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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:

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

MUSICIAN Born:

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

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


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