"Ben Allison, Steve Cardenas, Allison MIller"
Bassist/composer Ben Allison is one of a few band leaders working in jazz today who has developed his own instantly identifiable sound. Known for his inspired arrangements, inventive grooves and lyrical and sometimes quirky melodies, Ben draws from the jazz tradition and a range of influences from rock and folk to classical and world music, and seamlessly blends them into a cinematic, cohesive whole.
With his groups The Ben Allison Band, Man Size Safe, Peace Pipe, and Medicine Wheel, Ben has toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, South American and Europe, winning fans and building new audiences with an adventurous yet accessible sound and a flair for the unexpected.
Called “one of today’s best young jazz musicians” by the Boston Globe and a “visionary composer, adventurous improviser, and strong organizational force on the New York City jazz scene” by JazzTimes, Ben has released ten albums — Action-Refraction (2011), Think Free (2009), Little Things Run the World (2008), Cowboy Justice (2006), Buzz (2004), Peace Pipe (2002), Riding the Nuclear Tiger (2001), Third Eye (1999), Medicine Wheel (1998) and Seven Arrows (1996) on Palmetto Records — all of which showcase Ben’s forward-thinking vision as a producer, composer, arranger, and bassist, and his hands-on approach to his craft.
Cited in the “Bassist” category of the 2005-2009 Downbeat Readers’ Poll, Ben’s work has not gone unnoticed by the press. Since 2003 Ben has been routinely listed in the Downbeat Critics Poll in an extremely wide variety of categories including “Bassist,” “Composer,” “Rising Star Bassist,” (ranking #1 in 2005-2007), “Rising Star Album,” “Rising Star Acoustic Group,” “Rising Star Arranger,” and “Rising Star Jazz Artist,” all of which is a testament to his dedication as a musician. In 2005, Ben received the Bird Award, The Netherland’s most prestigeous jazz-related award.
“I see the the whole process — from assembling a band, writing and work-shopping the music, recording and mastering the album, doing the artwork and writing the notes, and then touring the project — to be all part of the process of musical expression.” says Ben. “I enjoy every step as they all demand a certain kind of positive energy. And I get to collaborate with a wide range of very creative people.”
Ben’s current album, Action-Refraction reached #1 on the CMJ National Jazz radio charts and has remained in the top 20 for over two months, making it one of the most-played CDs of 2011. His previous six albums, achieved similar radio success, garnering him 7 SESAC National Performance Awards, and have been named as among the best of the year by publications such as Billboard, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, Jazz Times, Jazz Journalists Association,Downbeat Critics Poll, All About Jazz, Coda (Canada), and Jazz Review (UK), among many others.
At the age of twenty-five, Ben formed the Jazz Composers Collective — a musician-run, non-profit organization based in New York City that is dedicated to constructing an environment where artists can exercise their ideals of creating and risking through the development and exploration of new music. As the Artistic Director and a Composer-in-Residence of the Jazz Composers Collective, Ben has produced or co- produced over 100 concerts and special events, including the Collective’s annual concert series (which ran for eleven seasons), national and international tours by Collective artists, an on-going Collective residency at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA, NYC), and an annual “Jazz Composers Collective Festival” at the Jazz Standard — which has drawn international attention as a mainstay of New York City’s musical life. As a member of the Collective Ben has received commissioning, performing, and recording grants from Chamber Music America, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Aaron Copland Foundation, Meet the Composer, and the American Composers Forum.
Born in 1966 in New Haven, Connecticut, Ben has performed the world over with musicians ranging from oudist Ara Dinkjian to saxophonist Lee Konitz to legendary performance artist Joey Arias. He has appeared on over 40 albums by various artists and has written music for film, national television and radio, including the theme for the National Public Radio (NPR) show On the Media (which boasts a listernship of over 1,000,000 people per week) and the score for Two Days, a play written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Donald Margulies. He was a featured artist with the Jazz Sinfonica Orchestra of Sao Paulo in 2005 and 2008.
Guitarist Steve Cardenas began his musical career in Kansas City and has been an integral part of the New York City jazz community since 1995.
Steve is a “first-call” sideman, having played guitar on more than 100 albums, some of which have included such legendary artists as Paul Motian, Charlie Haden and Steve Swallow, to name a few. He has toured extensively throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia, performing at countless international music festivals, theaters, opera houses and clubs, solidifying his reputation as world-class improvisor and a leading voice of his generation. Steve also leads his own trio and has released three recordings as a leader featuring his own compositions.
Steve is also a well-respected educator. He is on faculty at The New School For Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. Steve has also been on faculty at the California Institute of the Arts, Siena Summer Jazz Workshop, Stanford Jazz Workshop and Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.
Additionally, Steve is co-author, along with editor Don Sickler, of the Thelonious Monk Fakebook (Hal Leonard Publishing) - a complete book of all of Monk’s compositions. The Thelonious Monk Fakebook marks the first time all of Monk’s compositions have appeared in one volume, many of them being published for the first time.
Allison Miller is a New York City-based drummer, composer, and teacher. She has recorded five albums as a bandleader: 5 AM Stroll, Boom Tic Boom, No Morphine-No Lilies, Live at Willisau, and Otis Was a Polar Bear, as well as working as a session musician. Her work with bands has included forming the band Honey Ear Trio with Rene Hart and Erik Lawrence, Holler and Bam with Toshi Reagon, and her own band, Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom.
Miller has performed with songwriting vocalists Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, and Erin McKeown, and toured with avant-garde saxophonist Marty Ehrlich and organist Doctor Lonnie Smith and folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile.
Miller began playing the drums at age 10, and quickly began studying with a top teacher in the Washington D.C. area, Walter Salb. In 1991, she was featured in Downbeat magazine's "Up and Coming" spotlight. She soon began playing in clubs in Washington D.C. and eventually received a Bachelor of Music Performance degree at West Virginia University. After graduating summa cum laude in 1996, she moved to New York City to begin her career as a freelance drummer and continue her studies with Michael Carvin.
Miller has since performed and recorded with Natalie Merchant, Ani DiFranco, Brandi Carlile, Kenny Barron, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Steven Bernstein, The Meredith Vieira Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Ray Drummond, Ben Allison, Patricia Barber, Peter Bernstein, Erin McKeown, Sheila Jordan, Marty Ehrlich, George Garzone, Melissa Ferrick, Kitty Margolis, Michael Feinstein, Shahin Novrasli, Toshi Reagon, Kevin Mahogany, Ingrid Jensen, Paul Bollenbackn, Mimi Fox, John McNeil, Jenny Scheinman, Virginia Mayhew, Bruce Barth, Mark Soskin, Harvie S, poet Alix Olsen and the band Betty. Miller's drumming and composing have also been featured on the Showtime hit series, The L Word.
In addition, Miller was chosen by the US State Department to tour East Africa, Eurasia and Southeast Asia as a Jazz Ambassador.
Allison Miller recently founded the "Walter Salb Memorial Scholarship Foundation" in honor of her late teacher and mentor. The foundation annually provides a promising young musician a monetary award directed toward furthering their studies in music.
Miller also holds an adjunct teaching position at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC and gives lessons and master classes at additional universities and high schools throughout the United States, including NYU, UMASS Amherst, University of Alaska, Elon University, University of South Florida, West Virginia University, Berkeley Jazz School, University of the Pacific, UC Berkeley and the University of Maryland. Her writing has been published in DRUM magazine, Tom Tom Magazine, Modern Drummer, and Huffington Post. Miller has been featured in Downbeat, Jazz Times, Tom Tom, Jazziz, DRUM, LA Times, Modern Drummer, All About Jazz NY, and Female Musician magazine.