A note from Sumi Tonooka, Curator.
Thank you for being here! Covid-19 has changed our world as we knew it. It’s in Our Hands now to make it better. Anthony Tidd has seized the moment creating this online global platform, to do just that, from the compost, to something beautiful uniting musicians and audiences. In Our Hands is about connection, friendship, and love, the key to survival and positive change. I would have never believed that the current world events would create an opportunity for me to present the music of these amazing musicians and personal friends. I’ve been a longtime fan of Michele Rosewoman. A genius, an innovative, original composer/ pianist, mixing up modern jazz with Cuban folkloric traditions long before the term World Music was a thing. Kenneth Barron is a jazz master. Few living musicians hold the history of jazz like he does. He is truly in a class by himself. He attended the University of Dizzy Gillespie and Yusef Lateef, and that’s just for starters. I am deeply grateful to him for his artistry, friendship and support. Billy McCoy is a pianist, composer, educator and musicologist. He has performed with The Fania All Stars, Pharaoh Saunders, Bobby Blue Bland, Kenny Burrell, among others. Our paths first crossed when I was studying in Boston with Charles Banacos and Madame Chaloff. My connection to Billy McCoy continues to be a light and an inspiration. I’d like to thank Matt Yaple for his friendship and support and for the use of his beautiful Steinway and home venue, Exuberance. Special thanks to Brendan McGeehan for his great engineering work. To the entire act4music crew and Anthony Tidd and to all of you. I dedicate this show to all of my students, I believe in you. The world is indeed in your hands. Use them well.
Sumi Tonooka (pronounced To-NO-ka) has been called a “fierce and fascinating composer and pianist” (Jazz Times), “provocative and compelling” (New York Times), and “continually inventive, original, surprising, and a total delight,” (Cuadranos de Jazz, Madrid).
During a career spanning more than 30 years that has taken her from home bases in Philadelphia &Boston, to New York & Seattle, Tonooka has been developing a body of work that surprises and delights audiences worldwide- quietly piling up accolades from jazz writers and fellow musicians.
Currently, Tonooka is the grateful recipient composer of the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works Grant in 2019.
In 2013, the American Composers Orchestra and The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, in cooperation with EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discover Network, presented Tonooka’s first work for symphony orchestra, Full Circle, as part of the second Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI) Readings. Subsequently she has gone on to perform and compose orchestral works nationally, including serving as a composer in residence with the South Dakota Symphony as a recipient of Music Alive, New Music USA composers residency and with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to her symphonic and chamber works, jazz recordings and performances, Tonooka has composed over twenty film scores, including the Academy Award-nominated Family Gathering by Lise Yasui and Daring To Resist by Martha Lubell, aired on PBS American Experience series.
Recent recordings include a third release in 2020 with Alchemy Sound Project, a composer-led ensemble, founded by Tonooka, that brings together five combustible sound chemists with powerful voices in jazz and orchestral work. In the Alchemy Project, the composers, all colleagues from the JCOI created original works that weave the intricate expansiveness of orchestral writing into an improvisational sextet.
In her previous solo recording, NOW, “Tonooka covers a lot of stylistic territory in a perfectly sequenced show, and plays with a rare spirituality and musical sagacity. A superb solo piano outing” (All About Jazz).
“No other pianist-composer in jazz brings the music of the African diaspora together quite like Michele Rosewoman. One of the most compelling inside-out pianists in jazz, Rosewoman combines a myriad of influences, including Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor, and Thelonious Monk…In her playing and wriHng, Rosewoman is way past collecHng influences. Simply put, she’s one of the most creaHve and fully realized jazz arHsts on the scene today” CD NOW
For four decades, pianist/composer/educator Michele Rosewoman has expanded the horizons of jazz while remaining firmly rooted in tradiCon. A fearless bandleader and mentor, many have cited that working with Rosewoman made an indelible mark on their arCsCc development as musicians, composers and bandleaders.
To date, Ms. Rosewoman has released 9 recordings as a leader on Blue Note, Enja, SoulNote, Toshiba-EMI and her own label, Advance Dance Disques. Her long-standing Quintessence ensemble (with 5 highly acclaimed releases to date) has consistently brought together the most invenCve voices in jazz (Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, Miguel Zenon, Steve Lehman, Steve Wilson, Mark Shim; Robin Eubanks, Lonnie Plaxico, Brad Jones, Terri Lyne Carrington, Tyshawn Sorey, Liberty Ellman). Her New Yor-Uba ensemble, which debuted at NYC’s Public Theatre in 1983, presents an uncompromised synthesis of contemporary jazz and tradiConal Cuban folkloric music, uniCng master musicians from both worlds.
Having celebrated 30 years with a 2013 double disc release that garnered the #1 NPR LaCn Jazz Recording of the year award, New Yor-Uba now celebrates 35 years of evoluCon with their latest recording, “Hallowed”– a ground-breaking project released November 1, 2019-to stellar reviews in major publicaCons including JazzTimes, JazzIz, Downbeat and #3 NPR LaCn Jazz Recording of the Year.
Her innovaCve projects have received criCcal acclaim and presCgious grants. Highlights include major support from the NaConal Endowment for the Arts (1983) giving birth to her New Yor-Uba ensemble, and an ASCAP/Meet the Composer Commission for Emerging Composers (1984) awarded by Dizzy Gillespie, Marian McPartland and Lester Bowie. This award culminated in a new work premiered by the 40-piece Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra plus quintet of improvisers at the Cooper Union Great Hall, NYC and the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, NY. Over the years, Rosewoman received Chamber Music America New Works CreaCon and PresentaCon Commissions (2015, 2008, 2006, 2003). In 2016, Rosewoman became a LaCn Jazz Grammy Winner as pianist and composer for her creaCve contribuCon to Arturo O’Farrill’s ALJO release, “Cuba, the ConversaCon ConCnues.”
In 2019, the esteemed pianist, composer, bandleader and educator Kenny Barron celebrated his 75th birthday and marked the 50th year of a remarkable recording career that shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, this year will be punctuated with yet another milestone: the May 4 release of his Blue Note Records debut Concentric Circles. The sublime 11-song set features new originals plus interpretations of songs by Caetano Veloso, Thelonious Monk, and Lenny White, and finds the 11-time Grammy nominee introducing a new edition of the Kenny Barron Quintet with saxophonist Dayna Stephens, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and drummer Johnathan Blake. Hear the lead track “Blue Waters” on Blue Note’s Jazz Now! playlist on Apple Music and Spotify. Barron was born in Philadelphia in 1943, and moved to New York City when he was just 19 years old. His distinguished career has seen him collaborate with jazz titans including Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, and Yusef Lateef. Barron has made notable appearances on Blue Note records going all the way back to 1967 with the likes of Stanley Turrentine, Booker Ervin, and Bobby Hutcherson, and in more recent years with Sonny Fortune, Dianne Reeves, and Terence Blanchard. On Barron’s previous two Impulse! releases – The Art of Conversation and Book of Intuition – he created magic in more intimate settings: duo with bassist Dave Holland and trio with Blake and Kitagawa, respectively. And while duo and trio outings have set many of the high-water marks of Barron’s enormous discography, his 1968 debut LP You Had Better Listen was a quintet session co-led with trumpeter Jimmy Owens, as well as his critically acclaimed 1986 LP What If with trumpeter Wallace Roney, saxophonist John Stubblefield, bassist Cecil McBee, and drummer Victor Lewis. Eight years after becoming an NEA Jazz Master, with critics declaring him “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” (Los Angeles Times), Barron is still striving to reach new creative heights as he continues to record and tour with many different instrumental configurations. With numerous awards such as the 2009 Living Legacy Award from the Mid-Atlantic Foundation and six wins as the Jazz Journalist Association’s “Best Pianist” Award, Barron rests on no laurels. Concentric Circles is another sparkling jewel in Barron’s crown; and it surely won’t be the last.
Billy McCoy is an American pianist, composer and educator whose experience spans four decades of achievement. The Detroit artist found his jazz calling as a youngster inspired by the vibrancy of artists such as Miles Davis, Tommy Flanagan, Yusef Lateef and John Coltrane.
He has performed with Pharaoh Sanders, Norman Connors, Gary Bartz, Jean Carn, Phyllis Hyman, Marcus Miller, Eddie Henderson, Ricky Lawson, T. M. Stevens, Benny Maupin, Michael Walden, Ralph Armstrong, Sandy Turrano, Jean Luc Ponty and Robin Kenyatta.
He studied ethnomusicology, jazz theory, improvisation, keyboard harmony, North Indidan percussion and composition at University of California, Los Angeles 1996-2000. His jazz mentors include Kenny Burrell, Billy Higgins, Gerald Wilson, Harold Land, Sr., and Tom Ranier.
McCoy is the Instructor of the Jazz Workshop at the World Stage in Los Angeles 2014-present; Guest Instructor, El Camino College Compton Center, 2014-2017; Master Class Instructor, California Institute of the Arts, 2011-2014.
He performs with his ow band, the Billy McCoy Trio and the Billy McCoy Quintet.