Clarinetist, Evan Christopher combines virtuosity, immaculate taste, and enthusiasm with a deep commitment to exploring the full range of musical possibilities that come from celebrating the traditions of New Orleans jazz. His highly individual sound is anchored in the expressive language created by early Creole clarinetists such as Sidney Bechet, Omer Simeon, and Barney Bigard. Among the critically acclaimed recordings under his own name are Delta Bound featuring Dick Hyman and his Clarinet Road series. He has also been featured on projects with New Orleans artists including Big Al Carson, Duke Heitger, Narvin Kimball, Uncle Lionel Battiste, and Tom McDermott. After the Federal levees failed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he traveled continuously and even based himself briefly in Paris at the invitation of the French government. During this artist residency, he formed his current groups, the JazzTraditions PROJECT and Django à la Créole. The latter, fusing Gypsy Swing with New Orleans grooves and rhythms of “le monde Créole” released their debut CD, Django à la Créole (Fremeaux & Associates) at the 2008 French Quarter Festival in New Orleans.
Born and raised in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, Calvin Booker, has been dancing since the age of three, and at six, he was dancing onstage to live jazz music with legends Bross Townsend and Chuck Green, The Godfather of Tap. By age nine, he was a member of The Young Hoofers® who tap danced at many venues, with television appearances including the Today Show, 60 Minutes II, Good Day New York, Out of the Box, Showtime at the Apollo, on TV Commercials for Chili’s, and more! Calvin’s mentors are Buster Brown, Sandman Sims, Chuck Green, Jimmy Slyde, Gregory Hines, Harold Stumpy Cromer and Mable Lee. He has performed with them for many years and continues to carry their tradition of “Keeping Tap Alive.” A few Broadway mentions include Hats Off, Taps On for Gregory Hines, Taste of Broadway, Sydney Bechet Society’s Jazz Series (with Wynard Harper, Vince Giordano and Evan Christopher), Tribute to Tap Giants; Tap Legends LIVE!, and FELA! Calvin is currently hosting his new talent showcase, ‘Sole Sessions.’
Ricky “Dirty Red” Gordon is a multi-talented musician and composer. He’s performed on drums, vibraphones, percussion, washboard and/or background vocals on recordings with Wynton Marsalis, Public Enemy’s Apocalypse ‘91. . . The Enemy Strikes Black, Bill Lee, Marvin Sewell, Ellsworth, Jon Leal, Claudia Acuna, Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, Eric Revis, LaShawn Barnett, The Allman Brothers Band, LinQue, Alice Coltrane, The Ebony Hillbillies, Bogs Visionary Orchestra, Jose Gonzales, Terence Blanchard, Chuck D and The Slam Jamz Family, and The Share Croppers. He’s also written jingles for companies such as State Farm and Burger King, public service announcements, and film scores, as well as performing on soundtracks and acting in several films.
Jason Jackson has been a regular member of the Grammy Award winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra for 10 years and the lead trombonist with the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band since 2004. In addition, he is presently the lead trombonist in Roy Hargrove’s Big Band. During his tenure with these ensembles, he has worked with many other well known artists, including McCoy Tyner, Charles Tolliver, Jimmy Heath, Ray Charles, Illinois Jacquet, Randy Newman, Charles Mingus Big Band, Maria Schneider, Lennie Kravitz, Barry Manilow, and James Brown to name a few. On Broadway, Jason was the regular member of two Tony Award winning shows, The Color Purple, and Wonderful Town. He has also played in the orchestras of many other Broadway hits, including but not limited to; The Producers, Spamalot, South Pacific, A Chorus Line, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Wild Party, Miss Saigon, Chicago, Curtains, and CATS.
Ari Roland has worked with many of the most recognized and influential names in jazz, including Wynton Marsalis, Betty Carter, Harry Connick Jr., Barry Harris, and Lou Donaldson. In the last two years, he has traveled to nearly 50 countries as a cultural ambassador for The US Department of State. He has released three CDs under his own name on the grass roots Small’s record label.
Drummer/composer LaFrae Sci believes music can heal the world and is trying to do her part one day at a time. In addition to being a founding member of the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, and a faculty member of the Middle School Jazz Academy at Jazz at Lincoln Center, LaFrae has toured, recorded and worked with a myriad of jazz, blues, pop, rock, and hip-hop artists including Kelis, Il Divo, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Robert Lockwood Jr., Reuben Wilson, David “Fathead” Newman, Pinetop Perkins, Cyndi Lauper, Nancy Sinatra, Irene Cara and Bumblefoot. LaFrae also served as musical director for Sandra Bernhards’ off Broadway run of Everything Bad & Beautiful and as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State with the Eli Yamin Blues Band.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Terri Wilson’s interest in music began when she was nine years old. Her mother sang gospel music in church and her “pop” always played jazz recordings. Terry has performed with Wycliffe Gordon, Anat Cohen, Ehud Asherie, Aaron Diehl, Etienne Charles, Marion Felder, Zaid Shukri, Marty Napoleon, Jean Baptiste Franc, Phil Costa’s Big Band and CJO (The Creative Jazz Organization in Queens, NY).
Eli Yamin is a jazz and blues pianist, singer, composer, educator, broadcaster, and Steinway artist. He is also Artistic Director of The Drama Program and head of instruction at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy. After participating last spring in the first White House Jazz Studio hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, Eli was invited back thrice to perform music from his latest CD, You Can’t Buy Swing, in the East Room. Eli has also performed at top concert halls and festivals in Western Europe and the United States and in Asia, Central Europe and Africa as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. Eli has played with Walter Perkins, Barry Harris, Illinois Jacquet, Evan Christopher, Perry Robinson, Kate McGarry, Claire Daly, and Bob Stewart.
Evan Christopher, clarinet
Jason Jackson, trombone
Ari Roland, bass
LaFrae Sci, drums
Eli Yamin, piano
Calvin Booker, dancer
Ricky "Dirty Red" Gordon, washboard
Terri Wilson, vocals