Travis Bowman & Kevin Blake Goodwin

Travis Bowman & Kevin Blake Goodwin

June 20, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

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Little Rock, Arkansas native and acoustic prodigy, Travis Bowman, has shared the stage with renowned guitarists Andy McKee, Ewan Dobson, Craig D’Andrea, Adrian Bellue, Don Alder, Muriel Anderson, Stephen Bennett, Andy Walberg, and Tom Shinness. Travis has been featured in Guitar Player Magazine, and as an instructor at the prestigious Harp Guitar Gathering. He plays and tours frequently in the United States and China.

Travis rose to notoriety as the winner of the 2014 Ernie Ball Acoustic Prodigy Competition. He went on to win the 2017 Arkansas State Fingerpicking Competition, and the 2018 Walnut Valley international fingerstyle guitar competition in Winfield, Kansas. His 2015 EP “Superhero” was recorded at NRG Studios and produced by world-renowned guitarist Andy McKee. He is a labeled artist and founding member of the international guitar record label, FRETMONKEY RECORDS, where he recorded and debuted his 2016 album “Launch.”

Kevin Blake Goodwin is an acoustic fingerstyle guitar player from the United States. He won the 2015 Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Competition, an international acoustic guitar competition held annually in Canada. In 2016, he founded FRETMONKEY RECORDS, a popular independent guitar record label representing 23 guitar players spanning 10 countries whose mission is to create career-changing opportunities for musicians across the globe. He went on to win the 2016 (Acoustic) and 2017 (Electric) Guitar Wars Competition in San Antonio (Texas), the longest running guitar competition in America. In addition to being a musician, he is the music videographer, audio engineer, and producer at FRETMONKEY RECORDS Studio. His music is a blend of haunting jazz and melodies coupled with technical and percussive fingerstyle guitar techniques. He has been described as the “21st Century Guitar Man” possessing “outrageous skills.”

Travis Bowman & Kevin Blake Goodwin

June 20, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Buy Tickets

Little Rock, Arkansas native and acoustic prodigy, Travis Bowman, has shared the stage with renowned guitarists Andy McKee, Ewan Dobson, Craig D’Andrea, Adrian Bellue, Don Alder, Muriel Anderson, Stephen Bennett, Andy Walberg, and Tom Shinness. Travis has been featured in Guitar Player Magazine, and as an instructor at the prestigious Harp Guitar Gathering. He plays and tours frequently in the United States and China.

Travis rose to notoriety as the winner of the 2014 Ernie Ball Acoustic Prodigy Competition. He went on to win the 2017 Arkansas State Fingerpicking Competition, and the 2018 Walnut Valley international fingerstyle guitar competition in Winfield, Kansas. His 2015 EP “Superhero” was recorded at NRG Studios and produced by world-renowned guitarist Andy McKee. He is a labeled artist and founding member of the international guitar record label, FRETMONKEY RECORDS, where he recorded and debuted his 2016 album “Launch.”

Kevin Blake Goodwin is an acoustic fingerstyle guitar player from the United States. He won the 2015 Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Competition, an international acoustic guitar competition held annually in Canada. In 2016, he founded FRETMONKEY RECORDS, a popular independent guitar record label representing 23 guitar players spanning 10 countries whose mission is to create career-changing opportunities for musicians across the globe. He went on to win the 2016 (Acoustic) and 2017 (Electric) Guitar Wars Competition in San Antonio (Texas), the longest running guitar competition in America. In addition to being a musician, he is the music videographer, audio engineer, and producer at FRETMONKEY RECORDS Studio. His music is a blend of haunting jazz and melodies coupled with technical and percussive fingerstyle guitar techniques. He has been described as the “21st Century Guitar Man” possessing “outrageous skills.”


Walter Strauss

Walter Strauss

October 17, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

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If you haven’t heard Walter Strauss play, then you’ve never heard music like this before. This Californian guitarist’s songs are full of the groove and fire of a West African dance party, the dynamics and textures of a string orchestra, and the back-porch soul of American roots music. It’s out of this world music.

Walter’s innovative guitar style layers on highly articulated melodies and harmonies, rhythms and counter-rhythms, giving the impression he is somehow playing several instruments at once. He blends his modern approach to the guitar with the ancient roots of global music traditions to create a truly singular style. Walter has “translated” music to guitar from the kora, the traditional 21-stringed harp of West Africa, and he integrates the tonal and rhythmic contours of instruments like the kamal’ngoni (a West African hunters harp) and the Indian sitar into his into his playing and compositions. His songs soulfully trace forgotten histories and life’s paradoxes in the 21st century, and his guitar interpretations of far-flung global music are showstoppers. Walter has performed both solo and in collaborations throughout the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada, and in northern Europe and Mali, West Africa – at major venues and festivals like Kennedy Center, the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland, and Le Diplomat in Bamako, Mali. His collaborations have spanned an impressive range of genres, from a duo with Grammy-winning Malian kora player Mamadou Diabate to American guitar maestro Alex de Grassi and Americana songsters The Burns Sisters.

A many-layered, multi-textured, one-man folk festival.” – Maverick Magazine

For more info: walterstrauss.com

Walter Strauss

October 17, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Buy Tickets

If you haven’t heard Walter Strauss play, then you’ve never heard music like this before. This Californian guitarist’s songs are full of the groove and fire of a West African dance party, the dynamics and textures of a string orchestra, and the back-porch soul of American roots music. It’s out of this world music.

Walter’s innovative guitar style layers on highly articulated melodies and harmonies, rhythms and counter-rhythms, giving the impression he is somehow playing several instruments at once. He blends his modern approach to the guitar with the ancient roots of global music traditions to create a truly singular style. Walter has “translated” music to guitar from the kora, the traditional 21-stringed harp of West Africa, and he integrates the tonal and rhythmic contours of instruments like the kamal’ngoni (a West African hunters harp) and the Indian sitar into his into his playing and compositions. His songs soulfully trace forgotten histories and life’s paradoxes in the 21st century, and his guitar interpretations of far-flung global music are showstoppers. Walter has performed both solo and in collaborations throughout the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada, and in northern Europe and Mali, West Africa – at major venues and festivals like Kennedy Center, the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland, and Le Diplomat in Bamako, Mali. His collaborations have spanned an impressive range of genres, from a duo with Grammy-winning Malian kora player Mamadou Diabate to American guitar maestro Alex de Grassi and Americana songsters The Burns Sisters.

A many-layered, multi-textured, one-man folk festival.” – Maverick Magazine

For more info: walterstrauss.com


Julien Labro

Julien Labro

July 8, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

“The next accordion star…a triple threat: brilliant technician, poetic melodist and cunning arranger”

–Chicago Tribune

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julian labro_s

BIO

 

Heralded as “the next accordion star,” Julien Labro has established himself as the foremost accordion and bandoneón player in both the classical and jazz genres. Deemed to be “a triple threat: brilliant technician, poetic melodist and cunning arranger,” his artistry, virtuosity, and creativity as a musician, composer and arranger have earned him international acclaim and continue to astonish audiences worldwide.

Picking up the accordion at 9, French-born Labro’s earliest influence was traditional folk music and the melodic, lyrical quality of the French chanson. After graduating from the Marseille Conservatory and sweeping first prize in many international accordion competitions, Labro moved to the United States to further pursue his musical dream.

Equipped with advanced degrees in classical music, jazz studies, and composition, Labro draws from his diverse background and eclectic musical influences in his search for new themes and untried concepts, evolving and developing his ideas into new projects.
Labro has worked with numerous symphonies, chamber ensembles and collaborators around the world.

His albums and busy performance schedule is a testament of his musical journey


Vin Downes

Vin Downes

July 18, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

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Vin Downes began studying guitar at the age of eleven. His early interests were in electric guitar, but this all changed when he heard the opening notes of David Cullen’s “Along the Way” on a Windham Hill Records guitar sampler. He immediately immersed himself in the fingerstyle music of Will Ackerman, Michael Hedges, David Cullen and Leo Kottke.

Greatly influenced by the music of artists on Windham Hill Records in the late 1980’s, Downes furthered his interest of fingerstyle technique and composition by earning a degree in classical guitar performance and music education from William Paterson University. While at WPU, he studied classical composition and had several of his compositions performed by soloists and ensembles, including the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Helix Ensemble and members of the Composer’s Guild of New Jersey.

Vin Downes has released four studio albums, two of which were produced by Grammy Award winning guitarist and producer, Will Ackerman. He is currently a performing member of “The Gathering – A Concert Series presented by Will Ackerman”.

He has recorded and performed with musicians including Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton, Michael Manring, Eugene Friesen, Liz Story and Tony Levin.

Vin Downes is a public school music teacher in New Jersey, where he currently teaches classical guitar at Bayonne High School.

Sometimes in life there is a moment in time that you wish would never end, something so beautiful and calming comes in and changes everything, that moment is here for me right now in the guise of Vin Downes” – Steve Sheppard – One World Music

https://www.vindownes.com

Vin Downes

July 18, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Buy Tickets

Vin Downes began studying guitar at the age of eleven. His early interests were in electric guitar, but this all changed when he heard the opening notes of David Cullen’s “Along the Way” on a Windham Hill Records guitar sampler. He immediately immersed himself in the fingerstyle music of Will Ackerman, Michael Hedges, David Cullen and Leo Kottke.

Greatly influenced by the music of artists on Windham Hill Records in the late 1980’s, Downes furthered his interest of fingerstyle technique and composition by earning a degree in classical guitar performance and music education from William Paterson University. While at WPU, he studied classical composition and had several of his compositions performed by soloists and ensembles, including the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Helix Ensemble and members of the Composer’s Guild of New Jersey.

Vin Downes has released four studio albums, two of which were produced by Grammy Award winning guitarist and producer, Will Ackerman. He is currently a performing member of “The Gathering – A Concert Series presented by Will Ackerman”.

He has recorded and performed with musicians including Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton, Michael Manring, Eugene Friesen, Liz Story and Tony Levin.

Vin Downes is a public school music teacher in New Jersey, where he currently teaches classical guitar at Bayonne High School.

Sometimes in life there is a moment in time that you wish would never end, something so beautiful and calming comes in and changes everything, that moment is here for me right now in the guise of Vin Downes” – Steve Sheppard – One World Music

https://www.vindownes.com


Tony McManus

Tony McManus

May 16, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

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To find a unique voice on so ubiquitous an instrument as the acoustic guitar is quite an achievement: to do so within a centuries old idiom where the instrument has no real history is truly remarkable.

Tony McManus has come to be recognized throughout the world as the leading guitarist in Celtic Music. From early childhood his twin obsessions of traditional music and acoustic guitar have worked together to produce a startlingly original approach to this ancient art. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music.

Self taught from childhood, initially through listening to the family record collection, McManus abandoned academia in his twenties to pursue music full time. The session scene in Glasgow and Edinburgh provided the springboard for gigs around Scotland and a studio set for BBC Radio, frequently rebroadcast, began to spread the word.

Tony’s first self titled recording in 1996, followed by Pourquoi Quebec in 1999 led to worldwide recognition. However, it was with the release of Ceol More in 2002 that Tony’s stature as a first class musician reached a new level. Critics hailed the focussed, spell-binding nature of the music, from the plaintive Jewish hymn “Shalom Aleichem” to the ingenious arrangement of the Charles Mingus classic “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”. Having been nominated as Musician of the Year by both the BBC Folk Awards and The Scottish Traditonal Music awards, in 2002 “Ceol More” hit the Critic’s Album of the year list in Acoustic Guitar magazine and named “Live Ireland Awards” Album of the Year.

Tony’s work has come to represent Celtic music in the guitar world, making regular appearances at guitar specific events where just a few years ago jigs and reels would be unheard of. He is invited annually to the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, has appeared at Guitar Festivals in Soave and Pescantina, Sarzana and Francacorta Italy; Frankston, Australia; Issoudun and Bordeaux France; Kirkmichael, Scotland; Bath and Kent, England; Bochum and Osnabruck, Germany. In 2004 he appeared at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in the “All Star Guitar Night” featuring Steve Morse, Bryan Sutton, Muriel Anderson, Béla Fleck and Victor Wooten and headlined by the legendary Les Paul.

His ability to reach audiences unfamiliar with traditional music is remarkable- he is quite comfortable at predominantly classical events such as the Dundee and Derry Guitar Festivals (appearing six times between the two) the Uppsala Guitar Festival and even The Bogotá International Guitar Festival where he followed virtuoso Eduardo Fernandez.

Today his live work ranges from intimate solo performance through his trio with brothers Gary and Greg Grainger to the quartet Men of Steel (with fellow guitarists Dan Crary, Beppe Gambetta and Don Ross). He is an enthusiastic collaborator both as a leader and as a sideman having worked with, among many others Dougie McLean, Phil Cunningham, Mairi MacInnes, Liam O’Flynn, Martin Simpson, Kevin Burke, Alison Brown, Martyn Bennett, Natalie MacMaster, Patrick and Jacky Molard, Mairead ní Mhoanaigh and Dermot Byrne, The Nashville Chamber Orchestra, John Jorgenson, Jean Michel Veillon, Catriona Macdonald, Seikou Keita, Xosé Manuel Budiño, Ewen Vernal and Andy Irvine. He is also in great demand as a studio musician having contributed to over 60 albums. In addition to his solo output Tony has worked with both singers and instrumentalists providing his distinctive sound on many successful projects.

His 2009 release “The Maker’s Mark” saw him showcase 15 of the finest luthier built guitars available. Recording a solo piece on each instrument, the project caught the attention of the mainstream rock guitar press in a way that acoustic work rarely does.

The following year, a chance hearing on Irish radio led to an invite to contribute music to the soundtrack of Oscar winning director Neil Jordan’s film “Ondine” starring Colin Farrell.

Never one to be typecast, Tony’s new album “Mysterious Boundaries” is his most ambitious to date. An encouraging challenge from mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall to learn the Bach E Major Prelude on guitar led to an exploration of classical and baroque music – seemingly very different to the jigs and reels that he grew up with. By examining the boundaries between genres and sticking to his steel string guitar (rather than the conventional classical guitar) McManus has produced a work of great originality and beauty, hailed by his peers as “a masterpiece” (Renbourn), “beyond beautiful… it’s PERFECT!” (Tommy Emmanuel) and which contains a truly remarkable rendition of Bach’s colossal Chaconne in D Minor – one of the greatest compositions of any age.

Whatever work McManus brings within his scope the listener is assured a journey into the depths of the music in the company of a great talent.

Tony McManus

May 16, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Buy Tickets

To find a unique voice on so ubiquitous an instrument as the acoustic guitar is quite an achievement: to do so within a centuries old idiom where the instrument has no real history is truly remarkable.

Tony McManus has come to be recognized throughout the world as the leading guitarist in Celtic Music. From early childhood his twin obsessions of traditional music and acoustic guitar have worked together to produce a startlingly original approach to this ancient art. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music.

Self taught from childhood, initially through listening to the family record collection, McManus abandoned academia in his twenties to pursue music full time. The session scene in Glasgow and Edinburgh provided the springboard for gigs around Scotland and a studio set for BBC Radio, frequently rebroadcast, began to spread the word.

Tony’s first self titled recording in 1996, followed by Pourquoi Quebec in 1999 led to worldwide recognition. However, it was with the release of Ceol More in 2002 that Tony’s stature as a first class musician reached a new level. Critics hailed the focussed, spell-binding nature of the music, from the plaintive Jewish hymn “Shalom Aleichem” to the ingenious arrangement of the Charles Mingus classic “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”. Having been nominated as Musician of the Year by both the BBC Folk Awards and The Scottish Traditonal Music awards, in 2002 “Ceol More” hit the Critic’s Album of the year list in Acoustic Guitar magazine and named “Live Ireland Awards” Album of the Year.

Tony’s work has come to represent Celtic music in the guitar world, making regular appearances at guitar specific events where just a few years ago jigs and reels would be unheard of. He is invited annually to the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, has appeared at Guitar Festivals in Soave and Pescantina, Sarzana and Francacorta Italy; Frankston, Australia; Issoudun and Bordeaux France; Kirkmichael, Scotland; Bath and Kent, England; Bochum and Osnabruck, Germany. In 2004 he appeared at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in the “All Star Guitar Night” featuring Steve Morse, Bryan Sutton, Muriel Anderson, Béla Fleck and Victor Wooten and headlined by the legendary Les Paul.

His ability to reach audiences unfamiliar with traditional music is remarkable- he is quite comfortable at predominantly classical events such as the Dundee and Derry Guitar Festivals (appearing six times between the two) the Uppsala Guitar Festival and even The Bogotá International Guitar Festival where he followed virtuoso Eduardo Fernandez.

Today his live work ranges from intimate solo performance through his trio with brothers Gary and Greg Grainger to the quartet Men of Steel (with fellow guitarists Dan Crary, Beppe Gambetta and Don Ross). He is an enthusiastic collaborator both as a leader and as a sideman having worked with, among many others Dougie McLean, Phil Cunningham, Mairi MacInnes, Liam O’Flynn, Martin Simpson, Kevin Burke, Alison Brown, Martyn Bennett, Natalie MacMaster, Patrick and Jacky Molard, Mairead ní Mhoanaigh and Dermot Byrne, The Nashville Chamber Orchestra, John Jorgenson, Jean Michel Veillon, Catriona Macdonald, Seikou Keita, Xosé Manuel Budiño, Ewen Vernal and Andy Irvine. He is also in great demand as a studio musician having contributed to over 60 albums. In addition to his solo output Tony has worked with both singers and instrumentalists providing his distinctive sound on many successful projects.

His 2009 release “The Maker’s Mark” saw him showcase 15 of the finest luthier built guitars available. Recording a solo piece on each instrument, the project caught the attention of the mainstream rock guitar press in a way that acoustic work rarely does.

The following year, a chance hearing on Irish radio led to an invite to contribute music to the soundtrack of Oscar winning director Neil Jordan’s film “Ondine” starring Colin Farrell.

Never one to be typecast, Tony’s new album “Mysterious Boundaries” is his most ambitious to date. An encouraging challenge from mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall to learn the Bach E Major Prelude on guitar led to an exploration of classical and baroque music – seemingly very different to the jigs and reels that he grew up with. By examining the boundaries between genres and sticking to his steel string guitar (rather than the conventional classical guitar) McManus has produced a work of great originality and beauty, hailed by his peers as “a masterpiece” (Renbourn), “beyond beautiful… it’s PERFECT!” (Tommy Emmanuel) and which contains a truly remarkable rendition of Bach’s colossal Chaconne in D Minor – one of the greatest compositions of any age.

Whatever work McManus brings within his scope the listener is assured a journey into the depths of the music in the company of a great talent.


Nat Reeves

Nat Reeves

April 11, 2022

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

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Reeves Cropped

BIO

 

During the past 40 years, Nat Reeves has been one of the top bassists in jazz. His supportive and stimulating playing has uplifted a countless number of sessions and recording dates (most notably with the great altoists Jackie McLean and Kenny Garrett) and he has led his own CD State of Emergency. Both as a performer and an educator, he has made a strong impact on the jazz world.

Nat Reeves was born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia. “My grandfather played the banjo, mandolin and guitar. One day I picked up his guitar and started playing the bass part. He noticed and, for my 16th birthday, he bought me an electric bass.” Nat had grown up hearing bluegrass, rock and soul records but did not get an opportunity to listen to jazz until he was already a bassist. “As a teenager, I listened closely to the radio, learning everything by ear. Originally I gravitated towards soul artists such as Marvin Gaye and the music of the time. In high school, I worked for a time with a band called the Dynatones. We learned all of the top 40 songs as soon as they came out. Whenever a new hit record was released, we would purchase the recording, go in the basement, put it on the turntable, and learn the song. Quite often the same day we would play the song for dances.”

Nat admired Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius and all of the top electric bassists of the time, being interested in all of the styles. “As a bassist it is my function to concentrate on the foundation of the band and make everybody else sound good. To become a better bass player and learn more about the instrument, I started listening to jazz. In jazz there is much more freedom to create one’s own bass part and to develop my own bass sound. It is my job to always learn and not merely play the bass but be a bass player, projecting more than just my notes and always sounding fresh and alive.”

When he was 22 and living in Richmond, Virginia, Nat joined a band led by trumpeter Tom Mitchell and guitarist Randy Johnston. Johnny Coles, trumpeter for Ray Charles who frequently sat in with the band, convinced Nat to switch to acoustic bass. Without taking a lesson, Nat taught himself the new instrument and quickly developed his own individual voice.

In 1979, Nat Reeves moved to New York City. “I listened, played on the streets, listened some more, and learned. It was at the same time that Kenny Garrett, Mulgrew Miller, Tony Reedus and James Williams also came to New York. We were all friends and played together.” He first toured with Sonny Stitt in 1982 during what would be the great saxophonist’s last tour. That year he met Jackie McLean, who became his mentor.

“Jackie McLean had a major impact on me as both a musician and a man. I remember that he told me that people saw you before they heard you so it was important how I dressed and how I talked to people. He introduced me to Dizzy and Miles in the 1980s. I performed with him on and off from 1987-2004 and he is still a major part of my life. Some of the things that Jackie said to me at the time make more sense to me now than they did originally. I still learn from him and I became a teacher because of him.”

Nat began teaching at the University of Hartford (The Hartt School jazz program was organized and run by Jackie McLean) and the Artists Collective (an arts organization founded by Jackie and his wife Dollie). “I originally felt that I didn’t have anything to teach but Jackie would always say to me that I had to share what I learned. It became something that I do very naturally.” After teaching part-time for years, in 2001 Nat began a full time teaching career at The Hartt School where the African American Music Studies Program had been renamed the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. “I build on what my students already know and try to convince them to be more aggressive with learning. I’ve learned a lot from my students particularly about technology. I often teach what I want to learn. I love helping the students. I think of teaching similar to playing a gig: being well organized, accomplishing goals and solving problems. It is a lot of fun and it makes me a better musician.”

Early in his career, Nat Reeves not only performed with Jackie McLean but such greats as tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson, trumpeter Donald Byrd, drummer Art Taylor and pianists Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Kirkland, Walter Davis, Walter Bishop, Larry Willis and Kenny Drew. He became a longtime member of altoist Kenny Garrett’s group in 1994 and in recent times has worked and recorded with many of the who’s who of jazz including tenor-saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, George Coleman and Eric Alexander, trombonist Steve Davis, pianists Harold Mabern, George Cables, David Hazeltine and Anthony Wonsey, and drummer Joe Farnsworth among many others. Asked which of his recordings are among his favorites, Nat named Jackie McLean’s J-Mac Attack, Kenny Garrett’s Grammy-nominated Songbook and Seeds from the Underground, Steve Davis’ Say When, Joe Farnsworth’s My Heroes and Eric Alexander’s Temple of Olympic Zeus. “I actually like every recording that I’ve been on. They have all been learning experiences. Recording my CD State of Emergency with pianist Rick Germanson, trumpeter Josh Bruneau and drummer Jonathan Barber was a bit of a challenge because we were in the middle of a huge snowstorm and it was tricky getting all of the musicians into the studio although it turned out great. There is more music to those sessions that hopefully will be released someday.”

During the past year, Nat Reeves has traveled the world including performing in India and Japan, at the San Francisco, New Orleans, Detroit and Atlanta Jazz Festivals, and with Pharoah Sanders at Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center.

Committed to carrying on Jackie McLean’s legacy at The Hartt School, Nat also looks forward to leading more recordings in the future and, in addition to playing with many of his favorite musicians, to work more often as a leader, “I’m still busy after moving to Hartford. Now at 63, it is time do more of my own projects.


Jimmy Bruno

Jimmy Bruno

January 16, 2023

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

Jimmy Bruno, born July 22, 1953 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a master jazz guitarist and jazz educator. One of the most critically acclaimed jazz guitarists performing today, Jimmy Bruno came to prominence as a jazz musician in the 1990’s, after a successful twenty-year career as a sought-after commercial guitarist and session musician.

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BIO

 

“Get on the bus; we leave tonight.”
Those were the words that began Jimmy Bruno’s professional career as a guitarist. Most of the other guitarists auditioning for Buddy Rich’s band that day in 1973 were getting drumsticks thrown at them, Buddy’s not-so-subtle way of showing disapproval. But not 19 year-old Jimmy; he got the gig. A Philadelphia native, he was born into a family no strangers to the music world. Jimmy’s father played guitar on the 1959 hit “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” with Frank Virtue. Jimmy’s mom was a gifted singer. Living in such a musical household, playing guitar eight to ten hours a day was normal for this south Philly kid. He studied jazz improvisation with local Philly bass legend Al Stauffer and to develop technique, taught himself to play the rigorous and exacting classical violin etudes of Wohlfahrt and Paganini. Although he briefly considered leveraging his perfect SAT scores into medical school, a summer guitar gig in Wildwood NJ changed the direction of Jimmy’s life forever, putting him into the path of Buddy Rich.

“Jazz guitarists just don’t come any better. Jimmy Bruno combines a dazzling virtuoso technique with drive and swing to produce, in concert and on record, superb and inspired lyrical improvisations.”
—Maurice J. Summerfield, noted British author of the definitive and highly regarded The Jazz Guitar Guide and The Classical Guitar Guide.
After a whirlwind round-the-world tour as the youngest member of the Buddy Rich Orchestra, he went on to play guitar in orchestras for Frank Sinatra, Anthony Newley, Doc Severinsen, Lena Horne, and many more music icons. Additionally he spent many years as an LA session musician working with Tommy Tedesco. But his first love was always jazz, and by the time he was in his mid-thirties he was ready to come out of the background and into the spotlight. The first step was moving back East.

“I was making good money, but I wasn’t playing any jazz. So I got disgusted, saved some money, moved back to Philly and just decided that I’m only gonna play jazz. I’m not going to play weddings. I’m not gonna take any bad gigs, and if I had to I would take a day gig for a while, and I did. I tended bar for two years. And it paid off. I wish somebody in school would have told me that.”
—Jimmy Bruno
Paying his dues by playing blistering guitar in the small clubs and venues around his beloved Philadelphia during the 1980’s, his reputation as one of the hottest guitar players grew. In 1992 he was discovered by Carl Jefferson, the founder of Concord Records and landed a multi-CD recording deal. Since then, Jimmy has recorded over 13 critically acclaimed CDs, including “Sleight of Hand,” “Like That,” and “Polarity” (with Joe Beck). His most recent CD “Maplewood Avenue” (Affiliated Artists Records) has been described as having “…a ‘classic’ feel to it… like a famous album we somehow hadn’t discovered yet,” and was honored by being selected as one of the top CD’s of 2008 by Downbeat magazine.

“You couldn’t say Jimmy Bruno is grand or great… he’s all those. He is tops!”
—Hank Garland
In recognition of his prodigious talents, Jimmy has been invited to play at major music festivals around the world, including the JVC, Berks, Vail, and Concord Jazz Festivals, and a whirlwind stop at the Pescara Jazz Festival in Pescara, Italy. Over the years, he has shared the stage with a who’s who of legendary and highly regarded musicians: Joe Beck, Bobby Watson, Jack Wilkins, Tal Farlow (at Farlow’s 75th Birthday Concert), Howard Alden, Christian McBride, Curt Elling and many more. When a tribute concert was planned for Barney Kessel, Jimmy was one of an invited group of 30 guitarists chosen to perform and was honored to open the tribute (with Howard Alden). He has also participated in tributes to jazz giants Kenny Burrell, Herb Ellis and Johnny Smith.

In May of 2007, Jimmy and Affiliated Artists opened the Jimmy Bruno Guitar Institute (JBGI). With his unique insight into jazz and jazz guitar, Jimmy brought his method and “no nonsense” approach to jazz improvisation to eager guitar students around the world. Five months later, his long-standing reputation as a jazz educator was further enhanced when he was invited to address and perform at the 4-day Jazz Improv Convention in New York City.

Downbeat magazine — in celebration of their 75th Anniversary in 2009 — named Jimmy as one of the top 75 guitarists of all time!

In 2011, Jimmy created his own independent online jazz guitar school — the Jimmy Bruno Guitar Workshop — with all-new, improved lesson content and delivery systems to better serve his huge jazz guitar student base around the world. Having spent three years with the Institute, improving upon and tweaking his teaching method thanks to the direct feedback from his students, he has once again revolutionized the way students can learn guitar on the Internet.

“Bruno… Maaaan!”
—George Benson


Johnny Vidacovich

Johnny Vidacovich

November 11, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

“Drawing on the musical heritage of New Orleans, Johnny Vidacovich has become one of the best drummers in a city known for its drummers.”

-DrummerWorld Magazine

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johnny vidacovich_s

BIO

 

As Johnny Vidacovich stood on-stage talking to the crowd gathered to hear hometown favorite Astral Project at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the group’s drummer epitomized the New Orleans musician’s sensibility: relaxed, unpretentious, and great. And when he sang about the passing of the old ways in “Old Folks,” you could tell he meant it. Drawing on the musical heritage of New Orleans, Johnny Vidacovich has become one of the best drummers in a city known for its drummers. Born and bred in New Orleans, Vidacovich has the city’s unique, syncopated backbeat running in his veins. Many outsiders have sought to imitate that sound which comes so naturally to those who grew up exposed to the Big Easy’s street music traditions. One can hear the beat of the street in multifarious places, from the music of the Mardi Gras Indians to the Neville Brothers to Vidacovich himself. He is the quintessential New Orleans jazz drummer, with all the exuberance and skill befitting one who grew up in the birthplace of jazz.

Since starting to play the drums at the age of ten, performing has been the passion of Johnny Vidacovich. From French Quarter clubs to the big stages, he has shared his talents with greats like New Orleans’ “Tan Canary” Johnny Adams, Professor Longhair, and Mose Allison, and as a member of Astral Project. The seminal New Orleans contemporary jazz group, Astral Project has been taking its audiences to higher planes of reality for several decades. The loose affiliation finds its members doing their own thing and returning to renew their musical acquaintanceship with each other. Each player is a master in his own right: Steve Mazakowski on the guitar willed to him by the late, great Danny Barker; James Singleton, at one with his bass; Tony Dagradi, the essence of cool on the saxophone; wild man David Torkanowsky on the piano; and Vidacovich on the drums.

Astral Project started out in the ’70s, jamming at the venerable Absinthe House on Bourbon Street, with Bobby McFerrin often sitting in. Gigs at Snug Harbor and the New Orleans Jazz Fest won them a devoted local following, which has expanded to international acclaim. The musicians have continued to hone their skills individually and collectively in live gigs and recording sessions.

The group’s first CD, Dreams of Love (now out of print) was released in 1987, and things have been on the upswing ever since. The ensemble’s live CD, Astral Project, introduced the artists to audiences in far flung places like New York, L.A., and Europe, and established their reputation as pushers of the envelope in the jazz idiom.

Meanwhile, Vidacovich continued to gig and record with other musicians until he became the most sought after drummer in the city of New Orleans. He also paid his dues in New York, where he received rave reviews. Vidacovich has been recognized by everything from the Big Easy Entertainment Awards to accolades in Offbeat and Downbeat and the New York Times, to an appearance on the NPR show of fellow New Orleanian Branford Marsalis, Jazz Profiles.

It is in improvisation that his abilities show to greatest advantage. Always sensitive to the shifting sands of jazz, the drum maestro may mix it up with reggae, bebop, street beat, and blues rhythms in the course of one tune, as he follows the lead of one of his collaborators. The lightning speed with which he morphs from one style to another as the occasion requires can be heard on CDs such as Astral Project’s Voodoo Bop and Elevado; his own Mystery Street, and Banks Street; and We Came To Play with George Porter Jr.

He is also a highly regarded teacher and educator whose past students include Stanton Moore and Brian Blade. He has been a longtime faculty member at Loyola University and the University of New Orleans. Johnny and his wife Deborah maintain the Tipitina’s Sunday music workshops where younger students can come play with the pros on Sundays at Tip’s.

Johnny played the first and every New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (which just celebrated its 44th anniversary) and has become a fixture on the New Orleans music scene. He has 4 records under his own name and an instructional book and DVD focusing on his approach to New Orleans drumming. He continues to maintain an active playing, touring and teaching schedule, both in New Orleans and all over the world via Skype.


David Gilmore

David Gilmore

May 13, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

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David Gilmore

BIO

 

DAVID GILMORE has recorded and performed with many of today’s most influential modern artists. He has worked with Wayne Shorter (appearing on Mr. Shorter’s Grammy Award winning album, High Life(Verve)), Dave Douglas, Muhal Richard Abrams, Sam Rivers, Steve Coleman, Cassandra Wilson, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Randy Brecker, David Sanborn, Ron Blake, Carolyn Leonhart and Christian McBride, among many others.

In addition to his significance presence on the international touring scene, Gilmore has also appeared on over 50 recordings, including two of his own as leader. His first CD, Ritualism (2001) received international critical praise and was nominated for the 2001 Debut CD of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Gilmore studied piano, drums and percussion, taking up guitar studies at fifteen with John Baboian and Randy Roos. He left Boston for further studies at New York University where his teachers included sax titan Joe Lovano and pianist Jim McNeely. Following graduation, he worked with a variety of artists, including members of the Mbase Collective, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Trilok Gurtu, Graham Haynes, Robin Eubanks, and Lonnie Plaxico. He also joined the popular jazz/fusion group Lost Tribe, co-producing their first two recordings for Windham Hill.

Gilmore has even made notable contributions to such pop acts as Me’shell N’Degeocello, Melissa Etheridge, Joan Osbourne, Mavis Staples, Issac Hayes, Boz Scaggs, Tommy Lang of Austria, Rise Robots Rise, and Japan’s Monday Michiru. He has also toured extensively with multi-platinum artist Joss Stone. DownBeat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll voted Gilmore a “Rising Star.”

Gilmore’s playing has been compared to guitarists as diverse as George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Jimi Hendrix and Leo Nocentelli. He is committed to an improvisational approach that reflects a global awareness. One result of this global ethic, the work “African Continuum” – enabled by a CMA New Works Composer Grant– was premiered to the public in Spring 2003.

In addition to recording and touring, Gilmore teaches Guitar Studies at the prestigious Berklee College of Music where he is an Associate Professor. He also conducts master classes around the world, giving him an opportunity to share his talents, concepts and experiences with new generations of young musicians.

More recently David was the recipient of a 2008 Chamber Music America, New Jazz Works Composer’s grant.


John Cowherd

Jon Cowherd

August 12, 2019

7:30pm

 

301 Main Street

North Little Rock, AR 72114

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BIO

Although Mercy is Jon Cowherd’s first album under his own name, the esteemed pianist/composer/arranger/producer is already firmly established as one of the jazz world’s most accomplished, expressive and in-demand young musicians.

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 Brian Blade Fellowship, whose acclaimed, influential albums showcase Cowherd’s stellar keyboard work and singular compositional skills. 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.

His impressive resume aside, Mercy is the most compelling example yet of Jon Cowherd’s remarkable sensitivity, inventiveness and versatility. Recorded in an inspired three-day session at New York’s Avatar Studios, the sterling set is comprised of ten new Cowherd originals, with his sublime keyboard work anchoring an all-star quartet that includes Bill Frisell on acoustic and electric guitars, John Patitucci on acoustic bass and longtime collaborator Brian Blade on drums. The resulting album is a creative landmark for Cowherd, with such ambitious numbers as “The Columns,” “Postlude,” the three-part “Mercy Suite” and the playful departure “Recital Hour (Timmy’s Theme)” demonstrating his gifts as an instrumentalist and composer.

“It definitely feels like a personal milestone,” Cowherd says of Mercy. “My collaboration with Brian Blade has given me the freedom to record my own pieces, but I still felt the need to make a statement under my own name. That notion was intimidating for a long time, and I never felt ready until the last couple of years. I felt that my playing had to get to another level before I released something as a leader. Studying classical piano with Jeff Goldstein from 2001-2009 really helped me gain that confidence.”

A consistent dedication to honing his talents and broadening his musical horizons has been a lifelong mission for Cowherd. Growing up in Kentucky as the son of musician parents who doubled as music educators, he embraced music early in life, taking up piano, french horn and violin as well as singing. In 1988, he migrated to the musical mecca of New Orleans to attend Loyola University. There, he studied jazz piano and improvisation under Crescent City piano legend Ellis Marsalis and with noted players John Mahoney, Steve Masakowski and Michael Pellera. He also joined local bands led by Tony Dagradi and Delfeayo Marsalis, and played with the New Orleans Ballet and the New Orleans Symphony and Opera. In 1993, Cowherd moved to New York, where he earned a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the Manhattan School of Music.

It was in New Orleans’ hotbed of musical inspiration that Cowherd met fellow Loyola student Brian Blade, with whom he would form the Brian Blade Fellowship. With Blade on drums and Cowherd on piano, and both sharing compositional duties, the Brian Blade Fellowship has proven to be an enduring and rewarding creative unit, releasing the albums Brian Blade Fellowship (Blue Note, 1998), Perceptual (Blue Note, 2000) and Season of Changes (Verve, 2008).

When not collaborating with Blade, Cowherd’s keyboard work, as well as his producing and arranging skills, have kept him at work on a wide variety of projects with an equally varied assortment of artists. He’s currently a member of Cassandra Wilson’s band, the Alicia Olatuja band and Nate Smith & Kinfolk, and his instrumental work has graced albums by the likes of Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, Rosanne Cash, Lizz Wright, Iggy Pop, Alicia Olatuja, Marc Cohn, Mark Olson and Victoria Williams, and he’s recorded alongside such world-class musicians as Joni Mitchell, Daniel Lanois, John Leventhal, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Nate Smith, Dave Easley, Jeff Parker, Marcus Strickland and Jack Wilkins. As a producer, Cowherd has overseen albums by Lizz Wright, Alyssa Graham, Maria Neckam and The Local NYC. He also recently served as keyboardist for and co-musical director for the all-star Joni Jazz concert at the Hollywood Bowl, in honor of Joni Mitchell, in which he performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chaka Khan, Kurt Elling, Aimee Mann, Glen Hansard and Cassandra Wilson.