What do gangly, awkward 15 year olds, who in their own words “weren’t cool by any means”, develop into? Well, if you are the jazz group known as PELIROJA, you become one of the most gifted ensemble of musicians inspired by the sounds of Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Congo. And now, you can experience their new flavor of fusion music on the Branford Jazz Series stage, Thursday, July 13th starting at 6:30 p.m. Consisting of heavies from the New York City Latin and jazz scenes, PELIROJA combines aspects of Cuban music with a 1970s horn-band Afro beat sound, The lyrics, mainly in Spanish, focus on day-to-day as well as political themes, all undergirded by a thick groove and an expansive improvisational ethic drawn from the jazz and Latin backgrounds of the individual members.
MIKE ECKROTH, a pianist and keyboardist, is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and currently resides in Jackson Heights, New York. He recently completed his PhD degree in jazz performance at NYU and currently leads or collaborates in a number of projects in varied genres of music. Michael recently released the album Piano and Rhythm with a cast of New York Latin greats. Other recent collaborative recordings include duo with Ron McClure, Hello Stars, the recent La Voz De Tres album Suenos y Delirios, the Chulo Records album collaboration with the Cuban singer Pepito Gomez, as well as numerous sideman jazz recordings. From 2010-2012 Michael toured extensively with the John Scofield New Jazz Quartet, which played in many of the major club venues and festivals in over 20 countries. With other groups, Michael has performed all over Europe and the Americas, as well as in many U.S. club and festival venues. Recent notable performances include the Magno Alexandre/Michael Eckroth quartet tour dates in Switzerland and the Tucson Jazz Festival with La Voz de Tres. Upcoming releases include an Eliot Zigmund, Chris Cheek et al album as well as another Ron McClure record. Upcoming performance dates for Michael include Mezzrow, Smalls and other venues in New York City. In addition, Michael will be teaching jazz piano at Dartmouth for the winter 2017 semester.
JAINARDO BATISTA, a vocalist, is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Coming from a family of music lovers, dancers and musicians, he came to New York City in the fall of 1993. Looking to involve himself in the New York City Latin music community, he got together with rumberos, soneros and salseros, eventually forming his own vocal and percussion aesthetic grounded in Cuban and Puerto Rico musical forms. In successive years he performed extensively in New York and internationally, forming part of the son band Nu Guajiro as well as being an integral part of the Manhattan underground Latin scene. After working with Plasse’s Los Hacheros band, Jainardo went on to partner with Plasse and Eckroth to workshop a bunch of compositions derived from sources in the African diaspora, tunes which eventually made up the album, Injusticia.
Versatility and virtuosity are the two words that define MORGAN PRICE’s distinguished performing career. He currently occupies the role of baritone saxophonist for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the world’s longest-running jazz orchestra, and has held the position for almost 10 years. He also served as the tenor saxophone soloist for Fela!, the tony Award-winning Broadway musical based on the life of afrobeat pioneer and human rights activist Fela Kuti, performing fiery improvised solos night after night for two years on stages across the United States. By the time he turned 30, Mr. Price’s passion for music had provided performance opportunities on every continent across the globe (with the exception of Antarctica), providing his musical skills for renowned artists such as Beyonce’, Aloe Blacc, Charles Bradley, Antibalas, Macy Gracy, The Heavy, Lukas Graham, Brian McKnight, Ben L’Oncle Soul, Patti LaBelle, and many others. 2016 has brought his greatest achievement yet- the birth of his son, Louis Pollux Price.
Born in Largo, Florida, JONATHAN POWELL took up the trumpet at the age of twelve. In high school, he excelled as a feature member of the All-State Band and All-State Jazz Band and progressed under the guidance of Raymond Mase at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he met three like-minded students who were on the same path and formed the group Quantum, which earned the award for Best Student Jazz Group in the Downbeat Student Awards (1998,1999). After high school, Jonathan returned to his hometown to explore the Florida music scene and performed with many groups, including Bogus Pomp (one of the top Frank Zappa repertoire bands), SHIM (avant-garde jazz), Rocksteady@8 (Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady) as well as his own groups. In 2001, he moved to New York and landed a gig with the Colombian Band, La Creacion. In 2003 he earned praise for his participation in Sam Rivers Fluid Motion and was named, Best Latin Jazz Trumpeter by The Latin Jazz Corner in 2007. The same year he formed the group, Nu Sangha, which means “community” in Tibetan and released the highly acclaimed Transcend, a fusion of Rock and Electronica Infused Jazz. Jonathan’s most recent recording titled, Beacons of Light, draws inspiration from jazz icons past and present, including John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, the Brian Blades Fellowship and Pat Metheny among others. The music is a mediation and tribute to spiritual and revolutionary minds of our age, including the Dalai Lama, the Sufi poet and mystic, Rumi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to name a few. When he’s not leading his group, Jonathan performs with a wide variety of artists, including Eddie Palmieri and his Latin Jazz Septet and Salsa Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Miguel Zenon, Gregorio Uribe, Pedro Giraudo, Ricky Martin and JT Taylor of Kool and the Gang.
MAX GOLDMAN was born in Rochester, New York and quickly found his love for music and the drums in particular when in 3rd grade, his band instructor gave a quick demonstration of each instrument, once the first snare roll was played there was absolutely no question as to which instrument he would play. Through his teen years Max studied with Jeff Lewis, Steve Curry and Eastman School of Music professor rich Thompson and was awarded the top All County Drum Chair as well as his high school’s Louis Armstrong Award for Jazz Performance. In 2001 Max moved to New York where he attended New York University for 2 years and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music for the remaining 2 years, with a scholarship, where he was awarded his BFA. During that time Max studied with Tony Moreno, Gerald Cleaver and Kenny Washington. Max has since made a living as a freelance musician, touring regularly around Europe, Russia, and the United States in addition to appearing regularly in some of New York City’s top venues in both the jazz and popular music worlds with projects such as The Elan Mehler Group, The Danny Fox Trio, Old time Musketry, Tim Berne, Midnight Magic and Aella and has recorded and shared the stage with many artists, including Becca Stevens, Chris Tordini, Travis Reuter, Curtis Macdonald, Nomi Ruiz, Eleanor Friedberger, and for the new masters of Sesame Street composer, Joe Raposo’s songs. Teaching is a big part of Max’s life in the city, in addition to many private students he is a teacher at the Long Island Drum Center, Big Wrench Music, and for CUNY’s Harmony Program. In the past Max has taught at Montclair State College’s Stokes Summer Camp, for the YMHA and has performed many clinics for high schools and college around the country. Max currently lives in the Bronx with his wife Jessica.
IAN STEWART was raised on a sold diet of jazz-fusion, as he listened to Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Return to Forever and Weather Report. He started electric bass when he was 12 and upright at 16. After earning his jazz studies degree from SUNY Purchase in 2008, he relocated to Chicago’s Latin-jazz scene, followed by a stint with the progressive jazz-rock band Marbin from 2010 to 2012. After leaving the band, he went back to Chicago and found refuge in the Latin music scene. He met Darwin Noguera and played with the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble and Noguera’s Evolution Quartet. He started playing with composer and multi-instrumentalist Hector Silveria and began delving into Timba and Cuban music. He eventually started writing for Timba.com, which is run by editor Kevin Moore. He went to New York City in September of 2013 where he met John Benitez and later made the move to Manhattan by May of 2014.
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