Nicholas Payton, trumpet
Antoine Roney, saxophones
Darryl Jones, bass
Munyungo Jackson, percussion
Badal Roy, tabla
Blackbyrd McKnight, guitar
Mino Cinelu, percussion
John Beasley, piano
Robert Irving III, keyboards
Vince Wilburn, Jr., drums
DJ Logic, turntables
VINCE WILBURN, JR., nephew of late jazz icon Miles Davis, oversees Miles Davis Properties, LLC along with Erin Davis (son of Miles) and Cheryl Davis (daughter of Miles). Wilburn, Jr. is a highly accomplished drummer and producer, who has both toured and recorded with Miles on many legendary recordings from 1984 through 1987, including the Grammy-winning album Aura, which he co-produced; Decoy, which he also co-produced; You’re Under Arrest; and the 2008 Grammy-nominated Miles From India, which hit No. 8 on the Billboard jazz charts. Vince has also toured internationally with the Miles From India ensemble.
He founded Nefdrum Productions in 1989 and has been busy with many projects, including all-star performances by music icons Billy Preston; Ray Parker, Jr.; Wah Wah Watson; Freddie Washington; Randy Hall; and Phil Upchurch.
He is currently assembling a full-length hip-hop remix tribute to honor the classic recordings of Miles Davis. More recently, he co-produced the Miles Davis hip-hop remix EP, Evolution of the Groove, featuring Nas and Santana.
He is Executive Producer of the forthcoming Miles Davis film, starring Don Cheadle, directed by Antoine Fuqua and scored by multi-Grammy-winner Herbie Hancock. The U.S. Postal Service honors Miles Davis with a Forever stamp, available in June 2012.
The Hollywood Bowl and the Los Angeles Philharmonic honor Miles with “A Celebration of Miles Davis” tonight, featuring the MILES ELECTRIC BAND, led by Wilburn, Jr., along with performances by Jimmy Cobb & the Kind of Blue Band and jazz great Marcus Miller.
Pianist/composer John Beasley’s playing and music is best described by Los Angeles Times critic Bill Kohlhaase: “Beasley, the one-time keyboardist for Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis, reflects a variety of generational influences, incorporating the emphatic chordal clusters of Herbie Hancock, the rhythmic quirkiness of Monk, and the lush intelligence of Art Tatum into a highly refined personal voice.”
Beasley’s latest CD Positootly! earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Album. He is currently in the studio recording with his new band, 3 Brave Souls, reuniting with fellow Miles Davis alums bassist Darryl Jones and master drummer Ndugu Chancler for a rousing brand of jazz inspired by funk, soul, and their shared Louisiana roots.
Currently, he is juggling touring, composing for a documentary, title for a TV series and films, while arranging for the Luckman Jazz Orchestra and The Tonight Show band, and writing/arranging music for other artists. He was former Music Director for tours with A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire), Queen Latifah, Steely Dan, and Artistic Director for the 25th-anniversary gala event for the Thelonious Monk Institute.
As a child, Mino Cinelu (percussion) first learned to play the guitar. He discovered the drums and percussion and then became a professional musician at the age of sixteen. Traveling between London and New York, he collaborated with a huge number of musicians, both in the studios and onstage, people whose origins (jazz, funk, rap, electro, flamenco, and pop) were as diverse as Mino’s associations with them were prestigious (Miles Davis, Sting, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Lou Reed, Vicente Amigo, Stevie Wonder). As a composer, multi-instrumentalist, programmer, and producer, Mino has left his mark on many kinds of music, and his reputation has earned him the status of “a man of all talents.” He has two solo albums, Mino Cinelu and Quest Journey, and the CD of the soundtrack of the film La Californie, which was prize nominated at the Cannes Film Festival.
From congas and timbales, djembes and jun-juns, surdos and timbaos, bongos and cajons (and many other hand-percussion instruments) to samplers and computers, seasoned percussionist Munyungo Jackson possesses an ever-increasing collection of instruments with which to execute his craft. In his over 40 years of playing, he has performed with Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Karen Briggs, Kenny Loggins, the Zawinul Syndicate, George Howard, Ronnie Laws, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, and dozens of others, including numerous ethnic music and dance troupes. Munyungo was born in Los Angeles, and is the nephew of the legendary jazz, pop, and blues singer Nellie Lutcher. In addition to his concerts, tours, and recording work, Munyungo is one of the co-producers of the Watts Towers Day Of The Drum Festival, which brings together master drummers from all over the world to present their expertise, and the Watts Towers Jazz Festival, which presents great jazz musicians performing music from many different musical genres. Munyungo is currently working with Stevie Wonder and the Miles Davis Electric Band.
Darryl Jones (drums) was born in Chicago. At age 7 he began studying drums with his father. Two years later, after seeing a neighbor play bass guitar in an elementary school talent show, he switched to bass. He studied music under Dr. Joseph Miller at Chicago Vocational High School, which had an advanced music program. After attending Southern Illinois University in Carbondale for one year Darryl returned to Chicago to study at the American Conservatory of Music and began working in the local music scene playing with legendary jazz and blues artist Phillip Upchurch, among others.
Darryl emerged onto the international music scene in 1983 after auditioning for and being hired by music giant Miles Davis. After moving to New York City in 1984 Darryl began performing with many of the great musicians in that scene, including guitarists John Scofield (a Miles Davis band member at the time), Hiram Bullock, and longtime Miles Davis collaborator Gil Evans.
In 1985 Darryl joined Sting, former frontman of The Police, along with Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland, Omar Hakim, Janice Pendarvis, and Dolette McDonald to record The Dream Of the Blue Turtles. This band also appeared in the feature-length film Bring On The Night, as well as a world tour and live recording of the same name.
During the next ten years Darryl toured and/or recorded with Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, Madonna, Joan Armatrading, and others.
In 1993 he recorded Voodoo Lounge with the Rolling Stones and joined them on the subsequent world tour. Darryl has been recording and touring with The Stones since then. In 1996 Darryl scored the film Love Jones and acted in a few small roles in films.
Currently, Darryl is teaching at the Musicians Institute, studying guitar building, and co-leading two trios: Stone Raiders, featuring Living Color drummer Will Calhoun and guitarist Jean Paul Bourelly; and 3 Brave Souls, with Miles Davis alumni John Beasley and Ndugu Chancler.
Blackbyrd McKnight (guitar) encompasses many styles of music to make up what he calls “progressive funk-rock.” Blackbyrd was grooved in the cradle by his father’s broad collection of jazz recordings as an infant, brainwashed by Jimi Hendrix in his teens, entered the University of Funk in his twenties, and has never stopped evolving and rocking people ever since. In the early stages of his career, Blackbyrd worked primarily with jazz musicians, such as Charles Lloyd, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters, and more. He redirected his path towards funk when he joined the P-Funk Camp in 1978, and has been funking people up ever since. He was the musical director of George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic from 1980 to 2008. Other than working with P-Funk artists such as George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and Bernie Worrell, Blackbyrd has also worked with Miles Davis, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ron Wood & Bernard Fowler of the Rolling Stones, Bill Laswell, HR of Bad Brains, Macy Gray, Fishbone, and Wyzard of Mothers Finest, to name but a few.
His first solo appearance in New York – with Will Calhoun, Melvin Gibbs, and Ronny Drayton at the Knitting Factory in September 2007 – anticipated his musical movement into the future, as well as his collaboration with Bernie Worrell to form the supergroup SociaLybrium in 2008.
Blackbyrd has recharged himself after resigning his duty as a musical director of P-Funk in early 2008 and he is now back on the scene with his long-awaited first solo album ’Bout Funkin’ Time, which was released in November 2009. He has started performing as a solo artist and looks forward to rocking your neighborhood.
Nicholas Payton is the embodiment of every trumpet player who came before him, and he leads the way for all who follow. Hailed as a virtuoso before he was even out of high school, his maturation as a prodigious talent has earned him praise as one of the most important artists of our time.
In 1994, Nicholas Payton made his recording debut as a leader with From This Moment (Verve), where he was immediately recognized as a “young lion.” Since then, Payton has consistently committed himself to developing a distinct voice beyond the strict labels that fans and critics alike have sought to pin on him.
He says: “As a musician, as an artist, you’re always trying to zero in on the bull’s eye as a means of becoming a better version of yourself. I’ve been able to find the kind of music that’s more inclusive of all of my life. The approach and the ideas of my music have become more singular, more cohesive. I have no agenda in terms of a specific genre or style, only to be true to who I am.”
Nicholas Payton was born September 26, 1973, in New Orleans, Louisiana, into a musical family. Encouraged by his mother, a pianist and vocalist, and his father the legendary bassist, composer, and educator Walter Payton, Nicholas showed talent for music at a very early age. He received his first trumpet at age four and by age nine was sitting in with local bands including the Young Tuxedo Brass Band. By the age of 12 he was a member of the All Star Brass Band that performed and toured extensively. As he grew up and studied, Nicholas successfully learned how to play several instruments, including but not limited to the trumpet. He is an accomplished pianist, bassist, and drummer, and plays tuba, trombone, clarinet, and saxophone, et al. During his high school years, Payton attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts to study with Clyde Kerr Jr. and after graduation attended the University of New Orleans, where he studied with Ellis Marsalis.
Nicholas has toured with scores of musicians, including Clark Terry, Marcus Roberts, Ray Brown, Elvin Jones, and Roy Haynes, and many more. He has also performed and recorded with many musicians representing a multitude of musical genres from jazz, R&B, and hip-hop, and is credited on well over 120 recordings as a composer, arranger, special guest, or sideman.
As a leader, Nicholas has recorded 8 albums under his own name, including Doc Cheatham and Nicholas Payton – a 1997 Grammy-winning collaboration with the legendary trumpeter. He also released Dear Louis, Nick @ Night, Gumbo Nouveau, Sonic Trance, Payton’s Place, and Into the Blue.
In reference to both his music and his life, Payton says that he has finally arrived “most solidly in a place where I’m coming to terms with who I am. I’ve weeded out those things that don’t feel right for me. I’m not out to try to impress and I’m not worried that what I play is going to upset some people. I want to write and play music that speaks for me and means something to me and that I feel passionate about.”
To that end, Nicholas has recently completed his 9th recording as a leader. Bitches (2011) is a bold autobiographical solo masterwork, released on his own imprint, BMF Productions, in partnership with independent label and distributor In and Out Records. Payton explains of the album’s concept: “The idea was to express how mature men feel in a relationship when things don’t work out. It’s actually a very vulnerable record…a love record essentially. The title might suggest something else to people, but none of the lyrical content is derogatory.”
If it sounds like Nicholas Payton is a genius musician, a gifted composer and producer, a skilled astute writer and sometime social provocateur, and a shrewd businessman, he is all that, and more. His craft and artistry defy all restrictions, leaving little that he cannot do – it’s clear that Nicholas is rooted in more than just traditions.
Nicholas Payton served as Distinguished Artist and Visiting Lecturer at Tulane University for the 2011/2012 academic year.
Badal Roy (tabla) was born into a Hindu family in a predominantly Muslim, eastern Bengal region of India (which later became East Pakistan, then Bangladesh). He speaks the Bengali, English, Hindi, and Urdu languages. His father was a government official who served in the distinguished position of Joint Secretary. His nickname Badal (meaning “rain,” “cloud,” or “thunder” in the Bengali language) was given to him by his grandfather after he began crying in the rain as a baby.
An early inspiration for Roy was American popular music, and he particularly enjoyed the music of artists such as Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, and Nat King Cole. His first exposure to jazz came when he saw a concert by Duke Ellington and his 60-member orchestra at the Metropole Hotel in Karachi, West Pakistan in 1959; he and his brother were the only Pakistanis in attendance (the rest of the audience was white).
Roy received a master’s degree in statistics. He came to New York City in 1968 to work on a Ph.D. With only eight dollars in his pocket, he began working as a busboy and waiter in various Indian restaurants, including Taste of India and Raga. He later settled in East Brunswick Township, New Jersey.
Roy began playing the tabla at age 10 or 11, studying with his uncle. After coming to New York, he began performing with Steve Gorn at a Manhattan restaurant called Raga, eventually attracting the attention of Miles Davis. Davis invited Roy to join his group, and he recorded on Davis’ albums On the Corner (1972), Big Fun (1974), and Get Up with It (1970-74). Roy subsequently performed and recorded with many leading jazz musicians, including Davis, Dave Liebman, Pharoah Sanders, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Herbie Mann, Pat Metheny, Lester Bowie, Airto Moreira, Charlie Haden, Purna Das Baul, Yoko Ono, and Ornette Coleman (playing in Coleman’s electric band Prime Time). In the 1990s Roy began performing with the Brazilian guitar duo Duofel. He has also collaborated with Ken Wessel and Stomu Takeishi in a fusion trio named Alankar. They currently have one album, entitled Daybreak.
Roy has appeared and offered workshops at RhythmFest, the Starwood Festival, and at the SpiritDrum Festival, a special tribute to the late Babatunde Olatunji (co-sponsored by ACE and Musart) with Muruga Booker, Jim Donovan of Rusted Root, Halim El-Dabh, Richie “Shakin’ ” Nagan, Jeff Rosenbaum, and Sikiru Adepoju, among others.
He often plays with Muruga Booker in the Global Village Ceremonial Band, and with Michael Wolff & Impure Thoughts. In 2004, Roy worked with Richie Havens on the album The Grace of the Sun. In the first half of 2006, Roy traveled to Japan in order to appear in a tribute for David Baker, his recently deceased recording engineer and friend.
In addition to tabla, Roy also plays a variety of percussion instruments, including shakers, bells, rainstick, and flexatone. His notable students include Geoffrey Gordon.
In 2008, the album Miles From India, a tribute to Miles Davis on which Roy appeared, received a Grammy nomination.
Unlike many tabla players, Roy does not come from a family of professional musicians and is essentially self-taught, although he studied with his late maternal uncle Dwijendra Chandra Chakraborty as a child, and also studied briefly with Alla Rakha. Consequently, his playing is freer than that of many other tabla players, who adhere more strictly to the tala system of Indian rhythm. He often plays a set of up to eight tabla (tuned to different pitches) and two baya at a time, which he plays melodically as well as rhythmically.
Gary Thomas is the Director and Chair of Jazz Studies at the Peabody Institute. He studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. He founded the jazz studies degree program at Peabody, and was the first African-American degree program director at the conservatory. He is an internationally known tenor saxophonist, flutist, and educator, and has traveled the globe as both a leader and a sideman.
Thomas’ performance and recording credits alongside the likes of Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Dennis Chambers, Pat Metheny, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jim Hall, Dave Holland, Nana Vasconcelos, Ron Carter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Billy Hart, Wynton Marsalis, David Sanborn, Joe Lovano, Geri Allen, Joshua Redman, Bobby McFerrin, Sam Rivers, Vanessa Williams, Betty Carter, George Benson, McCoy Tyner, Randy Brecker, James Newton, Jeff Watts, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Patrice Rushen, Kevin Eubanks, Greg Osby, John Scofield, Tony Williams, Kenny Garrett, Jimmy Smith, Steve Coleman, John Patitucci, and Ravi Coltrane.
In addition to 11 recordings as a leader, his work on more than one hundred recordings as a featured sideman reflects his status as one of the most coveted saxophonists on the jazz scene today. Two of his recordings as a leader, By Any Means Necessary and While the Gate Is Open, were named best recordings of the 1990s by Downbeat Magazine. Has performed as a featured artist at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Cologne Philharmonie, L’auditorium Stravinski, Whitla Hall, the Gasteig Philharmonic, Athens Concert Hall, The Hatch Shell, and Chicago’s Symphony Center. He has been a clinician at universities throughout the U.S. and Europe, including University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Towson University in Baltimore, Esberg Musikkonservatorium, Denmark Odense Musikkonservatorium, Malmo Folkhögskola, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm, the National Conservatory of Music in Paris, Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen, Folkwang Hochschule Essen, Berklee College of Music in Boston, Musik Hochschule Jazzabteilung in Graz, the Bruckner Conservatory in Vienna, Hamburger Konservatorium, and the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Germany.
The theorem of turntablist as musician has been long proven in the capable hands of DJ Logic, who with jazz as his foundation has become a wax innovator by crossing genres and sprinkling his sound across the map. As one of the world’s most accomplished turntablists, DJ Logic is widely credited for introducing jazz into the hip-hop realms and is considered by most as a highly respected session musician and an innovative bandleader.
Since his emergence in the early ’90s amidst the Bronx hip-hop scene, the New York City based deejay has been amassing a veritable mountain of collaborations, including full-fledged bands with members of Blues Traveler (The John Popper Project Featuring DJ Logic), a trio with Steve Molitz & Freekbass (Headtronics), and a Global Jazz Band with Jason Miles (Global Noize), along with other collaborations with artists such as Medeski, Martin and Wood, Christian McBride, O.A.R., Carly Simon, Marcus Miller, Jack Johnson, Vernon Reid, Warren Haynes, Charlie Hunter, Jack DeJohnette, John Mayer, Ben Harper, Mos Def, and The Roots, to name but a few.
DJ Logic’s role as an electronic-music ambassador keeps him at the top of his game. Whether the scratch artist instructs tablas to flirt with drum ’n’ bass (such as on his Nina Simone and Billy Holiday remixes found on Sony Legacy’s Remixed and Reimagined volumes), or while meshing freestyling MC’s with Afro-Cuban rhythms (such as on “Share Worldwide Funk,” a remix produced for Jack DeJohnette and Golden Beams Collected, Volume 1), Logic can always be found paying homage to his predecessors while contributing his vision to the deejay genre.
While the context of his work may vary, DJ Logic’s spinning skills are definitely beyond reproach. He works with a phenomenal roster of invited guests, and he knows how to pick his collaborators as well as his samples. With a growing catalogue of recordings under his belt, DJ Logic’s supreme musicianship and eclectic tastes will allow him to journey wherever an infectious groove may take him.