Musicians: Biographies with Photos
Saxophonist Geof Bradfield was born in Houston, TX, where he attended the renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He lived and worked for periods in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington before settling in Chicago in 2004. Along the way, he has been fortunate to work alongside many jazz luminaries and to perform throughout the United States, Europe, Russia, Africa and the Middle East. He is featured on numerous recordings, including his critically acclaimed 2010 release African Flowers, which was named one of the top 10 CDs of 2010 by the Los Angeles Times. His septet performed this 10-part suite in 2011 at Chicago’s Millennium Park to an audience of 8,000 as part of the celebrated series Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz. Mr. Bradfield and his ensemble also presented the suite at the DuSable Museum of African American Art as the Artist-in Residence of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival in the fall of 2011.
A native of South Carolina, drummer Xavier Breaker came from a musical family, with his mother being a singer, and his father, a drummer. Xavier began developing his musical abilities at an early age in church, and later on in life he realized that music was his passion. Xavier has played with numerous artists including Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, Howard Hewitt, Lalah Hathaway, Ernie Watts, and Bob Mintzer. He has also played for some of Chicago’s finest including Corey Wilkes, Kahil El Zabar, Dee Alexander, Eric Schneider, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Chicago Yestet, and many others. Xavier Breaker received his Bachelor’s in Percussion Performance from the University of South Carolina, where he studied under Professor Scott Herring and drummer, Jim Hall. Xavier has also received his Master’s in Jazz Studies from Northern Illinois University, under Professor Ronald Carter. Along with being a sideman, Xavier Breaker is also a bandleader, arranger, and composer for his own group, the Xavier Breaker Coalition.
Saxophonist, composer, and educator Chris Madsen hails from the Chicagoland area. After graduating from DePaul University in 2003 with a Bachelor’s in Jazz Studies, he attended the Juilliard School’s Jazz Program in New York City, performing there for three years with such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Short, and Barbara Lea. In 2006, he moved back to Chicago and, in addition to leading his own groups at venues such as the Jazz Showcase, Andy’s, and the Chicago Jazz Festival, has also performed with the Chicago Yestet, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Ron Perrillo quartet, and the Rob Parton, Tom Matta, Mulligan Mosaics, and Joe Clark big bands. He has released four albums under his name and been involved with countless other recording projects. Madsen is a published composer with Kendor Music Inc, Walrus Music, and the UNC Jazz Press and is an in-demand clinician for jazz groups of all ages. Madsen currently serves as Jazz Faculty at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and Jazz Program Director at Midwest Young Artists in Highwood, IL.
Chuck Parrish began playing trumpet in 1975 and has earned his living as a performer and private teacher for over 35 years. In that time he has performed almost every style of music; from classical to circus, big band to Broadway, and soul to rock and roll. As a teacher he works with students ranging from beginners to professionals. Efficient use of air, smart practice, and passionate performance are vital traits he tries to ingrain in his students. Some of the more notable artists he has performed with are Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, The Chicago Sinfonietta, Jersey Boys, West Side Story, and Aretha Franklin. He performs over 250 shows internationally in addition to a studio of 40 private students per week. Currently he can be seen playing lead trumpet for Maceo Parker: To Ray with Love, a special tribute to Ray Charles, The Ray Charles Orchestra & The Raelettes. Mr. Parrish holds a Master of Music and a post-master’s Certificate in Performance from DePaul University in Trumpet Performance. His undergraduate work was done in music at University of Illinois in Champaign - Urbana studying with Ray Sasaki. Chuck is an S.E. Shires Artist and performs on the handmade Destino III trumpet exclusively. He is also a Hammond Design Artist playing the Chuck Parrish line of custom mouthpieces.
Trumpeter Russ Johnson recently relocated to the Chicago area after spending 23 years as an important member of the New York City jazz community. He is an active performer in the jazz, improvised, and contemporary classical music scenes and has had the opportunity to perform in over 40 countries. In addition to leading his own groups, and co-leading The Other Quartet, the Co Streiff/Russ Johnson Quartet, and New Math, Russ is currently touring as a member of Lee Konitz' New Nonet and the Steve Swallow/Ohad Talmor "L'Histoire du Clochard" sextet. In addition, Russ has performed with a long list of musical heavyweights including; Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano, Kenny Wheeler, Richie Beirach, Mark Ribot, Charles Earland, David Liebman, Joe Maneri, Oliver Lake, Tony Malaby, Jenny Scheinman, and Mat Maneri.
Trombonist Tom Garling has played with such greats as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, and Randy Brecker. He joined Maynard Fergusons Big Bop Nouveau Band, and toured with Maynard as Musical Director and trombonist for six years. Tom currently resides in the Chicago area, and is highly sought after around the world as a recording artist, composer and arranger, teacher, clinician and professional musician.
Trombonist Joel Adams won the International Trombone Association Frank Rosolino Memorial Scholarship in 1986. He toured with The Woody Herman Orchestra performing with Clark Terry, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, and Diane Schuur. He has also played with Rich Perry and the Gary Morgan Latin Big Band while living in New York City. Locally, he has performed with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble with Jon Faddis, Doug Lawrence, Jimmy Heath, Arturo Sandoval and Clyde Stubblefield as well as his own groups.
Saxophonist and composer Nick Mazzarella has been described as "continuing the approach taken by like-minded trailblazing altoists like Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, Oliver Lake, and Gary Bartz” by “seek[ing] to embody the history of the music while pushing it forward into new realms” (Troy Dostert, All About Jazz). He has been a consistent presence in Chicago's music scene since the early 2000s, where his continuous performance schedule has made an aesthetically unique contribution to the city’s rich culture of jazz and improvised music. His working trio and quintet have served as the primary vehicles for his endeavors as a composer and bandleader, while as a collaborator or sideman he has performed and recorded with such artists as Tomeka Reid, Joshua Abrams, Hamid Drake, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Avreeayl Ra, Rob Mazurek, Makaya McCraven, Dana Hall, and Geof Bradfield. Recordings of his original music have been released by Nessa Records, Clean Feed Records, International Anthem Recording Company, and Astral Spirits, and he has performed with his ensembles and as a solo artist throughout the United States and Scandinavia.(Photo by Peter Gannushkin/downtownmusic.net)
Bassist Clark Sommers is featured on the Grammy Award winning album "Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman." Clark has toured and performed extensively throughout the world with Cedar Walton, Kurt Elling, Kevin Mahogany, Peter Bernstein, Von Freeman, Bobby Broom, Michael Weiss, The Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra, and the Joe La Barbara Sextet. From 1997 to 1999 Clark performed and toured with Sony Recording Artists The Mighty Blue Kings. He has also performed at international jazz festivals in the US, Ireland, France and Canada, sharing bills with Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, B.B. King, Dr. John, The Staples Singers, Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy.
Guitarist Mike Allemana's performing credits include 1997-2012 with the late tenor sax legend Von Freeman at his famous Tuesday night gig at the New Apartment Lounge. Mike toured with Von to Berlin in 2002, which was released as Vonski Speaks on Nessa Records in 2009. He can also be heard on Von Freeman’s 2002 release The Improvisor on Premonition Records. Other highlights include 1996-1997 with organ great Charles Earland, 1995-1999 with tenor saxophonist Lin Halliday, appearances from 1997-1999 with organ master Lonnie Smith, 1998-2002 with tenor saxophonist Ron Dewar, a 2005 performance in Philadelphia with Von Freeman and drumming legend Mickey Roker, a 2006 performance with Von Freeman and drum-master Jimmy Cobb, and in 2008 with alto saxophonist Steve Coleman. Mike toured to Poznan, Poland in 2010 to perform with fellow Chicago guitarists Bobby Broom and Jeff Parker. The Jazz Institute of Chicago along with the Chicago Cultural Center commissioned him to arrange Von Freeman’s original compositions for a 10-piece ensemble, featured in the summer of 2011 for the Made in Chicago concert series at Millennium Park with special guests Eric Alexander, Julian Priester, and Steve Coleman. Later that same year, he travelled again to Poznan to perform an original 4-part suite dedicated to Von Freeman written for a 9-piece group. In 2014, drumming legend Bernard Purdie joined Mike and George Freeman for a weekend at the Green Mill in Chicago.
Keith Harris is a songwriter and producer based in Chicago IL. Infatuated with music since a young age, he uses his craft to deliver a message of unity and acceptance. His influences range from Frederic Chopin to Jay-Z, with a focus on lyrics that pull at the heartstrings as well as challenge the mind to think for oneself.
Keith Harris' personal sites:
A lifelong resident of the Chicago area, pianist Rob Clearfield has performed and recorded with the likes of John Wetton, Rakalam Bob Moses, eighth blackbird, Zach Brock, Caroline Davis, and Marquis Hill, among many others. In addition to the his work with the Chicago Yestet, he is also the regular pianist/keyboardist with Grazyna Auguscik, Itamar Borochov, Outertown, Hood Smoke, and Matt Ulery. Rob has received commissions to compose for stage productions, churches, and films, and has released several recordings of his original music.