Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
As a leader and a sideman, George Cables defines mainstream jazz piano. When he was 18 he worked with Steve Grossman and Billy Cobham. He quickly gained recognition and worked with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard . He was on piano with Dexter Gordon during the tenor's successful return to the United States from 1976 to 1978. George was Art Pepper's favorite pianist and did work with Bebop and Beyond, as well. Mr. Cables has played countless sessions and concerts and has recorded frequently as a leader for the Contemporary label, including the 1979 classic Cables Vision, as well as for Concord, and SteepleChase. As you will hear, George made a beautiful and major contribution to the Jazz Explorers project.
Hailing from Los Angeles, bassist Greg Cohen has played in many styles and genres with everyone from Bill Frisell and John Zorn to the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. Perhaps best known as Tom Waits' bass player, Cohen has also composed for the Lincoln Center Theater and collaborated on film score arrangements for Ed Wood and Fried Green Tomatoes. He is currently bassist and music director with Ornette Coleman. Greg played beautifully on Mystique for the Jazz Explorers.
Andrew Cyrille has worked with a stellar list of greats including Mary Lou Williams, Roland Hanna, Roland Kirk, Coleman Hawkins and Junior Mance, as well as Cecil Taylor, Rashied Ali, and Milford Graves. As a leader with his group, Maono and as collaborator with the Group, Cyrille has been on the cutting edge of where Jazz is going. With Graves, Don Moye and Kenny Clarke, he recorded the all-percussion album Pieces of Time for Soul Note in 1983. When not leading his own bands, Mr. Cyrille also works as a sideman with, among others, John Carter, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Jimmy Lyons. The subtle drive of Village of Origin' is a classic performance.
Growing up in Providence, Rhode Island, in the shadow of the Newport Jazz Festival, Tim Duffy, at age twelve, met the great Duke Ellington. As a teenager he ran away with Howlin’ Wolf, studied sculpture and film at the Rhode Island School of Design and fell in with saxophonist Charles Lloyd. Tim's improvisational, artistic explorations led him into film and the New York circles of Sun Ra, Allen Kaprow’s ‘˜happenings’, Yoko Ono and a summer spent around Andy Warhol. In the early 1970s, Tim migrated to Colorado where he pioneered experimental workshops around the state which evolved into his funk-gospel-jazz fusion-celestial circus, the Orchestra of Clouds. In the 80s, Tim was an art director for motion pictures from Disney, Viacom and PBS. In the early 90s, he returned to Colorado where he assembled The Rocky Mountain All-Stars. As an active, adventurous composer, Tim draws on his diversified, deeply rooted experiences and his vast network of creative fellow travelers to bring forth the latest extension of his expressionist explorations, the innovative new ensemble, the Jazz Explorers.
Sonny Fortune started his career playing in Rhythm and Blues groups in Philadelphia and moved to New York in 1967. He has worked with Elvin Jones, Mongo Santamaria and McCoy Tyner, as well as Buddy Rich and the one and only Miles Davis. Sonny's solo albums for Horizon and Atlantic are hybrid jazz/funk projects, showing Miles' influence. Sonny has also recorded for Konnex and toured with Nat Adderley and Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine. His excellent feature track with the Jazz Explorers, In Memorium, Elvin Jones, recorded the week of his friend's passing, is filled with emotion and is a fitting tribute to a giant of Jazz.
Bob Funk has worked as a trombone player with The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, BB King, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Tom Waits, Albert Collins, Al Kooper, Sammy Davis, David Sanborn, Cassandra Wilson, Frank Sinatra Jr. and many more. In 1979 Bob arrived in New York from Colorado where he had already spent several years working, occasionally with Tim Duffy. As an original member of the Uptown Horns, he has performed on over 200 albums include James Brown's Grammy Award winning Living in America, Joe Cocker's version of Unchain My Heart, Hot, Hot, Hot by Buster Poindexter and the soundtrack for the Oscar winning When We Were Kings. Bob is proud to be a player, producer and arranger with the Jazz Explorers.
Pianist Eric Gunnison, originally from in Buffalo N.Y., attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. Eric lives in Denver, has a long association with Tim Duffy and has toured and recorded with vocal jazz group Rare Silk, Carmen McRae, saxophonist Nelson Rangell and trumpeter Ron Miles, as well as having performed in concert with Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Phil Woods, Red Rodney, Bobby Shew , Jerry Bergonzi, Ginger Baker, Paul Warburton, John McNeil and Eddie Gomez. Eric has appeared in concert with both the Colorado and Colorado Springs Symphonies. Eric also works with his own band, Wake Up Call, performing his original music. He has worked as an educator and clinician and is active in the local studio scene. Eric Gunnison contributed important and memorable performances to the Jazz Explorers project.
The legendary Billy Hart is one of the great sidemen. He has worked with Buck Hill and Shirley Horn, the Montgomery Brothers, Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery. As a member of Herbie Hancock's late Sixties-early Seventies sextet and with McCoy Tyner and Stan Getz and with Miles Davis on 1972's On the Corner, Billy has made huge contributions to the history of Jazz. As a leader, he has recorded for Horizon, Gramavision, and Arabesque. His solid, yet sensitive drum work on the Jazz Explorers first sessions helped establish a direction and identity for this project.
Dave Liebman is one of the best soprano and tenor saxophonists in jazz. A versatile, unique improviser who's explorations cover hard bop and beyond, Mr. Liebman studied with Lennie Tristano and Charles Lloyd. He has played with Ten Wheel Drive, Elvin Jones and Miles Davis' Seventies Jazz/Rock fusion projects. As a leader Liebman formed Lookout Farm in 1974, and Quest in the 1980s with pianist Richie Beirach. Dave has recorded countless sessions and is very active in jazz education and has written several books. He has gained a high profile in recent years through his collaborations with Joe Lovano and the late, great, Michael Brecker. Dave's great attitude at the first Jazz Explorers session helped lift the project off the ground, delivering soaring performances.
Victor Lewis has been the drummer of choice for Woody Shaw, Carla Bley, Kenny Barron, David Sanborn and Dexter Gordon. Victor was a music major at the University of Nebraska and after his band opened for Herbie Hancock's Sextet in 1972, Lewis was encouraged by Buster Williams and Billy Hart to move to New York, where he was soon in great demand. He has performed with many, many top artists and was featured with Horizon, a group he co-led with Bobby Watson. Although uncommon for a drummer, his compositional skills have resulted in his songs being recorded by other jazz musicians and has led sessions of his own for the Red, AudioQuest and Enja labels. When Billy Hart was unavailable for the second Jazz Explorers session, Victor graciously filed in and delivered a beautiful groove on Sunday Morning.
Carmen Lundy is one of America's best Jazz vocal interpreters. She is a beautiful and talented singer, composer, actor and painter. Carmen studied at Miami University and moved to New York in 1978 where she first worked with Ray Barretto and then formed her own trio in 1980 with pianist John Hicks. Ms.Lundy has recorded with Geri Allen, Ernie Watts, Fred Wesley, Kip Hanrahan, Billy Childs and her brother and long time collaborator, Curtis Lundy. Her new recording, Jazz and The New Songbook~ Live At The Madrid DVD has received superlative reviews. She has also appeared in Sophisticated Ladies and They Were All Gardenias, portraying Billie Holiday. Carmen graces the Jazz Explorers project on two shimmering ballads with deep under-currents.
Cecil McBee has played with many artists including Andrew Hill, Sam Rivers, Jackie McLean, Wayne Shorter and Keith Jarrett. Mr. McBee is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. His first major gig was with Dinah Washington in 1959. After a stint in Detroit, he joined Paul Winter's folk-jazz ensemble in 1963, and moved to New York. Cecil has also worked with Charles Lloyd, Jack DeJohnette and Pharoah Sanders, Yusef Lateef, Alice Coltrane, Charles Tolliver, Abdullah Ibrahim, Lonnie Liston Smith, Joanne Brackeen, Art Pepper and Chico Freeman. As a leader, his first session was for Strata East in 1974, titled Mutima. In 1996, he formed his own quintet and began touring Europe, documented on Unspoken. Cecil's fine bass playing and leadership are key elements of the Jazz Explorers.
L.A. based Mike Miller is a versatile guitarist whose playing and writing communicates a wide musical perspective. Miller has worked with Chick Corea, Bette Midler, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group and the Frank Zappa Banned from Utopia alumni band. Also among his many credits are work with Jimmy Johnson, Peter Erskine, Robben Ford, Bill Frisell, and Larry Coryell, Oliver Nelson, Don Was, the Fowler Brothers, Tom Scott and Alphonso Johnson. Mr. Miller and his wife, performer/writer Sandra Tsing Loh, wrote and scored Oscar winner Jessica Yu's documentaries Breathing Lessons and The Living Museum. Mike also works with film composers Mark Mothersbaugh and Wes Anderson. On Moroccan, he adds a dark atmospheric dialog with George Cables.
Kim Stone, electric and acoustic bassist and accomplished composer has been internationally known since his work with Spyro Gyra. He currently works with the Rippingtons. A mainstay of the Colorado Jazz scene, Kim has worked for many years with Tim Duffy and The Orchestra of Clouds and The Rocky Mountain Allstars. As a leader, in 1989 he released his first solo disc, Earth School and in 1999, released More Often Than Not. Kim cites Charles Mingus as his greatest inspiration, which comes through on his solid playing with the Jazz Explorers.
Since 1980, the Uptown Horns, Arno Hecht, Crispin Cioe, Larry Etkin and Bob Funk have been a world class horn section. Ater meeting in the underground NYC rock world and a year-long development period playing Downtown Tuesday nights at Tramps with everyone from Big Joe Turner and the Neville Brothers to Ronnie Spector and David Johannsen, The J. Geils Band took the section out on the Freeze Frame Tour. Since then, their recording credits on over 200 albums include James Brown's Grammy Award winning Living in America and the Oscar winning film When We were Kings. Performance/recording credits also include The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, BB King, Tom Waits, The Honeydrippers with Robert Plant, Albert Collins, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, Sammy Davis, Jr., Cassandra Wilson and the critically acclaimed CD The Uptown Horns Revue.