Category Archives: Artist

Walter Rodriguez

Artist Profile:

Walter Rodriguez

walter_rodriguez_2Walter is an openly creative multidirectional drummer/percussionist. His richly eclectic and unique gift encompasses a plurality of styles–from rock to latin to world music–in a way that is extremely rare in a realm dominated usually by “doing-one-thing” specialists. Combining powerful technique, uncanny sense of time, deep understanding of the essence of different cultural musical manifestations with a profound sense of stylistic appropriateness, Walter embodies -“The drummer/percussionist of the new century”- quoting his mentor Alex Acuña.

There are drummers, and there are percussionists. Very, very few of his generation have an equally flawless command at the Drum set, Latin percussion (from congas, to bongos/timbales), other World Music percussion (African, Brazilian, Afro-Uruguayan, and Indian… among other), and Electronic percussion (both as a programmer/performer). All of these are brought together and nurtured by a profound sense of purpose and meaning, defined by him as his “calling”. Walter wants to dedicate his playing to JESUS CHRIST, “The One Whom every perfect gift comes from”.walter_rodriguez_1

Playing drums from a very early age, Walter Rodriguez, born in San Juan. P.R., played his first TV show at the age of seven. His father, top studio call on the island for over 20 years, was his first teacher and still his greatest inspiration. While playing side by side with his dad, he was surrounded by today’s musical greats Alex Acuna and Giovanni Hidalgo; simultaneously enhancing his musical knowledge by studying piano and working as a sound engineer. At the age of 22, Walter moved to Los Angeles to study at Musicians Institute of Technology, specifically the PIT (Percussion Institute of Technology) division.

While getting involved in the local music scene, Walter and Alex Acuna connected, this time Alex taking Walter under his wing and becoming his spiritual and musical mentor. Where others would concentrate on fewer options/activities as time passes-by, Walter is heading to broader, more musically challenging directions. He is not only dealing with harmonic and other relevant music-theory elements, but also opening an even bigger sonic “palette” by studying -yet- other World-Music percussion traditions, including the Australian didgeridoo [the oldest woodwind instrument ever] and the Indian tabla, to mention a few. Walter’s excellent musicianship is only a part of his appeal as player and performer. His innate charisma, adding warmth and flare to any stage, and his smile frequently pointed out, as “lighting up the whole world”, are only surpassed by his sense of meaning and purpose. He defines the essence of his musical endeavor as two-fold: To shine for GOD Almighty in JESUS’ Name, and to affect people in a positive way in a world desperately needing so.

Walt Fowler

Artist Profile:

Walt Fowler

walt_fowler_2Walt Fowler, originally from Salt Lake City, Utah was born into a legendary musical family led by his father, renowned jazz educator, Dr. William L. Fowler. He kicked off his professional career as a trumpet player at the age of 19, when he joined Frank Zappa and the Mothers in 1974. In 1975, Walt and his brothers, Bruce, Steve, Tom and Ed formed "The Fowler Brothers Band," and released two jazz albums to critical acclaim. Following their release, Walt’s musical career continued to escalate as he toured with prominent artists such as Billy Cobham, Johnny Guitar Watson, Ray Charles, Buddy Rich, George Benson and Diana Ross.walt_fowler_1

In the mid 1990’s, Walt began a new venture orchestrating major motion picture soundtracks. He is credited as an orchestrator and/or featured soloist on blockbuster films such as The Lion King, Backdraft, Gladiator, Shrek, Ocean’s 12 and 13, The Bourne Supremacy, The Da Vinci Code, Pirates of the Caribbean 1,2, 3 and 4, The Good Shepherd, Transformers 1, 2 and 3, The Simpsons Movie, and most recently, The Dark Knight , Angels and Demons and The Amazing Spiderman 2  to name a few.

 In addition to orchestrating, Walt has been performing with James Taylor since joining his band in 2001 for the “Pullover” tour. Walt has also performed live and/or recorded with an illustrious list of artists which includes James Brown, Roberta Flack, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Yazawa, The Doors, Edgar Winter, Manhattan Transfer, Fishbone, Paula Abdul, Billy Childs, Banned From Utopia, Toto, Andy Summers, Allan Holdsworth and most recently Steve Gadd.  The Steve Gadd Band has just finished recording their second studio album scheduled for release in 2015.

Walfredo Reyes

Artist Profile:

Walfredo Reyes

walfredo_reyes_1Few drummers playing today can successfully combine the rich history of Latin, Afro-Cuban and World Percussion with the drum set. For Walfredo Reyes Jr., fusing the two disciplines has been his driving passion. In fact, by blazing this path, Reyes has challenged the technical levels of our instrument.

Born in Cuba, raised in Puerto Rico and culminating his musical style in the U.S., Wally (Walfredo Jr.) learned the traditions from the master, his father Walfredo Sr. He married those principles with his love of the drum set, coming up with his own truly global rhythmic style. Simply put, Wally is able to sound like a drummer and a percussionist at the same time. Add blistering chops and a penchant for playing unusual patterns to the mix, and you have only a small idea of what this man can do.

Not surprisingly, this "one man percussion show" has gathered an impressive list of gigs over the years, including touring and / or recording with: Carlos Santana, Traffic, Steve Winwood, Jackson Browne, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, David Lindley, Ricki Lee Jones, Richard Marx, Sergio Mendes, Smokey Robinson, Robbie Robertson, Joe Sample, Boz Scaggs, Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, Johnny Hallyday.

Because of his versatility, Walfredo is one of the most in demand musicians in theWalfredo_Reyes_2 world today. He currently lives in the Los Angeles area where he continues to expand his talents to recording, producing, composing, education, live performance and touring.

Tripp Sprague

Artist Profile:

Tripp Sprague

tripp_sprague_1If ever man and instrument were meant for each other, Tripp Sprague and the saxophone are that match.

Tripp’s first professional gig came at the young age of thirteen when he and his brother Peter, and three friends, put together a quartet to play at the Golden Rollin’ Belly in Del Mar. From that beginning his repertoire has expanded from bebop, through Brazilian, blues and standards, to fusion and pop; Tripp and his sax are fluent in all.  He is one of the top players on the San Diego music scene. He performs regularly with groups led by Peter Sprague, Jaime Valle, Shep Myers, and others. His versatility has led to performances with such internationally renowned acts as jazz singer Mose Allison, singer Kenny Loggins, The Little River Band, Motown legends Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, and The Temptations.tripp_sprague_2

Tripp has recorded on numerous CDs with such highly regarded artists as Kim Carnes, Todd Rundgren, Willie and Lobo and Sean Watkins of NIckel Creek. Tripp also co-produced and performed with the group ‘Blurring the Edges’ on a CD by the same name, which won ‘Best Pop-Jazz’ album at the San Diego Music Awards. He runs his own recording studio in which he has produced CDs for numerous artists.

‘Wall to Wall’ is Tripp’s first self-produced CD. Those who have heard the pieces on the album, all of which are arranged, and  written by Tripp, have unanimously declared it well worth the wait. It features some of San Diego’s top jazz musicians: pianist Rob Whitlock, guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist  Bob Magnusson, and drummer Duncan Moore.

Trey Henry

Artist Profile:

Trey Henry

trey_henry_1Trey Henry Musical Beginnings I took up the string bass when I was 13 in order to avoid a seventh grade art teacher with an unpleasant reputation. Then when I first saw the bass I had to play in class, I had to fight back tears. It had peoples initials carved into it (including mine) and I knew my friends would be ruthless. Most of my friends were guys that I played in bands with. They’re still my closest and certainly lifelong friends.

As a musician that is almost entirely produced by the LA Unified School District, I didn’t have a formal lesson until high school. The first thing my teacher demanded was that I get a briefcase for equipment and sheet music, and a date book.

My parents were very encouraging, by not being discouraging. They let me rehearse with various rock bands at their house and occasionally loaned me money for some of the worst musical instruments in history.

My main focus was to be versatile, I love and respect just about every form of music and have always strived to exptrey_henry_2erience them all. I thought making a living as a musician would be cool, too.

I didn’t come to jazz however, until college. It struck me as something profoundly challenging and beyond me. It is a musician’s music though. And I soon became addicted. Creating musical thoughts that are appreciated and understood no matter who’s playing or listening… Rare and priceless.

I guess what really blows my mind about jazz, is the unity. The ability of people from vastly different backgrounds, people who love each other, hate each other, have never met or spoken to communicate on an intimate level spontaneously.

The first band I was in was called Essence. Our first gig was a retirement party. We were playing “Sailing” by Christopher Cross and a guest had a heart attack and died on the dance floor right in front of us. Omen?

Out of all the great musicians I’ve played with, Andre Previn really scared me. I went to Japan with Previn and Julie Andrews. She was singing with the NHK Symphony and he was conducting. She was doing several melodies. – Sound of Music, Mary Poppins etc… Each melody was endless. We rehearsed for hours because no one including Previn had seen the music. We returned the next day for rehearsal and Previn had no scores. He had memorized the entire program over night.

Gerald Wilson called me last minute to play at “Marla’s Memory lane” in Compton, CA. I showed up and there were maybe three charts in the book. The rest were missing. I played far more wrong notes than right ones that night and I felt awful. Then at the end he came up to me and said “Can you come back tomorrow?” I’ve been with him now for 17 years.

I’ve had a recurring musical epiphany. It’s happened with just 3 musicians – Ray Brinker, Christian Jacob, and Herbie Hancock. When you play with great players you want desperately to contribute. With these musicians you simply listen to what they play and your fingers go directly to all the right places and you sound like a genius.

I first began working with Christian and Ray with the Maynard Ferguson band. The first gig was at “The Caravan of Dreams” in Dallas, TX. I felt very self conscious because I didn’t think I could hang with those guys.

The music on Styne and Mine is amongst the most demanding and challenging music I’ve ever been involved with from beginning to end. I expected to be nervous and intimidated but as we rehearsed and became more familiar with the music, I realized this could turn out to be a very honest and natural performance captured on a CD. After listening to the finished product, I can say this is by far the most accurate portrayal of me as a musician and an excellent opportunity to hear 3 musicians be themselves.

I’m in one band, The Tierney Sutton Band, because I’m able to be myself as a bass player, a musician, and a person. If I can find another group of people like that, I’ll be in two bands.

One of the truly great events of my life was doing a demonstration of the bass at my daughter’s preschool and seeing the pride in her eyes.

1980 I played the sousaphone in the Rose Parade. 7 miles, horses, etc.

Improving as a musician is a slow, painstaking and in some cases imperceptible process. Allowing yourself to change as a musician is as important, if not more. Change isn’t necessarily good, but it is evolution, and can open creative doors.

Tootie Heath

Artist Profile:

Tootie Heath

tootie_heath_1The younger brother of Percy and Jimmy Heath, Albert "Tootie" Heath has long been a top hard bop-based drummer with an open mind toward more commercial styles of jazz. After moving to New York (1957), he debuted on record with John Coltrane.

Heath was with J.J. Johnson's group (1958-1960) and the Jazztet (1960-1961), worked with the trios of Cedar Walton and Bobby Timmons in 1961, and recorded many records as a sideman for Riverside during that era. He lived intootie_heath_2 Europe in 1965-1968 (working frequently with Kenny Drew, Dexter Gordon, and backing touring Americans), and, after returning to the U.S., he played regularly with Herbie Hancock's sextet (1968-1969) and Yusef Lateef (1970-1974).

After an additional year in Europe, he joined the Heath Brothers band (1975-1978) and then settled in Los Angeles, where Tootie Heath continued freelancing, recording with the Riverside Reunion Band.
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Tony Banda

Artist Profile:

Tony Banda

tony_bandaBassist Tony Banda made his entry into the world in May of 1956. Growing up in the Los Angeles area he gained initial exposure to music through his family. By the age of 5 years old he was performing steady weekend gigs with the family group, thus receiving invaluable "on-the-bandstand" experience at an unusually young age. It was during these formative years that Tony's love and appreciation for all types of music grew immensely, especially Jazz / Latin / Rhythm & Blues.

With over 40 years of experience and a wide spectrum of musical concepts from which to draw from it's easy to see why he is one of the top players on the music scene today. He counts among his many influences legendary Jazz Bassist Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, John Heard and Al McKibbon. Latin greats Bobby Rodriguez, Cachao, Andy Gonzalez and Soul music innovators James Jamerson, Rocco Prestia, Bernard Odum and Larry Graham.

For the past 22 years Tony's signature rock steady feel has been the anchor for one of the worlds most celebrated music ensembles the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. As an original member of the group Tony Banda travels the world recording and performing with some of the greatest names in Jazz today at festivals and prestigious venues such as, Carnegie Hall. Since 1996 he has also been performing with the Banda Bros. Group, which he co-leads with his brother Ramon. The group which features him on acoustic upright is a vehicle for his more adventurous side and has been receiving rave reviews from critics and fans alike.

Tony has always taken immense pleasure in performing. His joyful spirit and outgoing personality connects with the audience and allows them to become a part of the musical experience and is one of the many highlights of Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band performances. Without a doubt, Tony Banda's powerful grooving bass lines on the groups 1999 Grammy Award winning CD Latin Soul propel the performance to a higher level.

Tom Warrington

Artist Profile:

Tom Warrington

tom_warrington_1Tom Warrington is one of the busiest acoustic and electric bass players in Los Angeles. Tom began his career in New York City, playing for three years in the Buddy Rich big band and trio. He also toured Europe extensively as a clinician and performer, and worked with many other great N.Y. artists, including Stan Getz, Dave Liebman, and Hank Jones.

Tom has lived in Los Angeles for the past twenty years, performing and recording with a long list of great artists, including Freddie Hubbard, Billy Childs, Denny Zeitlin, Bob Florence, Joe LaBarbera, Mose Allison, Arturo Sandoval, and Peggy Lee. His playing spans a wide range of styles, from jazz albums with Bob Sheppard and Terry Trotter, to TV commercials, where his music writing skills are often called upon.

Tom is heard on many movie and television scores, and is a featured artist on the soundtrack of Jodie Foster's film "Little Man Tate." He has also performed at the renowned Playboy Jazz Festival with Randy Brecker's quintet at the Hollywood Bowl, with Billy Childs at the Montreal and North Sea Jazz Festivals, and with Steve Houghton at the Samix International Festival in South Africa. This summer, Tom also toured New Zealand and performed a series of concerts in Edinburgh, Scotland.

tom_warrington_2His continuing association with top jazz players, combined with his clear and logical methods for communicating musical ideas have kept him in constant demand for clinics and seminars. Tom has also published a variety of musical works and instructional materials, including "Essential Styles I & II," (with play-along CD's), a video series, "The Contemporary Rhythm Section," a 28-book play-along series, "MasterTracks," and a new beginning bass method/CD, "Crawl Before You Walk."

He is a faculty member at University of Nevada Las Vegas, and holds a master's degree in composition from University of Illinois. Tom has also just released a new CD on the Jazz Compass label (jazzcompass.com), with Larry Koonse and Joe LaBarbera.

After receiving his master's degree in composition from University of Illinois, Tom moved to New York City in the mid 70's. There he quickly got the call to join the Buddy Rich Band, where he played for over two years. He also toured Europe extensively as a performer and clinician, and worked with many other great NY artists, including Stan Getz, Dave Liebman, and Hank Jones.

Tom came to Los Angeles in 1981, and has performed and recorded with a long list of great artists, including Freddie Hubbard, Terry Trotter, Peter Erskine, Joe La Barbera, Bob Florence, Lenny Niehaus, Mose Allison, Arturo Sandoval, and many others. His playing can be heard on over 100 recordings spanning a wide range of styles. Tom has also played on many movie and television scores, and is a featured artist on the soundtrack of Jodie Foster's film "Little Man Tate." He has also performed at the renowned Playboy Jazz Festival with Randy Brecker's quintet at the Hollywood Bowl, and with Billy Childs at the Montreal and North Sea Jazz Festivals. “Corduroy Road,” the current CD by the Tom Warrington Trio (JazzCompass Records) has received international critical acclaim and the group recently completed an extensive tour of New Zealand.

Tom continues to play and record with top jazz players, and his articulate communication methods have made him a top choice as clinician at festivals and conventions. Writing also plays an increasing role in his activities. In addition to jingle orchestrations and vocal jazz charts, Tom has co-authored "Essential Styles I & II," as well as an instructional video series, "The Contemporary Rhythm Section," the book/CD play-along series, "MasterTracks," and beginning bass method,”Crawl Before You Walk.”

Tom Scott

Artist Profile:

Tom Scott

Tom Scott is a renowned composer, arranger, producer, musical director and saxophonist. He has twenty-nine solo recordings to his credit and for these efforts has earned three Grammy Awards and thirteen Grammy nominations.

Tom’s career as a guest recording artist spans more than 450 recordings—by such diverse artists as Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Thelonius Monk, Lalo Schifrin, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Chris Botti. His numerous contributions as a player and arranger include Joni Mitchell’s "Court And Spark", Steely Dan’s "Aja"; hit singles like Carole King’s "Jazzman", Paul McCartney’s "Listen To What The Man Said", Rod Stewart’s "Do You Think I’m Sexy", Blondie’s "Rapture", Captain & Tenille’s "Do That To Me One More Time", Whitney Houston’s "Saving All My Love For You"; and on movie soundtracks such as "Taxi Driver", "Bladerunner", "Heaven Can Wait", "Sea Of Love", "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", "Toy Story 2" and "Monsters, Inc". He is featured in highly acclaimed performances for the Grammy-winning movie "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown". His newly recorded Concord Records CD—entitled "Cannon Re-Loaded--A Tribute to Cannonball Adderley" (featuring Nancy Wilson, George Duke, Marcus Miller, Terence Blanchard & Steve Gadd)—is scheduled for release in January 2008.

Tom’s other career achievements include composing film scores, among them "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes", "Uptown Saturday Night", "Stir Crazy", "Hanky Panky", "The Sure Thing", "Soul Man" and "Shakes the Clown". His television composing and conducting credits include themes for "Family Ties", "Starsky & Hutch", "Square Pegs" and background scores for "Baretta", "Cannon", "Barnaby Jones", "Streets Of San Francisco", "National Geographic Explorer", and numerous T.V. Specials and Network Movies. He has served as Musical Director for the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Celebration At Ford’s Theater, the People’s Choice Awards, Comic Relief, the Carol Burnett Show, the Pat Sajak Show, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Olivia Newton-John, and the GRP All-Star Big Band--and has toured five continents as leader of his own group. He produced two CD’s for tenor vocalist Daniel Rodriguez (a.k.a. ‘The Singing Policeman’)--the first of which, "The Spirit Of America", has sold over 400,000 copies to date. Tom has also conducted over 30 symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. as Daniel’s music director.

Tom Ranier

Artist Profile:

Tom Ranier

Tom_RanierTom Ranier is known primarily for his jazz piano playing but he is also a very accomplished saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and arranger. He has risen to the top of the California jazz scene and is generally regarded as one of Southern California’s top jazz improvisers. One of Tom’s trademarks is his extraordinary technical ability which, at the keyboard, is reminiscent of Oscar Peterson’s bravura and bluesiness, Chick Corea’s intricate and beautiful melodies and Bill Evan’s chordal brilliance.

As a composer and arranger, Tom exhibits a broad orchestral palette andtom_ranier_2 a keen sense of melody and harmony. This is clearly illustrated in his latest recording effort entitled “In The Still Of The Night” which showcases eleven of his original compositions for keyboard, saxophone, clarinet and string orchestra.

As a jazz educator, he is currently involved in a New Jazz Studies Program at U.C.L.A. headed up by famous jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell. Tom’s teaching responsibilities in this program are in the areas of jazz piano and jazz theory.