Javon Jackson

Javon Jackson came into international prominence as a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. As a member of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Javon toured and made many recordings with the legendary drummer. In addition to Blakey, Jackson has toured and recorded with Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Donald Byrd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Richard Davis, Bobby Hutcherson, Curtis Fuller and Stanley Turrentine, and Ben E. King. As a recording artist, Jackson has appeared on over 135 recordings. Additionally, he has developed a formidable career as a leader, recording and touring throughout the world. Javon’s current musical group, The Javon Jackson Band, incorporates many styles including jazz, funk, R&B and rock.   Learn more

Hamiet Bluiett

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.

In the 1980s, he also founded The Clarinet Family, a group of eight clarinetists playing clarinets of various sizes ranging from E-flat soprano to contrabass. Bluiett has also worked with Sam Rivers, Babatunde Olatunji, Abdullah Ibrahim, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.

He returned to his hometown of Brooklyn, Illinois, in 2002 but moved back to New York City in 2012. He currently performs at gigs, including the New Haven Jazz Festival on August 22, 2009. He performed with students from Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, CT. The group were known as Hamiet Bluiett and the Improvisational Youth Orchestra.

Hear an interview with Hamiet Bluiett on NPR

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Kiane Zawadi

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

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Winard Harper


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

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