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Straight Ahead

Out of Detroit's lively jazz scene, which has produced some of the best musicians in the world, comes the ground breaking all female jazz group, Straight Ahead. A group of strong, inventive instrumentalists and vocalists, they have shown themselves to be powerful and imaginative composers and arrangers.

Widely recognized for their eclectic and soulful approach to creating music, the Straight Ahead sound ranges comfortably from mainstream jazz R&B ballads, avant-garde to Brazilian funk. Their live performances are a dynamic celebration of power and joy. The ladies delight in changing textures, moods, and tempos and love to throw in the occasional musical joke!

MUSICIAN Born:

Charlie Porter

Internationally acclaimed and Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer Charlie Porter first cut his teeth on the New York jazz scene in the late ’90s, while simultaneously studying classical trumpet performance at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of famed trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis. Though he has a strong penchant for improvised music, Charlie has since delved into many projects from jazz and classical to Arabic, Indian, African, Australian Aboriginal and Korean music, seeking to find common ground among all "good music" and avoiding the pigeonholing of genre labels. Though he has recorded many albums as a side musician, Porter has two recent albums as a leader that have been garnering high praise

MUSICIAN Born:

Nat Steele

Nathaniel Steele is a jazz vibraphone player and drummer based in London. Since his arrival on the scene, he has quickly gained a reputation as a talented musician to watch out for, described by Clark Tracey as "one of the best vibes players this country has ever produced." Following in the style of Milt Jackson, Nat takes a two mallet approach to improvisation, focusing on melodic interpretation and a great swing feel. He released his debut album "Portrait of the MJQ" on Trio Records (Proper) in 2017 with a launch at Ronnie Scott's, receiving critical acclaim in the national and jazz press

MUSICIAN Born:

Yasushi Gonjo

Yasushi was born in Yamaguchi, Japan. He learned the cornet, alto saxophone and guitar at an early age. He switched to the contrabass when he became sixteen years old. In 2004, he studied at Osaka College of Music in Osaka and he took lessons from Mr. Terumasa Hino, Tomoyuki Kimura, Ken Sakakura. Yasushi started playing career as a professional from a student. He experienced performed with top musicians such as Othello Molineaux, Eddie Henderson, Lewis Nash. Yasushi has made 8 CDs as a leader. His own band “GINGERBREAD BOYS” got number one Japanese Jazz Band of “Jazz Page’s A Popularity Vote 2012” And he has recorded 10 CDs an a side man. In 2010, he started to produce concert event “CHANGES” series to introduce young jazz bands. He has made successful 10 times the event. And 2011, he founded the independent record label “OPEN E MUSIC”

MUSICIAN Born:

Ed Bennett

Ed Bennett has long been considered one of the West Coast's premiere string bass players. Currently living in Portland, Oregon since 1990, Ed's work has taken him virtually everywhere in the world. He has worked with, toured internationally, or recorded with many legendary jazz figures, including: Dizzy Gillespie, Curtis Fuller, Terell Stafford, Claudio Roditi, Jeremy Pelt, Joe Henderson, Sonny Stitt, Benny Golson, Frank Morgan, Richie Cole, Pete Christlieb, Bud Shank, Charles McPherson, Hadley Caliman, Bobby Watson, Pete Jolly, Don Abney, Joe Albany, James Williams, Mike Wofford, Pete Malinverni, Bill Mays, Dick Berk, Larance Marable, Joey Baron, Chuck Redd, Carmen McRae, Bill Henderson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Anita O'Day, Ernistine Anderson, Marlena Shaw, Nancy King, Karrin Allyson, Mary Stallings, Dee Daniels, The Modernaires, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Big Band and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra. Ed was born in Los Angeles California on December 19, 1951 and began playing the string bass at the age of 12

MUSICIAN Born:

Haruna Fukazawa

Haruna Fukazawa is a New York-based flutist originally from Tokyo, Japan. She has been an active member of the American and Japanese musical scenes as a performer, composer, and recording artist for over a decade.

After graduating from Mushashino Academia Musicae in Japan, Haruna’s musical career started as a classical musician. Upon attending a performance by the great Oscar Peterson, Haruna decided to dedicate her life to jazz. ​

Haruna’s straightforward, joyful, and powerful playing style is inspired most by her legendary teacher and mentor Frank Wess

Deelee Dube

Deelee Dubé (pronounced Doo-beh, accented “é”) made history by becoming the first British Winner and recipient of the 2016 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and is one of today’s foremost gifted vocalists to have emerged from the London scene in many years. Embodying a stellar African musical lineage, the eclectic tastes of a London upbringing and a deep love and respect for the jazz tradition, Deelee possesses what Jazz Times called ‘a warm tone, genuine blues feeling and easy rhythmic authority.’ Deelee’s late father was the famed South African jazz pianist Jabu Nkosi; her grandfather another legendary figure from the country’s music scene, saxophonist and bandleader Zacks (Isaac) Nkosi

MUSICIAN Born:

Julian Hartwell

Julian Hartwell is a sought-after pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader based in Philadelphia, PA. He is inspired by many styles of music which all contribute to his distinctive sound, both solo and in a group setting. For the past 12 years he has performed throughout a wide swath of the Delaware Valley and Philly area – from jazz clubs to rock venues, music ministry to high-class cocktail hours, weddings to improv jams and everything in between, and now teaches jazz piano as an adjunct professor at Temple University. Accolades include sharing the stage with major names like Christian McBride, Jimmy Heath, and Jon Faddis at Lincoln Center with the Temple University Jazz Band, while also appearing w/ the latter two musicians on that band's release from spring 2015 entitled "Dear Dizzy: A tribute to Dizzy Gillespie." Julian's full composing, arranging, and piano skills are most evident on his band's all-original debut album "The Julian Hartwell Project," which released to critical acclaim in October 2015

MUSICIAN Born:

Charlie Harrington

Charlie Harrington is a multitalented drummer whose artistic ability is seemingly limitless. As a bandleader and as a sideman he pushes the boundaries of swing and groove and has garnered critical acclaim for his ability to inspire and entertain. He's known for sophisticated rhythms, distinctive accompaniment, and powerful solos. "...his inimitable antagonistic percussive prodding, coupled with a dazzling display of virtuosic improvisational madness, was breathtaking," writes the San Mateo Daily News.

“A drummer can be one of three things: a technician, an entertainer, or a musician

MUSICIAN Born:

Ben Hedquist

Ben Hedquist is the clinical assistant professor of jazz bass at Arizona State University. He holds a doctorate in double bass performance from ASU where he studied under double bass virtuoso Catalin Rotaru. Hedquist is the education program coordinator at The Nash, Phoenix’s jazz performance and education center. As a double bassist, Hedquist is known for his versatility and feels at home playing classical or jazz music. As a classical musician, he has performed with the West Valley Symphony, Phoenix Opera, and as Principal Bassist for the Musica Nova Orchestra. Hedquist has also performed in chamber concerts with the ASU String Faculty as part of the Stradivarius Concert Series at the Musical Instrument Museum, with violinist Mark Fewer (McGill University) as part of the Lotus Land Project and performs solo recitals throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan area


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