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The quintet is led by Joe Labarbera on drums, Clay Jenkins on trumpet, Rob Lockart on saxophones, Bill Cunliffe on piano, and Jonathan Richards on bass. Drummer, composer, and arranger Joe Labarbera has played with two dozen of the finest jazz groups all over the world. Joe was a member of Bill Evans last trio, and Chuck Mangione and Joe Farrells Quartets. Labarbera was formally educated at Berklee School of Music, and was mentored by jazz greats John LaPorta, Charlie Mariano, Herb Pomeroy and Alan Dawson. Joe began his professional career with Woody Herman and the Thundering Herd, and has played with dozens of jazz greats including Bill Evans and Tony Bennett. Labarbera’s drumming talents, insights, and experience allow for his group to play rhythmically and free throughout their performances, and possesses the maturity to play both styles and splice them together when necessary. Joe’s musical family includes his brother Pat Labarbera who is an accomplished saxophonist, and brother John Labarbera, trumpeter, arranger, composer, and leader of a very prominent big band. Labarbera has taught at the California Institute for the Arts for 25 years, is on the faculty of the Bud Shank Jazz Workshop in Port Townsend, WA, is a visiting artist at UNLV (Las Vegas), has served on the National Endowment for the Arts council in Washington D.C., and has been a guest performer and lecturer at many colleges. In 1999, Joe along with Tom Warrington, Larry Koonse, and Clay Jenkins formed “Jazz Compass”, an independent recording company dedicated to the kind of creative music close to his heart. The label has made 25 recordings to date, and Labarbera has played on over 40 recordings in his career spanning back to the early 70’s.

Trumpeter Clay Jenkins has toured and recorded with the big bands of Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Harry James, Jim Widner, Clayton-Hamilton, has played with over 50 jazz greats, and has made 12 recordings as a leader/co-leader. Clay received his bachelor degree from North Texas State University, and a masters degree from USC. Jenkins has studied with trumpet teachers John Haynie, James Stamp, Boyde Hood, and Uan Rasey. Clay has taught at USC, Cal State Northridge, California Institute of the Arts, Colburn School of Performing Arts, The Foundation for the Junior Blind, and since 2000 has taught at Eastman School of Music.

Saxophonist Rob Lockart is a graduate of Eastman School of Music with both a bachelor and masters degree. Rob is an instructor at Cal State Northridge, and studied at Banff School of Music. Lockart has played with the big bands of Woody Herman, Tom Harrell, Doc Severinsen, Chris Walden, and jazz greats Kurt Elling, Dave Liebman, Mel Lewis, Hank Jones, Clark Terry, and the Houston Symphony. Rob has worked on TV shows Star Trek, Jag, Party of Five, Fish Police, and many films including “Dillinger”. Lockart has appeared on 30 recordings in his career.

Pianist, composer, and arranger Bill Cunliffe, known for his swinging, soulful lyricism on piano, and creative inventiveness as an accomplished composer and arranger of jazz, is described as being in the modern jazz mainstream. Bill discovered classical and jazz music at an early age in the 60’s and 70’s, and is drawn to any music with a hip harmony and great melody. Cunliffe loved listening to the music of the Fifth Dimension, Burt Bacharach, and Herb Alpert. Bill grew up in Massachusetts, and played in a rock ‘n’ roll group in college, attending Wesleyan University. His first listening to pianist Oscar Peterson made him become a jazz player overnight. Bill is a graduate of Duke University where he studied with the great pianist Mary Lou Williams, and at Eastman School of Music. Cunliffe has taught at USC, Temple University, Vail Jazz Institute, Skidmore Jazz Institute, Music Institute in Hollywood, Cal State Northridge, Central State University in Ohio, is an associate professor of music at Cal State Fullerton, and is composer in residence at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. Bill began his career as the pianist and arranger for Buddy Rich, and toured with Frank Sinatra. Cunliffe has played with Ray Brown, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Woody Shaw, James Moody, Buell Niedlinger, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Clayton Brothers, and flutist Holly Hofmann. In 1989 Bill won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Award and $10,000, and was monetarily rewarded from the National Endowment of Arts. Cunliffe has been nominated for 3 Grammys, and 2 Emmys as a composer, and arranger, and has been nominated or won 11 awards in total, including a Down Beat Award. Bill recorded the soundtrack for Kareem Abdul Jabbars’ documentary film about jazz and basketball in Harlem in the 1930’s. Bill has published 6 jazz instructional books which include for big band and choral music. Cunliffe has recorded on 25 CD’s, and won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement of “West Side Story”, on Resonance Records Big Band paying tribute to Oscar Peterson. Bill has been a member of the Joe Labarbera Quintet since the early 90’s, recording several well received albums. Cunliffe’s colleagues describe him as charming, witty, warm, and humble.

Bassist, composer, and teacher Johnathan Richards is a student of the USC music program. Jonathan has studied and recorded at California Institute of the Arts, and plays regularly with many of LA’s best young jazz players in a variety of groups. Jonathan has played with Peter Erskine, the LA Jazz Society, the Richard Sears Trio, and the Roll Call Quartet.

Saturday January 7th at 7:00pm at Pete Carlson’s the Joe Labarbera Quintet, five world-class musicians performing modern jazz at the highest level. Don’t miss it!!!

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