Renowned reed player and music educator Donald Washington was born in Mobile AL, where he spent most of his childhood before migrating to Chicago with his family. In the windy city Donald took his first serious step towards becoming a musician after his father bought him a clarinet. Upon the completion of two hitches in the army he returned to the south to attend college at the University of Southern Alabama, where he received a degree in music education in 1970. Mr. Washington moved to Detroit and worked as auto assembler at a Chrysler plant—Donald says “that was a hum dinger”—for five years. It was in Detroit that he met his wife of 33 years, Faye, and began working as music educator for the public schools.
His wife convinced Donald to stay in the motor city, and it wasn’t long before he organized the internationally known youth big band: Bird Trane Sco Now. Cassias Richmond, Roy Whitaker, Kevin Washington, and James Carter are just few of the many young people who came up in this ensemble and went on to great careers.
The Washingtons moved to Minnesota in 1987. Donald has taught in Minneapolis Public Schools, and been a staple of the Twin Cities music scene for the past twenty years. Though he has ‘officially retired’ from teaching as of 2005, Donald is by no stretch of the imagination an idle man. He recently agreed to return to teaching for the Mpls board of education on a part-time basis, and his calendar remains as busy as ever, full of gigs and rehearsals with his many friends and colleagues in the arts community.
Levi Schwartzberg (vibraphone) is a 2014 graduate of Minneapolis Southwest High School, where he played for school ensembles, including the combo Cosmic Troubadours. As a vibraphonist, Levi performed with the Dakota Combo and PipJazz Youth All-Stars for two years each. He studied piano for about ten years, and took up the vibes in middle school, progressing quickly to a four-mallet level. Levi performs around town in his own ensembles and numerous bands with such veterans as Davu Seru, Steve Kenny and Adam Linz.
1998 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, saxophonist/educator Clay Pufahl has performed with the Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra, Cedar Avenue Big Band, Skyway Big Band, Five by Design, B4 (swing band), the Minnesota Orchestra, the Four Tops, Lou Rawls, Franki Valli, and Minneapolis-based groups the Senders and Soul Tight Committee, as well as performing in productions at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater, Minneapolis Children’s Theater, The Guthrie, and Ordway Theater. Clay has also been affiliated with the JazzMN Orchestra for many years, and recently launched Really Big Shoe with fellow saxman Joe Mayo. His teaching resume includes several years as woodwind and jazz instructor at Totino-Grace High School in Fridley.
Chris Weller is a tenor saxophonist and composer living in Forest Park, IL. He attended Berklee College of Music on scholarship from 2007-2010 where he received his bachelors degree in saxophone performance. During that time, Weller performed in jazz groups across the nation. Since college, he has performed internationally as a bandleader, established a reputable private teaching studio, and hosted clinics in the U.S. and abroad on elementary, high school, and college levels.
Byron Johnson-Blanchard is a drummer, composer, bandleader, and music educator based out of the Twin Cites. Since graduating from McNally Smith College of Music in 2008, Byron has performed with renown Twin Cites musical acts such as High & Mighty, Tom Hunter, The Dap Squad, Sam Kuusisto, Vintage Raggs, Zacc Harris, Mill City Hot Club, and Papa John Kolstad. He is currently a member of Silverback Trio and BZB Trio. Byron also leads and composes for Amethyst 3, a trio that features Park Evans on guitar and Josh Granowski on bass.
Crystal Myslajek is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and sound artist who blends looping, ethereal vocals, and effects with minimalism, classical piano, and pop. She collaborates across disciplines including experimental film, performance art, theater, and dance. In 2016 she composed and performed music for Rachel Jendrzejewski’s play, ENCYCLOPEDIA. In 2015 she debuted multimedia compositions commissioned by the Cedar Cultural Center’s 416 Club and presented in the MONO NO AWARE international film exhibition in Brooklyn, NY. Myslajek’s improvisational piano work was featured in the Soap Factory’s 2013 Minnesota Biennial. Myslajek was vocalist and bass guitarist in Brute Heart. The trio was awarded City Pages’ 2012 Best Female Vocalist, featured in filmmaker Doug Aitken’s Station to Station project, and commissioned by the Walker Art Center to compose a score for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Other projects include accompaniment for SuperGroup collaborative, piano for musical theater by Cynthia Hopkins, and singing with the Anonymous Choir.
Born in New York City, he grew up in Philadelphia and the St. Paul suburb of Roseville, Minnesota. He started his music study with mentor and legendary jazz drummer Ed Blackwell at the Creative Music Studio in New York in 1975. His relationship with Blackwell continued until Blackwell’s death in 1992. He has also studied with Floyd Thompson and Marv Dahlgren, the former principal percussionist of the Minnesota Orchestra. He considers the Beatles and 1960s rock groups early music influences. He also credits his parents and his childhood band instructor for their support and encouragement in pursuing a music career.
He performs with several groups and leads the Phil Hey Quartet with Tom Lewis on bass, Dave Hagedorn on vibraphone, and Phil Aaron on piano. The quartet’s album Subduction: Live at Artist’s Quarter (2005) was named Best Jazz CD of the Year by the Twin Cities alternative weekly newspaper City Pages. City Pages also named him 2006 Jazz Musician of the Year.
His first album, Let Them All Come with Pat Moriarty, was released in 1977 on the small private label Min Records. The cover art by Homer Lambrecht is featured in Freedom, Rhythm, and Sound, a compilation of a jazz album artwork by Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker. He has appeared on over 125 recordings and remains a first-call musician supporting regional recording artists as well as touring jazz artists. His jazz recordings include Von Freeman’s Live at The Dakota, Pete Whitman’s X-Tet Where’s When?, Tom Hubbard’s Tribute to Mingus, and Ed Berger’s I’m Glad There is You, all of which received four out of five star ratings by Down Beat magazine reviewers.
In addition to his work as a jazz musician he has played regional performances with blues and rock acts, including Nick St. Nicholas, George “Mojo” Buford, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. He has appeared on the soundtrack of the 6th Day (2000) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and several independent film soundtracks including Been Rich All My Life (2006). In addition, he has played many touring theater productions, including The D.B. Cooper Project, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano and has performed with comics Bob Hope, Red Skelton, and Don Rickles.
Jay Afrisando uses music and sound-based art to share awareness of human-nature-technology relationships; this includes building a better relationship between people and technology, promoting a healthier symbiosis between human & nature, and inducing consciousness of our senses (and its critical appraisal)—especially the auditory one—towards the surrounding.
To communicate these vision to public, broad range of approaches are chosen: from musical composition to sound installation, from acoustic to electroacoustic, from fixed-media to improvisation, from implied to overt participatory-setting that invites audience to the very making, and everything in-between.
Some of his works have been performed in Yogyakarta, Ubud, Jakarta, Amsterdam, New York, New South Wales, Seoul, Seattle, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Los Angeles by performers such as Ensemble Kyai Fatahillah (ID), Jay & Gatra Wardaya (ID), Duo Gelland (SE), Ere Lievonen (NL), Arend Grosfeld (NL), Anne Veinberg (AU), Alex Lubet (US), 가민 (Gamin, KR), Quartet of Quartets (AU), and many more.
Matt Rahaim – Hindustani vocalist
Abhinav Sharma – tabla
Abhijit Kshirsagar – harmonium
Matt has been performing Hindustani vocal music both in India and North America since 2000. His other performance experience includes oud, Afro-Cuban drumming, simulogue, shape-note singing, experimental vocal performance, Thank-You-Play, and Javanese gamelan. Matt also studies and teaches Middle Eastern music. In spring of 2010, he was studying oud performance and Arabic language in Damascus, Syria, funded by an ACM-Mellon Post-Doctoral fellowship; in 2012, he was a visiting fellow at the Center for Behavioral Research at the American University in Beirut.
Matt studied at Wesleyan University (BA, 2000) and UC Berkeley (PhD, 2009). His mentors in scholarship have included Bonnie Wade, Eve Sweetser, Vasudha Dalmia, Richard Crocker, Ben Brinner, Linda Hess, and Jon K. Barlow. His primary music teachers are Vikas Kashalkar and L.K. Pandit. Matt believes in the liberal arts, and he believes in going slowly.
Michelle’s career began in Minneapolis, MN when she returned after undergraduate school in Evanston, IL, after receiving a BA in music from Northwestern University. During this early phase in her career, she was recognized and frequently funded as a composer, collaborating with Twin Cities choreographers, filmmakers and theater artists, in addition to composing for her own new music ensembles. In 1989, Michelle moved to New York to pursue an MA in Performance Studies at New York University. She lived and worked in NYC for 13 years, touring Europe and the U.S. frequently as a composer and cellist, bridging many musical genres and forms from pop to art music, and collaborating in dance, film and theater.
Steve Kenny, trumpeter, composer and bandleader is a founding member of ‘the illicit sextet’, “Group 47”, “What Would Monk Do?” and his own Quartets, and he is the creative force behind the production company “illicit Productions”, (www.illicit-productions.com) which produces well over one hundred live shows a year and has a growing yearly catalog of Jazz CD’s being produced, released and distributed, including the successful ‘Twin Cities Jazz Sampler CDs’, with Volume 3 slated to be released in 2019. Steve also curates and produces weekly Jazz series at Jazz Central Studios, Black Dog Cafe, and in the summertime at Studio Z in Saint Paul. His latest CD, ‘Quartets’ features original compositions and a series of different ensembles featuring Anthony Cox, Brandon Wozniak, Michael Lewis, JT Bates, Billy Peterson, Kenny Horst, Rodney Ruckus, Ron Evaniuk, Javi Santiago, Levi Schwartzberg, Miguel Hurtado, and Ted Olsen.
Cole Pulice is a saxophonist and improvisor based in the Twin Cities. He’s been fortunate to work, collaborate, and learn from a beautiful and diverse array of musicians and artists from across disciplinary boundaries. Cole co-runs the brass and woodwind horn choir ‘drone band,’ writes and performs solo compositions for saxophone and electronics as ‘Cole,’ and has worked with groups like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Bon Iver.
David King (born June 8, 1970) is an American drummer and composer from Minneapolis. He is known for being a founding member of the jazz groups The Bad Plus (with Reid Anderson and Ethan Iverson) and Happy Apple (with Michael Lewis and Erik Fratzke) although he is active in many other projects including free jazz collective Buffalo Collision with NYC “Downtown” musicians Tim Berne and Hank Roberts and the electronic art/pop group Halloween Alaska as well as the noise/prog band The Gang Font with former Hüsker Dü bassist Greg Norton.
2019 marks Milo’s 50th year working exclusively in the field of free jazz/improvised music. More to the point (and co-opting bassist/composer Kent Carter’s autobiographical liner note to the 1966 LP ‘Jazz Realities’), he states: “I was born January 22, 1952 (Minneapolis, Minnesota) and am not yet dead.”
Jamal Moore, founder of Organix Trio, has self-released a new collection of music, Psalms Of Baltimore, which explores the migration and historic experience of African Americans, specifically people who called Baltimore home.
Named in reference to a metaphorical hound-dog, Shep and Me is the experimental folk project of Matthew Himes. A next door neighbor once remarked that his singing voice sounded like that of a cat being strangled. Born of solitude and anonymity in Austin, TX in summer 2001 using two broken boomboxes, a portable AM radio and a hand-me-down ukelele. In the past decade Shep and Me has grown to embrace the use of slightly broken electronics, homemade tape loops, bamboo bells, analog synthesizers, gongs, drum machines, feedback and heavily processed sound, augmenting what might be considered traditional instrumentation in the spectrum of American folk music.