Brian Jackson is a true American legend. Widely regarded as one of the early architects of the neo-soul era, the nearly 100 tracks he produced with partner/co-writer Gil Scott-Heron between 1971 and 1979 continue to be among the most sampled in hip hop history. The fact that artists like Kanye West, Common and Pete Rock have often used Jackson’s sound as a basis for their own attest to the fact that his musical vision was decades ahead of its time.
As if ten top-selling albums weren’t enough, Brian went on to record and perform with Kool and the Gang, Phyllis Hyman, George Benson, and Roy Ayers and to produce with Gwen Guthrie, and Will Downing, his work with Will topping British charts and going gold in only eight weeks.
Today, after over 35 years of creativity, he can still be found building musical alliances with artists as diverse as Charnett Moffett, Pete Miser, Les Nubians, and most currently shines alongside fellow keyboard luminaries Lonnie Liston Smith and Mark Adams in “A Soulful Night of Keys,” a show that finds him not only playing piano, but singing and back to playing flute as well!
Brian reaches into both the future and the past to draw his inspiration, combining them to create a sound that is always new, yet true to the tradition of music that he insists on honoring. Ever aware how much a part of the music the listener is, he comments: "This music isn't really mine; it belongs to all of us. The minute I start trying to own it, it's all over. It's my job to pass on what I've learned. That's living the Tradition." If the Tradition is having fun and enjoying good music that touches your spirit, Brian Jackson is definitely living it – and making sure that everyone who hears him gets a piece of it, too!
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Lonnie Liston Smith is one of contemporary music’s most versatile musicians. In a career that spans some 40 years, he has been heard in a variety of context as a featured sideman for some of Jazz music’s most illustrious leaders before stepping out to reveal his own original concepts as a bandleader in the mid 70’s. He is a keyboardist of the first rank and has influenced a generation of young players that have acknowledged his rhythmic urgency (swing), harmonic acumen and composing skills.
Lonnie was born in Richmond, Virginia into a musical family. His father was a member of the Gospel Group, “The Harmonizing Four”. In 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt invited “The Harmonizing Four” to sing at the White House following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lonnie remembers such gospel groups as “The Dixie Humming Birds” and “The Soul Stirrers” with Sam Cooke, being frequent visitors at his family’s home. There was a piano in the house and he began investigating it before formal instructions a few years later. It was during high school that Lonnie became infatuated with modern Jazz through hearing alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, one of the creative geniuses in music. It was not long before he was listening to Miles Davis (a future employer) and John Coltrane. Lonnie also began listening to great pianist geniuses, such as: Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Earl “Father” Hines, Erroll Garner and the many other piano geniuses.
After graduating from Armstrong High School, Lonnie entered Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he majored in music education and earned his B.S. degree. While attending Morgan State University, Lonnie became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and also a member of the music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Lonnie began performing in the Baltimore area where he became adept at backing vocalists such as Ethel Ennis and visiting dignitaries like Betty Carter. While attending Morgan State University, he began performing with his peers, Gary Bartz (alto saxophonist), Grachan Moncur (trombonist), and Mickey Bass (on upright bass). After college, Lonnie moved to New York City and began performing with the top vocalists, such as, Betty Carter and Joe Williams. Soon after, Lonnie joined Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers and after The Jazz Messengers, he got a call to perform with drummer, Max Roach, which was unusual because Max rarely used a pianist in his ensemble. Unfortunately, his year with Roach was not documented on vinyl, but these gigs did elevate his status as one of the up and coming players on the scene. He then enjoyed a 2 year stay with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and recorded 2 records with Rahsaan entitled, “Please Don’t Cry Beautiful Edith” on Verve Records and "Here Comes the Whistleman” on Atlantic Records.
Lonnie’s next 3 jobs were perhaps the most important stepping stones in his career. He got the call from Pharaoh Sanders in 1968 and made his mark in one of the most visible ensembles of the day.Pharaoh who had worked with John Coltrane until his death in 1967, was (and still is), an intense creator who was extending the boundaries of improvised music. Lonnie and Pharaoh created spontaneously at every moment. Lonnie, also began to experiment with electric keyboards and created a rich Cosmic sound to support Pharaoh’s impassioned tenor saxophone flights. Lonnie composed a COSMIC 21st Century 12 bar Blues entitled, “Astral Travelling”, which appeared on Pharaoh’s “Thembi” CD. Lonnie’s compositions for Pharaoh’s other CDs “Upper Egypt”, “Karma”,
"The Creator Has a Master Plan”, “Summum, Bukmun, Umyun”, and “Jewels of Thought” were essential to the band’s sound. Argentinean, saxophonist, Gato Barbieri, heard Lonnie performing with Pharaoh and asked Lonnie to record with him and Lonnie recorded the following CDs with Gato:
"The Third World”, “El Pampero”, “Bolivia”, “Fenix” and also “Under Fire”. Also on these same CDs were such talented artists as: Ron Carter, Bernard Purdie, Stanley Clarke, Airto, John Abercombie and Nana Vasconcelos. In late 1971 or early 1972, Lonnie and Gato were performing in Rome, Italy and one night the movie director, Bernardo Bertolucci, stopped by to discuss the sound track for the movie, “Last Tango in Paris”.
In 1973 Lonnie received the important call to join the Miles Davis ensemble. Lonnie recorded 2 CDs with Miles, “On The Corner” and “Big Fun”. Lonnie said working with Miles Davis was his greatest experience and joy. Miles was a genius on stage and off stage because Miles has produced more band leaders than any other musician in the history of creative music.
In 1974, Producer, Bob Thiele, signed Lonnie to a solo recording contract. “Astral Traveling” and “Cosmic Funk” were Lonnie’s first 2 CDs. However, it was his album (CD) , “Expansions” that broke Lonnie into the major leagues as a worldwide leader. The CD was a breath of fresh air in 1975 as it combined solid Jazz playing with creative crossover elements that did not dilute the music. While many of Lonnie’s contemporaries were making records that were artistically bankrupt, (fusion music at this time had become big business), his CDs retained warmth and fire. He recorded several more albums in this vein, including “Visions of a New World” and “Renaissance” before he was approached by CBS. Lonnie continued to make good records for them as well, “Loveland”, “Exotic Mysteries”, “Song for the Children” and “Love Is The Answer”.
Years later Lonnie renewed his association with Bob Thiele again, who had a distribution deal with CBS, and once again recorded well received albums, “Silhouettes”, “Rejuvenation”, and “Dreams of Tomorrow”. Also, during this time period, Lonnie discovered a young, 16 year old bassist, Marcus Miller. Lonnie also appeared on the Jazz Explosion All Star Tours with Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Ayers, Jean Carne, Angela Bofil, Stanley Clarke, Gato Barbieri, Tom Brown, Wayne Henderson, Jon Lucien and Ronnie Laws, and kept his audience through incessant roadwork.
In the 90’s, Lonnie got involved with “Guru Jazzmataz Volume One” (Rap meets Jazz) and was discovered by an all new young audience. Lonnie also has had two hit singles with Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z . Mary J. Blige sampled Lonnie’s composition “A Garden of Peace” in her Grammy winning single, “Take Me As I Am” and Jay -Z also sampled, “A Garden of Peace” in his hit sample, “Dead Presidents”.
Early in Lonnie’s musical career, he recognized the magical and healing power of music. And, using the medium of music, he has expanded the consciousness and raised the moral values of humanity on the planet Earth. Lonnie said his greatest desire and hope in life is that the human race learns to live in peace and harmony and not make war.
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Mark Adams is a worldly soul jazz pianist who is proving to be the premiere jazz pianist of his generation. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Mark was introduced to the piano by his mother, Velma, a music teacher, at the tender age of 5. With a move to New York at the age of 12, Mark continued to prefect his craft with the encouragement of his father Kenneth, a successful classical and Broadway woodwind musician. Mark further augmented his musical talents at Greenwich House of Music School specializing in jazz and classical music; this followed up by receiving a Bachelor degree in Music and Performance and Fine Arts at City College of New York.
Among Mark’s many accomplishments are composing; performing in the Broadway musical production of “Guys Named Moe” and becoming an active faculty member of York College (CUNY) where he teaches music theory, as well as beginning and advanced piano techniques.
As a published author and professor, Mark’s book Basics debuted in August 2010, mirrors the courses he teaches at York College that include music theory, piano techniques, keyboard harmony, jazz techniques and improvisation. The inspiration and motivation for the book came from Mark’s observations that the development of one’s musical skills is essential to the development of jazz, that young people represent the future and their talents must be nurtured. Mark’s heart, passion and love of music is reflected in the free private piano instruction he gives to young talented pianists who cannot afford the high cost of private lessons.
In addition to his personal accomplishments, Mark’s extensive musical career has him working and performing with with such Jazz greats as Roy Ayers, Ron Carter, Ronnie Laws, Hugh Masekela, Bobbi Humphrey, Dave Valentin, Wayne Henderson and Tap-Dancer Savion Glover; R&B artists Erika Badu, Maysa, Bilal, Jocelyn Brown and DJ Pete Rock. Mark has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Africa, Cuba, Japan and the U.S. with Roy Ayers and other great artists. In 2010, Mr. Adams began touring under his own name. At times, Mark has shared the stage with the likes of special guests Maysa, Tom Browne and Ronnie Laws. His live sound is fresh & new. Mark calls his music & live show “the beginning of the new movement of Souljazz, moving Jazz away from the Smooth Jazz format.” The great Ron Carter states, Mark plays bebop over funk grooves; Adams is here to keep jazz appealing to people of all ages!”
Mark has recorded 3 CDs under his own name, Asceticism, Feel The Groove and Something’s Going On, with the fourth CD entitled EMBELLISHMENTS (The Q&A Project) featuring Jonathan Quash released April 5th, 2011 on Roberts Music Group Music Group.
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