Baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett, a trailblazer justifiably considered one of the finest players of all time on his instrument, began making a name for himself when performing with his contemporaries in St. Louis ’Black Artists’ Group (BAG) and, after moving to New York City, with Charles Mingus, Sam Rivers and Abdullah Ibrahim among many others. He is a co-founder of the renowned World Saxophone Quartet and has released more than 20 albums as a leader of his own groups.
Bluiett moved to New York City in the fall of 1969, where he joined the Charles Mingus Quintet and the Sam Rivers large ensemble. In 1976 he co-founded the World Saxophone Quartet along with two other Black Artists' Group members, Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake, as well as multi-reedist David Murray. He has remained a champion of the somewhat unwieldy baritone saxophone, organizing large groups of baritone saxophones. Since the 1990s Bluiett has led a virtuosic quartet, the Bluiett Baritone Nation, made up entirely of baritone saxophones, with drum set accompaniment. Hear an interview with Hamiet Bluiett on NPR
Kiane Zawadi is a New Yorker originally from Detroit and comes from a family whose tradition is rooted in music. Mr. Zawadi has performed and recorded with many legendary musicians, including his mentor, Barry Harris, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Henderson, Roland Alexander, Freddie Hubbard, Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet, James Moody, Lionel Hampton, Frank Foster, Aretha Franklin, Clifford Jordan, Wynton Marsalis Live at Lincoln Center, Rodney Kendrick, Archie Shepp, Randy Weston, McCoy Tyner, Larry Ridley, Yusuf Lateef, Sun Ra and Dexter Gordon.
Kiane was voted Downbeat Magazine’s “Artist Deserving Wider Recognition” and received a National Endowment for the Arts Performance grant. His teaching experience includes Jazzmobile, NYC Housing Authority After–School program; Washington Irving HS Music in the Schools program, The New School Jazz Studies program, The Crown Heights Youth Collective, and Duke University’s Master Music Performance Program. Learn more
WINARD HARPER ENSEMBLE
Inspired by the musicianship of greats such as Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Cannonball Adderley, and Billy Higgins, Winard Harper has been a bandleader for over twenty years. His considerable talent and musicality landed him gigs with leaders Betty Carter, Johnnie Griffin and Dexter Gordon. Those pivotal early years on the road made a lasting impression on his decision to lead and develop bands. Harper muses, “You can hear it and feel it when musicians have shared the vision and experiences that distinguish a band from a gig. The relationships, the cohesion, the sacrifices and growth. It all comes through.”
The Baltimore native, born in 1962, displayed an early affinity for rhythm. His father observed him beating on cans when he was three years old and encouraged him to take up drumming. His mother quipped, “I have no idea what we would have done with all that energy had it not been for that outlet.” By five years old, he was making guest appearances with older brother Danny's rock band. He made a lasting decision when he heard a Clifford Brown and Max Roach recording. "I was fascinated hearing Max do the things he did with percussion of all types," he recalls. “I knew I had to play jazz.”
Harper has played and recorded internationally with some of the most renowned jazz figures of his lifetime. His musical companions have included Dr. Billy Taylor, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae, Pharoah Sanders and numerous others. Beginning in the late 80’s, he co-led the widely acclaimed Harper Brothers band with brother, Phillip. In the 90’s, Harper branched out on his own with a dynamic sextet configuration that has produced seven recordings. In the essential tradition that nurtured him, and countless other stand-outs, Harper keeps "jazz academy" in session by spotlighting exceptional young talent. Learn more at winardharper.com
DANNY MIXON QUARTET
Daniel Asbury Mixon was born in Harlem, New York. Danny began his artistic expression as a tap dancer. He was a student of the Ruth Williams Dance Studio and even at the tender age of ten was known as “the show stopper.” Danny attended the High School of Performing Arts with Dance as his major.
During an afternoon outing at the Apollo Theatre with his grandfather, Danny was inspired by the jazz musicians he heard. It was then that he decided he wanted to play the piano. At the age of fifteen Danny began piano lessons with Mr. Cecil. However, his most memorable teacher was Roland Hanna.
At 17 years of age, while employed at a fabric company, Danny was invited to play with Sam Brown’s band backing Patti Labelle & the Blue Bells in Atlantic City at Reggie’s Cocktail Lounge. He never went back to the fabric business and Danny has never looked back.
By age 19 Danny found himself in Europe with the Muse Quartet under the auspice of Chris White. Then Danny worked with Art Blakely, next Kenny Durham, then Cecil Payne. His first professional organ gig was with Carlos Garnet at the Baby Grand in Brooklyn. Danny accompanied Big Maybelle at the Blue Coronet. The singer, Danny is most known for accompanying, is Betty Carter. After which Danny worked extensively with Charles Mingus. He ran the U.S. circuit with Yusef Lateef. Danny enjoyed a few years with the Lionel Hampton Big Band. Since Danny was in his 20’s he has worked continuously with Frank Foster as a pianist for the Big Band; Frank Foster’s Loud Minority, and his quartet – the Non–Electric Company.
Danny Mixon is an accomplished Pianist and Organist who performs all over the world. Danny has also worked with Joe Williams, Mariena Shaw, Oscar Brown, Jr., Dakota Staton, Leon Thomas, Chaka Kahn, Lou Rawls, Gloria Lynn, Lysle Atkinson, Earl May and many others. The Danny Mixon Trio performs annually at the Jazz Mobile. He appears regularly at Showman’s as an Organist.
LEOPOLDO F. FLEMING
Afro–Caribbean Jazz Ensemble
As a musician, composer, lyricist, and arranger Leopoldo is a great personality with a rich and multicolored palette. His inspiration stems from his Latin–Afro–Indian roots, his childhood in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, his many years as highly active on the jazz and beyond music scene of New York, and his international experience from since his youth collaborating and touring with US, Caribbean, and African stars all over Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, the Orient and Australia. Since 1951 Leopoldo’s home is New York, however, from 1987 to 98 he had residence in Vienna, Austria, and since 2006 he has a base in Copenhagen, Denmark, too.
Though mainly a jazz musician, Leopoldo goes about well versed in several musical genres – jazz, funk, R&B, Caribbean, Cuban, Brazilian, African, gospel and spirituals. He is a brilliant accompanist, a fascinating soloist, has a special melodic gift in his playing, and his performances sparkle with surprises, sophistication, grace, and exquisite timing.
Besides his own music and theater projects, Leopoldo has played, recorded, toured with a cornucopia of other great artists such as Nina Simone (for 31 years off and on), Miriam Makeba, in recent years “Sing The Truth” (w. Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright, Angélique Kidjo, Simone Kelly, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stacey Kent and more), The Symphony of the New World, Harry Belafonte, Monica Zetterlund, The String Reunion, Eartha Kitt, The World Bass Violin Ensemble, Beaver Harris, Novella Nelson, Lonnie Liston Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Sonny Stitt, Richard Grove Holmes, Queen Esther Marrow, Leon Thomas, Randy Weston (in big band format and in a trio including Ron Carter), Archie Shepp, Bob Cunningham, Kenny Barron, Horace Parlan, David Murray, The Boys’ Choir of Harlem, a number of local world class musicians in Vienna and Copenhagen respectively, the all–stars Lou Caputo Not So Big Band, and once a year he tours the Far East with the New York Harlem Singers. Learn more about Leopoldo F. Fleming