Angeliqua (Angel) Bethea is currently a freshman majoring in Music with a Jazz Studies concentration at George Mason University in Fairfax, V.A. She attended the prestigious Ellington School for the Arts during high school during which she worked closely with the great Davey Yarborough. She also attended the Washington Arts Institute for Jazz each summer for the last 5 years. During her time at Ellington, she had the opportunity to play with Earth Wind and Fire, Patti Labelle, and Sting. She has played at Duke Ellington, the Kennedy Center, and the Strathmore Mansion. While at Ellington, she was able to participate in master classes with Matt Wilson, Terrell Stafford, and Winard Harper’s group. She currently plays with the George Mason Jazz Ensemble, GMU jazz combos, the AVU gospel group, and a local band called D6 that is comprised of former Ellington students. She is also currently playing with the Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes Septet, and recently released an album with them called “It Don’t Mean a Thing…” She currently resides with her family in Washington, DC.
Mastering sound and mood, Halley Shoenberg is an accomplished saxophone and clarinet player whose style is collected from several sources of jazz, theatre and popular music. From swinging originals to noted modern-era favorites, her intelligently inspired brand of music shines with unique clarity.
A multi-instrumentalist who plays clarinet, saxophone and flute, Shoenberg has produced three CD releases, Love Goes ‘Round, Someday, and Private Concert which include several of her original compositions. A native of Silver Spring, Maryland, Halley earned her Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana University and Master’s in Arts Administration from Florida State University.
As leader of her own “Halley Shoenberg Jazz Quartet” and other ensembles, most recently adding the “Halley’s Hot Gumbo Swingtet,” her concert and festival presentations have won the hearts of jazz enthusiasts who demand master musicianship.
Past performances include the “Halley Shoenberg Octet” in concert at Strathmore Mansion and her bands at DC area festivals such as the Bethesda, MD Fine Arts Festival, Alexandria, VA Jazz Festival and the Silver Spring Swings concert series. As the clarinet soloist in DC’s premiere swing band, Halley is regularly featured on classic swing masterpieces and evening-long Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman tributes. She has played at major venues including the Kennedy Center, National Parks, at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival and Blues Alley. Her Trio was featured in Worchester, MA at a live performance and broadcast for WICN Radio.
Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Buddy DeFranco, and Ken Peplowski influence her clarinet playing. Her saxophone style pays respect to Art Pepper, Lee Konitz, Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Stan Getz. Halley is also inspired by the legendary music of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and the Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton big bands.
Having intensely studied classical and jazz, she currently teaches private lessons to young clarinet and saxophone students in addition to performing. At Indiana University’s School of Music Halley studied with David Baker, Dominic Spera, James Campbell, Tom Walsh, Lynn Baker, J.B. Dyas and many more outstanding musician-teachers of performance, history, and composition. After graduation, Shoenberg served as intern in the Smithsonian’s jazz history department. During her arts administration graduate program at Florida State University, she performed and toured with the school’s award-winning jazz ensemble and interned at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Based in Washington DC, her performances on saxophone in Rhapsody in Blue and the West Side Story Suite have been heard on tour in Germany with the Washington Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed traditional “Dixieland” jazz with the Potomac River Jazz Club’s Federal Focus Jazz Band, which participated in Chilliwack Jazz Festival in British Columbia and at the French Quarter Jazz Festival in New Orleans. Shoenberg has performed in New York, at the Boswell Sisters Centennial in New Orleans and at the Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center.
In addition to the Halley Shoenberg Jazz Octet, Quartet and Trio, Halley performs and has recorded with the Tom Cunningham (swing) Orchestra, the James Bazen (modern-style) Big Band, the La Salle (1920’s and 30’s jazz) Dance Orchestra, the Bitter Dose (gypsy jazz) Combo, Craig Gildner and Blue Sky 5, and Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes.
Saxophonist/arranger Leigh Pilzer has performed at many of Washington, DC’s top jazz venues, including Blues Alley, Twins Jazz, and Westminster Presbyterian. She co-leads the Jen Krupa–Leigh Pilzer Quintet (JLQ), which has been featured at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Blues Alley, Jazz at the Garden, The Mansion at Strathmore, and the Takoma Park JazzFest, among others.
Leigh is a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, Mike Kamuf’s Little Big Band, and Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes. With SJMO, DIVA, and the National Symphony Orchestra she has toured across the United States and in Austria, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Holland, and Russia. She also freelances with a variety of ensembles in the mid-Atlantic region.
Leigh’s arrangements have been performed by the DC-area premier military jazz ensembles and by college and professional jazz ensembles and brass quintets throughout the country. DIVA recently recorded several of Leigh’s big band arrangements: two can be heard on DIVA’s most recent CD, A Swingin’ Life (2014) and two more will be included on the band’s upcoming release Special Kay, (scheduled for 2015). Another was featured on the soundtrack for Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular (2014). Other arranging credits include horn section writing for recordings by Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy and orchestrations for the critically-acclaimed show Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life.
Repertory performances and lecture recitals include “Collaboration in Jazz, Featuring the Music of Gerry Mulligan” and “The Music of The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Melba Liston” with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Quintet; “Sax in the City,” featuring the music of Benny Carter, Gerry Mulligan, and Lester Young with the SJMO saxophone and rhythm sections; and “Women in Jazz: The Early Years” and “The Music of Melba Liston” at the Washington Women in Jazz Festival.
Leigh holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Composition and Arranging from the Berklee College of Music and Master’s degrees in Jazz Studies and Saxophone Performance from The University of Maryland, College Park. After completing her academic work at Maryland she studied studied traditional and jazz theory at The Catholic University of America with the late Dr. Steven Strunk. Leigh has served on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Towson University, where she has taught Jazz Theory, Jazz Arranging, and Jazz History.
Herman Burney, “has the complete package … he is extremely talented, he possesses a reverence for the music, technical ability, and (to top it off) he is a genuinely fine person. The world needs his music and I am happy to count him among my friends” writes John Clayton.
Born in Washington, DC, Herman was raised in the arts-nurturing state of North Carolina, specifically Winston-Salem. Herman grew up in Church listening to Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and James Cleveland; during these years, he played clarinet, drums, and tuba. “Music has always been an integral part of my life. Both my parents sing in their church choir, and my father sings bass in an all-male a Capella group.” Herman’s next major influences were Soul, R&B, and hard-core funk during high school; he played the electric bass during that time. “As a teenager, my friends and I started our own bands; we played in the garage, basement, or any place that we could. I even snuck out of the house at night to hear groups like Ramsey Lewis, Cameo, Parliament/Funkadelic, the Brother’s Johnson, and Graham Central Station!”
Herman was initiated into “Jazz” by Bill Bright in Winston-Salem, whose musical legacy lives through the many people he helped during his physical life here on earth. “Bill Bright personally took me under his wing, made me practice, allowed me (with my incredibly sad bass playing) to join the Bill Bright Quintet, gave me my first gigs on acoustic bass, taught me about chord changes, and loaned me Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk albums to check out so we could play it together!! Make no mistake … Bill Bright single-handedly started me on my Jazz journey … I’m still figuring out what he showed me!”
Then in 1987, after a chance meeting with George Duvivier, Herman finally settled on his beloved double bass. “Until then, I had never heard music, especially on a double bass, that required so much honesty and dedication. George showed me that there is no room for pretense in American Classical music (commonly called “Jazz”); if you don’t give yourself completely, your music will show it and your audience will know it.”
A true student and fan of jazz music, Herman often gives his time and effort to the support of future jazz musicians. “Milt Hinton, John Clayton, Bob Cranshaw, Ray Brown, Victor Gaskin, John Heard, Keter Betts, Freddy Cole, George Duvivier, Percy Heath, and Rufus Reid have shared so much with me that it is incumbent upon me to pass it along to others … I just can’t keep this information to myself.” To this end, and when his schedule permits, Herman enjoys working at music camps, presenting workshops, teaching private students, and educating audiences. “Jazz audiences are generally well informed people who MUST be considered at all times; playing in Freddy Cole’s band for over 4yrs really taught me this lesson. Cole taught me to assemble the musical presentation based on audience demographics, NOT necessarily what I want to play. Therefore, as a musician, I am responsible for learning as much music as possible in order to choose songs carefully that positively impact an audience.”
Born on the island of Dominica and raised on St. Thomas, USVI, trombonist Reginald Cyntje has been mixing cultural heritage with Black American Music since the beginning of his formative years. Growing up in the US Virgin Islands (USVI), he was steeped in the rich cultural music known as Quelbe (the official music of the USVI).
Quelbe was Reginald’s introduction to improvised music. One of his favorite Quelbe songs, Queen Mary, has a powerful message set to syncopated rhythm. This song sets the tone for his mission as a musician – to inspire change with music.
With cultural heritage at the forefront and social justice as the message, this passionate performer has “a deep-seated knowledge of Caribbean music and culture which has settled into his jazz trombone playing” (NPR Music).
On April 22, 2014 (Earth Day), Reginald Cyntje released his third album Elements of Life featuring pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Herman Burney, drummer Amin Gumbs, vocalist Christie Dashiell, steel panist Victor Provost and saxophonist Brian Settles. The album explores the connection between the human being and the elements that nurture us.
In 2013, Cyntje released his sophomore album simply titledLove. The Washington City Paper said Love “is thoughtful and surpassingly gorgeous.” After debuting at #3 on the CMJ Jazz chart, Love made it to #10 on the CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart. The album is a tribute to the human spirit.
As a trombonist, educator and activist, Reginald has performed with great musicians including Amiri Baraka, Dr. Billy Taylor, Illinois Jacquet, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gary Thomas, Dion Parson and the 21st Century Band, Nicholas Payton, Ron Blake, Sean Jones, Terrell Stafford, Larry Willis and many others. After sharing the stage with his mentors for many years, Reginald finally released his highly anticipated debut album Freedom’s Children: The Celebration in August of 2011.
On his recordings, you can hear the sounds of calypso, reggae, and other African influenced genres which now give his music a unique flavor.
Reginald Cyntje, “blessed with impressive facility and an immediacy of sound” now resides in the Washington DC area (The Independent Ear). Capital Bop views him as “arguably D.C.’s most agile and expressive trombone player.”
The concept of his music ministry is to spread love, peace and social justice with each expression.
Reginald is a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia and is currently working on his master’s degree at the University of Maryland (expected spring 2015). He teaches trombone privately, conducts workshops nationally and is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College.
Alison Crockett will perform at 8:00 pm on January 18th at Union Arts! She will be joined by Herman Burney and will perform excerpts from her one woman show, “Is this it? My American Dream.”
THE TINY WOMAN WITH THE HUGE VOICE
Alison Crockett has paid her musical “dues” in full… She is perhaps the quintessential nu jazz/progressive soul singer of her generation and yet you may not have heard of her – – but you’ve no doubt heard her voice… On seminal recordings by King Britt, Blue Six, Us3, Landslide, John Wicks, Mathematics and a whole host of others, Alison’s voice has provided the velvety, sensual sound of tomorrow’s yesterday’s…a captivating tone which evokes both the music of the past and that yet to come. A voice
dripping soul with generous helpings of jazz, gospel and blue, Alison has taken the baton from divas of the present and past such as Lizz Wright, Rachelle Farrelle, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Donna Summer, Diana
Ross and Sarah Vaughn and forged a uniquely personal and singular musical vision.
Alison decided early in her life to pursue a music career. Piano was her first love. “It just called to me. I still feel like a pianist who sings.” However after winning several local vocal talent showcases during her high school years, it quickly became apparent that her voice was a rare gift. Alison honed her vocal skills at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and then a masters degree at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York City. As she says, “I set out to be a craftsman; someone who could mold and shape music like sculpture.” Upon graduating, she settled in Philadelphia, where she met superstar DJ/producer King Britt (formerly of Digable Planets.) Britt summarily gave Alison the nickname “Diva Blue” and together they recorded the classic, “Season’s Change” for his groundbreaking Sylk 130 album, “When the Funk Hits the Fan” (Ovum/Sony Music). She was also featured on four other genre bending tracks on the album including the single, “Gettin’ Into It”. Billboard Magazine loved her “throaty, diva-styled vocals.” After touring the US as a member of Sylk 130, Alison relocated to Brooklyn, NY, where she introduced herself to the vibrant New York music scene by fronting hip hop/jazz pioneer Greg Osby’s band. Only a few months later she was approached by Geoff Wilkenson, founder of the pioneering UK based acid jazz outfit Us3 (best known for their 1994 world-wide smash “Flip Fantasia (Biddy Biddy Bop)” ) who’d heard “Season’s Change” and became convinced he was hearing a young legend on the order of his heroes Shirley Bassey, Dianna Washington and Dianne Reeves. In this pre-You Tube, pre-Facebook era, Wilkenson had embarked upon a feverish, months long search to track Alison down and request that she became Us3’s first lead singer. Upon her acceptance, Alison traveled to London to write and sang on the album “An Ordinary Day in an Unusual Place”. The first single, “Get Out”, immediately shot to the top 10 within a few weeks of its release in Japan. In support of the album, Alison experienced her first world tour, as Us3 headlined stadiums and festivals throughout Europe, the US and Japan.
Throughout her tenure with Us3, Alison continued to write, perform and record on a number of interesting musical projects, always looking to grow and remain fresh. To distinguish these side projects, she often recorded under her Sylk 130 pseudonym, Diva Blue. Under the Diva Blue moniker, a 4-song EP enttitled “Azure” was released during the summer of 2001 on the Brooklyn based Soulhead Recordings. The lead track off of “Azure”, an early version of the breakbeat influenced track “Alive”, began to create a buzz on DJ mix shows and in clubs throughout Europe. Almost overwhelmed by the response to the track and near bursting with creative energy and song ideas, Alison could hardly wait to begin working on a project which would showcase the new music she was writing. Her debut solo album, “On Becoming A Woman”, was released to wide acclaim in Japan in June 2003 and in the US and Europe in April 2004. The epic ballad from the album “Like Rain” reached number 3 on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Winner’s 2003 chart on his legendary BBC Radio 1 programme. Alison knew she’d tapped into something special with the album, “I really thought long and hard about this music…agonized over it…it was truly a birth-like experience and that’s why I named the album “On Becoming A Woman”…I feel like I grew in leaps in bounds as both an artist and a person making it…” In 2006 Alison released a collection of remixes based on tracks from “On Becoming A Woman” entitled “The Return Of Diva Blue: On Becoming A Woman Redux”(Sol Image/Village Again/Groove). Featuring mixes by a who’s who of top flight DJ producers: DJ Spinna, Yam Who?, Phil Asher, Mark De Clive-Lowe, Waiwan, Landslide and more, the album became a treasure trove for lovers of deep house music, with DJ Spinna’s take on the song “Crossroads” becoming a signature classic for Alison. In the spring of 2007, Alison released her “love letter to my fans”, the stripped down, acoustic based “Bare”. Much of the album comprised of Alison simply sitting at the piano and singing songs from a backlog of compositions from a particularly prolific period of writing. “There are songs on “Bare” that could be placed on no other album,” she said. “Some had been in my catalog, unheard by anyone but me, for many years. I wanted “Bare” to be a record that you could just sit back, listen and enjoy, while you let all your cares melt away for a short while…”
After taking an extended break from recording in order to focus on mothering her two children, in 2008 Alison returned to the recording studio to work on what would become, “Mommy, What’s A Depression?”, her third solo album of original material. Says Alison, “When I began working on this project in earnest, it was during the heart of the financial crisis in the US, and it seemed as if the world was going to hell in a hand basket…George W. Bush was still the president and most people felt as if he’d run the country into the ground, from starting unnecessary wars, to being negligent during the crisis in New Orleans, to enacting policies which almost caused the collapse of the global economy. So I thought about creating a work of art to reflect the chaos and disorientation I, and many people around me, where feeling at the time.” It would take Alison more than three years to bring her vision to reality, as she and her brother fine-tuned the production to ensure the sonic tapestry was just right. “ A mixture of jazz, soul and electronic music seemed to me the best way to give these messages the weight of the moment. Each of these music forms is all about creative destruction and re-invention, a process it seems we are going through right now. So I call the sonic style we’ve come up with, “Mixtape Jazz”; it’s the sound of taking the familiar and shaping layers and layers of seemingly disparate and sometimes even dissonant components onto it in order to fashion new creative textures. I arranged standard songs from the jazz and soul cannons that seemed to speak to our national and societal condition and, to compliment these, wrote music and lyrics that reflected my own feelings of anger, frustration, bitterness and hope about what’s been going on around me.”
And so with the release of “Mommy, What’s A Depression?” the next chapter in Alison’s musical journey begins. As with all of the music she’s released during a career which has grown to span a generation, her newest songs take risks, challenge preconceptions, push her art form powerfully forward. For this is the essence of who Alison Crockett is as an artist: A fearless musical traveler boldly projecting her inimitable voice into the sonic future.
Saxophonist Grant Langford is a current member of the US Air Force’s Airmen of Note. Prior to that service he was a touring member of the Count Basie Orchestra from 2005-08. Mr. Langford made 5 recordings with the historic band with legendary artists such as Tony Bennett and Ray Charles. Mr. Langford resides in the DC metro area and is featured on 2014 recordings with the NY Voices, Bobby Caldwell, and Anthony Manough. He received his Bachelors in Music from the New England Conservatory.
Karine is currently the Professor of Jazz Bass at James Madison University, the music teacher at Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School in Washington DC, and a busy freelance musician. She holds a BM from McGill University, and a MM in Music and a MM in Music Education from Howard University. In 2011, Karine was awarded ‘Outstanding Performance in Jazz at the College Graduate Level’ by Downbeat Magazine. Karine’s professional performance career has taken her all over the world, and she has appeared at major venues and festivals such as The Pori Jazz Festival, The North Sea Jazz Festival, The Montreal International Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, and The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Karine has performed with Marvin Hamlisch and The National Symphony Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, McCoy Tyner, Paquito D’Rivera, Mary Halvorson, Allison Miller, and The Washington Ballet. During her tenure with the Canadian based pop band ‘Creature’ she had the opportunity to record at SARM studios in London, where Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and Madonna has recorded some of their work. Karine is currently endorsed by Godin Guitars.