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THE EDUCATORs
Day one - April 11

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Christie Dashiell 

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A talented vocalist and composer born in Washington, DC, and raised in North Carolina, seamlessly navigates the musical intersection of jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, and soul. Renowned for her improvisational skills and the natural richness of her clear tone, she stands out as one of the most sought-after artists in the contemporary music scene. Hailing from a musical family, Christie, the third of four musically gifted children of jazz bassist Carroll Dashiell, Jr., has been immersed in music throughout her life. A graduate of Howard University and the Manhattan School of Music, she gained recognition as a member of the university's premier vocal jazz ensemble, Afro-Blue, and garnered accolades in DownBeat Magazine's Student Music Awards. Christie's debut solo album, "Time All Mine," made waves on the Billboard and JazzTimes charts, solidifying her position in the jazz world. In addition to her solo career, she collaborates with renowned artists and is a faculty member at Temple University, Howard University, and The University of the District of Columbia. Christie's eagerly anticipated sophomore album, "Journey in Black," funded in part by Chamber Music America's Performance Plus Grant, explores themes of freedom, legacy, grief, and joy through seven original compositions and two arrangements. The album features a stellar lineup of musicians and receives creative guidance from NEA Jazz Master Dianne Reeves. 

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eric kennedy

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Eric Kennedy is a multiple percussionist, vocalist, educator, and composer based in Baltimore, MD. Kennedy has performed, toured, and recorded with luminaries such as Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath, Phil Woods, Bobby Watson, Gary Thomas, Wallace Roney, Pansori master Ahn Sook Sun, and many others. Additionally, He is a bandleader and was the last drummer/vocalist of the National Heritage Award Winners, The Holmes Brothers.  Kennedy has received numerous awards and grants for both performance and composition. In 2004, Kennedy was runner-up in the Billie Holiday Vocal Competition, he was co-composer for the award-winning documentary “Footprints of Pan Africanism”, and was most recently awarded the 2023 Jazz Journalist Association Jazz Hero Award for Baltimore.   

Kennedy has presented masterclasses, clinics, workshops, concerts, and lessons worldwide.  Kennedy currently teaches Jazz Percussion and Voice at Towson University, has served as a teaching artist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program for the past ten years. and has previously taught in the Baltimore City Public School system and was on jazz faculty at the Peabody institute.   

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jeff reed

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Jeff Reed is an acoustic and electric bassist, composer, and educator residing in Baltimore, MD. One of the most in-demand sidemen, Reed has performed extensively throughout the United States and internationally. As a sideman, Reed has worked with bass clarinetist Todd Marcus, vibraphonist and multi-instrumentalist Warren Wolf, and trumpeter Sean Jones. Jeff has also performed with a slew of musicians over the years including Gary Thomas, Miguel Zenon, David Sanchez, Dave Kikoski, Dave Liebmann, Jeff Coffin, Bennie Maupin, and Tom Morello to name a few. Reed has also been recorded on over fifty full-length albums.  

  

In addition to his sideman work, Reed leads his own group and released his first record “Look for the Light” on Stricker Street Records in 2020. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Towson University and a Master of Music from the University of Maryland, College Park. In addition to performing as a sideman, Reed is an adjunct faculty member at Towson University.  

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Michael dease

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Michael is one of the world's eminent trombonists, lending his versatile sound and signature improvisations to over 200 recordings and groups as diverse as Grammy winning artists David Sanborn, Christian McBride, Kanye West, Michel Camilo, and Alicia Keys. Born in Augusta, GA, he played the saxophone and trumpet before choosing the trombone at age 17. In 2001, Dease moved to New York City to become part of the historic first class of jazz students at The Juilliard School, earning both bachelors and masters degrees.  

Dease is a three-time winner of Downbeat Magazine’s Critic's Poll for Trombonist of the Year, from 2021-2023. He also received the Rising Star Jazz Trombonist in 2016. Additionally, he’s a four-time Grammy award winner, collaborating with Christian McBride and Alicia Keys. He serves as tenured full professor of jazz trombone at the renowned Michigan State University jazz program, where he received the 2019 Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award and the 2018 MSU Teacher/ Scholar Award. Prior to MSU, he was on faculty at Queens College - CUNY, The New School and Northeastern University. In 2015, Michael founded the Jazz Institute at Brevard at the Brevard Music Center, and he continues to direct the Institute along with the Seiko Summer Jazz Camp (Japan) and serves as the trombone faculty at the Skidmore Summer Jazz Institute (New York).  Most importantly, Dease enjoys spending time with his extraordinary wife and Professor of Percussion at MSU, Gwendolyn Dease, and their daughters Brooklyn & Charly.  

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sharel cassity

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Saxophonist, Composer and Educator Sharel Cassity is a nationally acclaimed saxophonist prominent on New York and Chicago jazz scenes. Named "Rising Star Alto Saxophone" of 2023 in Downbeat Magazine with a cover story, Cassity has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, & The Colbert Show, is in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, and is a recipient of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award.  Cassity has worked with Multi-Grammy Award-winning artists Jennifer Hudson, Natalie Merchant, Aretha Franklin, Vanessa Williams, & Trisha Yearwood among others. She has also performed alongside NEA Jazz Master and Grammy Award winning artists Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Heath, and Christian McBride. Additionally, Cassity has been a featured guest soloist with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. As a bandleader, Cassity's five albums have received top-rated reviews in publications like The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, JazzTimes, Jazziz, Downbeat, American Indian News, and a cover feature on Saxophone Journal. Cassity earned a Master's Degree under full scholarship at Juilliard in NYC, and gives back to the next generation teaching at DePaul University and Elgin Community College. Cassity is a current member of the Dizzy Gillespie Afro Latin Experience, Nicholas Payton’s TSO, the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band, and runs her record label "Relsha Music." Cassity is the director of the non-profit educational program "Jazz Up,” and is a proud Yamaha and Vandoren Performing Artist.   

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todd marcus

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Bass clarinetist, composer, and bandleader Todd Marcus is one of the few jazz artists worldwide to focus their work primarily on the bass clarinet. Though use of bass clarinet in jazz typically leans heavily towards avant-garde and free-jazz styles, Marcus’ straight-ahead playing has carved out a unique voice for the instrument in modern jazz. Marcus has annually been voted a Rising Star in Downbeat Magazine’s Annual Critics Poll and The New York Times writes, “Mr. Marcus is probably the most inventive bass clarinetist working in straight-ahead jazz today…[and] lives in Baltimore, where he is a guiding light on the city’s jazz scene who doubles as an activist and organizer.”  Marcus actively leads small ensembles such as the Todd Marcus Quintet and his nine-piece Jazz Orchestra on original compositions and jazz standards. He also offers clinics and masterclasses that focus on jazz, composition, music business, and the incorporation of other cultural music with jazz.   He has worked with other jazz artists such as Gary Bartz, Bennie Maupin, Don Byron, Larry Willis, Gary Thomas, Joel Frahm, Tim Warfield, Ralph Peterson, Warren Wolf, Sean Jones, and Orrin Evans.  Marcus has been a featured artist at the 2017 Jazz Tales Festival in Egypt, 2015 Cairo Jazz Festival in Egypt, and in 2005 at the 1st World Bass Clarinet Convention in Rotterdam, Holland.  Marcus balances his music career by running Intersection of Change, a nonprofit addressing poverty related issues in his Baltimore neighborhood.  The organization runs a community arts program for all ages, a recovery program for women overcoming drug addiction, an urban farm, and has achieved significant community revitalization by renovating abandoned building and vacant lots.  

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Dr. Javier Nero

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International Trombone Association’s Carl Fontana Competition, the ITA’s 2013 JJ Johnson Competition, the 2014 American Trombone Workshop National Jazz Solo Competition, and the 2015 Texas State Trombone Symposium Jazz Trombone Competition. He was also a finalist in the 2018 Curtis Fuller Jazz Trombone Competition in Detroit, Michigan, and the University of North Texas jazz trombone competition for two consecutive years, 2019 and 2020. Based in Baltimore, MD since March 2021, Javier relocated from New York City after securing the lead trombone position in the US Army Band’s premier musical unit, "The Pershing’s Own". He also joined the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University as a jazz trombone, arranging, and harmony teacher. In the summer of 2023, Dr. Nero released his sophomore album for full jazz orchestra titled “Kemet”, featuring nine original compositions and two arrangements for full big band, with special guests including Randy Brecker, Sean Jones, Christie Dashiell, Warren Wolf, and Tim Green. Javier continues to perform and record with Grammy-Award winning ensembles in New York City, such as the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the 8-bit Big Band, Steven Feifke Big Band, Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows, The Robert Edwards Big Band, Manuel Valera Jazz Orchestra, and Lucas Pino’s No-Net Nonet.

Nero holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School, a Master of Music from the University of Miami in Studio/Jazz Writing, and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a minor in classical trombone performance from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in May 2017.

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Charenee Wade

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1st Runner-Up in the 2010 Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition, the award-winning and critically acclaimed vocalist, arranger, educator, and composer Charenee Wade has excited audiences all over the world with her ingenuity and vibrancy through her artistry. Recipient of the 2017 Jazz at Lincoln Center Millennial Swing Award, Wade has worked with notable artists including Wynton Marsalis, Terri Lyne Carrington, Christian McBride, Winard Harper, Eric Reed, Jacky Terrason, Curtis Lundy, Robert Glasper, and Kyle Abraham (MacArthur Genius Awardee).

 

Wade's current CD, Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, is a powerful re-interpretation of the poet's musical library, which features notable artists, including Lonnie Plaxico, Marcus Miller, Stefon Harris, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and Christian McBride (spoken

word).

 

An alumnus of Manhattan School of Music and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Wade has performed at some of the top venues, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Jazz Standard, The Apollo, and has performed at major festivals worldwide including Montreux, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Istanbul Jazz Festival, Spoleto, Savannah

Music, Jazz En Tete, Bern Jazz Festival, and Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. As an educator, Wade has taught masterclasses, clinics, and jazz camps in the U.S. and internationally and is currently an instructor at Aaron Copland School, Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, and The Juilliard School.

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Dominick Farinacci

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Dominick Farinacci, a trumpeter and Ropeadope recording artist from New York City, served as Jazz at Lincoln's ambassador in Doha, Qatar, fostering musical integration globally from 2013-2015. A 2022 Cleveland Arts Prize recipient and Juilliard graduate, he launched his career in Japan, releasing twelve albums globally. Praised by The New York Times for his poise, he's featured on ABC's Good Morning America and a TED Speaker. Vanity Fair profiled him, and Quincy Jones hails his achievements. Farinacci advocates music's role in community wellness and education, speaking at TED MED in 2014.

He co-founded Modern Warrior LIVE, a narrative on a veteran's combat trauma, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and showcased at notable venues. Farinacci directs the Tri-C JazzFest Academy in Cleveland, where his 2016 album "Short Stories," produced by Tommy LiPuma, features renowned artists. His latest release "TRIAD" (March 2024) marks his Ropeadope debut.

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Kris Chesky

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Kris Chesky, a jazz trumpeter, recently joined Johns Hopkins University as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in Performing Arts Health, with appointments at the Peabody Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His tenure marks the establishment of a new academic department in Performing Arts and Health at Peabody, the first since 2014. Previously, Chesky was a professor at the University of North Texas, where he pioneered an award-winning undergraduate occupational health curriculum and established a groundbreaking field of music & medicine for graduate musicians. He emphasizes teaching and mentoring, with his students contributing research and holding academic positions worldwide.

Chesky's leadership extends to projects like Health Promotion in Schools of Music, ensuring occupational health education in US tertiary music programs. Collaborative research defines his work, spanning epidemiology, biomechanics, hearing conservation, mental health, and education policy in performing arts. He's recognized with awards like the 2010 Safe-in-Sound Award for addressing music-related hearing disorders. As an editorial board member and reviewer for academic journals, Chesky's influence is profound, impacting health and safety accreditation standards across music education institutions and public-school music programs in Texas.

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Marques Carroll

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Trumpeter Marques Carroll is a dynamic performer, composer, and educator deeply committed to preserving Jazz culture and sharing his passion for music globally. His albums, "The Ancestors’ Call" and "Foundations," offer a soulful exploration of culture and consciousness, resonating with audiences worldwide. "The Ancestors’ Call," in particular, earned consideration for a GRAMMY© nomination in 2021, showcasing tracks like “The Ancestors’ Call Upon Us” and “Generational Response.”

Marques's talent extends beyond music performance. He's also an Emmy recipient for his contributions to "Invisible History: Middle Florida’s Hidden Roots," a documentary highlighting African heritage.

 

As a co-founder of JMarq Records and leader of the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective, Marques is at the forefront of innovative music projects. He also holds a permanent sub-membership in the esteemed Count Basie Orchestra.

Marques is highly respected in education. He has served as Musical Director for Chicago Jesuit Academy since 2007 and currently teaches Jazz trumpet at a university in Chicago. Additionally, he authored the "Holistic Trumpet" method books, offering valuable insights into brass pedagogy.

Marques's dedication to preservation, innovation, and unity is evident in all facets of his career, from his performances and compositions to his teaching methods.

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Colleen Clark

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Drummer, composer, and educator Colleen Clark is vibrant on the scenes in NYC and the southeastern United States. Clark has guest performed with the 8G Band on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and can most recently be heard playing on ALLIANCE, in which she co-leads with Sharel Cassity, Michael Dease’s “The Other Shoe” (Origin), and upcoming releases by CC+ The Adelitas, The Southern Pines, Michael Dease and Matt White. She has shared the stage with jazz luminaries, including Branford Marsalis, Rodney Whitaker, Catherine Russell, Camille Thurman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Mimi Jones. Clark has been featured in DOWNBEAT magazine and is also an ASCAP award-winning composer. Clark was invited by the ASCAP Foundation to lead her band at the Kennedy Center. She is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the University of South Carolina’s Jazz Girls Day. Dr. Clark is the only woman and drummer earning a jazz doctoral degree from the University of North Texas.

THE EDUCATORs
Day two - April 12

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Dr. ERIC HINES

    Dr. Eric Hines, a professional percussionist/educator in Chicago, specializes in classical, jazz, Caribbean, Brazilian, Mexican, and popular percussion. He has an active international touring schedule and leads the Caribbean jazz ensemble Eric Hines & Pan Dulce. Additionally, Hines is the drummer/percussionist for the GRAMMY-nominated ensemble Sones de México.

    As a sought-after clinician in concert, marching, and world percussion, Hines has presented at prestigious events, including the Library of Congress, International Percussion Festival, PAS Days of Percussion, and various university programs. His extensive performance and recording credits include collaborations with renowned ensembles and artists.

    In Chicago, Hines is involved in Ravinia’s Jazz Mentors program and The People’s Music School, directing Wind Ensemble and teaching Applied Percussion and Music Theory. He previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Percussion at Olivet Nazarene University. Hines holds a DMA and MM from the University of Arizona and a BME from the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana, studying under notable mentors. Endorsed by Sabian, Tycoon Percussion, Vic Firth, and DrumDial, Eric Hines is a highly regarded percussionist and educator.

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    Jairo Moreno

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    Jairo Moreno is a Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in the Graduate Faculty, Department of Anthropology, and serving as a Faculty Associate in the Latin American and Latinx Studies Program. With prior teaching experience at Duke and N.Y.U., Moreno's work explores fundamental questions about listening and sound, examining how sound shapes subjectivity, objectivity, and personhood, both historically and geographically.

    Categorized under "Theory" at UPenn, Moreno focuses on reimagining a diverse practice of Music and Sound Studies. His recent work, "Sounding Latin America, Hearing the Americas" (U. of Chicago Press, 2023), is an archival, critical, and ethnographic study of music's role in political practices during late capitalism.

     

    Awards received by Moreno include the Society for American Music 2005 Irving Lowens Article Award, Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities (Yale), ACLS Fellowship, and National Humanities Center Fellowship. He has also been recognized with teaching awards from Duke University and New York University.

     

    As a former professional musician, Moreno was the bassist in Grammy Award-nominated recordings with the late Latin and Jazz percussionist Ray Barretto. He collaborated with musicians such as Stanley Turrentine, David “Fathead” Newman, Arturo Sandoval, and Chick Corea. Moreno's musical contributions extend to chamber music performances with guitarist David Starobin and the Ciompi String Quartet.

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    laura stephany cohen

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    Laura Stephany Cohen is a Latin and classical percussionist from Cali, Colombia. Her passion for music began at a young age, leading her to enroll in the after-school program at the Conservatorio Antonio María Valencia of Cali. In this institution, she sang in the choirs and studied piano, classical guitar, trumpet, percussion, and music theory. In 2011, she received a Technical Bachelor of Music Performance in Percussion from this institution. In 2013, Stephany decided to move to the United States and enrolled at Eastern Illinois University where she studied classical, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian percussion under Jamie Ryan. During her time at EIU, she won several music and academic scholarships and competitions, including the Eastern Symphonic Orchestra concerto competition, the Avedis Zildjian Scholarship through the prestigious Percussive Arts Society, and second place in the Sigma Alpha Iota Saint Louis Chapter music competition. In 2017, she completed her Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance and graduated Summa Cum Laude with University Honors. Stephany went on to complete her graduate degree at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where she served as Associate Instructor of Percussion. During her time there, she immensely grew her knowledge of Latin Jazz, Afro-Cuban music, and Brazilian music under Michael Spiro, Wayne Wallace, Joe Galvin, and Joseph Gramley, as well as her classical skills under Kevin Bobo and John Tafoya. Though she is very versatile, most of her current projects and interests center around the various Latin traditions she enjoys studying and performing. In addition, and as a member of the Percussive Arts Society World Percussion committee, she finds it necessary to spread awareness of the cultural and historical importance these traditions deserve.    

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    Mitchell Shiner

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    Mitchell Shiner is a vibraphonist, drummer, and composer, based in Milwaukee, WI. Shiner graduated from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies. Mitchell studied under Professors Steve Houghton, Michael Spiro, Wayne Wallace, and Dr. David Baker.  Currently, Shiner serves as the Chair of Jazz & Contemporary Music at The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. At WCM, Shiner teaches percussion lessons to students of all ages. Through the WCM Connections program, he teaches a World Percussion curriculum to high-need students in the Milwaukee Public School district. Shiner coaches Jazz combos and ensembles for high school students and lifelong learners alike. The administrative and artistic team at WCM develops programs that reflect the contemporary music scene — empowering our students to explore a diverse world of music. Shiner is an in-demand performer in Southeastern Wisconsin, appearing with regional talent including Jamie Breiwick, Russ Johnson, Johannes Wallmann, David Wake, and with groups such as Precarious Towers and The Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra. Shiner has shared the stage with nationally and internationally renowned artists including Issa Nyaphaga, Sharel Cassity, Jim Rotondi, Lynne Arriale, and Ron Vincent. Shiner is a bandleader and composer. “Mitchell Shiner Latin Vibes” has been featured in concert by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Jewish Community Center for events like Latkes Con Salsa and Carnaval De Purim. “Match Stick” is a tour de force fusion band, playing exclusively genre-bending original material for electric quartet. While away from noise-making activities, Shiner enjoys cooking Korean style food, crafting wind chimes out of teapots and silverware, and taking short walks with his very fluffy Pomeranian named Lucky. 

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    renato thoms

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    Renato Thoms, born in Colón, Panamá, began his music training at the Conservatory of the National University of Heredia in Costa Rica. He earned a Bachelor of Music Performance degree at Berklee College of Music with a musical merit scholarship, followed by a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies at The Boston Conservatory in 1998.

    Thoms received the Berklee College of Music Professional Performance Division Latin Percussion Award for Outstanding Musical Ability and was recognized in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. He was also a finalist in the 2000 Thelonius Monk Hand Drum Competition.

    Thoms has performed with renowned Latin jazz musicians and ensembles, including Rubén Blades, Eddie Palmieri, Danilo Pérez, Conrad Herwig, Brian Lynch, and more. Beyond Latin and jazz, he enjoys playing various percussion styles, allowing him to participate in different arenas such as the 2005 Broadway production of the Mambo Kings and performances at the Latin Grammy Awards and Grammy Awards.

    As an educator, Thoms serves as an Adjunct Professor at Hudson CUNY’s Jonh Jay College, teaching Caribbean Popular Music Courses. He has lectured and conducted master classes at various institutions, including Holy Cross University, Rutgers University, LaGuardia Community College, Princeton University, and The Crane School of Music. Thoms also directs Afro-Caribbean percussion programs at Wingspan Arts and is actively touring with various groups in NYC and globally.

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    Victor provost

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    Born and raised on the island of St. John, Virgin Islands, Victor Provost is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading voices on the unique, and often misunderstood, steelpan. Through appearances at concert halls, clubs, and stages throughout the world, he has developed a reputation as a “dazzling” soloist, crafting an impressive improvisational voice and style. With a strong foundation in Bebop, a contemporary sensibility, and deep roots in Caribbean music, he seamlessly melds and mixes genres. The Washington D.C. City Paper’s “Jazz Percussionist of the Year” six years in a row, his most recent recording, Bright Eyes, released on Paquito D’Rivera’s imprint on Sunnyside Records, debuted at #5 on the iTunes Top 40 Jazz Charts and was met with praise from The Washington Post, Downbeat Magazine, and Jazz Times. Provost has performed and recorded with Jazz luminaries such as Wynton Marsalis, Paquito D'Rivera, Hugh Masekela, Monty Alexander, Joe Locke, Nicholas Payton, Terell Stafford, Dave Samuels, Steve Nelson, Ron Blake, and Wycliffe Gordon, among others. Provost is an Adjunct Professor of Music at George Mason University and conducts residencies and master classes throughout the United States and the Caribbean at schools such as Berklee College of Music in Boston, University of Akron, Miami University, NYU, TTU, and Northern Illinois University. He is also an arts Ambassador to his hometown of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which honored him with a Special Congressional Recognition in 2014, and to which returns frequently to perform and teach as part of Dion Parson’s community-based arts initiative, the United Jazz Foundation. 

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    Agustin Muriago

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    Pianist Agustin Muriago has performed throughout the United States, Spain, China, Brazil, and his native Argentina, in venues such as the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Yamaha Salon in New York City. His repertoire ranges from standard piano works to contemporary music premieres, with an emphasis on Spanish and LatinAmerican music. He has recorded for Acte Préalable, Radium Recordings, and for NPR affiliates. Muriago has presented recitals featuring Latin-American music for the “Argentina Festival” in Hong Kong, the Latin American Cultural Week in New York City, the Sonus International Music Festival, for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series, and for the Latin American Music Center in Washington, D.C. Muriago is Assistant Professor of Keyboard Skills at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Highlights for the 2023-2024 season include the release on Albany Records of his first solo recording, plus concerts in New York City, Buenos Aires, and Washington, D.C. Agustin Muriago is a Yamaha Artist. 

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    Benjamin Lapidus

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    Benjamin Lapidus is a Grammy-nominated musician who has performed and recorded throughout the world as a bandleader and supporting musician playing guitar, Cuban tres, Puerto Rican cuatro, touchstyle/tapping instruments (Warr guitar and Chapman Stick), as well as organ. As a scholar, he has published widely on Latin music, and he is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, and is the acting director of the Ph.D. Program in Ethnomusicology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His most recent book, New York and the International Sound of Latin Music, 1940-1990 (University Press of Mississippi, 2021) received endorsements from Rubén Blades, Ilán Stavins and other prominent academics around the world and has been featured on BBC 3 Music Matters, NPR’s Afropop and Alt.Latino shows as well as the Miami International Book Fair and countless news outlets. His ninth album as a bandleader, Blues for Ochún was released in 2023.  

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    Liza Micelli

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    Liza Micelli's musical creations, described as a balance between nature's duality, blend contrasting influences into a unified whole, occasionally graced by her dulcet vocals. Driven by a passion for Afro-Caribbean sound, Micelli's journey led her from Chicago to Puerto Rico at 21. There, she studied at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico and collaborated with Latin pianist Luis Marín on her debut album, "La Gran Dictadora," featuring guest artists Richie Flores, Pedro Perez, Jimmy Rivera, and Manolito Rodriguez.

    From playing piano by ear at three to training under notable Chicago educators Skip Green and Peter Saxe, Micelli's musical evolution reflects her unwavering commitment to growth. Her versatility as a pianist and performer has led to collaborations with jazz, Latin, and pop artists globally, as well as educational clinics across the US and Latin America.

    Micelli's career includes a five-year tenure as an on-screen keyboardist for Fox's "Empire," engaging with lead cast members and iconic musical figures. Continuously expanding her artistic horizons, Micelli has studied under luminaries such as Danilo Perez, Tony Malaby, and Kenny Werner, affiliating with institutions like the Berklee Global Jazz and Effortless Mastery institutes.

     

    Currently, Micelli delves into the creative influence of the Indigenous voice on the origins of Black American Music, showcasing her ongoing commitment to innovation and cultural exploration.

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    Pedro Giraudo

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    Pedro Giraudo, a Latin GRAMMY Award-winning bassist and composer, is a prominent figure in contemporary tango music. With over two decades of experience, his Tango Orchestra debuted at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing in 2015, establishing him as a cultural ambassador for Argentine tango.

    In 2018, Giraudo's album 'Vigor Tanguero' won the Latin GRAMMY for 'Best Tango Album,' while his collaboration on Ruben Blades' "Tangos" earned two Grammy Awards. He has collaborated with Pablo Ziegler, Paquito D'Rivera, and jazz icons like Branford Marsalis and Kenny Garrett.

    As a composer and arranger, Giraudo's jazz and tango ensembles blend classical forms, Argentine tango, and jazz improvisation, earning critical acclaim and multiple awards.

     

    Giraudo's musical contributions extend to commissioned works celebrating Afro-Argentine culture and collaborations with ensembles like Sybarite5. He has received fellowships and commissions from organizations such as the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and Música de Cámara.

    As a recording artist, Giraudo's bass talents feature in various genres, including film soundtracks like Oliver Stone's 'Wall Street II.' Endorsed by D'Addario and Keeley Electronics, he continues to inspire audiences worldwide with his virtuosity and passion for music, solidifying his legacy as a trailblazer in tango and jazz.

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    Gerardo Contino

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    A versatile and acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist, he commenced his musical journey in Havana, Cuba, at 19. Now based in New York City, he has garnered recognition as a singer and a cultural producer. As the founder and director of Camino al Arte, a non-profit arts organization, he fosters cultural exchange and educational opportunities for artists throughout the United States and the Caribbean.

    His musical talents are diverse, encompassing salsa, jazz, big orchestra, and opera. In Cuba, Contino was the lead singer for NG La Banda, a legendary timba and jazz ensemble. In the United States, he has collaborated with esteemed groups such as the Max Weinberg Orchestra and Larry Harlow's Latin Legends Band. His creation, Los Habaneros, has received widespread acclaim, earning titles like "Best Band in Manhattan" and "Best Cuban Dance Band."

    Beyond his performances, he deeply engages in cultural production and community organizing. He has curated multi-disciplinary artistic productions, receiving support from institutions like the Manhattan Community Arts Fund. His commitment to preserving cultural heritage extends to his role as a National Council for the Traditional Arts board member.

    Liza Micelli

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