Violinist Karen “Lady in Red” Briggs was born in New York City on August 12, 1963, and grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia. At an early age, Briggs displayed a natural talent for the violin and began playing many pieces by ear. While in high school, she received her first paying job, performing at a wedding for twenty dollars.
After graduating from high school in 1981, Briggs attended Norfolk State College where she majored in music education and mass media. In 1983, during her sophomore year in college, she began playing with the Virginia Symphony where she performed for four years. She returned to New York City where she won three Amateur Nights at The Apollo Theater. After getting married in 1988 and moving to Los Angeles, California, Briggs began performing regularly at the jazz club Marla’s Memory Lane. In 1989, Briggs embarked on her first professional tour with Soul II Soul, performing throughout America and Japan. In 1991, Briggs successfully auditioned for Yanni, the Greek-American new age keyboard composer. Briggs most notable performance was during Yanni Live: At the Acropolis wearing the now infamous red dress. Following this performance, she spent the next thirteen years touring and recording with Yanni, in Tribute which was performed both at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India and in the Forbidden City, in China.
Briggs made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1994, performing with pianist Dave Gruisin. She has also performed with a number of other artists over the years, including Stanley Clarke, the Wu Tang Clan, En Vogue and Chaka Khan. At the time of the interview, some of her current projects included recording with Hidden Beach Records and performing with the Unrapped Band.
Karen Briggs was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 4, 2004.
Best Solo Performance
Justin Young was born on June 25, 1980, in Warren, Michigan, the son of a musically-talented father. He took an early interest in music and began playing the saxophone at the age of 9. In his teens, he continued on with the instrument while falling in love with the R&B sounds of groups like Earth Wind & Fire, The Gap Band and Michael Jackson.
Justin began performing with his dad’s Top 40 band, Kaleidoscope. Kaleidoscope developed Justin’s live show and endurance since the calendar had at least 20 shows per month with as many as 5 performances each weekend.
After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Michigan State University and began studying mechanical engineering, but still pursued his passion, a career in music. In 2005, Justin recorded his first album, “Rendezvous,” but it was never nationally released.
Success came in 2007, after releasing his “On The Way,” the album landed on the Indie charts. He moved to Los Angeles, and began performing with his band through the city.
His next two albums, Nothin But Love (2008) and Home for the Holidays (2008), continued his musical journey. Justin is currently in the studio working on his fourth studio album.
Lead bass player from Kansas City, Julian Vaughn stands 6’7″ tall, now getting attention not for his height, but his dynamic and inventive talents as a rising jazz star. His first hit single was “On Your Feet” reached and stayed at #1 on the Billboard for three consecutive weeks (from the “Breakthrough” album). His music is proving to be a breakthrough, as he takes C-Jazz into its new future.
Vaughn grew up in Kansas City, in the church where his grandfather and father were pastors. He began his music career playing the drums in the church, but that position was likened by Vaughn to “…like ten football players going after a fumble. Everyone wanted to play.” At age 15, Julian decided to try out a different instrument after seeing a bass guitar someone had in the church. He fell in love with it at first sight. Vaughn taught himself to play and realized he could play by ear.
When Vaughn was 19 his grandfather bought him a 6-string bass guitar. He began soloing on the bass and soon realized this was not just a hobby but was to be his life’s passion.
Vaughn has performed at notable Jazz festivals such as the Dubai International Jazz Festival, Seabreeze Jazz Festival, Catalina Island Jazz Festival and Big Bear Lake Fastival. From the Dubai he was discovered and signed to a recording contract with “Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records”.
Vaughn doesn’t write for industry trends, although he understands what flavor works in the radio format, — he writes from his heart. “Whatever is moving me at the moment is what dictates the end. I want to make music for the people not format,” says Vaughn. “Music is my everything that’s why I love doing what I do.”
Joyce Cooling, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, is best known for her eclectic style and colorful body-moving sound. Funky, soulful, and always original, Joyce Cooling is recognized as one of the most dynamic and popular contemporary jazz guitarists in the world.
Joyce has recorded seven albums – five of which charted on Billboard. She has to her credit two #1 radio singles, six top 10 and thirteen charting singles in all, and has garnered multiple music awards including the Gibson Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year and Best New Talent in the Jazziz Reader’s Poll. She was a nominee for the California Music Awards, the Oasis Awards and the Gavin Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Year.
Cooling has performed with such jazz giants as Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, and Charlie Byrd. Her top-10 single, “Mm Mm Good,” featuring Al Jarreau; and Christmas holiday tracks, “The Christmas Song,” with Lee Ritenour and her original single, “It’s Feeling Like Christmas,” have pushed Cooling to new heights of popularity while showcasing her musical versatility. Joyce Cooling is an international attraction at major jazz festivals around the world.
Global Cooling, released in April 2009, is their seventh studio CD and is receiving worldwide critical acclaim and raving reviews. Global Cooling was #2 on Amazon and hit #1 on the smoothjazz Indie charts and stayed there for over three months. The CD also remained in the top 10 on the TOP 50 Radio Charts for weeks, and the single, “Dolores in Pink,” won the #2 spot on Canada’s 2009 Café Jazz Review. Global Cooling was also chosen as the 2009 Album of the Year in the U.K. by PhoenixFM.
Cooling has also received international accolades for Revolving Door (2006 Narada/ Blue Note), This Girl’s Got To Play (2004 Narada Jazz), Third Wish (2001 GRP/ Verve), Keeping Cool (1999 Heads Up), and Playing It Cool (1997 Heads Up). Charting singles include “Mm Mm Good,” “Callie,” “Expression,” “Mildred’s Attraction,” and “South Of Market,” among many others.
Cooling, who is now based in San Francisco, was raised in the New York area in a house that was “filled with music.” Musical influences include everyone from Joe Henderson, Abbey Lincoln, Wes Montgomery and Miles, to James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix, to Ravel, Stravinsky, Bach and Brahms, to Hermeto Pascoal, Elis Regina, João Bosco and Jobim. Cooling proclaims, “I just like good music. There are no boundaries with me.”
“My teenage years were spent outside of the Village Vanguard and other Manhattan jazz clubs. I was underage, but the bartender at the Vanguard saw how much I loved the music and let me hang out on the steps. I heard everybody! It was fantastic and I was hooked.”
Other artistic influences that Cooling claims inspire her include Henri Matisse, Romare Beardon, Jean-Michel Basquiat as well as Richard Pryor, Carol Burnett, and George Carlin to name a few.
A self taught guitarist, Cooling learned to play by ear and has developed a personal style of finger picking, giving her playing a unique sound and feel. “I have always played that way. This wasn’t a conscious decision, it was just easier and more natural for me to first sing what I wanted to play and then play it. I was also never comfortable with a pick. I couldn’t feel what string I was on so I tossed the pick and played with my fingers.”
Joyce Cooling is a national advocate for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Joyce has performed at NAMI national and regional events all across the country. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of her CDs are donated to NAMI.
Listen/Buy Joyce’s latest CD:
With her sizzling mix of hot beats, Latin and samba rhythms, instantly captivating melodies and model looks, Jessy J proved quite the sensation when Tequila Moon, her auspicious debut on Peak Records, a division of Concord Music Group, was released March 4, 2008. The album earned the Mexican-American saxophonist/singer/songwriter such accolades as Radio & Records’ Debut Artist of The Year Award and Contemporary Jazz Song of the Year by R&R and Billboard for the title track, which stayed perched at #1 for an incredible eight weeks. Adding to Jessy’s rising star was a cover story in Jazziz Magazine, as well as features in People en Español and JazzTimes.
The hit “Tropical Rain,” from her 2009 release, True Love, reached the #1 spot on the R&R and Billboard jazz charts. Jessy was also on the October 2009 covers of Saxophone Journal and Latina Style Magazine in February 2010. In September 2010, this multi-talented musician was selected by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for their prestigious ASCAPLUS writing award.
Jessy’s third album, Hot Sauce, set for release on September 6, 2011 on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, spotlights her collaborations with some of today’s most prominent contemporary jazz musicians, including guitarists Paul Brown and Ray Parker Jr, keyboardists Joe Sample and Gregg Karukas, and drummer Harvey Mason.
Listen/BuyJessy’s CD: Hot Sauce
Born: November 27, 1962 in Hagerstown, MD Years Active: 00’s Genre: JAZZ
Euge Groove — a pseudonym for saxophone journeyman Steve Grove — began playing piano in the second grade and turned to the saxophone at the age of nine or ten. His teacher gave him a classical education on the instrument, which he followed at the University of Miami’s School of Music, where he became interested in jazz. Upon graduation, he initially remained in Miami doing sessions and playing in bands such as Expose, where he can be heard on the group’s 1987 number one single “Seasons Change.” He then moved to Los Angeles and joined Tower of Power, remaining with the group about four years. Following this experience, he freelanced, doing sessions and working in backup bands, his clients including Joe Cocker, Eurythmics, the Gap Band, Huey Lewis & the News, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Eros Ramazotti, and Richard Marx. His saxophone appeared on Marx’s Top 20 pop and number one AC hit “Keep Coming Back” in 1991. At the end of the ‘90s, Grove developed the persona of Euge Groove, a corruption of his real name, and recorded a demo that attracted the attention of various labels. This demo soon landed him with Warner Bros. Records. Euge Groove, his debut album, was released in May 2000. At the time, the saxophonist toured in Tina Turner’s backup band. He followed up with 2002’s Play Date featuring the singles “Slam Dunk” and “Rewind.” In 2004, Grove moved to Narada for the ’70s pop-soul inflected Livin’ Large. Grove stuck with the ‘70s vibe for 2005’s Just Feels Right and then incorporated a more gospel approach for 2007’s Born 2 Groove.
Listen/Buy Euge’s New CD
House Of Groove
Hailed as a prodigy on the acoustic double bass within months of first touching the instrument as a 15-year-old, Esperanza Spalding has emerged as a fine jazz bassist, but has also distinguished herself playing blues, funk, hip-hop, pop fusion, and Brazilian and Afro-Cuban styles as well. Born in Portland, OR in 1984, Spalding was not well served by the public school system and soon dropped out of classes to be home schooled. Returning to the public school system at 15, she encountered her first acoustic bass (she had already been playing violin for several years) and immediately took to the instrument. Dropping out of school again, Spalding enrolled in classes at Portland State University as a 16-year-old, and earned her B.A. in just three years and was immediately hired as an instructor in the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston in the spring of 2005. After touring and playing with a whole host of artists, including Joe Lovano, Patti Austin, Michel Camilo, Charlie Haden, Regina Carter, Pat Metheny, Dave Samuels, and a host of others, in addition to heading her own jazz trio, Spalding recorded and released Junjo on the Barcelona-based AYVA imprint in 2006, following it with the simply named Esperanza on Heads Up Records in 2008. ~ Steve Leggett, All Music Guide Born in 1984, bassist, singer and composer Esperanza Spalding began playing in small jazz and blues venues around her hometown of Portland, Oregon. Soon after picking up the acoustic bass at the late age of 14, she helped form Noise for Pretend, an eclectic band fusing jazz and pop for which she sang and played bass (often simultaneously). The group signed with indie rock imprint Hush Records, which released two albums of their original compositions.
Spalding continued to branch out, playing with jazz groups as well as leading her own septet and trio. In 2002 she joined the hip-hop group Black Science Tribe, which gained a sizable following touring along the West Coast.
Since moving East to attend the Berklee College of Music, Ms. Spalding has regularly worked as a freelance bassist and singer, both locally and internationally. Ms. Spalding has worked with many notable Grammy-winning artists such as pianist Michel Camilo, vibraphonist Dave Samuels, saxophonist Joe Lovano, violinist Regina Carter, guitarist Pat Metheny, and singer Patti Austin.
She has also performed as a member of the Boston Pops, with drummers Bill Stewart (John Scofield, Chris Potter, Joe Lovano), Terri-Lyne Carrington (Herbie Hancock), Mark Walker (Paquito D’Rivera), as well as guitarist Adam Rogers (Michael Brecker, Chris Potter), saxophonist Seamus Blake (Mingus Big Band, Bloomdaddies), and trumpeter Byron Stripling and performed as an opening act for comedian and sometimes-jazz drummer/vocalist Bill Cosby.
Recently, Ms. Spalding released her debut album as a leader, Junjo on the Barcelona based jazz label Ayva Music. Her CD features pianist Aruan Ortiz, and drummer Francisco Mela.
She is the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship. Spalding holds a B.M. from Berklee College of Music, where she also enjoys the status as the youngest faculty member ever in the history of the College. Esperanza recently became a new artist represented by the Montuno management agency.
In 2009 she played at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo(Norway), as the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, artist of choice.
In 2011 she was awarded the Grammy for best new artist, the only Jazz musician to be awarded the Grammy.
Ed (Smooth Grooves) Archibald is a Jazz Saxophonist with over 30 years of experience. Ed is based out of Omaha, Nebraska where he performs the best Smooth Jazz that can be found. He has played with Omaha’s top musicians and toured with local groups in venues over a 5 state region. Edward has appeared on television and in the outstanding Riverfront Jazz and Blues Festivals before crowds of 1,000’s.
His musical versatility is credited to his southern heritage of Blues, Country, Jazz and R&B. Showing his versatility and talent Ed has had the privilege of playing along side Chaka Khan and as the solo opening act for Kem as well as the legendary Al Green. Ed has also sharing the stage with many other national artists such as Mike Phillips, Gail Jhonsson, Marcus Johnson, Everette Harp and Nelson Rangel.
His 2006 release entitled “Smoove Grooves”is available now and can be purchased on Itunes and CD Baby.com. If you enjoy the musical stylings of Jazz Greats John Coltrane, Grover Washington and Kirk Whalum, you will no doubt enjoy Ed’s sophisticated take on modern Contemporary Jazz.
His new CD is scheduled for release the summer of 2013.
Dave Koz was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. He first began playing the saxphone just to get into his older brother’s band. After graduating from UCLA he decided to become a professional musician and immediately began a series of professional tours. Within few weeks he began touring with Bobby aldwell’s band, then keyboardist Jeff Lorber invited him to tour with him. Following that, he toured with pop singer Richard Marx.
Dave is a 9-time Grammy nominee. Among the nominated CDs Saxophonic (2003), At the Movies (2007), Hello Tomorrow (2010), Live at the Blue Note (2012)
Having his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Dave has played with the legendary greats Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Shelby Lynne, Barry Manilow, U2, Luther Vandross, Michael McDonald and Rod Stewart.
With the release of her debut album “Bloom” in 2009, the name proved prophetic, as Cindy Bradley blossomed on the contemporary jazz festival circuit and radio. Cindy has performed everywhere from the River Raisin’ Jazz Festival in Monroe, Michigan to the Dubai Jazz Fest. She was named Debut Artist of the Year by the Catlina Island Jazz Trax Festival and Smooth Jazz News. Cindy toured with the legendary urban jazz group “Pieces of a Dream”, and played at the renowned Big Bear Lake Jazz Festival, the Balconese Heights Jazz Festival, North Carolina Wine and Jazz Festival and Omaha’s Riverfront Jazz and Blues Festival.
Cindy is a native of Buffalo, New York and became a trumpet player by accident in fourth grade. She had been playing the piano since age six but to be part of the school band program she had to choose a different instrument. “I picked the trumpet, which turned out to be a life and career defining fluke,” she recalls. By the age of 12 she was performing professionally with a Buffalo area jazz band of promising musicians ages 12 to 17, named “Sugar and Jazz”. They emulated the big bands of the 1940s and this is where she fell in love with performance jazz with her trumpet.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies from Ithaca College, she studied for her master’s in jazz trumpet performance at the New England Conservatory. She was influenced by the jazz greats of John McNeil, Bob Brookmeyer, Jerry Bergonzi, George Russell and Steve Lacy. After her studies were completed she immersed herself in the vibrant jazz scene of New York City, with equal passions for be-bop jazz and contemporary jazz, as well as funk, Top 40, R&B and jazz fusion. She played in bands that performed for clubs, the Emmy Awards and the Super Bowl.
Cindy has inspired young people all over the country, conducting hundreds of high school and community college jazz workshops. “These workshops are a way of giving back to the community”, she says. “It’s inspiring to see the influence a few encouraging words can have on young people who really want to develop their passion for music.” Many of the younger children she teaches have never seen anyone play a live instrument in front of them.
Her 2013 album explains her whimsical spirit and stylistic diversity — that sometimes in life it’s just best to go “Unscripted”. During the making of the album she experienced an emotionally challenging ending of a relationship as well as her grandmother and mother being diagnosed with cancer. Her grandmother passed away but her mother is clear and doing well now. ime to find my voice as a solo artist on trumpet and flugelhorn, but it’s been an ixciting learning process and I have so much fun along the way meeting so many great people and being able to play for audiences who love all styles of music. … Life has no script and you never know how it’s going to go as we experience its ups and downs.”
Listen / Buy #1 Unscripted
Live at Dubai