Richard Underhill - alto sax / composer / arranger

Richard Underhill’s warm alto sound, great writing and arranging skills and in-from-the-outside soloing make him one of Canada’s most distinctive jazz performers. His new project is 'Free Spirit', a critically acclaimed Live DVD/Studio CD set that features Lincoln Center Jazz trombonist Ron Westray and some of Toronto’s finest jazz players.

Richard was awarded the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition in 2008 for his contribution to Toronto musical and artistic community. He won a 2003 Juno Award for his jazz debut 'Tales from the Blue Lounge' and was nominated for the Prix du Jazz at the 2003 Montreal Jazz Festival. His debut video ‘The Old Guys’ climbed to No.1 on the Bravo! video chart and won a 2004 SOCAN Number 1 award. His latest album 'Kensington Suite' has garnered significant critical acclaim and was nominated for a 2008 Juno Award and his 2nd album 'Moment in Time' was also nominated for a Juno Award in 2007. He also took home 2nd place in the International Songwriting Competition in 2008.

Richard has performed and recorded with Han Bennink, Julius Hemphil, Dr. John, Paul Cram, Kevin Breit, Jane Bunnett, Aaron Neville and Dumpsta Funk, Kathleen Edwards, Taj Mahal, Maria Muldar, Rob McConnell, Molly Johnson, Blue Rodeo, Colin James, Andy Stochansky, Colin Linden, Hawksley Workman, Stephen Frearing, the Sadies, Tom Cochrane, Wide Mouth Mason, Luke Doucet, Holly Cole, Julie Michaels, Alex Lifeson, Mendelson Joe, Amos Garrett, Bobby Wiseman, Soul Rebels, the Mighty PoPo, the Hemispheres Orchestra, Daniel Janke, Tom Walsh, Mellissa McClelland, NOMA and Toronto jazz stalwarts like Reg Schwager, Jake Langley, Steve Koven, Ron Davis, Wayne Cass, Tyler Yarema, Tory Cassis, and George Koller. In demand as a session player and sideman, he has written horn and string arrangements for Kathleen Edwards, Molly Johnson, Andy Stochansky, Hawksley Workman, Blue Rodeo, Bobby Wiseman, Big Rude Jake and Lorraine Segato. He leads several diverse groups including his jazz quintet, the Funk Explosion, The Kensington Horns Community Band, and the improvising electronic groove ensemble Astrogroove. He has been musical director for the Kensington Festival of Lights since 2003 and currently sits on the Music Committee at the Toronto Arts Council and on the board of directors of Clay and Paper Theatre.

The founding member of Toronto's outrageous Sun Ra influenced Shuffle Demons, Underhill took this ground breaking Bop Rap ensemble from the streets of Toronto across Canada and to Europe. This audacious group played jazz, folk, world and rock festivals from Halifax to Vancouver and from Italy to Estonia from 1986 – 1997, touring across Canada 15 times and through Europe 15 times and were well received at several Jazz festivals including the North Sea Jazz, Molde Jazz, London’s Outside In Jazz festival, the Edinburgh Jazz festival, the Sfinks festival, and Jazz a Vienne. The Shuffle Demons feature a fusion of hard bop and rap combined with exotic costumes and a no-holds-barred performance style. They recently celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a cross Canada tour and in 2006 performed at festivals in India, China and Europe.

Ron Westray - trombone

One of the most highly regarded trombonists of his generation, Ron Westray continues to expand upon the legacy set before him. Mr. Westray’s work as an instructor, mentor, recording artist and leader, has earned him world-wide recognition. Mr. Westray is perhaps best know for his work as lead trombonist in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra conducted by Wynton Marsalis, as well as his collaborative effort with Wycliffe Gordon on the Atlantic label titled Bone Structure. Mr. Westray’s compositional achievements allow him a notable position among jazz composers, while his accomplishments on the trombone showcase him as a virtuoso instrumentalist. In 1988, he entered South Carolina State University. Still a student, he joined Marcus Roberts’ Band and made his recording debut on Roberts’ As Serenity Approaches. Upon completing his Bachelor of Arts in Music degree in 1992, Mr. Westray joined the Jazz Futures II, an international touring group comprised of young talented jazz musicians. Later that year, Mr. Westray was awarded a graduate assistantship to attend Eastern Illinois University. Mr. Westray completed his Master of Arts degree in 1994. Upon graduation Ron was recruited by Wynton Marsalis to join The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. In addition to his schedule with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Mr. Westray has recorded as a sideman on labels such as Columbia, Sony Classical, and RCA Novus. His accomplishments in the field have gained him exposure in publications such as Ebony, Essence, Down Beat, Jazz Times, Life Magazine and The New Yorker. Mr. Westray has performed at jazz venues such as The Village Vanguard, The Jazz Standard, The Iridium, The Blue Note, Sweet Basil’s Bradley’s, Visiones and Smalls, in New York City. He has appeared in concert with Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Heath, John Lewis, Pharoh Sanders, Benny Carter, Carl Allen, Cyrus Chestnut, Eric Reed, Dewey Redman, Josh Redman, Roy Haynes, Billy Higgins, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Randy Brecker, Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride and the like. Ron is also a welcomed member of The Mingus Band in New York City. In 2005 Mr. Westray’s original score, Chivalrous Misdemeanors -- Select tales from Don Quixote, was awarded a grant from The Greenwall Foundation to support production. Mr. Westray’s arrangements of The Music of Charles Mingus can be heard on the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra CD on the Palmetto Jazz label. Mr. Westray’s charts were recently published by Walrus Music, and Ron’s latest recording, Medical Cures…. garnered a #1 listening rating on Mr. Westray’s biography was recently submitted into the Blues and Jazz Musicians of South Carolina publication, released by USC press. Ron Westray is a Dean’s Fellow from 2008-2009. Ron Westray is an assistant professor in the Jazz Studies Department at The University of Texas at Austin.

Dave Restivo - piano

David Restivo is one of Canada’s most respected and influential jazz artists. A critically acclaimed pianist and composer, he is well known for his decade-long tenure with Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass and Tentet, as well as his work with saxophonist Mike Murley’s quintet and legendary songwriter Marc Jordan. He has also performed and recorded with such musical luminaries as Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler, Charles McPherson, Marcus Belgrave, Moe Koffman, Mark Whitfield, Alex Acuña, John Abercrombie, Maynard Fergusson, Mel Tormé, Gene Bertoncini, Jerry Bergonzi, Ingrid and Christine Jensen, Joe LaBarbera, Pat LaBarbera, Don Thomson, Tim Hagans, and Curtis Fuller. As both leader and sideman he has graced stages at every major festival and venue in Canada, with performances also in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and South America.

Honoured in 1997, 2002, and again in 2004 at Canada’s National Jazz Awards as Pianist of the Year, David was voted Toronto’s Best Keyboardist in NOW Magazine’s “Best of T.O.” reader’s poll in 1998 and received a Juno Award for his work on the 2001 recording The Rob McConnell Tentet (JustinTime). He has served on the faculty at Toronto’s Humber College and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, and is currently a full-time professor of music at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. He will be listed in the 2004 edition of Who’s Who in Canada. Dave has been called “…eloquent…” (Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star), “…luminously crisp…” (Rex Reed, New York Observer), “[a] good messeng[er] of the blues…” (John McDonough, DOWNBEAT), “…one of Canada’s finest…”(Toronto Star), and “…one of the most burning piano players- period!” (Kenny Werner, jazz great). He can be heard on numerous recordings, including the Grammy-winning Mel Tormé/Rob McConnell collaboration Velvet and Brass (Concord Jazz), Mike Murley’s Conversation Piece (Cornerstone), Marc Jordan’s This is How Men Cry (Blue Note/EMI), and his own lauded debut Prayer for Humankind(ness) (Radioland/Universal). His music has been featured extensively on CBC radio and 91.1 Jazz FM.

Artie Roth - bass

Toronto-born jazz bassist Artie Roth has been an active composer, bandleader, performer and educator in the national and international jazz communities, since his graduation from York University in 1992 with the Oscar Peterson Scholarship. After two Canada Council sponsored study tenures in New York City (1993 and 1997), Artie returned to Toronto establishing himself as one of the busiest, full-time composer/performers in Toronto.

As a side-person, he has been recorded on over 35 CDs including Rich Underhill's 2003 JUNO award winning Tales from the blue lounge and Rockit 88's 2004 JUNO nominated Too Much Fun. Artie has toured extensively, performing in theatres, festivals and jazz venues regionally, nationally and internationally. More specifically, on a national level, this touring has included dates on the east coast (2001), Quebec (2003), and Quebec and Manitoba (2005) with jazz vocalist Melissa Stylianou, as well as cross-Canada tours with The Sean Bray Quartet (1995) and The Rez Abassi Quartet (2000). Internationally, tours in the U.S.A. have included performances with The Greg Runions Sextet featuring Kenny Wheeler (1994) and The Lynne Arriale Trio (1997).

Artie's overseas engagements have included performances with The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band in Germany (1996) and The Steve Koven Trio in Mexico (2003) and Columbia (2005). The year 2005 proved to be exciting for Artie. As well as being nominated for a National Jazz Award in the category of bassist of the year, he had the honour of accompanying such jazz legends as Anita O'Day, Curtis Fuller and Marcus Belgrave. In addition to his active composer/band-leading and freelance career, Artie currently holds the position of Bass Instructor at York University.

Larnell Lewis - drums

Larnell Lewis is a 25 year old drummer from Toronto, Ontario. A student at Humber College, Larnell was the 2004 recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music ($5000 scholarship award), the highest award given by the institution. Over the last few years, Larnell has performed with many artists/musicians such as Fred Hammond, Michael Brecker (Verve Records), Dave Leibman, Steve Gadd, Dave Holland (LoJac Music), Tim Ries, Salome Bey, Denny Christianson (Justin Time Records, and Head of the Humber College Music Program), Phil Dwyer, Divine Brown, Glenn Lewis, Heart to Heart Outreach, Jully Black (Universal), Matt Dusk (Universal), and is currently playing with, Perfect Cadence, Amoy Levy, Laila Biali, Divine Brown, rinsethealgorithm and many others. Larnell is Sponsored by Yamaha Drums and Hardware, Vater Drum Sticks, Evans Drum Heads, and Zildjian Cymbals.

William Carn - trombone

Trombonist William Carn has emerged as one of Canada’s leading contemporary jazz composers and performers. His debut release, Other Stories, was nominated for a 2007 Juno Award as Traditional Jazz Album of the Year. He has also been nominated for Trombonist of the Year at the National Jazz Awards from 2004 to 2008.

As a bandleader, William currently leads several groups; the William Carn Quintet and a new quartet Run Stop Run, both featuring some of Canada’s finest musicians. The William Carn Quintet includes Kelly Jefferson, saxophones; David Braid, piano; Jon Maharaj, bass; and Anthony Michelli, drums. The WCQ has toured across Canada and has become an established fixture in the Canadian jazz landscape. Run Stop Run showcases a trombone and guitar frontline along with bass and drums. This exciting group features the talents of Don Scott, guitar; Jon Maharaj, bass; and Ethan Ardelli, drums.

He has performed and recorded with jazz artists including Rob McConnell, Randy Brecker, David Binney, Kenny Wheeler, Barry Harris, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Vince Mendoza, Mike Murley, Hilario Duran, Andrew Downing, Jim McNeely, John Clayton, and Don Thompson.

William also enjoys a diverse freelance career in Toronto and is a regular member of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival orchestra. He has also played in the orchestras for many musicals including The Producers, West Side Story, Cabaret and Grease. Studio and concert engagements have included Aretha Franklin, Jon Secada, Peabo Bryson, Sheena Easton, Christopher Cross, Sarah Slean, Hawksley Workman, Melissa McClelland, Luc Doucet, Emily Haynes, Kathleen Edwards, Dionne Taylor, Emile-Claire Barlow, Sophie Millman, Jeff Healy, Colin James, Jack Soul, Jarvis Church, Sisqo, Frankie Valli, and Don Rickles. William has also been featured on over 100 commercial recordings as a performer.

Currently William is a member of many ensembles including David Clayton-Thomas, Hilario Duran Big Band, Kieran Overs Eleven, the Bernie Senensky Septet, the Andy Ballantyne Large Ensemble (ABLE), the Paul Read Orchestra (PRO), the Art of Jazz Orchestra, the Heilig Manoeuvre, the Vern Dorge Sextet, and the Urban Arts Brass Ensemble.

As a clinician and teacher, William has taught throughout Canada for such distinguished institutions as the University of Victoria, University of Saskatewan, University of Regina, Capilano College, Grant MacEwan College, Mohawk College, as well as for the Toronto, York and Etobicoke boards of Education. He is a regular faculty member of the National Music Camp – Jazz Division as well as an instructor for both the University of Toronto Jazz Studies program and Humber College. William is also a Yamaha artist and clinician.

Eric St-Laurent - guitar

Eric St-Laurent is a performing musician, a composer for film and television, and an emerging amateur chef at home. He has been featured as a guitarist on over 30 recordings (name dropping), has produced albums, written scores for shorts, theatre, and toured in Europe and Canada. He has lived in Montreal, New York City and Berlin, recently relocating to Toronto, where work with his new trio his keeping him busy.

Eric is a member of:
  • The Guild of Canadian Film Composers
  • SOCAN (The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada)
  • GEMA (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführung)
  • The Toronto Musician's Union, Local 149
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