Category Archives: Vocalist

Sam Most

Artist Profile:

Sam Most

sam_most_1One of the first jazz flute role models, Sam Most -- born in 1930 -- made his name in the 1950s and early 1960s with the bands of, among others, Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson and Teddy Wilson. Most of the intervening years have been spent in the Hollywood studios or with pick-up bands in small Los Angeles nightclubs.

>One of the first great jazz flutists, a cool-toned tenor, and a fine (if infrequent) clarinetist, Sam Most is the younger brother of clarinetist Abe Most. He picked up early experience playing with the orchestras of Tommy Dorsey (1948), Boyd Raeburn, and Don Redman. By the time he led his first session (1953), Most was a brilliant flutist (among the first to sing through his flute) and he briefly had the jazz field to himself. Most recorded fine sessions for Prestige, Debut (reissued on Xanadu), Vanguard, and Bethlehem during 1953-1958, doubling onsam_most_2 clarinet. He also worked in different settings with Chris Connor, Paul Quinichette, and Teddy Wilson. After playing with Buddy Rich's Orchestra (1959-1961), he moved to Los Angeles and became a studio musician. Sam Most worked with Red Norvo and Louie Bellson, gained some new prominence with his Xanadu recordings of 1976-1979, and became a local fixture in Los Angeles, sometimes playing in clubs with his brother.

Ryan Kunimura

Artist Profile:

Ryan Kunimura

ryan_kunimura_1We want you all to meet Ryan Kunimura, who is effectively the glue that holds us all together over here at Colossal. Ryan is our Production Manager, a job that is no easy feat. His days typically start before anyone else’s (even before our painters, who are up before the crack of dawn), and he’s generally the last one to leave the shop. In the time he’s not handling the production of each and every one of our paint jobs down to the very last detail, he plays with his metal band. But Ryan’s also a trained jazz musician with a penchant for disco. The only secret we haven’t picked up on yet is how he keeps his head on straight when the rest of us lose ours.

Robin Henkel

Robin Henkel

Sample:

robin_henkel_1Robin Henkel is known in his hometown (San Diego, CA) as a blues artist specializing in slide guitar and the styles of the Mississippi delta. Because of this reputation, his CD "Highway," although deep in American roots, is not what many of his fans expected. This music is a thoughtful blend of swing, funk, Latin, with jazz horn arrangement, slide and steel guitar. Although not a blues CD, Highway won Best Blues CD at the San Diego Music Awards 2000.robin_henkel_2

Cuts like "Steel Swing" and "Mahtochiquala 1" are reminiscent of a period in American music when the steel guitar (popular in Hawaiian and country music) met with the horn arrangement of the big bands. This was a rich (and almost forgotten) moment in our musical culture.

San Diego Union columnist Mike Kinsman wrote "as a guitar player Robin can play blues, jazz, funk, country swing, Hawaiian and Latin music. He borrows from each of those styles when he performs and sometimes even surprises himself."

robin_henkel_3The Los Angeles Times said "Robin is a futurist and a historian."

Robin has opened shows for Bonnie Raitt, John McLaughlin, Dizzy Gilespie, Charles Brown, Dr John, Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson.

Robin has performed with Big Jay McNealy, Eddie Kirkland, Sha Na Na, Johnny Almond, Jimmy Witherspoon and Papa John Creach.

Robin performed blues with the San Diego Symphony as a special featured guest artist during the Summer Pops Concert Series 2002.

Robin Henkel has been teaching at the Blue Guitar since 1980, giving instruction in guitar, bass, slide guitar, lap steel, open tunings, blues, jazz, theory, and rhythm. Robin performs with his own group and others in the San Diego area and has also performed with John Hammond, Eddie Kirkland, Sha Na Na, Lowell Fulson, Johnny Almond, Jimmy Witherspoon, Big Jay McNealy, Papa John Creach, and Buddy Miles .

"Robin Henkel is a futurist and a historian" - Los Angeles Times
"Robin's live shows are nothing short of inspirational" - 360 Degrees
"You can almost hear the scratches on the 78" - San Diego Reader

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Roberta Gambarini

Artist Profile:

Roberta Gambarini

roberta_gambarini_1Born in Torino, Italy into a family where jazz was very much appreciated and loved, Roberta Gambarini started listening to this music as a child. She began singing and performing at the age of 17 in jazz clubs around Northern Italy, leading to performance opportunities at jazz festivals throughout Italy and Europe.

In 1998 she moved to the United States with a scholarship from the New England Conservatory in Boston. In October of the same year she was a finalist at the Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition in Washington, D.C. Shortly after this she moved to New York City, where word of her stunning talent began attracting attention far and wide. She soon found herself recording, performing, and collaborating with many of the most respected artists in the world of Jazz, at some of the most important venues around the U.S and abroad.

The list of artists she has worked with include: Herbie Hancock, Hank Jones, Chucho Valdes, Eric Gunnison, Toots Thielemans, Clark Terry, Michael Brecker, Johnny Griffin, Roy Hargrove, Billy Higgins, Jimmy Heath, Percy Heath, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Slide Hampton, Frank Wess, Ron Carter, Harold Land, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, Ronnie Mathews, Bobby Hutcherson, Nils Henning Oersted Pederson, James Moody, Lionel Hampton, Christian McBride, George Mraz, Jimmy Woode, Dennis Irwin, Jimmy Cobb, Al Foster, Willie Jones III, Alvin Queen, Karriem Riggins, Russell Malone, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, Dado Moroni, Renato Chicco, Monty Alexander, John Hicks, among countless others.roberta_gambarini_2

One of Roberta's most ardent supporters was the late Benny Carter, who had been her musical hero since childhood. After hearing Roberta on a CD, he arranged to meet Roberta in Los Angeles. So impressed was Benny with her musicality, that he took a personal interest in spreading the news to his friends and colleagues, even arranging some performances so she could be heard in Los Angeles. Being that Gambarini loved his music so much, he graciously agreed to make his compositions and arrangements available to her. Benny and Roberta continued close communication, and were actively planning some projects at the time of his passing at 95 years of age in July 2003.

The list of venues where she has performed is equally impressive: Multiple appearances at Monterey Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festivals (Den Hague, Netherlands and Cape Town, So. Africa), JVC Jazz Festival (NYC, Umbria Jazz Fest. - Perugia, Italy); Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival - University of Idaho, Jazz Plaza Festival (Havana, Cuba , Teatro Nacional - Teatro Amadeo Roldan, Havana, Cuba Molde Jazz Fest - Molde, Norway, Bern Jazz Fest (Bern Switzerland), Conertgebouwe, Brugge, Belgium, Ton Halle - Zurich, Switzerland, Tanglewood and Berkshire Jazz Festivals, - Massachusettes, Jazz Festivals- Brescia, Italy, Catania, Italy, Cala Ganone, Sardinia, Teatro Manzoni - Milano, Italy, Victoria Hall - Geneva, Switzerland, Toronto, Canada - Murcia, pain, - Terrassa, Spain, - Clermont - Ferrand, France. - Odense, Denmark,- Linkopping, Sweden, Concertgebowe - Amsterdam,-Bimhuis, Amsterdam, Tchaikovski Hall-Moscow, among many others.

While performing at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy, Roberta met Chucho Valdes who invited her to perform with him at the Havana Jazz Festival in December 2000, and again at the 2002 Festival. Since that first meeting, Chucho and Roberta have forged a striking rapport, while performing together in venues in the USA and abroad; New York City's The Jazz Gallery and most recently at the Jazz Festival in Manerbio, Italy, in November 2003, among others.

 

Rick Estrin

Artist Profile:

Rick Estrin

rick_estrin_1Sacramento-based blues stalwarts It's been 30 years since world-class guitarist Little Charlie Baty and harmonicist/vocalist/songwriter Rick Estrin first teamed up to form Little Charlie & the Nightcats. Jump and swing jazz mix with hard Chicago blues, rockabilly, bebop and Estrin's sharply original songs. One critic said their sound is like "Charlie Christian playing in Little Walter's band." Estrin's horn-like harmonica solos and wise-guy vocals blend perfectly with Baty's explosive guitar style, earning the group critical, worldwide recognition.

rick_estrin_2Going on 25 years together, the band will keep pushing the blues envelope forward. "As long as I keep buying the wrong lottery tickets," jokes Estrin, "this is what I'll be doing." With continued non-stop touring, what Little Charlie and the Nightcats will do is take their superb musicianship and sharp wit to cheering fans around the world for a long time to come.

Little Charlie and the Nightcats constantly criss-cross the country to play hundreds of live performances every year, including major blues festivals in Chicago, San Francisco, Cincinnati, New York and Portland. They've played the Montreal Jazz Festival, San Diego Street Scene and Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival. Were good at putting on a show, boasts Estrin. People don't go out to see people who look like them. They want to see something special.

I was schooled in this business to be a showman, and that's what you get when you come to see us. The Chicago Reader described their live show as party exuberance in the context of superb musicianship. These are serious musicians out to have a hotter than hot good time, said The Chicago Sun-Times. rick_estrin_3

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Rick Braun

Artist Profile:

Rick Braun

rick_braun_1If you can define the essence of cool jazz, then you can imagine the soft and sultry sounds of Rick Braun.

We recorded Rick Braun at the Baked Potato in North Hollywood with Carl Verheyen on guitar, Matt Harris on keyboards, Dave Morotta on bass, Dave Karasone on drums Brad Dutz on percussion.

rick_braun_2A busy session musician and producer, trumpeter/flügelhornist Braun has mapped out a diverse musical career. While studying at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester Braun formed the fusion band Auracle, who released two late 70s albums recorded with Miles Davis' producer Teo Macero. In the early 80s, Braun released a pop record in Japan before moving into songwriting and soundtrack work.

Braun co-wrote the Top 20 REO Speedwagon hit, "Here With Me", and played lead trumpet on the television show Night Caller. He also worked as a touring and recording session musician for several mainstream pop artists including Tina Turner, War, Crowded House, Glenn Frey, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty and Natalie Cole. In 1992 he was offered a contract by the small Californian label, Mesa/Bluemoon, and promoted as a smooth jazz artist.

Touring as a backup singer and soloist with Sade brought Braun to the attention of radio promoters, and his seductive blend of smooth instrumental jazz and urban-orientated R&B soon became a staple of adult contemporary stations. Beat Street was one of the strongest selling smooth jazz albums of 1995, and Braun has subsequently built on his success for Atlantic Records.

Discography:
Intimate Secrets (Mesa 1992)**, Night Walker (Bluemoon 1994)***, Christmas Present: Music Of Warmth & Celebration (Bluemoon 1994)**, Beat Street (Bluemoon 1995)****, Body And Soul (Bluemoon 1996)***, South Of Midnight (Atlantic 1998)****, Full Stride (Atlantic 1998)***, with Boney James Shake It Up (Warners 2000)***, Kisses In The Rain (Warners 2001)***.

Take a listen to the show sample, and expose yourself to the silky sounds of of Rick Braun.

Rayford Griffin

Artist Profile:

Rayford Griffin

rayford_griffin_1Anyone who has ever had the privilege of hearing Rayford Griffin cut loose in one of his notorious drum solos knows they are hearing state of the art percussion. But they soon discover something even more extraordinary. These are more than talking drums; they're singing. You would swear you hear a verse, a chorus, certainly there is a melody - because you follow it note for note right up to the orgasmic bridge. And here you thought you hated drum solos!

Stanley Clarke in JAZZIZ says, "I could talk forever about drummers. They're my favorite musicians, because a drummer can really make or break a band. And I've played with so many different drummers... Lenny White... Billy Cobham... Steve Gadd... Tony Williams... Omar Hakim. Out of all the young drummers, Rayford Griffirayford_griffin_2n is probably the best."

Rayford has toured with Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, the Isley Brothers, Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Bette Midler, Babyface, George Duke, Jeff Lorber, George Howard, Manhattan Transfer, Kenny G., Rick Braun, Angela Winbush, Cameo, DeBarge, and the list goes on...

Playing with Rayford on this show recorded at La Ve Lee are Reggie Hamilton on bass, guitar, Nick Smith on keyboards, Bennie Maupin on sax, Richard Grant on trumpet, Dwight Sills on guitar, and Munyungo Jackson on percussion.

Phil Gold

Artist Profile:

Phil Gold

phil_gold_1Phil Gold began performing professionally in 1987 when he moved to Los Angeles. Since then, he has performed in 41 States, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Russia, the Georgian Republic, at The White House, on board cruise ships in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific.

Having sung all through school, Phil graduated from U.S.I.U. in San Diego as a musical theatre major. He spent five-plus seasons performing in 22 productions with the Los Angeles Opera, and has sung with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, been a featured soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale, and had the privilege to be one of the Ray Conniff Singers on Ray’s very last tour. phil_gold_3

A veteran of musical theatre, Phil toured the country for 13 months in the jazz quartet, the Angel City 4, in City of Angels. Other theatrical appearances include shows without quartets: Oklahoma, The Mikado, FiddlerOn the Roof, Baby, and Assassins; and some with: The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Forever Plaid, and it’s holiday sequel, the brand new Plaid Tidings. His involvement from the beginning of that last production took him to Vancouver, Canada where he made his directorial debut with the Canadian premiere of the show.
Equally comfortable behind the scenes, Phil toured Germany and Austria stage managing the musical Sisterella. He also co-produced World Acappellafest, the largest a cappella concert ever held in Los Angeles, with fellow TPG member, Dan Jordan. Phil’s previous a cappella groups have included the doo-wop groups The Shades and The Alley Cats, and like everyone who has ever sung with TPG, he too has peddled the “bicycle built for four” on Main Street singing with the Dapper Dans, where he sang with all of the current TPG members. Phil has appeared on Brooklyn Bridge (CBS), Ned & Stacey (UPN), TheTonight Show with Jay Leno (NBC), Passions (NBC), and Gilmore Girls (WB).

He can be heard as the voice of Wendel in the direct-to-video Friends Are Forever in Australia, and on the studio cast album of the Gershwin musical Tell Me More (Nonesuch), The Alley Cats’ release of Strike 3! (Primarily A Cappella) and Holiday in Plaid (Fynsworth Alley). Phil’s proudest productions are his two daughters, Hailey and Colleen, with whom he shares his Altadena home, along with his wife Jill and their perfectly awful cat.

Paulette McWilliams

Artist Profile:

Paulette McWilliams

Paulette_McWilliams_1Chicago has always produced great musical talent. Paulette McWilliams is no exception to that rule. She started singing before she could talk and even as a child, Paulette amazed her listeners with her low, deep, sultry, velvety tones and an incredibly wide range. She has quite a long and extensive musical history.

She was the lead singer with Ask Rufus and before she left the group, she introduced her friend Chaka to Ask Rufus to take her place. They sang together for a short period in Ask Rufus and have remained close friends through the years.

Paulette was introduced to Quincy Jones via cassette sent by Phil Upchurch (famous jazz guitarist). Quincy immediately made her his solo/lead singer for his Body Heat tour. Quincy introduced her on the "Mellow Madness" album of which she co-wrote the title song. While in Japan, she sang a duet on stage with Sarah Vaughan as Quincy Jones conducted the orchestra. She has recorded and/or sung live duets with Marvin Gaye (on his last tour), Johnny Mathis (2 duets on his album Different Kinda Different) and she sang a solo on Noel Pointer's last CD. Paulette has sung backups, live on tour for artists too many to mention! She also toured and recorded with Luther Vandross for over 20 years. She has recorded with Mary J. Blige as well as appeared with Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Celine Dion, Anastacia, Whitney Houston, Patty LaBelle,paulette_mcwilliams_2 Deborah Cox, Michael Jackson, David Bowie and many others. The list goes from A-Z.

You don't realize it, but you have heard her voice many times. She is the voice behind the TV commercials you hear daily such as Folgers, McDonalds, Diet Pepsi with Britney Spears, Cadillac, Cover Girl, American Express, Celebrex and the "Love Jones" by Mercedes. She is also on many movie soundtracks. She appears on and off the screen for the Emmy award winning PBS children's show, "Between The Lions."

Paulette is off the road and finally doing the music she listened to and learned to love as a child. She is a gifted songwriter and is co-writing her new CD with Anne Schelle Herring. She is currently joined by her good friends and partners Vincent Herring on saxophone, Nat Adderley Jr. on piano, Richie Goods on bass and E.J. Strickland and Greg Hutchinson on drums.

In addition to being a vocalist/songwriter/actress (Paulette studied at Stella Adler in New York and Lee Strasberg in Los Angeles and has appeared in a few movies) she is working to educate younger artists about the music industry and how to keep themselves productive and in control of their destiny.

Patti Austin

Artist Profile:

Patti Austin

patti_austinPatti crosses all musical genres, has made 16 solo albums, and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the Grammys and the Oscars. As a performer, songwriter and vocalist she has had a star-studded career that began at the age of four, making her one of the most beloved artists literally the world over. She is Patti Austin - whose extraordinary career continues to cross over boundaries and reach new heights.

These days, Patti is constantly on tour performing with her band of various configurations to suit the desires of her very diverse fan base. Lately, she has become a favorite of symphonies around the world. These performances usually generate several standing ovations, especially when she recreates her work with the WDR Big Band from Cologne, Germany. She recorded For Ella, her critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated tribute to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald in Cologne.

Patti celebrates the title of one of her biggest hits, "How Do You Keep The Music Playing?" by signing an exclusive recording and media project development deal with Rendezvous Entertainment. Her first offering with Rendezvous will be the early 2007 release of Avant-Gershwin, a new and adventurous big band rendering of Gershwin songs. Again, for Avant-Gershwin, Patti worked her magic with the WDR Big Band. Audiences will find her performing her Gershwin and Ella tributes with the symphonies and the big bands of Duke Ellington, John Clayton and Count Basie for years to come.

She has written and created her own one-woman show, and co-created the musical extravaganza Beboperella, a modern-day, music-driven show that brings the sound and spirit of bebop to a new generation. She also is the co-creator of Oh Freedom, a show exploring the African-American quest for freedom and equality in America. Oh Freedom debuted in San Francisco and will soon go on the road starring - who else? - Patti Austin.

Austin, the daughter of a jazz trombonist and goddaughter of musical legends Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington, made her stage debut with Washington at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. During the 70s she was the undisputed "queen" of the New York jingle session scene. Her voice was heard on literally hundreds of commercials, behind everyone from Paul Simon, Cat Stevens and Joe Cocker to Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross and Diana Ross. At the beginning of the 80's, Quincy Jones gave Patti exposure to a wider audience through her participation on his best-selling album Stuff Like That and the Grammy-winning classic The Dude. Her debut album for Quincy's Qwest label included the chart-topping hit "Baby Come To Me," a now classic duet with James Ingram. The pair reprised their success with the Oscar nominated "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"

Patti's initial association with Qwest resulted in the albums Patti Austin, Getting' Away With Murder (featuring the Jam-and-Lewis-produced R&B smash "The Heat of Heat").
In 1988, Patti released the magnificent David Pack-produced The Real Me. Featuring a powerful collection of pop and jazz standards including "Cry Me A River, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and Mood Indigo," The Real Me remains one of the most popular items in the Austin catalog. Focusing as it does on timeless standards, For Ella, released in 2002, extends and expands the thematic approach of The Real Me, focusing on some of Ella Fitzgerald's greatest songs.

In 1989 Patti signed with GRP Records, starting a four-year stint with the label with "Christmas Time Is Here" from Happy Anniversary Charlie Brown. Other top-selling recordings followed, including 1991's Carry On, Love is Gonna Getcha (featuring the across-the-board hit "Through the Test of Time"), That Secret Place and Patti Austin Live (recorded at New York's Bottom Line), which showcased her more-than-ample standup comedic skills and brilliant impersonations.

In recent years, Patti has performed extensively throughout the Far East, where she is immensely popular. In addition to her international endeavors, Patti has devoted a lot of time performing for AIDS-related organizations and has appeared in several benefit concerts in San Francisco and Los Angeles, titled as Papillion, with Asian superstar Francis Yip to educate the Asian Pacific Islander community about hepatitis three. Austin also took part in the '93 and '97 Colors of Christmas tours with longtime friends and colleagues Peabo Bryson, Roberta Flack, James Ingram and Jeffrey Osborne. Frequently seen on television, Patti's more playful side has been given full vent with guest appearances on shows like Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, The Dr. Ruth Show, Joan Rivers, Arsenio Hall and a guest-starring role on the TV show For Your Love.

In addition to her For Ella tribute on Playboy Jazz (distributed through Concord), her Concord jazz album In and Out of Love, spent almost two years on the contemporary jazz charts, while the critically-acclaimed Street of Dreams, included Patti's timeless renditions of such tunes as "Someone To Watch Over Me," and "I Only Have Eyes For You." In 1999 Patti added her vocal magic to Quincy Jones' From Q With Love Vols. 1&2 via the standout track, "If This Time Is the Last Time" and in 2000, she recorded On The Way to Love, a superb Warner Brothers album produced by Paul Brown.

With recording commitments and touring engagements already confirmed for 2007 and beyond, Patti can look at her latest accomplishments with much justifiable pride. She continues to create milestones in an incredible career; a further testament to her status as a member of that rare breed: a true artist whose creativity knows no limits.