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Event details:

Harriet Tubman Learning Center C.S. 154M
Tue., November 30, 2010 – 3:04 PM
Harriet Tubman Learning Center C.S. 154M
250 West 127th Street, New York, NY 10027
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Lineup: Abdou Mboup, Bruce Harris, Jovan Alexandre, Kevin Hsieh, Roy Assaf, Winard Harper,  

Performer Details:

Abdou Mboup — African Percussion

Abdou Mboup

Abdou Mboup was born in the small town of Kebemer, Senegal to a family of oral historians and musicians. Having studied traditional drumming under the tutelage of his family, Abdou soon became a key figure in the development of the Mbalax style (Senegalese dance music). In fact in the early 1970s, he was the first musician to incorporate various traditional instruments into Senegalese popular music. A few years later, he joined the renewned Dakar based group Xalam, which he toured Europe and Africa under the patronage of south African trumpeter, Hugh Masekela. By the 1980s, Abdou was living and working in Paris, There he attracted the attention of the American trumpeter Jon Hassell, with whom he recorded and performed at the 1982 Womad festival in London, England. Soon therafter, he became the percussionist of Eddy Louiss’s band with whom he toured and recorded for the next ten years. Concurrently, Abdou taught percussion at Loisirs et Culture music school in France and founded the jazz fusion band Sixun. In the years to come, Abdou’s career has only expanded. He has toured and recorded in Africa, Europe, America, Southeastern Asia, Japan, Nepal and India. From the 1990s until now, Abdou has written original composition for Jean Luc Ponty, Pharoah Sanders Tom Tom Club and Randy Weston.

As a player, he has collaborated with Manu Dibango, Michel Petrucciani, Richard Galliano, Nina Simone, Toots Thielemans, Jon Lurie, Africa Bambata, Chico Freeman, Craig Harris, David Murray big band, Joe Zawinul Syndicate, Bob Stewart, Joe Chambers, Buster Williams, Harry Belafonte, George Cables, Ron Carter, Steve Turre, Jon Faddis, Billy Higgins,Tom Tom Club, Ronny Jordan, Carla Cook, Kenny Barron, Jason Moran . Abdou Mboup currently teaches at the New School University, NY and lives in Union City, NJ. He is the leader of his own band WAAKAW, meaning « country boys » in his native Wolof.

Bruce Harris — Trumpet

Bruce Harris

Bruce Harris' affinity for Jazz music began as a child listening to his grandfather play the alto sax in his family's south Bronx apartment. After viewing Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues, Bruce's intrigue with the trumpet grew and his relationship with his instrument has been star-crossed since.

The influences of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Clifford brown, and Dizzy Gillespie weighed heavily as Bruce learned the fundamentals of jazz. As a junior in high school, Bruce was honored to perform in the “Essentially Ellington”jazz band competition sharing the stage with his friend and mentor, Wynton Marsalis. Bruce fortified his studies by training his ear on the piano and by graduation he had been selected to join the National Grammy High School Jazz Band.

In 2000, Bruce added the Blue Note Jazz Scholarship to his list of achievements. His journey continued at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College studying under the guidance of Trumpet Virtuoso, Jon Faddis. In 2003, Bruce traveled to Europe as a guest soloist at the Netherlands Jazz Orchestra. He had also been privileged to share the spotlight with Marcus Stickland, Curtis Fuller, Don Braden, Jim Rotundi, Billy Taylor, and Dave Brubeck.

Bruce completed his studies in 2004 earning a BFA in jazz performance. He continues to work tirelessly, striving for superior musicianship. In his spare time, Bruce inspires young musicians, teaching private lessons. His eclectic tastes are evident in the variety of bands he performs with including Latin, and Blues styled groups. He can be seen regularly performing with his Quintet, and Big Band in various clubs in New York City.

Jovan Alexandre — Saxophone

Jovan Alexandre

Jovan Alexandre grew up in Wallingford, CT and attended Mark T. Sheehan High School. He studied at the Artists Collective, in Hartford throughout High school. There he was a member of the Jackie Mclean Youth Orchestra under the direction of Rene Mclean. This gave him the opportunity to meet and perform with Louis Hayes, Charles Tolliver, Nat Reeves, Steve Davis, Jason Moran, Nasheet Waits, Eric McPherson, Yusef Lateef, Barry Harris, Wynton Marsalis, Curtis Fuller, Dr. Eddie Henderson and Larry Willis among others. Jovan has performed at numerous jazz festivals and competitions. While still in high school, Jovan was named Superior Musician in the Berklee High School Jazz Festival in 2005, 2006, and 2007. He played All-State and All-Eastern Jazz Festivals through out High school. In 2007 he was selected to be part of the Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble. During Grammy Week, he performed with some of the most gifted young musicians in North America as well as jazz legends, James Moody,Phil Woods, and Patti Austin. Jovan is currently a freshman at the Jackie Mclean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School of music in Hartford, CT.

Kevin Hsieh — Bass

Kevin Hsieh

Born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Kevin Hsieh could be considered a relative late-bloomer in discovering jazz music, trained in classical piano and violin until switching to upright bass and jazz at the age of 17. 

His college studies led him to New York, where he completed a degree in Political Science in 2011 at Columbia University while pursuing a music career in the city. 

Kevin comes from the pedigree of many respected musicians, having the honor of being involved in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program and the co-leader of Cleopatra’s Needle late-night jam session. He has also appeared with his own group at clubs such as the Jazz Bakery and Smalls.

Some mentors include Drew Gress, Ben Street, Larry Grenadier, David Wong, and many others. He currently works as a sideman for notables such as drummer Winard Harper and up-and-coming guitarist/vocalist Dida Pelled.

Roy Assaf — Piano

Roy Assaf

Roy Assaf is a native of Tel Aviv who began his formal classical training at the Tel Aviv Conservatory at the age of 8. He moved to New York in 2006 to study at The Manhattan School of Music.
A pianist with dazzling technique and a composer who expertly weaves jazz harmonies, Roy was named the ASCAP Foundation’s Young Jazz Composer in 2008. He made his New York Blue Note debut with the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band in 2007, followed by a European tour consisting of 13 cities.

Roy’s other awards include the 31st Downbeat Student Award for Outstanding Performance, 2nd place in the Charlie Palmieri Memorial Piano Competition, Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute Award, America-Israel Cultural Foundation Prize for Young Israeli Musicians and the 30th Downbeat Student Award for Best Jazz Arrangement.

Over the last few years, Roy has performed with Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Lewis Nash, Dr. Billy Taylor, Barry Harris, George Garzone, T.S. Monk, Steve Davis, John Lee, Dave Samuels, Claudio Roditi, Victor Mendoza and Giovanni Hidalgo, in addition to such jazz legends as Jimmy Heath, James Moody and Slide Hampton.

Roy is currently also part of the John Lee Quartet, Charlie Christenson Quartet, Alex Terrier Quartet, Chris Dempsey Quartet and Roy Assaf & Eddy Khaimovich Project.

In 2003, after being awarded several scholarships to the Berklee College of Music, Roy moved from Israel to Boston to pursue his undergraduate studies there. While at Berklee, he studied with such distinguished musicians and teachers as Joanne Brackeen, Danilo Perez, Kenny Werner, Michel Camilo, Richie Beirach and Sonny Bravo. Roy graduated from Berklee in 2005 and was awarded a BA cum laude.

In May of 2005, Roy was invited to perform at the Promising Artist of the 21st Century Performance Series in Costa Rica. Shortly thereafter, he performed with his jazz quartet at the Phoenix Jazz Festival in Kobe, Japan.

In May 2008, Roy graduated from a two-year program at the Manhattan School of Music, earning a Master's degree in Jazz Performance. He was fortunate to be mentored by pianists Kenny Barron, Jason Moran and Phil Markowitz, and great saxophonist Dave Liebman.

Winard Harper — Drums

Winard Harper

Drummer WINARD HARPER is passionate about jazz.
"This music is powerful," he says. "It can do a lot of good for people. If they'd spend some time each day listening to it, we would see many changes in the world."

Inspired by the musicianship of greats such as Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Jackie McLean, Cannonball Adderley, Dr. Billy Taylor, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins, Harper has been the leader and musical inspiration for a vibrant sextet for almost a decade. The group appears regularly all over the United States from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to Yoshi's, the legendary West Coast jazz club. Although clearly the dominant force behind this extraordinarily gifted ensemble, Harper has surrounded himself with superbly talented young guardians of the jazz tradition (including Lawrence Clark, Ameen Saleem, Josh Evans, Stacy Dillard and Alioune Faye), who are as entertaining to watch as they are to listen to.

Born in Baltimore in 1962, Winard had a natural affinity for drumming. He was encouraged to play the drums by his father, who noticed him beating on cans when he was three or four years old. At the age of five, Winard was developing his skills and making guest appearances with his older brother Danny's nightclub band. A turning point was reached when Winard heard a recording of Clifford Brown and Max Roach. It was then that he was irreversibly inspired to play jazz. "I was fascinated hearing Max do the things he did playing with mallets and everything," he remembers.

“Early on,” Harper continues, “I transcribed a couple of Max solos, but I really just loved listening to him. He was a big influence as well as Art Blakey, and more so than anybody, Billy Higgins. The joy and the passion and his love of playing really made an impact on me. I could see similarities between myself and him, and then we became such great friends. A lot of the concept of my band was inspired by Billy. A lot of the African influences and different instruments I use in the band, Billy was always exploring as well.”

Constantly in reverence of his predecessors while remaining innovative in his own right, Harper has become one of the most celebrated drummers in jazz. He is a virtuoso on the drum set as well as the balafon, the West African equivalent of the marimba. Critics have written that Winard is as pleasing and entertaining to watch as he is to hear. "As tasteful a drummer as one could ask for," according to Jeff Kaliss of JazzTimes. Franz Matzner recently wrote in All About Jazz that the sextet's performance "culminated in an evening of fireworks with a sustained display of percussive pyrotechnics by Harper so rapid fire, so mind bogglingly dexterous, and so expressively diverse, as to be truly awe-inspiring." And in a Washington Post review, Mike Joyce said, "Winard Harper's wonderfully orchestrated solos alone might have forced a corpse to grin!"

Harper's first major gig was with Dexter Gordon in 1982, and shortly thereafter with Johnny Griffin. It wasn't long before his drumming skills captured the attention of Betty Carter. He spent four years working with Ms. Carter's band, inevitably honing his jazz-as-entertainment sense of showmanship.

“With Betty I learned consistency and persistence,” Harper recalls. “Working with her prepared me to become a bandleader. I learned a lot about the business from her. When I left Betty’s band, I came out with enough information to get the Harper Brothers on the way. She gave me the inside track on bookings, clubs, most of the places we worked were the same places I worked with her.”

During the 1980s while Winard worked as a sideman to such jazz legends as Ray Bryant, Abdullah Ibrahim, Pharoah Sanders and Clifford Jordan, he also laid the foundation for what would become The Harper Brothers band. He and his brother Philip launched a band that would blaze a brilliant trail both on the charts and on the international touring circuit.

"Man for man, The Harper Brothers Quintet, … is the most brilliant new jazz group of the new decade," declared Leonard Feather in his review of the band's Los Angeles performance in early 1990. Remembrance, the band's second album went to #1 on Billboard's jazz chart in 1991.

Winard Harper, Piadrum recording artist, is one of the hardest working drummers in jazz today, not only leading his very exciting and hard-swinging sextet, but also continuing as an in-demand sideman. When not touring with his band, Harper continues to work and record with such artists such as Joe Lovano, Avery Sharpe, Steve Turre, Wycliffe Gordon, Frank Wess, Ray Bryant, and Jimmy Heath. His newest CD, Make It Happen, goes further than any of his previous six releases to highlight his talent as drummer, composer and bandleader.

And now the Winard Harper Sextet moves to a new level of success. Not only is the band gaining increased air play around the globe, joined by regular appearances at festivals, on jazz cruises, concert halls and in top jazz clubs, the Winard Harper Sextet is doing their part to bring the power of jazz to audiences everywhere. The response has been nothing short of remarkable. But then again, so is Winard Harper.