The exciting Bill Cunliffe Imaginacion Latin Jazz Band is led by Grammy award winning Pianist, Bill Cunliffe, Trumpeter, Kye Palmer, Saxophonist, Brandon Fields, Trombonist, Francisco Torres, Bassist, Oskar Cartaya, Drummer, Dick Weller, and Percussionist, Giancarlo Anderson. The Band plays high energy Latin Jazz Originals, and Standards with an authentic sound all their own. All players are virtuosos on their instruments, and come together with exceptional musicianship. Band leader, Bill Cunliffe, is one of the most gifted composers, arrangers, educators, and pianists in contemporary Jazz, Pop, and Classical music today. Cunliffe’s versatility is unmatched, leading Trios, Small Groups, Big Bands, Latin Bands, performing in Classical and Jazz Ensembles, soloing with Symphony Orchestras, writing and performing Choral compositions for Classical, Pop, and Jazz, and writing and performing Chamber and Orchestral music, and for Wind Ensembles. Cunliffe received a Grammy Award in 2010 for Best Instrumental Arrangement of Oscar Peterson’s West Side Story Medley. Bill has 25 recordings as a leader, 4 Grammy Nominations, 2 Emmy Nominations, won the Kimmel Jazz Center Award, and has been nominated by the NAACP for his soundtrack of Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s basketball film ” On The Shoulders Of Giants”. Cunliffe studied with Mary Lou Williams at Duke Univ. and rec’d a Masters at Eastman School of Music.
Bill’s early influences were the Fifth Dimension, Burt Bacharach, and Herb Al;pert. Upon hearing Oscar Peterson, Bill became an overnight Jazz Player. Cunliffe first started with Buddy Rich, and then worked with Frank Sinatra, Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, James Moody, Holly Hofmann, The Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, The Clayton Brothers Quartet, with Joe LaBarbera’s Quintet for over 25 years, and has led his own Trio for over 10 years. Cunliffe won The Thelonious Monk Institute Piano Competition in 1989, won The Philadelphia Jazz Composers Competition, and won The 2010 L. A. Jazz Society Composer Award. Bill has recorded albums dedicated to the music of Bud Powell, Oliver Nelson, and Paul Simon, and has written 5 Keyboard Instructional Books. Cunliffe currently is head of the Jazz Department at Cal State Fullerton, and is the Composer In Residence at The All Saints Church in Pasadena. Bill has taught at The Skidmore Jazz Institute, The Musicians Institute in Hollywood, Cal State Northridge, USC, Temple Univ. The Vail Jazz Workshop, and Central State University.
Trumpeter Kye Palmer played 4 years on The Tonight Show with Kevin Eubanks, and has recorded on several Grammy nominated and winning projects over the last 20 years. Kye played in The Stan Kenton Band Clinics at Univ. of Redlands, and played on The Downbeat award winning LP, “Time Tripping”. Palmer studied with Bobby Shew and Charlie Shoemake, who says, of his hundreds of students, Kye is one of 20 “most important players who understood the music.” Palmer cites Trumpeters Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard as his principal influences. Kye played with Woody Herman for 3 years, and has worked with The Chris Walden Big Band, Lee Ann Rimes, The Hawk-Richard Jazz Orchestra, Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Diane Schuur, The Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Poncho Sanchez, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Conan O’Brien. Palmer has played on several film soundtracks, and appeared on 20 albums, that include with Brian Setzer, Michael Buble, Ron King, Marc Lewis, Ron Stout, and The Clifford Brown Project. Kye also teaches at Cal State Fullerton.
Saxophonist Brandon Fields began playing the saxophone at the age of 5. He has been a sideman with over 35 major artists, played on numerous movie soundtracks, played on a Latin Grammy Award Winning recording, recorded with Ray Charles, and has toured with George Benson, Kenny Loggins, The Rippingtons, Tower of Power, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Dave Weckl, and Barry Manilow.
Trombonist Francisco Torres is an arranger, composer, and educator. He has played with Poncho Sanchez, Gordon Goodwin, John Beasley, Clare Fischer, and played on several Grammy Award winning recordings. Torres has been a sideman with over 50 major artists, played on several film soundtracks, T.V. Shows, and Awards Shows. Torres has played with the Big Bands of Bill Holman, Bob Mintzer, Sammy Nestico, Budman/Levy, Emil Richards, Frank Capp, Gerald Wilson, Gregg Field, and Tom Kubis. Francisco is the Director of The SCSBOA All-Star Band, a group of the finest High School Jazz musicians in Southern California, and he has been commissioned by High Schools and Universities as an arranger and composer. With Jose Rizo, Torres created and conceived “Jazz On The Latin Side All-Stars”, that includes some of the best Latin jazz musicians. Francisco has played on over 225 recordings over the last 25 years. Grammy Bassist Oskar Cantaya was nominated for the best Latin Jazz recording. A composer, arranger, musical director, and producer, his influences range from the music of Puerto Rico, N.Y. and L.A.. Oskar has played with Spyro Gyra, Herb Alpert, Jennifer Lopez, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, Tito Puente, Robbie Robertson, Willie Colon, Dave Valentin , and Steve Winwood. Oskar has played for Showtime at the Apollo , the ESPYS, the Latin Grammys, Guys Choice Awards, won 3 Grammys with Arturo Sandoval, Willie Colon, and Spyro Gyra, and is a member of the group “Enclave”, who plays a Gumbo of Jazz, Funk, Afro-Carribbean Percussion, and Urban Street Soul. Cantaya has played with Tito Nieves, Pete Escovedo, Andrae Crouch, Juan Gabriel, Shiela E, “Rumbantela”, Justin Timberlake, Wayne Brady, “Playing for Change”, Gilberto Santarosa, “All 4 One”, Wynonna Judd, and Jonathan Butler.
Drummer Dick Weller is an outstanding Jazz small group and Big Band player. Dick has worked with Billy Vaughn, Percy Faith, The L.A. 6, Ladd McIntosh, Alan Pasqua, Bob Sheppard, John Beasley, Alphonse Johnson, Judy Niemack, Fred Hersch, Scott Colley, Mike Stern, Bobby Lyle, Mike Manieri, Scott Henderson, Diane Schuur, Bobby Shew, Jack Sheldon, Charles Blenzig, Andy Laverne, Jeff Andrews, Rachel Z, Chuck Loeb, Walt Weiskopf, Phil Norman, Janis Mann, and Josh Nelson. Giancarlo Anderson is a talented percussionist from Panama who is most notably heard as a member of Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band.