Rex Gregory

Rex Gregory

November 14, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

A New Orleans based saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist, Rex Gregory has performed and/or recorded with a diverse array of luminaries such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Rickie Lee Jones, Jason Marsalis, Dr. John, Derek Smith aka Pretty Lights, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Stanton Moore, Herlin Riley, and many others.

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Bruce Forman

Bruce Forman

October 10, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Bruce Forman’s life and musical journey provide an American saga that is still in full swing. His Texas origins, his early career in San Francisco and New York, and his years on the road, all contribute to the unique and highly personal vision that he demonstrates today.

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John Hébert

John Hébert

September 12, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

John Hébert, bassist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana where he first began to study double bass with Bill Huntington. John attended Loyola University of New Orleans where he received a full scholarship. After two years of performing with many of New Orleans greatest musicians and performing at various clubs including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival he moved to the New York tri-state area to attend William Paterson University where he continued his studies under bassist, Rufus Reid and received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance.

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BIO

Since graduating in 1995, John has lived in the New York City area and established himself as a highly sought after bassist. He has worked along side world famous artists such as Andrew Hill, Lee Konitz, Paul Bley, John Abercrombie, Kenny Wheeler, Paul Motian, Joe Maneri, Mary Havorson, Tomasz Stanko, David Liebman, Uri Caine, Greg Osby, Bill Stewart, Marc Copland, Fred Hersch, Toots Thielemans, Maria Schneider, and many others.
In recent years, he has taken on the role of bandleader of various projects. His group Byzantine Monkey, released their first CD in June 2009 on the Firehouse 12 label. It was reviewed in Downbeat and received 4 stars. “On his first album as a leader he displays a sonic vision that’s all his own,” says Peter Margarsak. In 2010, John Hébert Trio released Spiritual Lover on the Clean Feed label to very positive reviews. According to Stuart Broomer, “it’s a trio of genuinely equal parts and plays music of great melodic strength.” In 2011, John formed his Rambling Confessions quartet which has performed at well known clubs such as The Stone and Jazz Gallery.

He is also named in Downbeat’s 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 Critics Poll as a “Rising Star Acoustic Bassist.” Most recently in 2011, John won the poll as “Rising Star Acoustic Bassist.” From 2001 until Andrew Hill’s passing in 2007, John worked with Mr. Hill in various ensembles. John is also featured on Andrew Hill’s last Blue Note release, “Time Lines” which was awarded “Record of the Year” by Downbeat’s Jazz Critics Poll in 2006. John has also performed around the world at festivals such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Tampere Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Moers Jazz Festival, Ear Shot Jazz Festival and San Francisco Jazz Festival. He can also be heard in some of New York City’s most renowned venues such as The Village Vanguard, Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Birdland and Iridium.

In 2011 John was awarded the French American Jazz Exchange Grant from the French Cultural Institute and Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation for his work with Parisian pianist Benoit Delbecq and New York drummer Gerald Cleaver. The follow up to the trio’s first recording was released in January of 2014. The album entitled Floodstage on Clean Feed records has already gained much attention since its release.
2015 saw the latest release by John on the Sunnyside record label entitled “Rambling Confessions”. It features vocalist Jen Shyu, pianist Andy Milne and drummer Billy Drummond. The record has received much praise including 4.5 stars in Downbeat.


Jon Cowherd

Jon Cowherd

August 8, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

The Kentucky-raised, New Orleans-schooled, New York-based Cowherd is best known for his long- running partnership with drummer/bandleader Brian Blade, with whom he co-founded the Grammy nominated Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band, whose acclaimed, influential albums showcase Cowherd’s stellar keyboard work and singular compositional skills.

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BIO

When not recording and touring with the Fellowship, Cowherd has worked extensively with a broad array of players and singers from the jazz, pop and rock worlds including Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, Brandi Carlile, KD Lang, Rosanne Cash, Iggy Pop, Glen Hansard, Cassandra Wilson, John Scofield and Lizz Wright.

In 2013, ArtistShare and Blue Note records released Cowherd’s first album as a leader “Mercy” which features Bill Frisell, John Patitucci and Brian Blade. Cowherd and Blade also directed the all star Joni Mitchell tribute “Joni 75” along with such artists as Brandi Carlile, Glen Hansard, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Chaka Khan, Diana Krall, Kris Kristofferson, Los Lobos with Marisoul, Graham Nash, Seal, James Taylor and Rufus Wainwright.

In 2017 Cowherd released a new recording on the exclusive “vinyl only” Newvelle record label. “Gateway” consists of 7 compositions by Cowherd and one from Brian Blade and features Steve Cardenas and Tony Scherr.

As an arranger, Cowherd has scored for big band, strings and symphony orchestra for Brandi Carlile, Cassandra Wilson, Lizz Wright, the Fellowship Band and the Shreveport Symphony and the Loyola University Symphony Orchestra.

Other current touring projects include Alicia Olatuja, Nate Smith and Kinfolk, Tom Guarna’s Wishing Stones project and a new project with John Scofield touring in the Spring & Summer 2022 called “Yankee Go Home”.


Ulysses Owens

Ulysses Owens

June 13, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Three time GRAMMY™ Award-Winning Drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., known for being a drummer who (The New York Times) has said “take[s] a back seat to no one,” and “a musician who balances excitement gracefully and shines with innovation.”

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BIO

Performer, producer and educator Ulysses Owens Jr. goes the limit in the jazz world and beyond; claiming eight successful albums of his own. Owens has also gained special attention for his performances on GRAMMY Award-winning albums by Kurt Elling and The Christian McBride Big Band. On February 3rd, 2023; he received his 3rd GRAMMY Award for his participation on the album featuring Steven Feiftke, Bijon Watson and the Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra.

Both Jazziz and Rolling Stone Magazines picked his album “Songs of Freedom,” as a Top Ten Album for 2019 and in 2021; his most recent Big Band release, “Soul Conversations,” was voted the top album in May 2021 by JazzIz Magazine. “Soul Conversations,” received rave reviews and was added to multiple playlists on Apple Music, Spotify, and Sirius XM; and now the band is touring nationally. The Ulysses Owens Jr. Big Band has also been voted “Rising Star Big Band ” of 2022 by Downbeat Magazine.

His upcoming eighth album release A New Beat features his new “Generation Y” Band on the Cellar Jazz record label. The album was produced by Jeremy Pelt and recorded at the legendary Rudy Van Gelder Studios.. Jazziz Magazine voted “A New Beat” as one of 10 Albums You Need to Know in 2024.


Jim Snidero

Jim Snidero

May 9, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Grammy award-winning alto saxophonist, composer and author Jim Snidero encapsulates what is both unique and compelling about jazz. Hailed as an “alto sax virtuoso” (Downbeat) with “mind-boggling” improvisation skills (The Guardian), and “an alto saxophone sound that is one of the richest and purest on the planet” (Stereophile), he has amassed over 16 million streams on Spotify and Apple music presenting acoustic jazz of the highest caliber, including his 2021 album Live at the Deer Head Inn, (Savant) receiving a 5-star masterpiece review in Downbeat magazine.

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BIO

Growing up in Camp Springs, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC, Snidero immediately fell in love with jazz as a teenager, studying with jazz giants Phil Woods and David Liebman, then attending the U of North Texas, becoming a member of the famed One O’Clock Lab Band. After arriving in New York in 1981 at age 23, Snidero first appeared on the jazz radar when he joined Brother Jack McDuff’s band, recording two albums with a jazz great. That proved to be the first of many notable sideman stints including The Mingus Big Band, Eddie Palmieri, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Frank Wess, Sting, Frank Sinatra and Brian Lynch (garnering a Grammy as featured soloist), among many.

Snidero became a leader on record with On Time (Toshiba/EMI 1984), the first of 25 notable dates that he would record under his own name. An early highlight was Blue Afternoon (Criss Cross, 1989), deemed one of the best jazz records in history in The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History Of The Music In The 1001 Best Albums. And his album Strings (Milestone, 2003/Savant 2022), which he both composed and arranged for a string ensemble and hailed a “masterpiece” (San Francisco Guardian), is considered one of the very best of the genre.

Over the past 15 years, Snidero has been with the highly-regarded Highnote/Savant label, resulting in multi-year placement in the preeminent Downbeat Magazine International Critics Poll. Highlights from his Savant catalog include the critically-acclaimed Far Far Away with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Project K with Dave Douglas and the above-mentioned Live at the Deer Head Inn.

In 1996, Jim Snidero revolutionized jazz education by penning the first of three Jazz Conception book series (Advance), cementing his place as the best-selling jazz author of his generation, then continued his contributions with The Essence of the Blues (2018) and The Essence of Bebop (2020), considered a masterwork in jazz education. He is on the faculty at The New School, and was a visiting professor at both Indiana University and Princeton University.


Steve Masakowski

Steve Masakowski

April 11, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Steve Masakowski has long been regarded as one of the finest jazz guitarists from New Orleans. His experience as a recording artist and jazz soloist is extensive. He has recorded five compact discs under his own name to date, including his latest, For Joe. As a jazz soloist, he has been invited to record on over twenty-six albums as well as accompany many noted jazz musicians including Nicholas Payton, Mose Allison, Dave Liebman and Ellis Marsalis.

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BIO

Masakowski recorded two solo albums What It Was and Direct AXEcess on Blue Note, both of which received critical acclaim and reviews in major music publications around the world. The prestigious international jazz journal Downbeat Magazine awarded What It Was a four and a half star review and honored Masakowski in their criticÕs poll as Talent Deserving Wider Recognition. His music has been featured in major publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Downbeat, Jazz Times, and many others. In addition, Masakowski was honored by National Public Radio with a feature biography which aired nationally on the Morning Edition radio program.

Masakowski came to the attention of Compass Records as a member of the celebrated New Orleans jazz group Astral Project which has released 2 albums on Compass. After hearing Masakowski describe the tremendous influence which Joe Pass’ 1964 Pacific Jazz release For Django had on his playing, Compass co-founder Garry West suggested that Masakowski record a similar kind of tribute to the legendary Joe Pass. The resulting album, For Joe, includes a mixture of originals and standards recorded in a trio setting, featuring Bill Huntington on bass and Astral Project bandmate Johnny Vidacovich on drums. The sparse setting allows for Masakowski’s seven string guitar and formidable technique to shine as he pays homage to Pass on tunes like Falling in Love With Love, Pass Presence and For Django, the title track of Pass’ 1964 album.

One of the highlights of MasakowskiÕs 25 year old performing career is a two-year tenure with the jazz ensemble headed by Grammy nominated vocalist Dianne Reeves.Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, The Superdome and The Newport and JVC jazz festival They toured extensively throughout Europe, North America, and Japan and made numerous national television appearances on shows such as Good Morning America and NBC Weekend. With Dianne Reeves he had an opportunity to perform at the most prestigious concert halls and festivals around the world.

As a member of the award-winning 22 year old group Astral Project, heÕs recorded two cds: Elevado and VoodooBop, both on Compass Records. The group has also completed several successful European and North American tours, and has had featured performances aired on the Bravo Channel and NPR. In 1999, Astral Project toured with jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin performing at several major festivals and venues around the country.

Steve Masakowski teaches Advanced Jazz Harmony and Theory, Jazz Guitar and directs the Jazz Guitar Ensemble at the University of New Orleans. He studied jazz arranging and composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston and studied composition and orchestration with Dr. Bert Braud in New Orleans.


Matt Otto

Matt Otto

March 14, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Matt Otto is currently the Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Kansas University (KU)  teaching Jazz Theory and Performance, Jazz Combo 1 and private lessons. Matt was also an Adjunct Professor at the Rutgers New Brunswick teaching online courses in jazz improvisation, theory and performance.

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BIO

Matt Otto pursued his education in music performance and composition at Indiana University, Berklee School of Music, New School Jazz (BFA) and California Institute of the Arts (MFA) during which time he studied under Lee Konitz, George Garzone, Billy Pierce, Charlie Haden, Don Hawkins and many others.  Having lived in Japan for 6 years, New York City for 7 years and Los Angels for 6 years, he has performed with a variety of artists including Anthony Wilson, Larry Koonse, Rashid Bakr, Ben Monder, Willie Jones III, Alan Ferber, Mark Ferber, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Gregory Hutchinson, Jonathan Kreisberg, Joe La Barbera, Leroy Vinegar, Bob Bowman, Jimmy Smith (drums), Paul Jackson, Ari Honig, Ben Street, Mike Moreno, Sara Gazarek, Josh Nelson, Peter Schlamb, Danny Weiss, Roger Wilder, William Parker, Matt Wilson, Steve Cardenas, Bobby Watson, Bob Weir, Deborah Brown,  Larry Goldings, Eric Harland, Sheryl Bailey, Darek Oles, Erik McPherson, John Stowell, Danny Embrey, Alan Pasqua, and many others.

While in Los Angeles, Matt co-founded of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective (lajazzcollective.org).  The mission of the collective (LAJC) is to help create opportunities for creative jazz composers and performers to showcase original artistic work and to set up an ongoing Jazz outreach program for young jazz musicians in and around Los Angeles.

Matt currently performs his original compositions and jazz standards with his Kansas City based quartet as well as traveling several times per year to NYC and LA for performances and recordings.

Matt has recorded and performed with the Grammy nominated Anthony Wilson Nonet (The Power of Nine, Groove Note 1035, 2006), The Rashid Bakr Quintet, has performed in Los Angeles with the Grammy Nominated Alan Ferber Big Band as well as having recorded on over 50 CD’s as both a leader and a side man.  See below for a discography of noteworthy recordings.


Fareed Haque

Fareed Haque

July 11, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Fareed Haque is a modern guitar virtuoso. Steeped in classical and jazz traditions, his unique command of the guitar and different musical styles inspire his musical ventures with tradition and fearless innovation.

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BIO

Born in 1963 to a Pakistani father and Chilean mother, Fareed’s extensive travels and especially long stays in Spain, France, Iran, Pakistan, and Chile exposed Haque to different kinds of music from a very early age. While this natural eclecticism has become a hallmark of Haque’s music, it was repeated visits to Von Freeman’s Chicago jam sessions that gave Haque a grounding in the Chicago blues and jazz traditions. The 1981 recipient of North Texas State University’s Jazz Guitar Scholarship, Haque spent a year studying with renowned jazz guitarist and pedagogue Jack Peterson. Fareed’s growing interest in the classical guitar led him to transfer to Northwestern University, where he completed his studies in classical guitar under David Buch, John Holmquist, and Anne Waller.

Soon after his transfer to NU, Haque came to the attention of multi-instrumentalist Howard Levy and joined his latin-fusion group Chevere. Thru Levy, Haque was introduced to Paquito D’Rivera and began a long and fruitful relationship with the Cuban NEA Jazz Master. Numerous world tours and recordings including Manhattan Burn, Celebration, Havana Cafe, Tico Tico, Live at the MCG were to follow. Especially notable is the classic and award winning “Reunion” featuring Haque along with Arturo Sandoval, Danilo Perez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Mark Walker, and David Fink.

Thru D’Rivera, Haque was brought to the attention of Sting, who had just begun his record label Pangaea. Sting invited Haque to join the label where he released 2 critically acclaimed recordings, “Voices Rising” and “Manresa”. Haque toured briefly with Sting, including notable appearances at The Montreux Jazz Festival, as well as NBC’s Michelob Presents Sunday Night with David Sanborn, but his own career demands led Haque in other directions.


Dan Wilson

Dan Wilson

February 8, 2024

7:30pm

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Wilson’s career took him on an exploratory journey into foundations laid down by the guitar/organ tradition, eventually leading to an invitation to perform with jazz great Joey DeFrancesco’s trio quartet, with which Wilson went on to earn a GRAMMY® Award nomination with for DeFrancesco’s Project Freedom album (Mack Avenue Records, 2017).

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BIO

Wilson’s career took him on an exploratory journey into foundations laid down by the guitar/organ tradition, eventually leading to an invitation to perform with jazz great Joey DeFrancesco’s trio quartet, with which Wilson went on to earn a GRAMMY® Award nomination with for DeFrancesco’s Project Freedom album (Mack Avenue Records, 2017).

This collaboration allowed the guitarist to insert his own dialect into the musical prowess and respect that DeFrancesco had earned throughout his journey.

Wilson had been playing with DeFrancesco for a few years when he met bassist, composer, arranger, Christian McBride. From there, Wilson went on to tour with McBride’s trio Tip City, eventually leading McBride to serve as producer on “Vessels of Wood and Earth” and release the album on his newly formed imprint Brother Mister Productions through Mack Avenue Music Group.