2016 Performer Bios



5 p.m. United Jazz Ensemble
Sponsored by
AW Welt Ambrisco

Every May, this collaborative high school ensemble comes together to prepare for the Iowa City Jazz Festival. Directed by Rich Medd and Ryan Arp, the band is composed of students from Iowa City High School and West High School in Iowa City. For 20 years, this group has served as of one of signature elements of the Jazz Festival’s commitment to education outreach. The deep immersion of students in jazz over the summer not only strengthens their musical growth, but builds a strong bond between the programs at the two schools. 


7 p.m. Akiko Tsuruga

Akiko Tsuruga has been a mainstay on the New York jazz scene since 2001. This talented Japanese musician began playing the organ at age three, and launched her career in jazz immediately after graduating from the Osaka College of Music. While living in Osaka, she had opportunities to play with world-renowned jazz musicians from the United States. Grady Tate, in particular, had the strongest influence on her professional career and convinced her to move to the U.S., and performed on her Japanese debut album. Dr. Lonnie Smith is one of Akiko’s greatest mentors, and she considers him as her biggest influence. Her talent also drew Lou Donaldson’s attention, and soon he chose her (2007) as his quartet’s organist.

Akiko has released five albums in Japan and four in the U.S. Her first two U.S. releases, “Sweet and Funky” and “Oriental Express” ranked within top 20 on the national jazz radio charts. Akiko has been regular on the DownBeat magazine critics poll since 2008. In 2012, she placed sixth in the Rising Star category and ranked in the readers poll. Her latest album, “Commencement”, released in 2014 ranked fourth in the Jazz Week Chart. 


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVYHxrrghyE&index=2&list=PLdx_LfUC_Jce1ckuF0xvYD6MpP-YX0_KK

Instagram: akikojazzorgan

Twitter: @akikojazzorgan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/akikojazzpage/ 


9 p.m. Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom

NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller gathers inspiration from a wide array of genres. Coming from the Jazz tradition, she engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a charismatic and rhythmically propulsive drummer with melodic sensibility, Miller has been named “Rising Star Drummer” and “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in Downbeat Magazine’s acclaimed Critics Poll. Miller’s band, Boom Tic Boom, is a 2014 recipient of Chamber Music America’s “Presenter Consortium for Jazz Grant” and is proudly sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Boom Tic Boom, featuring pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman,

clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornet player Kirk Knuffke, bassist Todd Sickafoose – all lauded band leaders in their own right – and Miller on drums and composition, is currently celebrating its fourth release, “Otis was a Polar Bear.” Of the preceding album, “No Morphine No Lilies,” the New Yorker writes, “No Morphine No Lilies demonstrates that her (Allison Miller) craftiness as a percussionist is met by her ingenuity as a composer and group conceptualist.”


Instagram: alliboomboom 

Twitter: @alliboomboom

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AllisonMillerBoomTicBoom?fref=ts

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsB8roQrMjX7MkKjUUQji_A

Sound Cloud: https://soundcloud.com/allison-miller 




1 p.m. North Corridor Jazz All Stars

The North Corridor All-Star Big Band is returning for its third performance at the Iowa City Jazz Festival. Like the United Jazz Ensemble, this group is composed of some of the most talented high school jazz musicians in the Corridor from Cedar Rapids to Cedar Falls. Under the direction of Coe College music professor Steve Shanley, the North Corridor Jazz All Stars will present a musically diverse program featuring the many facets of Big Band repertoire. Always ensured to be a romping and swinging live jam, the North Corridor Jazz All Stars will certainly have the crowd moving to the beat and grinning with local pride.



3 p.m. Phil Hey Quartet
Sponsored by 7G Distributing

In addition to leading his Quartet, Phil Hey has performed, toured, and recorded with many great Jazz musicians, including Charlie Rouse, Harold Land, Jay McShann, Benny Carter, and, for more than 20 years, Dewey Redman. Hey has appeared on more than 125 recordings, including his own, Subduction, which was named Jazz CD of 2006 by City Pages (Twin Cities). Phil was also named their Jazz Musician of the Year that same year. Other notable recordings include Von Freeman Live!, Tribute to Mingus (Tom Hubbard), Where's When (The X-Tet), and I'm Glad there is You (Ed Berger), all of which received 4-Star reviews in Downbeat magazine. Hey is also on the faculties of the University of Minnesota and St. Olaf College.



5 p.m. Marquis Hill Blacktet

Marquis Hill is best known as the winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition. With his combination of fleet, jabbing accents and soaring grace notes, Hill was singled out as something special. The South Side of Chicago native is a composer of conceptual pieces, through which he imparts a real vision about the world – about the places he calls home and the people he loves. As a bandleader, he lifts the game of everyone around him.

Hill studied his trade in the South Shore Youth Jazz Ensemble and with the Ravinia Jazz Mentors, and at Northern Illinois University and DePaul University. It’s easy to see his influences when compared to the chain of trumpeters leading from Roy Eldridge to Dizzy Gillespie to Roy Hargrove, but he commands his own category.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marquis.hill.393


7 p.m. Vijay Iyer Trio
Sponsored by Sheraton Iowa City Hotel

Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer was described by Pitchfork as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He was named DownBeat Magazine’s 2015 Artist of the Year and 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University.

Iyer has released twenty albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. The latest is “Break Stuff,” with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat Magazine, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz.” Iyer’s trio (Iyer, piano; Marcus Gilmore, drums; Stephan Crump, bass) made its name with two tremendously acclaimed and influential albums, “Accelerando” (2012) and “Historicity” (2009).   

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/sonocentric

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vijayiyermusic

Instagram: vijayiyer

Twitter: @vijayiyer


9 p.m. Poncho Sánchez
Sponsored by Sheraton Iowa City Hotel

For more than three decades as both a leader and a sideman, conguero Poncho Sanchez has stirred up a fiery stew of straight-ahead jazz, gritty soul music, and infectious melodies and rhythms from a variety of Latin American and South American sources. His influences are numerous, but among the more prominent figures that inform his music are two of the primary architects of Latin jazz – conga drummer and composer Chano Pozo and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. 

Sánchez developed as salsa's elder statesman as a Chicano from Texas. He taught himself guitar and congas, and gained experience singing with a teen band, but faced discrimination when he tried to play with Cubans and Puerto Ricans, who considered themselves the sole heirs of salsa. At age 23 he found a mentor, vibraphonist Cal Tjader, and made his own way to the top of the Latin jazz community. His style has survived over three decades and countless trials because of its easygoing and inclusive feel. Sánchez became internationally acclaimed by percussionists and jazz aficionados as a leading player and producer of a consistent string of hit albums layering Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban, salsa, bop, funk, and rhythm and blues.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ponchosanchezjazz/

Twitter: @ponchosanchez

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/poncho-sanchez/id3191047



Noon The Damani Phillips Trio
Sponsored by The Java House

Dr. Damani Philips is a native of Pontiac, Mich., where he began playing at the age of 10.  He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Iowa, where he teaches applied jazz saxophone, directs jazz combos and teaches courses in African-American music, jazz history, jazz theory and improvisation. He has earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from DePaul University and The University of Kentucky in classical saxophone; and a second Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Wayne State University. Phillips completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder; becoming one of the first African-Americans in the country to do so. As a performer, Phillips has performed with artists/groups such as Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, Terrence Blanchard, Wycliffe Gordon, and more. 

Phillips is joined by organ player Sam Salomone, the Chicago-born, Tama-raised master of the Hammond B3. Salomone has played with a who’s who of Iowa jazz and blues payers, and was inducted into both the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame and the Iowa Jazz Hall of Fame. On drums, the trio features another long-time Iowa player, Marion-based Tim Crumley. 


2 p.m. Larry Fuller Trio

Larry Fuller is a world-class jazz pianist known to "swing like a beast".  Now based in New York City, Fuller began his professional musical career at age 13 in Toledo, Ohio.

In his early 20’s, Fuller’s undeniable talent earned him the position of musical director and pianist for Grammy-nominated vocalist Ernestine Anderson.  He then joined renowned drummer Jeff Hamilton’s Trio before gaining the honor of manning the keys as the legendary Ray Brown Trio’s final pianist.  Of Fuller, Ray Brown said:  “He brings vitality!  He swings hard and I like that”.

Today, Fuller leads his own trio, receiving consistent praise for his versatile performances.  His recently released self-titled album (with bassist Hassan Shakur and drummer Gregory Hutchinson) has garnered much critical and fan-based acclaim.

"In his amazing gossamer piano solos he sprinkles stardust on whatever song he plays, you hold your breath in wonder." – The New York Times


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Larry-Fuller-148466648560359/ 


4 p.m. Edmar Castaneda Trio
Sponsored by ImOn Business Services

"The Colombian plays the harp like hardly anyone else on earth. His hands, seemingly powered by two different people, produce a totally unique, symphonic fullness of sound, a rapid-fire of chords, balance of melodic figures and drive, served with euphoric Latin American rhythms, and the improvisatory freedom of a trained jazz musician...captivating virtuosity, but in no way only virtuosity for its own sake." - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 

Edmar Castaneda was born in 1978, in the city of Bogotá, Colombia. Since his move to the United States in 1994, he has taken New York and the world stage by storm with his virtuosic command of the harp – revolutionizing the way audiences and critics alike consider the instrument. Paquito D’Rivera, Edmar’s frequent collaborator, describes him as 

"an enormous talent. With his versatility and enchanting charisma, he has taken his harp out of the shadows, and become one of the most original musicians in the Big Apple.” 


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEOlX7ECP4c 


6 p.m. Miguel Zenón Quartet
Sponsored by Miron Construction

Multiple Grammy Nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow, Miguel Zenón represents a select group of musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often-contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. Widely considered as one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, he has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American Folkloric Music and Jazz.

Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón studied classical saxophone at the Escuela Libre de Música in Puerto Rico before receiving a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies from Berklee College of Music, and a master’s degree in Jazz Performance at Manhattan School of Music. Zenón’s more formal studies, however, are supplemented and enhanced by his vast and diverse experience as a sideman and collaborator. Throughout his career he has divided his time equally between working with older jazz masters and  working with the music’s younger innovators – regardless of styles and genres. The list of musicians Zenón has toured and/or recorded with includes: The SFJAZZ Collective, Charlie Haden, Fred Hersh, Kenny Werner, David Sánchez, Danilo Perez, The Village Vanguard Orchestra, The Mingus Big Band, Bobby Hutcherson and Steve Coleman.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiT-GTuq4kg

Twitter: @miguelzenon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/miguelzenon


8 p.m. David Berkman Sextet

David Berkman has been an essential part of the New York jazz community for the last 30 years. He is an award-winning composer and bandleader, a recording artist whose CDs have appeared on numerous best records of the year critic’s lists (including the New York Times, the Village Voice, Downbeat, JazzIz and Jazz Times) and an award-winning jazz clinician who has performed and taught at numerous jazz camps, universities and conservatories around the world. He has played in countless bands including those of Tom Harrell, Cecil McBee and the Vanguard Orchestra and has performed with and/or recorded and/or arranged for numerous jazz luminaries, including: Sonny Stitt, Brian Blade, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Ray Drummond, Billy Hart, Dick Oatts, Chris Potter, and more.

The music on Berkman’s latest album defies simple categorization, blending an open modern jazz conception with intriguing melodies and surprising twists and turns, subtle interaction between the rhythm section and soloists and an orchestral use of woodwinds. For his Iowa City Jazz Festival performance, the David Berkman Sextet features the three horn players from the recording with a phenomenal rhythm section: Gerald Cleaver on drums and Vicente Archer on bass.


Facebook: www.facebook.com/deberko

Twitter: twitter.com/berkmanpiano


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