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ARTISTS 2015

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Summarised Artist biographies.

AMEL LARRIEUX (USA)    amellarrieux.com

Grammy nominated Amel Larrieux is an American singer-songwriter and keyboardist.  Larrieux rose to fame in the mid-1990s as a founding member of the duo Groove Theory along with Bryce Wilson.  In 2000, she released her debut album Infinite Possibilities on Epic Records, which she co-wrote and co-produced.  The album reached seventy-nine on the Billboard 200 and number twenty-one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and produced the hit ‘Get Up’, her highest charting solo hit to date.  In late 2003, Larrieux and her husband producer, Laru Larrieux founded the independent label, ‘Blisslife Records,’ on which she has released five albums to date.  Larrieux's collaboration with Stanley Clarke and Glenn Lewis on the cover version ‘Where is the love’ received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Larrieux cites Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, Sade, Rickie Lee Jones, Stevie Wonder, Shawn Colvin, Chaka Khan, John Lennon, Patrice Rushen, Jimi Hendrix and Joni Mitchell as her musical influences.  Many of these are drawn from R7B, soul, jazz, folk, hip-hop and gospel with flashes of Middle Eastern, West African, and Indian ethnic styles.  She has often been documented for describing her music as “Amel’s music” (Amel means ‘hope’ in Arabic).

 

BASIA TRZETRZELEWSKA (UK/POLAND)   www.basiasongs.com

Poland-native and a British citizen for the most of her life - Basia Trzetrzelewska was introduced as a vocalist with the group Matt Bianco. She and the group’s main composer, keyboardist Danny White, left to begin work on their debut album "Time and Tide". The album was successful throughout Europe and Japan, but it took some adventurous D.J.s to import the album to a new radio audience stateside. The buzz led to "Time and Tide"’s official US release and three Adult Contemporary hits. Basia’s versatility has earned her two consecutive number one Billboard Contemporary Jazz albums with the single “Cruising For Bruising” from the second album “London Warsaw New York”,  which resulted in another platinum record. In 1994, Basia developed a more organic sound, with a full band and a deeper variety of musical texture. Once again her appeal continued to penetrate beyond genre lines as “Drunk On Love” became a #1 Billboard Club Play hit while “The Sweetest Illusion” rode the pop album chart. A world tour followed and culminated in a two-week run on Broadway, recorded for the live album "Basia on Broadway".

Danny, along with Mark Reilly, pulled Basia back into the fray to recast their early sound for the 2004 Matt Bianco album "Matt’s Mood”, on which they were joined by a tight band of accomplished musicians, with whom they work until now.In 2008 Basia was back in action with her strongest work yet, "It’s That Girl Again", an album that brings her trademark global pop/jazz sound into today. From the first strum of the guitar to the last cheer from the crowd, the album is a great showing from an established artist firmly planted in the here-and-now. This album was followed by the release of another live album, "From Newport To London", this time recorded in Poland, also including some new studio songs.At the moment Basia and Danny White are working on a new album, which they hope to release in 2015. Those, long-frustrated by the current state of pop music are craving something original and will surely enjoy this new release!

 

BEATENBERG (SA)   www.beatenberg.net

Beatenberg is a fresh new face in pop music from South Africa. Or rather, three faces - Matthew Field, vocals and guitar, Ross Dorkin, who plays the bass, and Robin Brink who plays the drums.  Songwriter Matthew says their beat “is about emotions, images and fleeting senses of things: the mad stuff that everyone feels and almost understands.”  Their first album, Farm Photos, released independently in 2011, was a tender and somewhat naïve offering which somehow made a strange and lasting impression with its sophisticated harmony, sincere delivery and boyish lyrics. In 2012, Beatenberg opened for The Tallest Man On Earth. This was a special concert that got a lot of people talking about them and several features in the media. They also played ‘Rocking the Daisies’ in 2012. But that was not the final definition of Beatenberg: in 2014, the band pointed towards a new direction.

Having initially got South Africans asking, “Who is Chelsea Blakemore”, Beatenberg broke a number of records with their collaboration with DJ Clock, Pluto (Remember You), spending 17 weeks at Number #1.  They are a self-declared ‘pop’ band whose aesthetic is clear but alluring blends synth elements with ‘africanesque’ guitar lines and stark, haunting vocals, while the also displays their core as a trio that actually plays instruments.   They are creating and defining a “new South African sound” that pays homage to our country’s musical heritage whilst also breaking new ground with their unmistakably global pop sensibility.

 

BÄNZ OESTER AND THE RAINMAKERS (SWISS/SA)   www.baenzoester.com

The Swiss-South African jazz collaboration is made up of bassist Bänz Oester and saxophonist Ganesh Geymeier from Switzerland, and pianist Afrika Mkhize and drummer Ayanda Sikade from South Africa. They call their exuberant sound ‘music of intention’.   Coming about as a result of a chance encounter, Oester, Geymeier, Mkhize and Sikade met at the National Arts Festival in 2011, when the seed was planted to collaborate on a more regular basis. This camaraderie and shared musical philosophy has since blossomed with a series of successful concerts in Switzerland and the release of an album, Playing at the Bird’s Eye, recorded live at the Basel jazz club of the same name in 2012.  Echoing the members’ varying backgrounds and traditions, the band’s style is suitably eclectic – incorporating seductive and funky blues, African rhythms and Swiss folk tunes, all mashed up with a good measure of blinding improvisation.  Mkhize is the 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist for jazz, and is known for his distinctive piano playing. He has also worked as a producer for the likes of Themba Mkhize (his father), Sibongile Khumalo and Kabelo, and served as musical director for the late Miriam Makeba for many years. Sikade, a talented drummer, has worked with such luminaries as Feya Faku, Bheki Mseleku, Robbie Jansen, Barney Rachabane, Darius Brubeck and the late Zim Ngqawana. Oester, on contra bass, is regarded as one of Europe’s leading jazz bassists, and also lectures at the music academies of Basel and Lausanne. Fellow Swiss, Geymeier, on tenor saxophone, has a style that pulses with emotional fire while being buoyed by a delicate spaciousness.  The one word that comes up most frequently in descriptions of the band’s music is “joy”.

 

CARLO MOMBELLI AND THE STORYTELLERS (SWISS/SA)   www.carlomombelli.com

South African bassist/composer Carlo Mombelli started his professional playing career in the band of one of South Africa’s most important jazz guitarists, the late Johnny Fourie. In 1985 Carlo started the group ‘Abstractions’ developing and performing his original compositions in downtown Johannesburg clubs like Jameson’s and Kippies, as well as a weekly midnight solo bass set at the Black Sun in Berea. Carlo has since recorded and performed at many festivals around the world. Back home he can be heard as a bassist on many South African recordings with amongst others, TlaleMakhene, ZimNgqawana, Marcus Wyatt, Simphiwe Dana, Sibongile Khumalo and Miriam Makeba. Besides the many ballets that have been choreographed to his music, he has also recorded several CD’s and DVD’s of his own works and has been nominated three times for a SAMA (South African Music Awards).

He has given composition and performance workshops around the world from the Munich Richard Strauss Conservatory to the ‘Berklee College of Music’ in Boston, USA. Carlo’s book ‘Mombelli’s Intergalactic Bass Program – Volume 1’ was published in 2011.  Carlo currently teaches jazz studies and composition at The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Johannesburg, where he received his doctorate in composition (DMus) in 2009.  The Storytellers include: MbusoKhoza: voice, Adrian Mears: trombone Daniel Pezzotti: cello; DejanTerzic: drums & Kyle Shepherd: piano – together, their musical compositions have been  credited as being “avant-garde, gorgeous, visionary, emotional and experimental.”

 

CLAUDE COZENS TRIO (SA)   www.claudecozens.co.za

Cozens is fast establishing himself as one of South Africa’s most sought-after drummers.  Known for his distinctive, open-style percussive drumming technique, he is also a talented pianist, composer and drum tutor.  Apart from leading his own Trio, Cozens’ compelling energy and inventiveness has seen him perform with a wide array of creative artists locally and abroad.  In a major pioneering innovation in drum design, Kyle Shepherd and Claude Cozens designed and built what is believed to be the world’s first complete Ghoema Drum Kit! The Drum Kit was launched at the world première of Shepherd’s 'Xamissa' project at Festival d’Automne à Paris, in France.  Selected Recording Credits include, ‘fineART’ - Kyle Shepherd, ‘Mirrors’ - Bokani Dyer and ‘Insurrections’ - Indian and South African artists,  Ari Sitas, Sazi Dlamini, Neo Muyanga, SumangalaDamodaran, TapanMullick, Tina Schouw and MalikaNdlovu. Cozens is set to release his debut album, ‘JubileeJam’, a studio recording of his Trio featuring Kyle Shepherd on keyboard and synthesisers and Benjamin Jephta on bass and all the original tracks composed by Cozens.  While his music naturally reflects the rich and diverse sounds and rhythms of his hometown, Cape Town, the African continent and Jazz, Cozens has already ventured beyond that in his quest to write his own story and carve out his own unique identity as an artist. For Cozens the inextricable link of music to spirituality and the yearning for something deeper is always at the heart of what he trying to do and say with his music.   “I do believe that music is highly spiritual. Music will have an effect in the spiritual realms.”

 

COURTNEY PINE O.B.E. and C.B.E PRESENTS HOUSE OF LEGENDS (UK)   www.courtneypine.co.uk

Born to Jamaican immigrants and wanting to be an astronaut when he grew up, Courtney Pine C.B.E. is a ground-breaking, multi- instrumentalist who over the past twenty years, has led a transformation in the British Jazz scene and a generation of exciting and innovative players to broaden their styles to take jazz out to a wider audience – not quite outer space, but pretty close.  His music integrates modern British music like drum and bass and UK garage with contemporary jazz styles.  He runs his own band and integrates many contemporary musicians in his performances.  House of Legends is Pine’s 15th studio album and sees him return to the saxophone and features his soprano sax exclusively for the first time.  House of Legends – the Jazzwise album of the year2012 - has been enthusiastically received on its world tour and comes to South Africa with musicians from Africa, the Caribbean and Europe that tell Pine’s personal journey from a multi-cultural point of view.  The sounds of Merengue, Ska, Mento and Calypso are played with vigour and sheer enjoyment that induces audiences to dance the night away. 

Pine was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2000, and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours for services to jazz music.  He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Westminster on 6 December 2004, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Southampton on 15 July 2010.

 

DIRTY LOOPS (SWEDEN)   www.dirty-loops.com

Dirty Loops, managed by the legendary writer and producer, Andreas Carlsson, is the Swedish sensation band from Stockholm, consisting of Jonah Nilsson (vocals and piano), Henrik Linder (bass) and Aron Mellergårdh (drums) who have known each other since their study days at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. All childhood prodigies, they have combined to create a sound that defies definition and showcases their musicianship and arrangement skills, leading to the formation of Dirty Loops in 2008.  They signed a global record deal with Producer David Foster under Universal Music’s subsidiary, Verve in 2012 and released their debut album, Loopified in Japan in April 2014 followed by releases in the UK in May and the US in August where it featured on the Billboard charts.   Their soundscape explores bouncy beats, interesting re-harmonisations, layered with their special twist on pop music, providing the perfect backdrop for Jonah’s wide-ranging vocals. The group has made the successful quantum leap from being a cover band to presenting unique and infectious original music that is taking digital and live audiences on a trip of notes. As Quincy Jones simply puts it, “Dirty Loops are just incredible!”

 

GERALD CLAYTON TRIO (USA)   geraldclayton.com

Three-time Grammy nominated jazz artist, Gerald Clayton has been hailed by The New York Times for his “huge, authoritative presence.” Three albums over the course of eight years, and countless worldwide performances, pianist and composer Gerald Clayton has established himself as a leading figure in the up-and-coming generation of jazz artists who are fluent in the range of styles that make up today’s jazz lexicon.

Gerald received the second place prize in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Competition. Gerald is the son of acclaimed jazz bassist, composer and bandleader, John Clayton, who has supported and encouraged the impresario since he first showed signs of musical talent at the age of three, which in 2006, led to the second place prize in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Competition.  Around that time, he was introduced to trumpeter Roy Hargrove when they were both featured artists at a performance of the Henry Mancini Orchestra.  “That was how things started.”  Life Forum was released in 2013 and his most ambitious project to date.  Clayton does not want to be defined by any one musical tradition, “I prefer to ignore the boxes, the genre distinctions,” he says. ”I focus on creating honest musical expressions and collaborating with people whose ideas resonate with my own.”

 

DELFT BIG BAND (SA)

The Delft Big Band, under the Directorship of Ian Smith, was launched in August 2008 as an initiative by the Department of Social Development and NGO Cape Outdoor Adventure Service and Training.

This development programme is targeted at vulnerable youth from high schools in Leiden, Rosendal and Voorbrug. Through this program, which has early intervention as a core element, music is used as a vehicle to equip the youth with valuable life-skills. The band has performed in many local events to foot tapping acclaim.  These include: the Sekunjalo Edujazz; The Cape Town Big Band Festival at the Baxter; the Community Jazz Festival in Guguletu for the Amy Biehl Foundation and various performances at the City Hall such as The Brass Band Pops and joint concerts with the American Palm Springs Band. The band has also travelled abroad where they performed in Norway and their own Tour de France in September 2013 and then in July this year, 13 of the members travelled to Liverpool, England to be part of the Brouhaha “Youth in the World” International Street Festival in Liverpool. 

 

 

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