornelia Street Café, 55Bar, and Sweet Rhythm, all important NYC venues during the first decade of the millennium. This ongoing work lead to many higher profile performances including the The Jazz Standard, Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, the JVC Jazz Festival (NYC), Friehoffer's Jazz Festival (Saratoga), Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro and the Contemporary Art Center (New Orleans), the Flynn Theater (Burlington, VT), the Rochester Jazz Festival, An Die Music (Baltimore), Pizza Express (London), Braga and Oeiras Jazz Festivals (Portugal), Jazz Terrassa Festival (Spain), Sedutirol Jazz Festival (Italy), JazzLent (Slovenia), the Painted Bride Arts Center (Philadelphia), Firehouse 12 (CT), The Walton Arts Center (AK), The Outpost (NM), Dazzle (CO), “We Always Swing” (MO), and The Regattabar (Boston) to name a few.
Jamie Baum, NYC jazz flutist/composer/clinician, has toured the US, and over 25 countries in Europe, Japan, South America and South Asia working with several renowned musicians ranging from George Russell, Mick Goodrick, Randy Brecker, Donald Brown, and Kenny Barron to Dave Douglas, Ralph Alessi, Uri Caine, Wadada Leo Smith, and Karaikudi Mani. Receiving critical praise for four CDs as a leader, Sight Unheard (GM Recordings) and Moving Forward, Standing Still (OmniTone) both received four stars from DownBeat. Her most recent, Solace (Sunnyside), made several “Best of ‘08” lists. She was nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association for “Flutist of the Year” four times and has been in the DownBeat Critics Polls annually since ’98. Among the many awards for her composing, Baum won the '99 International Jazz Composers Alliance Award, the 2010 CAP Award (American Music Center), and the 2003 New Works: Creation and Presentation Award and the 2007 Encore Award, both components of the Doris Duke/Chamber Music America Jazz Ensembles Project. She also toured for the DOS/Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador program from ’99 to ‘03. As an active clinician supported by Altus Flutes since 2003 Baum is on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music and Berklee College of Music.
Amir ElSaffar is a trumpeter, composer, singer, and santur player working in the genres of jazz and traditional Iraqi maqam music. Born in Chicago in 1977 to an American mother and an Iraqi father, ElSaffar began playing the trumpet at a young age, and by his late teens was performing professionally. After completing a degree in classical trumpet from DePaul University in Chicago in 1999, he moved to New York, where he performed with a variety of musicians, including Cecil Taylor, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Vijay Iyer. In 2002, he put his career on hold to study the Iraqi maqam, traveling to Iraq, throughout the Middle East and to Europe pursuing masters who could impart to him this centuries-old oral tradition. He soon became versed in maqam singing and santur playing, and now leads Safaafir, the foremost Iraqi maqam ensemble in the United States. He also has created new techniques for the trumpet that enable intonation and ornaments that are characteristic to Arabic music but are not typically heard on a trumpet, and has developed a microtonal approach to jazz trumpet playing. As a composer, ElSaffar has distinguished himself with a singular approach to combining traditional Middle Eastern forms with jazz, and has released three CDs with Pi recordings, including Two Rivers, Radif Suite, and Inana.
Douglas Yates, alto sax and bass clarinet, has recorded and performed with Medeski/Martin/Wood, Sam Rivers, Julius Hemphill, Either Orchestra, Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet, Perfumed Scorpion, Jon Ballantyne, and Thor Madsen. He has also recorded with Kenny Werner, Dewey Redman, and David Binney, and performed with Carla Bley, Stan Getz, David Liebman, Kenny Wheeler, Jerome Harris, Gary Burton, Bob Moses, Mingus Orchestra, Mingus Big Band, Makoto Ozone, Cab Calloway, The Phil Woods Little Big Band, and The Fringe. He is currently an active member of the Mingus Orchestra, George Garzone Quintet, Jon Ballantyne Quartet, Thor Madsen Quartet, Freedom Art Quartet, and Jamie Baum Septet.
French horn player Chris Komer feels right at home in many musical environments. From the jazz club (Jamie Baum, Ryan Keberle, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Chuck Mangione, Charles Mingus Orchestra) to the concert hall (New York Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Burning River Brass) and from the recording studio (JJ Johnson, McCoy Tyner, Harry Connick Jr., and many motion picture soundtracks) to Broadway (currently performing in the Broadway revival of South Pacific), his versatility combined with his virtuosity and musicality makes him one of the most in demand hornists in New York City. He is hard at work founding an artists retreat in the rocky mountains of Montana (www.thunderheadrefuge.org) and is also an accomplished pianist.
Matt Mitchell is a pianist and composer interested in the intersections of various strains of acoustic, electric, composed, and improvised new music. He has lived in Philadelphia since 1999 and performs regularly in New York City, throughout the United States, and around the world. He is a member of Tim Berne's Los Totopos (a collective trio with Tim Berne and Ches Smith), a duo with Ches Smith, John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet + 1, John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble, the Darius Jones Quartet, the duo Fourth Floor with Dan Weiss, and a duo with Dave King. He performs frequently with Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green's Apex, and Rez Abbasi's Invocation, and has also performed with Shane Endsley, Brad Shepik, Ralph Alessi, Tom Rainey, and Ingrid Laubrock. Mitchell has released several albums on Scrapple Records and is also active as an educator, most visibly with the Brooklyn-based Center for Improvisational Music.
Jeff Hirshfield, a native New Yorker, credits include; Jim Hall, Toots Thielmans, Charlie Mariano, Joe Lovano, Red Rodney/ Ira Sullivan, Kenny Wheeler, John Abercrombie, Dr. John, Toshiko Akiyoshi/ Lew Tabackin, John Taylor, Randy Brecker, John Zorn, Mose Allison, Bennie Wallace, Bob Brookmeyer, Paul Bley, Eliane Elias, Mike Mainieri, Gary Peacock, Woody Herman Orch., Tim Berne, Tom Harrell, Fred Hersch, Mike Stern, Lonnie Smith, Bob Belden, Joey Calderazzo, Jerry Bergonzi, Eddie Daniels, Bob Berg, James Moody, Harold Danko, Ray Anderson, Tal Farlow, Marc Copland, Dave Liebman, Ben Monder, Dave Binney, Chris Potter, John Lewis, Tim Hagans, Joe Henderson and many others. He has performed on over 250 recordings.
A native of Montreal, Canada, Zack Lober is a bassist, composer, and bandleader currently based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a co-founder of the groups "The Story" and "Byproduct," and has worked as a band member with some of the most exciting up and coming artists in the Jazz and Rock fields (Zach Williams, Maria Neckam, John Escreet, and Chet Doxas). He is also active as an educator and clinician and holds a Masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music. As a sideman working in groups led by David Binney he has had the privilege to share the stage with many of NYC's most respected jazz artists. He has also toured Europe, Mexico, Canada, India, and the United States in bands led by Ingrid Jensen, Chet Doxas, and John Escreet, as well as with "The Story."
Guitarist/composer Brad Shepik was raised in Seattle and holds a BA in Music from Cornish College of the Arts and a Masters Degree in Jazz Composition and Performance from New York University. Shepik has recorded seven albums as a leader of four different ensembles, Brad Shepik Quartet, Brad Shepik Trio, Human Activity Quintet, and Brad Shepik and the Commuters. Since 1995 his ensembles have performed at major festivals and clubs including The North Sea Jazz Festival, Garda Jazz Festival, Cologne Biennale Jazz Festival, and Toulouse Jazz Festival. He has also been a founding member of several “collective” ensembles and contributed compositions to the sax/guitar/drums trio BABKAS, and the Balkan and World influenced groups Pachora, Lingua Franca, and Matt Darriau’s Paradox Trio. In addition to guitar, Shepik has performed on the Bulgarian tambura and the Turkish saz frequently in those aforementioned groups. As a sideman Brad appears on more than 50 recordings and has performed and recorded with Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, Dave Douglas' Tiny Bell Trio, Yuri Yunakov's Bulgarian Wedding Band, Pachora, Paradox Trio, Jay Clayton, and others.
Zafer Tawil is an accomplished Palestinian musician based in New York City. He is a virtuoso on oud, violin, qanun, and a master of Arabic percussion. He has performed with numerous musicians ranging from pop star Sting to Arab music virtuosos such as Simon Shaheen, Chab Mami, Bassam Saba, and George Ziadeh; to avant-garde composer/performer Elliot Sharpe, among many others. Tawil has held workshops on Arabic Music at many universities in the US and has also composed music for a number of films including Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-nominated Rachel Getting Married.