Chris Persad has been performing as a freelance trumpet player in the New York area since 1996. He toured extensively throughout the United States as well as Europe, Japan, Scandinavia, and South America. He has appeared at important Jazz Festivals including Montreal, COTA, Syracuse, Corning and Ithaca. During the past seven years his quintet has been featured at the Hudson Valley Jazz Festival.
Persad has also performed and recorded with noted jazz artists including Phil Woods, Joe Lovano, Jerry Bergonzi, Eric Alexander, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Claudio Roditi, Clare Fischer, Red Rodney, Marian McPartland, Lionel Hampton, Mel Torme, Sal Nistico, Randy Brecker, Jerry Niewood, Richard Wyands, Slam Stewart, Barry Harris, Joe Locke, Dave Samuels, Bill Mobley, Lew Tabackin, Ralph Lalama, John Pizzarelli, Chuck Israels, Benny Golson, Steve Gilmore, Steve Brown, and Danny D’Imperio.
In addition to performing, Persad is a teacher with a Bachelor of Music Education from Ithaca College, and a Masters in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media from the Eastman school of Music. As an Assistant Professor, he taught Jazz Studies and Trumpet at Western Washington University. He has also been a clinician in summer music camps including Eastman School of Music, Hartwick College, and Ithaca College, and has been a guest conductor at Sullivan, Cayuga, and Orange County jazz festivals.
Sam Burtis has been a freelance lower brass player, arranger, composer, music director and educator in New York City since 1967. He plays all sizes and styles of tenor trombone plus bass trombone (five absolutely wonderful S.E. Shires instruments in all) , euphonium and tuba, and a full resume will soon be up on this site. Meanwhile, suffice it to say that he has played, written and taught at the very highest levels of the NYC freelance scene…specializing in North, South, Central and Caribbean American playing styles but by no means limited to them…for over 40 years. Sam has played with a variety of orchestras.
His arrangements and compositions have been played and/or recorded by The Lee Konitz Nonet, The Charles Mingus Big Band (of which he was the original music director), numerous Tito Puente ensembles, the Larry Harlow Band, the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Orchestra, the Mike Longo New York State of the Art Orchestra and many other groups as well.
Sam started posting his ideas about music on the web in the late ’90s under the pseudonym “Sabutin”, and the general popular acceptance of what he was saying among brass players led to a whole new career as a teacher. Mr. Burtis has performed on innumerable commercials, records and in at least forty Broadway and off-Broadway shows during his time in New York, has been associated with both the New School and The Mannes School of Music in New York City, Prince Klaus Conservatory (Groningen, Holland), Lehigh University and the New Jersey Performance Arts Center/Jazz For Teens program as a brass and music theory/composition/American musical idioms teacher, has taught many private students both individually and in clinic situations, and has (most often under the web name of Sabutin) contributed hundreds of columns and posts on advanced techniques of playing the trombone to his own sites The Open Horn (a pan-brass discussion forum) and SamBurtis.com, plus The Trombone Forum, The Online Trombone Journal and The British Trombone Society Forum.
Jay Rattman is not yet 30 but already has the career of a seasoned professional, with a discography of over 25 records that includes "Urbanus" by Stefon Harris, nominated for the 2010 Best Contemporary Jazz Album Grammy, and “New Celebration,” the last big band album by NEA Jazz Master Phil Woods. A multi-instrumentalist improvisor and composer in New York City, his musical sensitivity and spontaneity have placed him in demand in a wide range of settings from contemporary classical chamber music to early jazz, klezmer, creative improvised music, straight ahead jazz and everything in between. He has performed at most of the major clubs in New York in addition to the MoMA, the Coachella Festival, Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Late Show, and the Tonight Show.
As an educator, Rattman maintains an active private studio in addition to having taught group instrumental lessons in New York City public schools through Manhattan School of Music's Educational Outreach initiatives, via distance learning from Manhattan School of Music, in Tunisia through the Jazz Club de Tunis in partnership with the U.S. State Department where he directed the student jazz orchestra, and as a founding faculty member of COTA Camp Jazz. He also presented in a teaching artists masterclass with Yo Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble. For more, see Jay Rattman.com.
Brenda Earle Stokes is a jazz pianist and vocalist, who has enjoyed an international performing career which she balances with her work in education. Originally classically trained, Brenda switched to jazz in high school and went on to earn degrees in jazz piano from York University in Toronto, Canada and the Manhattan School of Music in NYC. Her vocal studies include classical training with Hilda Harris and she Level 3 Certified in Somatic Voicework The LoVetri Method (TM).
As a performer, she has worked as both pianist and vocalist as a leader and sideperson across the US and Internationally. She has performed at the Kennedy Center, Avery Fischer Hall, The Toronto Jazz Festival, The Christchurch Arts Festival in New Zealand and at Carnegie Hall, with artists such as trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, stage legend Maurice Hines, the Diva Jazz orchestra and has toured extensively as a bandleader and headliner.
She currently serves on the Faculty at Fordham University and runs a family music program at the Ronald McDonald House. She is still very active as a performer and has a very busy piano and voice teaching studio in Manhattan.
Evan Gregor is an in-demand acoustic and electric bassist who continues to work with many of the world's great artists in a wide variety of genres.
Jazz legends including Phil Woods (appearing on his big band CD “New Celebration” and working together in a variety of small group settings), Dave Liebman (a member of “Lineage” with a recording featuring his playing and arranging), Gary Burton, Phil Markowitz, Bill Goodwin, Urbie Green, Bob Dorough (appearing on ‘Duets’,) Ed Cherry and others have hired Evan as a sideman.
Top young artists like Christian Scott, Darcy James Argue, Zach Brock, Michael Dease, Bobby Avey, Grace Kelly, Matt Vashlishan and Danny Sher, as well as established creative musicians including Brad Shepik, Christian Howes, Pete McCann, The New York BMI Jazz Orchestra, Meg Okura, Jon Ballantyne, The Mahavishnu Project, Lynne Arriale, Jerome Sabbagh, David Berkman, Joel Harrison and many others have hired Evan for the bass chair, which has taken him all over the world.
He has a deep love of the bass and its role in any ensemble. As his resume suggests, he is able to deliver in a broad range on both electric and acoustic.
Evan holds a BM in Jazz Composition/Electric Bass from Berklee College of Music and an MM in acoustic bass performance from William Paterson, both Summa Cum Laude.
For more, see EvanGregor.com.
Spencer began performing in New York City clubs at age 18. “I was in the right place at the right time, and often got to play with musicians far more experienced than I, who became my professors. I always carried a notebook”.
Spencer is the guitarist on Phil Wood’s big band recording, A New Celebration and plays with the Water Gap Jazz Orchestra every month at the historic Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap. He has also recorded several soundtracks for Bob Dorough’s School House Rock educational series. He appears on two albums with pop singer/songwriter Nellie McKay (who is an alum of the CotaCats!) and has recorded eight albums with his marital partner of 40 years, bassist, vocalist, Nancy Reed and one solo album.
Spencer has been the guitar and jazz lab instructor at Blair Academy in Blairstown, NJ. for over 15 years and has conducted student orchestras for Notre Dame’s elementary, junior high and high schools in East Stroudsburg, Pa. for over 10 years. He is also the music teacher at the new Summit School of the Poconos, in Bartonsville, Pa. and maintains a busy schedule of private students.
As well as performing in many jazz festivals, including the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, the Bix Beiderbeck Festival, San Juan Islands Jazz Festival, Veritas Tribute to Friends of Charlie Parker, the Cancun Jazz Festival, the Red Nichols Jazz Festival and on the Delta Queen in New Orleans, Spencer has played in all 39 annual Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts Jazz Festivals.
Spencer considers mentoring jazz students a privilege not to be taken lightly. “My “professors” taught me outside the classroom in the professional setting of jazz clubs and at rehearsals... CampJazz is the perfect setting for young musicians, not yet on stage, to help prepare them for the future.”
For more, see ReedJazz.com.
From the drum set Sherrie leads The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, her quintet FIVE PLAY, The DIVA Jazz Trio, and 3Divas. From Carnegie Hall she performs with The New York Pops, and from celebrated stages everywhere she is the music director for Broadway star Maurice Hines. Sherrie is also a busy freelance performer and a published composer/arranger.
With her bands Sherrie has performed at many of the world’s most acclaimed music venues and jazz festivals. In 2014 DIVA was featured on the soundtrack for NBC’s Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular; additional TV appearances include CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood and TCM’s televised broadcast of the 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center. In 2009 Sherrie and her trio were guests on Marian McPartland’s world-renowned NPR show Piano Jazz, and in 2012 DIVA was featured prominently in the award-winning documentary film The Girls in the Band.
Sherrie has received several awards and honors which include a 2014 Ovation award for Best Music Direction for Tappin’ Thru Life; a 2013 Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Music Direction for Tappin’ Thru Life at Arena Stage; the 2009 Mary Lou Williams-Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award; a 2013 State Department grant for FIVE PLAY to tour Vietnam; a tour grant from Arts International; The Kennedy Center Alliance Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Arts; a grant from Meet the Composer; a Doctoral Fellowship from New York University; the 2006 New York City Music Educator’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Music Education; and was selected New York University “Music Teacher of the Year” in both 1997 and 2000.
As an educator, Sherrie runs a private drum set and percussion studio with locations in Philadelphia and East Stroudsburg, PA. She also serves as a conductor for the New York Summer Festival and is an active clinician for Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Aquarian Drum Heads, and Vic Firth Drum Sticks.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985 from Binghamton University Sherrie moved to New York City and attended New York University, where she completed a Masters of Arts in Jazz Performance in 1986 and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Jazz Performance/Composition in 2000.
Sherrie’s most recent recording with DIVA is Special Kay (2016), featuring the music of DIVA’s founder Stanley Kay. In 2015 Sherrie and FIVE PLAY recorded “LIVE” at the Deer Head Inn. Other DIVA CDs include A Swingin’ Life (2014, MCG Label) with vocal legends Nancy Wilson and Marlena Shaw, “LIVE” at Dizzy’s with Carmen Bradford, and Johnny Mandel: A Man and His Music.Sherrie can be heard on dozens of CDs with her bands and other musical luminaries.
Kent Heckman is the owner and recording engineer at Red Rock Recording Studio. Red Rock began in 1977 in a rented farmhouse, but in 1987 Kent designed and built a ground-up facility, where it is located today, although changed and expanded through the years.
The studio began attracting clients not only from the world-class local jazz community but from around the world. Although he is a self educated engineer, Kent has taught recording at Lehigh University, lectured at East Stroudsburg University, and worked on, designed and built studios for others, including Phil Ramone. He has recorded artists such as Phil Woods, Bob Dorough, David Liebman, The Wailin’ Jennys, Heather Masse, Phil Markowitz, Nellie McKay and countless others.
For more, see Red Rock Recording.