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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!

Cemre Necefbas

Cemre Necefbas is one of New York's rising singers with a growing reputation in the jazz scene. Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, vocalist Cemre Necefbas grew up loving music and singing at every chance she got. Cemre received her first national recognition as a jazz vocalist in 2012, upon wining 3rd place in the Nardis Young Jazz Voice Competition. In 2013, Cemre moved to New York City to attend The New School, receiving a BFA in Jazz Voice and BA in Contemporary Music. Since moving to NYC, Cemre has been building an exciting career as a jazz singer and band-leader, while collaborating with musicians from across genres

MUSICIAN Born:

Sparky Koerner

Sparky is a trumpeter and leader of the “Jazz Express” www.sparkysjazzexpress.com performing in the Galveston/Houston Texas area. He performs regularly with Trio Du Jour at The Tremont House in Galveston. He is also a member of the group “Jazz Sunday” which performs at various churches in the area. When not performing or directing jazz you can find him in the principal trumpet chair of the Galveston Symphony Orchestra, and he has performed in the pit orchestras during the summers at the Galveston Island Outdoor Musicals or College of the Mainland’s Biggest Li’l Theatre in Texas. Sparky Koerner, professor of music, has been director of Jazz and Instrumental Studies at College of the Mainland (COM) located in Texas City, TX since 1983

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W. Allen Taylor

W. Allen Taylor – Jazz Vocalist 
 Winner of the San Francisco Bay Area's first "Jazz Search West Competition” in 2010, W. Allen Taylor is a jazz vocalist from the old school, combining originality with a style reminiscent of the golden age of jazz singing. With vocal influences that include Al Jarreau, Betty Carter, Nat King Cole, Eddie Jefferson and Little Jimmy Scott, he explores the classic jazz standards with a richly dynamic approach. As a band-leader and guest vocalist, Mr. Taylor has appeared in many popular Bay Area and DC Area venues. In the Bay Area, at Anna's Jazz Island, Slates Jazz Supper Club, The Jazzschool, Piedmont Piano Company, Avonova, The Sound Room, the Seahorse Supperclub, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, and the 57Th Street Gallery

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Larry Tamanini

Jazz guitarist Larry Tamanini has been a stalwart of the Philadelphia Jazz scene since the late 1990s. In that time Larry has developed an unique tone and voice on the guitar that has made him one of the most respected and sought after guitarists in the area.

Larry was born into a family that loved and valued great music and it was this support system at home that encouraged him to pick up the guitar and follow his own love of music.

Preferring the most direct way to the bandstand, Larry decided to forego music school and opted to study privately with renowned guitar instructor Dennis Sandole and ultimately Jazz guitar icon, Pat Martino

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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

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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

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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”

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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


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