Drummer and composer Joe Labarbera was a member of Bill Evans last trio. He was mentored by musicians John Laporta, Charlie Mariano, Herb Pomeroy, and Alan Dawson. Joe is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, and is part of a musical family, his brother Pat is a saxophonist and brother John is a Big Band arranger and composer. Joe started out with the Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd and has played with Chuck Mangione, Joe Farrell, Jim Hall, Phil Woods, Art Farmer, Gary Burton, Art Pepper, John Scofield, Bob Brookmeyer, Toots Thielmans, Tony Bennett, Bill Mays, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker, and many others. Joe’s mature style of drumming is traditional, innovative, and avant-garde, and has the ability to splice the different styles together. Joe teaches at Cal Arts, the Bud Shank Jazz Workshop, and has been a guest performer and lecturer at various colleges. Joe has served on the National Endowment for the Arts Council in Washington D.C.. In 1999 Joe started an independent record label with Tom Warrington, Larry Koonse, and Clay Jenkins to record creative music that is close to his heart. The Jazz Compass label has put out 28 recordings to date.
Bill Cunliffe is an accomplished composer, arranger, and pianist who has been nominated or won several top music awards. Bill received the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement of Oscar Peterson’s “West Side Story” medley. Bill has 20 recordings as a leader, has played and recorded with dozens of great jazz artists, and has been named a modern jazz mainstream pianist by the New York Times. Bill is an inventive, melodic, and soulful musician who has authored several books on jazz, and currently teaches at Cal State Fullerton. Bill has composed or performed Brazilian, Latin, Trio Jazz, in orchestras, big bands, chamber music, and choirs. His fellow school faculty members call him charming, witty, warm, and humble.
Trumpeter Clay Jenkins is a graduate of North Texas State. He has worked with the big bands of Stan Kenton, Harry James, Buddy Rich, and Count Basie. Clay received his Masters’ from USC, and has taught at the Foundation for the Junior Blind, USC, Cal State Northridge, Cal Institute of Arts, was named the Chairman of the Music Theory Department at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, has taught at summer jazz camps, and is an associate professor of jazz trumpet at Eastman School in Rochester, New York. Clay has recorded with the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, has co-led with the Kim Richmond Jazz Ensemble, and recorded with dozens of jazz artists.
Saxophonist Rob Lockart did his schooling at Eastman College in New York, and Banff School in Canada. Rob has worked with Woody Herman, Doc Severinsen, Kurt Elling, Steve Houghton, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and has worked on numerous TV and film projects.
Bassist Jonathan Richards is a composer and touring/studio musician who has worked in TV, film, and on viral videos. Jonathan has worked with numerous musical artists, and is co-leader of the Wilberta Jazz and Alternative Ensemble. He is a graduate of USC Thornton School of Music, and currently is working on his Masters’ at Cal Arts.