The Baylor Project featuring Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor’s highly anticipated collaboration is steeped in the heart and soul of Jazz. As the children of Pastors, Marcus and Jean's musical roots were planted deep within the church, and it was there that the road was paved for the influence of gospel, blues, soul, and jazz to make its mark. Their debut CD "The Journey", released on their own label, Be A Light, topped the Billboard Jazz Chart at Number 8 and a year later garnered 2 GRAMMY® Nominations for BEST JAZZ VOCAL ALBUM and BEST TRADITIONAL R&B PERFORMANCE, solidifying The Baylor Project as an undeniable force. As you listen to “The Baylor Project,” you will be taken on an eclectic musical journey that showcases as much versatility as it does virtuosity.
Jean, a “Jersey Girl”, was introduced to jazz in college as a Vocal Performance Major at Temple University, where she was heavily influenced by artists such as Carmen McCrae, Jimmy Scott, and Shirley Horn. She subsequently made her mark as one-half of the platinum recording duo, "Zhane´". In addition to continued development of her craft, Jean has expanded into composing, arranging, producing, and band leading. She has been a featured guest artist in performances and recordings with Yellowjackets, Kenny Garrett, Marcus Miller and legendary bassist, Buster Williams. Well-equipped with an agile mezzo-soprano range, Jean combines a fresh, whimsical approach to phrasing with clever improvisation resulting in singing of such vocal purity that she embraces the soul.
Marcus, a St. Louis native, is widely recognized as the former member and drummer of the GRAMMY® Award winning jazz quartet, "Yellowjackets". While studying and graduating from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, he performed and recorded with musical icons Cassandra Wilson, John Scofield, and Kenny Garrett. Since then, Marcus has come into his own as a composer, arranger, producer and bandleader. With his natural feel, creative use of space and innovative ability to tell a story, his musicianship and improvisation are those of a seasoned musician.
At last, these two are together on stage! At last, their innovation and talent are intimately entwined! Their combined musicianship is unmatched. Their dynamic performances are soulful to the bone. The Baylors will raise you up and inspire you to clap along with them, as they entice your ears with a swinging mid-tempo tune. Yet, at a moments’ notice, you may be moved to tears when they change the atmosphere with a spiritual song intended to stir the emotions. They perform original compositions and new arrangements of classic pieces. They utilize sincerity and maturity far beyond their years to deliver ballads with storied grace and elegance, and grit. And what’s more is that Marcus and Jean have the uncanny ability to bridge the gap between generations. They are relatable, they are virtuosic, and for these reasons they captivate packed houses and sold out audiences.
"The Baylor Project" pays homage to their wide-ranging musical influences, and in so doing, they generate an eclectic sound whose overall effect is spiritual, buoyant, and feel good music.
Soulful. Melodic. Authentic. “The Baylor Project.”
Augustin Duplessis, fondly called ‘Jab’ in the musical circles, started his career as a 15 year old junior bandsman in the Royal Saint Lucia Police Band. This was a very distinguished position in the small Caribbean island of St. Lucia as one had to be of good character and have a willingness to learn to be hired for such a post in this very prestigious band of academically trained musicians.
By 1983, now on his way to becoming a serious saxophonist, he had a burning desire for more musical knowledge. ‘Jab’ thus attended master classes at Berklee College of Music in Boston in the Summer, whilst still a member of the Royal St. Lucia Police Band. His quest for knowledge did not end there, as ‘Jab’ in 1989 pursued studies in the repair of woodwind instruments at Five Towns College in Seaford, Long Island, USA. Expertise in the repair of such instruments was not available back home, and ‘Jab’ became one of the most in-demand woodwind repairmen in St. Lucia and the region.
His insatiable appetite for knowledge placed him in the front row at many master classes with such renowned legends as Bobby Watson (Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz), Bob Berg, Wynton Marsalis Band, Jamey Aebersold, Joe Lovano, and veteran saxophonist Lew Tabackin.
As part of the West Indies Jazz Band, Mr. Duplessis toured Europe and the Caribbean for three years. He then founded his ensemble ‘Third Eye’ in 1989, which produced a multi hit CD ‘Awakening’.
He retired from the Police Band in 1993 to pursue his ambitions as a professional musician. ‘Jab’ has been recognized by his country by being awarded Best Performer in the Performing Arts category of the prestigious M&C Fine Arts Awards.
In the mid-nineties, ‘Jab’ with his band ‘Third Eye’, played the Jazz Festival circuit in Saint Lucia, Martinique and England. Duplessis, recognized among the Eastern Caribbean’s foremost saxophonists, was one of the obvious choices for selection to be a member of the Saint Lucia All Star Jazz Ensemble. This band performed main-stage at the 1996 St. Lucia Jazz Festival.
The turn of the Millennium took ‘Jab’ and his band on three successive residencies at the 5 Star Carenage Bay Resort on Canouan Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2003 the 12th St. Lucia Jazz Festival saw ‘Third Eye’, led by this skilled musician, arranger and composer who by this time had expanded his musical prowess by learning to play the clarinet and the flute. On this occasion he included Martinique’s famous Bernard brothers, who had performed alongside famous international groups ‘Four Play’ and ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’.
In 2004, Jab and his band Third Eye took full-time residency at the elite Raffles Resorts where their audiences consisted of rich and famous clientele such as Donald Trump, Bill Gates, The Prince of Saudi Arabia and Leonardo Di Caprio, to name a few. The band opened for legendary acts such as ‘The Stylistics’ and ‘El Divo’’ at the Prince’s Trust Charity Fund Raising Event. ‘Jab’ also performed over a six-week period at the luxurious Raffles Hotel in Dubai and then at a wedding in Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, Canada.
Towards the end of that decade, in 2009, a six-month residency ensued at the newly opened Raffles in Tianjin, China, bringing with it an appearance at Raffles Beijing at the 2010 China Wine and Food Festival and at the American Chamber of Commerce July 4th Celebrations. ‘Jabs’ performances also brought him to Monaco where he entertained the guests at the Birthday party for the owners of a Villa on Canouan Resorts.
On the passing of St. Lucia’s lady of folk ‘Dame Sesenne Descartes’ he released a single track appropriately titled ‘Polka for Sesenne’. In 2011, ‘Jab’ was invited by the St. Lucia Tourist Board to perform at The Gaiety as part of the St. Lucia Jazz Festival. He used that opportunity to perform many of his original pieces, which comprised straight ahead Jazz, flavored with the indigenous Creole rhythms from his roots.
Now that Jab was back home, he embarked on his second solo album of songs written, composed and arranged by Luther Francois, Allison Marquis and himself. That album was recorded at the studio of the young and talented St Lucian producer, Danyl Daniel.
The album ‘Pinnock’s Lane’, was named after a lane in his childhood neighbourhood of Georgeville. That lane was named after his late nephew ‘Pinnock’.
Most recently, Duplessis has performed at the Jazz Sampler in 2013 at Gaiety on Rodney Bay. He also headlined ‘An Evening of Sax’ fund raiser for the Salvation Army in 2014 at the Gaiety on Rodney Bay and Swawé Kwéyòl at Fond D’Or Heritage Park.
Saint Lucia Jazz 2015, audiences saw him perform at the Fire Grill Restaurant in Rodney Bay and at Blue Coral Jazz in downtown Castries.
In May 2016, ‘Jab’ performed at “Q” Jazz Lounge. In May 2017, he also performed at “Q” Jazz Lounge for the first “Soliel” St.Lucia Jazz Festival. In May 2018, he performed at “Q” Jazz Lounge, then proceeded to perform for the Jazz “N” Creole Festival in Dominica, where his song “Enough Is Enough” was aired between the performances of the various bands..
‘Jab’ can now be seen performing in St. Lucia every Friday at Jamb Du Bois restaurant, located at Pigeon Island National Landmark from 7.30pm and at “Q” Jazz Lounge every Saturday from 9.30pm.
“Pinnocks Lane” – is a memorial to things dear, some lost in time, but always alive in memory.
Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell who was born in Panama, emigrated to New Orleans and then to Chicago and New York City, becoming a legendary pianist/bandleader/arranger/composer, and Louis Armstrong’s long-time collaborator and musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, was a pioneering bassist/guitarist/vocalist and holder of advanced degrees from Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Ruth Brown. Not surprisingly considering her pedigree, Catherine Russell is a one of a kind musician and vocalist. A graduate of American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Catherine has toured the world, performing and recording with David Bowie, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Rosanne Cash, Carrie Smith, Toshi Reagon, Wynton Marsalis, Dr. John, Joan Osborne, Vince Giordano, and many others, appearing on over 200 albums.
Since the 2006 release of her debut album, Cat, on Harmonia Mundi’s World Village label, Catherine Russell has been making new fans and friends. “She is a fresh and original voice,” wrote Sinatra biographer, Will Friedwald, who picked Cat among his top 10 CDs of the year. “It’s a delight to hear the real thing in Catherine Russell,” chimed in Nat Hentoff in The Wall Street Journal.
Six-time GRAMMY®-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride can be likened to a force of nature, fusing the fire and fury of a virtuoso with the depth and grounding of a seasoned journeyman. Powered by a relentless energy and a boundless love of swing, McBride’s path has described a continuous positive arc since his arrival on the scene. With a career now blazing into its third decade, the Philadelphia native has become one of the most requested, most recorded, and most respected figures in the music world today.
Raised in a city steeped in soul, McBride moved to New York in 1989 to pursue classical studies at the Juilliard School. There, he was promptly recruited to the road by saxophonist Bobby Watson. Call it a change in curriculum: a decade’s worth of study through hundreds of recording sessions and countless gigs with an ever-expanding circle of musicians.
In 2000, the lessons of the road came together in the formation of what would become his longest-running project, the Christian McBride Band.
He is also a respected educator and advocate, first noted in 1997 when he spoke on former President Bill Clinton’s town hall meeting “Racism in the Performing Arts.” He has since been named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions (2000), co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2005), and the Second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2005).
Dianna Philip is a young Saint Lucian vocalist who is honing her craft as the island watches. She has always had a love for the arts and has been living her dream for a few years. During the day, Dianna impacts lives as a primary school teacher. She is also happy as she pursues her artistic passion by performing in hotels where she started as a part of a duo several years ago. She has been a background vocalist for many calypso shows and is now happy to lead a band as a vocalist.
Her influences are varied, and you hear it in the timbre of her voice as she sings. She is drawn to the music of Saint Lucian Queen of Folk, Dame Sesenne Descartes, Anita Baker, Bob Marley, Nina Simone and Jill Scott to name a few. Although Dianna is a Jazz, soul artist, she feels comfortable on stage in almost any genre.
Five-time Grammy winner DIANNE REEVES is the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world. As a result of her breathtaking virtuosity, improvisational prowess, and unique jazz and R&B stylings, Reeves received the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for three consecutive recordings – a Grammy first in any vocal category.
Featured in George Clooney’s six-time Academy Award nominated Good Night, and Good Luck, Reeves won the Best Jazz Vocal Grammy for the film’s soundtrack.
Reeves has recorded and performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. She has also recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim and was a featured soloist with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Reeves was the first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first vocalist to ever perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Reeves worked with legendary producer Arif Mardin (Norah Jones, Aretha Franklin) on the Grammy winning A Little Moonlight, an intimate collection of standards featuring her touring trio. When Reeves’ holiday collection Christmas Time is Here was released, Ben Ratliff of The New York Times raved, “Ms. Reeves, a jazz singer of frequently astonishing skill, takes the assignment seriously; this is one of the best jazz Christmas CD’s I’ve heard.”
In recent years Reeves has toured the world in a variety of contexts including “Sing the Truth,” a musical celebration of Nina Simone which also featured Lizz Wright and Angelique Kidjo. She performed at the White House on multiple occasions including President Obama’s State Dinner for the President of China as well as the Governors’ Ball.
Reeves’ most recent release Beautiful Life, features Gregory Porter, Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway and Esperanza Spalding. Produced by Terri Lyne Carrington, Beautiful Life won the 2015 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. Reeves is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the Berklee College of Music and the Juilliard School. In 2018 the National Endowment for the Arts designated Reeves a Jazz Master – the highest honor the United States bestows on jazz artists.
Etienne Charles is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Michigan State University who is hailed by The New York Times as “an auteur” (Ben Ratliff), and by Jazz Times as “a daring improviser who delivers with heart wrenching lyricism” (Bill Milkowski). According to Downbeat Magazine, “Charles delivers his ebullient improvisations with the elegance of a world-class ballet dancer.” (John Murph). He has received critical acclaim for his exciting performances, thrilling compositions and knack for connecting with audiences worldwide. In June 2012, Etienne was written into the US Congressional Record for his musical contributions to Trinidad & Tobago and the World. Perhaps more than any other musician of his generation or Eastern Caribbean origin, Etienne brings a careful study of myriad rhythms from the French, Spanish, English and Dutch speaking Caribbean to the table. Crucially, as a soloist, he fully understands the New Orleans trumpet tradition which is readily discernible in his trademark instrumental swagger, and what famed Crescent City Pianist, Jelly Roll Morton so succinctly captured in the now immortal phrase, ‘The Spanish Tinge’. He has performed and or recorded with Monty Alexander, Roberta Flack, Frank Foster, Ralph MacDonald, Johnny Mandel, Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Maria Schneider, Count Basie Orchestra, Eric Reed, Lord Blakie, David Rudder and many others. He holds a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School and a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.
For Gregory Porter, the influence of Nat King Cole on his life and music runs deep, a through-line that reaches back into some of his earliest childhood memories, and culminates in the release of the two-time GRAMMY-winning vocalist’s stunning fifth studio album Nat King Cole & Me, a heartfelt tribute to the legendary singer, pianist, and Capitol recording artist. “He was one of a kind. He left such great music – such beautiful things to listen to that you can’t help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool,” Porter enthuses.
“My mother said I wrote this little song when I was 5 and put it on a tape and played it for her when she came home from work,” recalls Porter. Upon hearing it his mother, Ruth Porter, exclaimed “Boy, you sound like Nat King Cole,” a compliment that sent the curious young Gregory delving into her record collection.
Porter’s love for Cole’s music blossomed so much that he adopted Cole as his surrogate father. After his role in the Tony-nominated musical It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues – but before rising to international acclaim in his solo career thanks to his mellifluous baritone, poignant originals, and invigorating concerts – Porter dramatized his deep appreciation for Cole in a semi-autobiographical musical, Nat King Cole & Me, which premiered in 2004.
That musical underpins Porter’s third Blue Note Records release, Nat King Cole & Me, the follow-up to his GRAMMY-winning albums Liquid Spirit (2013) and Take Me to the Alley (2016), which established Porter as his generation’s most soulful jazz singer-songwriter. “It’s only natural that I go to the root of my inspiration and where I come from. And that root would be my mother and gospel music and Nat King Cole,” Porter says.
With the help of six-time GRAMMY-winning arranger Vince Mendoza and a core band featuring pianist Christian Sands, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Ulysses Owens, Porter revisits some of Cole’s most cherished classics such as “Smile,” “L-O-V-E,” “Nature Boy,” and “The Christmas Song.” Mendoza’s lush arrangements, animated by the London Studio Orchestra, cushion Porter’s brawny crooning to astonishing widescreen effect.
The singer demonstrates his acumen with singing in Spanish with his sensual take on “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas,” a popular tune written by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés that Cole featured on his 1958 LP, Cole Español. The album reaches its most theatrical flair with the extravagant treatment of Cole Porter’s “Miss Otis Regrets.” Porter’s voice bounces atop Mendoza’s ebullient arrangement of “Pick Yourself Up,” which Cole recorded with pianist George Shearing in 1961.
“When Love Was King” is the album’s sole Porter composition, originally recorded on Liquid Spirit, and here underscored by Mendoza’s suspenseful orchestral strings. “Of all the songs that I’ve written, ‘When Love Was King’ is probably one that’s the most influenced by Nat,” Porter explains. “Nat always chose these message songs – songs that left you with a thought that you’d want to carry throughout the entirety of your life.”
Jowee Omicil speaks many languages and plays just as many instruments, but prefers the saxophone. A son of Haitian emigrants, he grew up in Montreal and started playing the sax at the church where his father was a minister, before studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, then moving to New York to launch his musical career and, at times, confer with Ornette Coleman or accompany Roy Hargrove as part of the band RH Factor. He then lived in Haiti and Panama and settled in Paris a couple of years ago after signing with the Jazz Village label. Although ‘settled’ is perhaps not the best term to describe him.
This is the essence of jazz, modern jazz: a joyful, generous form of music whose long history never hinders its progress or development. That’s how Jowee Omicil sees things, and how he plays them too. It’s also how the audiences who have seen him on stage in 2017 experienced things – whether in France, Africa, Canada or the Caribbean, at small venues or large festivals. In 2017, Jowee played with Tony Allen and BCUC and he’ll never forget it. He played in private at the small New York apartment of his Cuban friend and drummer Francesco Mela, and still hasn’t got over it. He brought the public surprises, coolness and wholeness. A ‘refill’ of positive energy, a little like at church, where everything started for him, and where Love Matters! draws to an end. On this record, as on the stage, the effusive Jowee is an ‘entertainer’ crazy about melodies, groove and pop music, and no label applied to define him will ever stick.
Ledisi is a 12x Grammy-nominated vocal powerhouse who has wowed fans ever since she came onto the scene. She’s earned a place in the pantheon of the best soul singers of her generation. Ledisi is a favorite of The Obamas and has performed eight times at the White House. Her fans include icons, legends and current chart-toppers like Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Kehlani and more. She has headlined two sold-out tours, performed alongside Richie Sambora, Dave Matthews, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Jill Scott, Maxwell and many more. She’s appeared on American recognized shows like Good Morning America, HARRY, The David Letterman Show, The Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and VH-1’s Diva’s Live to name a few. In 2015, she appeared in the Oscar-nominated movie Selma as Mahalia Jackson and is currently starring in Gabourey Sidibe’s Shatterbox Anthology film, The Tale of Four. Ledisi has released her ninth Grammy nominated studio album Let Love Rule, which features John Legend, Kirk Franklin, and B.J. The Chicago Kid, among others. The album received three Grammy nominations in the “Best R&B Album,” “Best R&B Performance” (High), and “Best Traditional R&B Performance” (All the Way) categories.
Mario Canonge is a pianist from Martinique. He started playing in his teen years and accompanied the church choir at Francois Church in Martinique. In 1979, he started studying music in Paris and was a part of several bands. In the early 80s, he mainly played Latin music, notably with Manigua, before forming a jazz-rock-fusion band along with Nguyen Lê, Ultramarine. Very much inspired by the two most famous Caribbean pianists, Marius Cultier and Alain Jean-Marie, Canonge quickly won recognition for his talent and became well-sought after. He has played with the likes of Lavelle, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nicole Croisille, Ralph Thamar, as well as Carter Jefferson, Chico, Freeman, Turk Mauro, Simon Spang-Hanssen.
He also formed Sakiyo with Michel Alibo and started a solo career with “Retour aux sources” in 1991. It is a turning point in his career which led him to go back to his roots and its music – mazurka and beguine – mixed with jazz and zouk. He performs quite frequently with his group, Kann, and for several years, the quartet has played overseas as Mario keeps on playing with other artists such as Kassav and Malavoi.
In 2002, Mario created Sakésho with Andy Narell, Michel Alibo and Jean-Philippe Fanfant. The group released two CDs and a DVD and performed at many festivals. When he is not on the road, he enjoys playing with his old friend Etienne Mbappé, as well as Richard Bona, Gino Sitson, and Manu Dibango whose African influences keep on broadening his already wide spectrum.
In 2004, he revealed new inspiration with a jazzy yet Caribbean sound on his latest album, Rhizome. In 2008, Mario released a live album with Linley Marthe and Chander Sardjoe and continues to work with Rhizome on many tours.
In 2011, Mario Canonge released “Mitan”, a jazz album welcomed by the critics. At that point, “Mitan” was not only the title of his album; it was the “half-time” of his life. “The beginning of a new adventure, led by a desire to look forward, to grow and always evolve, a desire to reach and, with my own fingers, lightly touch the essence.” During the course of the summer, Mario and Michel Zenino played at Jazz à Porquerolles where the concert was filmed and serves as the base of a DVD released early in 2013.
By the end of the year, Mario played on Dominican guitarist Cameron Pierre’s album, “Radio Jumbo”. He then meets Courtney Pine who invited him to play on “House of Legends” which was released late in 2012. This period also sees the birth of a new promising trio, CAB, with Blick Bassy, a Cameroonian singer, and Adriano Tenorio DD, a young Brazilian percussionist.
The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) was formed in 2002, and was designed to celebrate and fortify the American Jazz portfolio while providing infrastructure for developing the New Orleans Jazz industry. Led by Artistic Director Adonis Rose, this 18-piece big band has an ever-increasing repertoire that exemplifies the influence of Jazz as the grandfather of all modern American music. As such, the band and its members are true Ambassadors of American Music. The members of the orchestra span several generations and have over one hundred years of combined professional experience. They have performed and recorded with a veritable who’s who of artists across all genres. NOJO has headlined all of America’s major performing arts venues and clubs, and produced the first local, ticketed Jazz Concert Series in New Orleans’ history. NOJO’s album, BOOK ONE released on World Village ( Harmonia Mundi) won the 2010 Grammy Award for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble.” Their most recent album, Dee Dee’s Feather’s, was released in 2015 and features Grammy and Tony award winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater.
On their forthcoming release expected Spring 2019, NOJO takes a look into the mind and music of New Orleans’ piano legend Allen Toussaint, whose music has influenced generations spanning more than fifty years. In their inimitable swinging style, the Orchestra performs original Big Band arrangements of Toussaint’ greatest hits including “Southern Nights,” “With You In Mind,” “It’s Raining,” “Ruler of My Heart,” “Java,” and “Working in the Coal Mine.” The recording features Dee Dee Bridgewater, Davell Crawford, and several other special guests.
London-based saxophonist and composer, Nubya Garcia, is one of the leading forces behind the resurgence of jazz-influenced sounds in the UK. Raised in a creative environment built by a set of Caribbean parents, her brand of afro-tinged Jazz has made her a key component in a string of new and established groups: from work with MOBO Award-winning drummer, Moses Boyd, legendary Jungle producer and toaster, Congo Natty, through to her own works as part of six-piece, Maisha, and the Nérija septet.
Nubya fearlessly threw herself head first into this 5ive project, her debut recording, with a clear vision of what she wanted and was meticulous in her pursuit of her sound. Enlisting the help of fellow musical comrades from an exciting new wave of London based talent, Nubya tapped into well-seasoned, harmonious relationships with players that know and understand her – and this joyful union radiates through her compositions.
Grammy-nominated saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Patrick Bartley, Jr. is a musician with experience in a wide range of situations, most notably for appearing on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and being featured in the Emmy-nominated HBO special Wynton Marsalis: A YoungArts Masterclass, which premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Although a South Florida native, Patrick has spent the majority of his professional music career in NYC prior to graduating from the Manhattan School of Music. As an on-demand sideman, he has performed and recorded with musicians such as Louis Hayes, Jonathan Batiste, Mulgrew Miller, Jeff Coffin, and Wynton Marsalis, and has performed at world-renowned venues such as The STAPLES Center, Madison Square Garden, and the Black Sea Jazz Festival.
Born and raised in Hollywood, Florida, Patrick owes much of his success to his primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. While in middle school, under the tutelage of Melton Mustafa, Jr.—son of world-renowned trumpeter Melton Mustafa, Sr.—Patrick became the youngest musician to perform at the Jazz in The Gardens jazz festival in Miami Gardens, Florida, as well as the only musician to have performed on the stage twice. It was with Melton Mustafa, Jr. and Sr. that Patrick also got his first professional recording opportunity, this time at age 17. The recording session included Mulgrew Miller, Essiet Essiet, Ray Mantilla, Jason Jackson, and Victor Lewis. While attending high school, after making the Grammy High School Jazz Ensembles for two consecutive years, Patrick was given the opportunity to perform with the Dave Matthews Band live on the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards, and was also a YoungArts Gold Award recipient in Jazz.
It wasn't until college that Patrick decided to seriously focus on studying and performing Japanese music. After hearing the band School Food Punishment play "Futuristic Imagination" as the ending theme for the anime Eden of the East, Patrick felt a shift in his musical consciousness. It was in this moment that Patrick began to realize the reasons why he loved Japanese music so much; the intense devotion to deep melodies resonated within him, and he began to connect several dots that helped him to discover similarities between this new foreign music that enchanted him so much and the African-American blues-rooted music that he grew up with.
While his career has mainly focused on jazz-related work, Patrick also works in several musical contexts. Patrick is currently a sideman in two bands formed by friends in New York City: XD 7, a jazz-fusion group formed at the Manhattan School of Music that has done two tours and has two albums released, has influences that span from Earth, Wind, and Fire to Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis music; and The Arsonists, which is a quintet based in the jazz tradition, but takes elements of today’s world and plays what can be called “punk jazz”—highly intense music that serves to acknowledge the taboos of the modern jazz world and make them irrelevant with music that touches on multi-cultural backgrounds and is embodied with energy and free spirit.
Starting his music career at the Saint Lucia School of Music as a pre-teen, Rashaad Joseph has tried playing different musical instruments until he found his love in the saxophone. He drew inspiration from Gerald Albright, Luther Francois & Rob ‘Zii’ Taylor, as he constantly practised his craft to be as good as the greatest saxophonists - a challenge he took seriously.
Throughout his young career, Rashaad has had the privilege of working with amazing bands like the Black Antz Jazz Band and Dynamix, before forming his own band, Oceanview, early in 2019.
He has performed on various stages for major events including Saint Lucia Jazz, Jazz on the Grill and U4Ria. He slowly became a household name as an up and rising saxophonist offering stellar performances with heart and soul.
Since his journey, Rashaad has continued to hone his craft as a musician, developing an affinity for the role of a vocalist. Drawing inspiration from singing from the likes of Drake, Alkaline and Chronixx, he continues to produce melodious tunes on his golden saxophone while developing his vocal career. In late 2018 and early 2019, Rashaad released an original song named Casanova with a full music video shot and produced in Miami South Pointe Park with model Chanel Carter whose has also appeared with Alkaline, Chris Brown and Trey Songs.
At the age of 19 years, Rashaad Joseph continues to develop his craft, collaborating with various artistes to help grow his career and bring Saint Lucian musician and talent the attention it deserves.
Rob Zii’s career spans over 2 decades. He is a former member of Amate, having joined in 1992, and a founding member of Kronic Heights Productions (1996). Zii has shared stages with many mainstream artists such as Maxi Priest, Shaggy, Michael Bolton, Fantasia, Beres Hammond and Dave Koz.
Zii took part in a US Summer tour with Ky-mani Marley to Clifton Dillon and Shang Records alongside Maxi Priest, Toots & The Maytals and Andrew Tosh. He has released two full length albums, namely Rise Up and Destiny, recorded in Saint Lucia, Jamaica and Florida with industry giants and in 2008 at the Saint Lucia Music Awards, he captured the award for Instrumental of the Year with The Calling.
Zii has recently teamed up with Phyness, a fellow lead singer in the group Black Sheep. They currently perform often in Saint Lucia at various resorts and events and across the Caribbean region. They have recently recorded and released a reggae version of the song, Let It Go, which is receiving steady airplay on radio stations and are currently back in studio recording and preparing for their next release.
Phyness has been performing both in Saint Lucia and on cruise ships for the last decade and has released over a dozen original songs in various styles such as reggae, hip hop, soca and R&B, all self-written.
Phyness has performed alongside Alaine, Ziggy Rankin and Busy Signal.
Russell Hall is a Grammy and Emmy nominated bassist, singer, composer and educator who performs domestically and internationally. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, he currently resides in the mecca for jazz in the world, New York City. He started playing the double bass at the age of 14 when he was invited to attend Dillard Center For the Arts as a part of the jazz ensemble. While at Dillard, Russell took part in the internationally acclaimed Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition where the ensemble placed second in 2010 and first from 2011-2012. Additionally, Russell was awarded the prize of "Most Outstanding Bassist" for all three years of his participation. While in high school, he also garnered national acclaim as a member of the 2012 Jazz Band of America, the Vail Jazz Workshop, as well as being a Young Arts and Grammy Jazz Ensemble Finalist. A highlight for Hall also included a write up in Jet Magazine by jazz ambassador Wynton Marsalis as being "A Jazz Star of The Future" while at the tender age of 17.
Russell is a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School where he was a student of master bassists Ron Carter and Ben Wolfe. Currently, Russell can be seen at some of New York's most renowned jazz venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Small's, Smoke, The Blue Note, The Jazz Standard and Ginny's Supper Club with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Roy Haynes, The Heath Brothers, Jon Hendricks, Kathleen Battle, Herlin Riley, Cyrus Chestnut, Jimmy Cobb, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Mwenso and the Shakes, Emmet Cohen and Harold Mabern among others. Russell was also a part of the EMMY nominated film "HBO: Masterclass with Wynton Marsalis" where he, along with other students, were coached by Marsalis and featured in a performance with the Marsalis. Russell has also been fortunate to bring jazz around the world at venues in Japan, Israel, Russia, Europe, Cape Verde, South America and his home, the Caribbean.
Ronald “Boo” Hinkson’s talent transcends cultures and sounds, bringing a fresh and innovative blend of jazz and Caribbean music. A gifted composer, producer, and heralded guitarist, Boo’s unique approach and versatility enable him to deliver a distinctive signature sound.
Born in Saint Lucia and raised on a diet of Ellington, Davis, and Coltrane, Boo’s name is synonymous with Saint Lucian music. His mother – who was also an accomplished guitarist – was his first teacher. His musical career began with the Tru-Tones, a group he started in Saint Lucia, which commanded stages locally and internationally for two decades. So much so in fact, that their eclectic blends of Caribbean and pop rhythms garnered them an appearance at Superbowl XIII. Today, he is an exceptionally accomplished musician who has stayed true not only to his Jazz roots, but also to his West Indian culture. Boo couples his appreciation of the old masters with Contemporary Jazz and Soca in his music and lyrics, and as a result his popularity has continued to spread.
With a performance track record that includes international stages from the Caribbean to the U.S. and Europe, Boo has shared the stage with scores of musical greats including Al Jarreau, India Arie, Earl Klugh, George Benson and Grover Washington. He was recently featured at a state function for former President Bill Clinton. His music has been showcased on the day-time television show “One Life to Live”. BBC, BET Jazz, and Bravo TV have also aired his live performances. Has written several songs for Gramm
Stanley Jordan describes Boo “as a genuinely gifted and accomplished musician”. George Benson praises his technical prowess and improvisation. Ronnie Laws has described his playing as “extremely soulful and intense”. Frequently compared to Kenny Burrel for not only his natural touch on the guitar but also his polished image, Boo plays the guitar with fire, soul, and astuteness. “Beyond” and “Shades” are sure to be a collector’s items for any real Jazz enthusiast. Added to his accolades are successful performances at the pretigious Lincoln Centre in NY. In June 2013, he was invited by the White House to perform in celebration of Caribbean Heritage month. His recent performances in Monaco – one of which was with Yclef Jean – received rave reviews. In April 2016, Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson will headline Mt Irvine Bay Resort Jazz on the Beach in Tobago.
What is it that establishes someone as a musical ambassador, but a certain inimitable style, an enviable vocal ability, range and styling, a competence in diverse musical idioms? These elements, when melded with a soothing, but charismatic presence, make for a strong and instantaneous connection between the singer and her audience. Caught in the grip of Shirleyann’s message, one feels close up with TRUTH. She ministers the word in song and has been able to do this with credibility, genuine testimony and sincerity ever since the age of six.
This singer hails from a Saint Lucian community where there is a preponderance of worshippers of the Seventh Day Adventist faith. Church was, therefore, a major element in her conditioning as an individual and as a Christian from the age of six. It was then she found her voice, and as early as then, she got her nickname “little girl with the powerful voice”. It became well established that this ministering nightingale moved to the beat of a higher power and was not strictly the spokesperson for the Labayee Adventist Community. Shirleyann was soon to become the headliner for any concert in Saint Lucia once the medium was Gospel.
She has performed with most Gospel groups on the Island, and has represented Saint Lucia in competitions at home and abroad. In 1993, she captured the third place at the Emmanuel Four Teen Talent Competition in Barbados. A year later (1994), she won 1st place at the Music Exposé CBU song contest preliminaries in Saint Lucia, and from there, went on to represent Saint Lucia at the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) Song Festival in Curacao. There she took the 2nd place as the youngest participant in a line-up of approximately ten seasoned and acclaimed vocalists from the Caribbean. That same year she represented Saint Lucia at the Richard Stoute Teen Talent competition in Barbados and walked away with the award for “Best Caribbean Song”.
A year later, at the age of seventeen (17) Shirleyann released her first Gospel Album called “I Believe”, which comprised nine originals including the CBU hit “Voices”.
An amazing talent such as she is can never be ignored. Because of the signature style, characteristic humility and that versatile vocal range, she can handle any musical idiom- but she will only sing to the Glory of God.
Born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, acclaimed vocalist & songwriter Somi has built a career of transatlantic sonicism and storytelling. Petite Afrique Somi's sophomore effort for Sony Music, is a daring, relevant, refashioning of what "jazz" and "African music" mean - both singularly and to each other. The album which tells the story of African immigrants in the midst of a gentrified Harlem, New York, which won a 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album and features special guest Aloe Blacc, is a timely Petite Afrique and the highly anticipated follow-up to Somi's last chart-topping album and major label debut The Lagos Music Salon which was inspired by an 18-month creative sabbatical in Lagos, Nigeria and features special guests Angelique Kidjo and Common landed at #1 on US Jazz charts. Both albums straddle the worlds of African jazz, soul, and pop with a newfound ease and a voice that Vogue Magazine simply calls “Superb!”
Often referred to as a modern-day Miriam Makeba, JazzTimes magazine describes her live performance as “the earthy gutsiness of Nina Simone blended with the vocal beauty of Dianne Reeves,” while Billboard exclaims that she’s “all elegance and awe…utterly captivating.”
The Lagos Music Salon is a highly anticipated follow up to the young singer’s last studio album, If the Rains Come First (ObliqSound) – a stunning collection of self-penned story-based songs which debuted at #2 on the Billboard World Chart, and featured her long-time mentor & legendary trumpet player Hugh Masekela. The Boston Globe proclaims the album “is a sustained triumph displaying rich musicality, a sharp pop sense, and rare sophistication" while The Huffington Post dubbed the young singer "the New Nina Simone." Singing in English and a wide range of African languages, her artistic evolution is indisputable. As her career has taken off, Somi’s talents have been called upon for collaborations and live performances alongside a diverse cast of artists including Mos Def, Baaba Maal, John Legend, Billy Childs, Paul Simon, Danilo Perez, Idan Raichel, Jennifer Hudson and many more.
In 2011, Somi released her first live album of performances at the venerable Jazz Standard in New York City. The result of which JazzTimes hailed as “stunning…natural fervor and naked magnificence.” A two-time recipient of The Doris Duke Foundation's French-American Jazz Exchange Composers’ Grant, Somi began an exploration of African & Arab jazz traditions alongside acclaimed French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf while investigating the role of the female voice during the Arab Spring protests. That body of work premiered at The Kennedy Center’s 2014 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival. She is also developing an original jazz opera about the life and legacy of South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba.
At age 24, Veronica Swift is now being recognized around the US as one of the top young jazz singers on the scene.
In the fall of 2015, she won second place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. In 2016, she was asked to perform a concert of her own at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City and she was a guest artist with Michael Feinstein at Jazz at Lincoln Center with the Tedd Firth Big Band and Marilyn Maye and Freda Payne. Veronica’s first appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center was at age 11 when she performed at the “Women in Jazz” series at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.
In the summer of 2016, she headlined at the Telluride Jazz Festival, her 10th appearance there – but her first as a headliner. She first appeared there at age 10 with Dave Adams’ Young Razzcals Jazz Project and the great saxophonist Richie Cole and later she sang a duet with the featured artist, Paquito d’Rivera. Then in April, 2017 she started her residency at the infamous Birdland Jazz Club in New York City. On into 2018, Veronica began touring with her trio (Emmet Cohen Trio) as well as Benny Green Trio, Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Chris Botti appearing at Jazz Showcase, Monterey and Montreal Jazz festivals, two runs at Jazz at Lincoln Center: Shanghai, China, and Marians' Jazz Showroom in Bern, Switzerland.
Veronica grew up on tour with her parents, renowned jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and celebrated jazz singer and educator/author Stephanie Nakasian. It was with them where she first appeared at The Jazz Standard, and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Veronica recorded two CDs as a child – one at age 9 with Richie Cole and her father’s rhythm section and her mother, and one at age 13 with saxophonist Harry Allen.
Her 2015 Album “Lonely Woman” features some of the hottest young jazz players on the scene including Emmet Cohen, Benny Bennack III, Daryl Johns (with whom she shared the Grammy Choir/Band experience), Matt Wigler, and Scott Lowrie.
In addition to performing the Great American Songbook and Bebop and Vocalese classics, Veronica is also a passionate devotee of 20s and 30s music and has sung with Vince Giordano, Terry Waldo, and Drew Nugent.
Veronica will be releasing her next album on Mac Avenue Records in early 2019, which will feature the great pianist Benny Green and his trio as well the Emmet Cohen Trio.
Xtra Luv was formed as Love's Everlasting way back in 1986 by guitarist John Steve, keyboardist Dale Louis, vocalist Ignatius Joseph and drummer Tracy Henry. All members originated from Laborie. The addition of Ron Louis on bass guitar came later that same year as that became a priority. That year and the following three years saw the group performing on borrowed and sometimes rented equipment as funds were sort in every way possible to enable purchase of better instruments and equipment.
A well needed boost in popularity came in 1990, when a music video of the group of their first release, Sweeter Than Wine, featuring drummer Tracy on lead vocals, was produced by David King of HTS. Soon after band leader Dale and bassist Ron left on work related study,and this created a short break in performing. Things resumed in 1992 with a talent show, which set off a series of the same, dubbed Xtravaganza, featuring only Laborie talent which was well received during the school summer break. Various musicians came into the group and moved on to other musical careers, amoung these were deceased Jany Williams, former National Calypso monarch, Nerville Charlemagne (drummer/vocalist), Evans Joseph (bassist), Shern Darcheville (vocalist), Chester St.Helen (drummer), Leonard Moses (drummer), Joel Germe (bassist), Dail Polius (keyboardist), Carlene Joseph(vocalist), Marlon Florent (guitarist) and a few others, all again from Laborie, with Marlon being from Augier, the only exception. In 1997, a name change was seen as necessary to promote a new image and the name Xtra Luv was born. Many hotel gigs followed from 2000 for the next ten years. A concert performance with Barbara Cadet at Jazz in the South started an encouragement to continue
The band now consists of original members Dale on keyboards and Ron on bass guitar, with KC Aimable on guitar, Kenneth Verneuil on drums, Toria Placide and Wenia Verneuil on vocals and David Elwin, occasionally on lead guitar. The shift to a soft jazz repertoire came over the last year, as it was seen as a more acceptable role that would be played by the band in the revival of Jazz in the South, especially the Laborie segment.
Born in Barking in the early 1980s, YolanDa Brown has been flying high and fast pretty much all her life. She was Head Girl at her comprehensive in East London; she romped through her GCSEs and A-levels before going on to those degree courses in Operations Management at the University of Kent [where she achieved a First Class]; she taught herself to play saxophone and when it began to pay off only then did she make music the central focus of her future career.
Aside from the awards - apparently her accumulated public votes at The MOBOs outweighed all the other nominees put together - and tours [all over the UK and to Germany, Italy, Spain, America and the Caribbean], YolanDa has played on stages with Mica Paris, Alexander O’Neal, Soweto Kinch and The Temptations, hosted her own shows on Sky, BBC Radio 2 and for British Airways’ in-flight entertainment [she even performed on-board for BA when they launched their direct route from Heathrow to New Orleans]. She’s been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of East London, has taken tea with the Queen and Prince Phillip, is currently writing a series of children’s books, loves to drive fast cars around race tracks in her spare time – if you can seriously imagine her having any - and can even rattle off a Rubik’s Cube in around five minutes [on a good day]. She has also been named as the celebrity ambassador for the Greater London Assembly and ABRSM ‘Learn Music London’ campaign.