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Sunday, June 26 - Musician Bios 

Sunday, June 26

Alexander Hawkins Group (Progressive jazz) Alexander Hawkins is a British pianist and composer whose adventurous compositions and brilliant technique are attracting attention. His reputation for innovative works has also taken him well beyond jazz to commissions from the London Symphony Orchestra. (RN)

Arild Andersen Trio (Progressive jazz) Norwegian born Arild Anderson has been one of the top bassists on the European scene for six decades. In the 1960's and 1970's, he worked with Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, and many more. In recent years, he's played with John Scofield, Pat Metheny, and his own group which combines Norwegian folk music with progressive jazz. (RN)

Charles Ruggiero's "As Heard on TV" (TV theme jazz) Charles Ruggiero is a superb drummer in any situation, and this time out he's chosen an especially fun setting. Ruggiero and his group specialize in transforming TV themes — "Bewitched," "Good Times," "Law & Order," "Bugs Bunny's theme," even "Game Of Thrones" — into jazz classics. And it works beautifully. (RN)

Eldar (Jazz) On his last visit to the XRIJF, Eldar dazzled the audience with standards, originals, and some Prokofiev. Then he took it up a notch with a brilliant rendition of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue." Arriving in the United States as a 9-year-old prodigy from Kyrgyzstan, Eldar released his first album at 14. At 29, he is still a keyboard phenomenon of the first order. (RN)

Elio Villafranca (Hard bop jazz) Cuba has a tradition of producing some of the greatest pianists in jazz, and Elio Villafranca is no exception. As imaginative as he is dexterous, Villafranca plays with a brilliantly controlled abandon. In addition to his trio concert at Xerox Auditorium on Sunday, he'll perform solo at Hatch Hall on Monday. (RN)

Eric Lindell (Americana rock) New Orleans's Eric Lindell has perfected the blend of multiple blends. Being based in the Big Easy certainly don't hurt. You can hear where he's coming from and going to, though it's clearly an original path. Goes good with honky tonks and dive bars. (FD)

Jam sessions with Bob Sneider Trio (Jazz) Every night, XRIJF musicians come off the stage fired up. They let off steam when they get back to the Holiday Inn, where the Bob Sneider Trio is deep into the nightly jam session. Sneider is a world-class jazz guitarist with top-notch support from Mike Melito on drums and Phil Flanigan on bass. Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Chris Potter, and Eric Alexander are a tiny fraction of the stars who have sat in with the band. (RN)

John Abercrombie Organ Trio with Gary Versace & Adam Nussbaum (Progressive jazz) In a career that's spanned five decades, guitarist John Abercrombie has branched out in many directions from his initial fame as an innovator in jazz/fusion. Joining him are one of today's top B-3 organists, Gary Versace, and the excellent drummer, Adam Nussbaum. (RN)

Jon Ballantyne Trio (Jazz) Jon Ballantyne won the grand prize of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal in 1986. Since then, he has played with Dave Holland, Cecil Taylor, Joe Henderson, Paul Bley, and many others. Over the last three decades, Ballantyne has released 10 albums and played extensively in Europe and Asia. He’ll also perform with his trio. (RN)

Kandace Springs (Soul, pop) NYC singing sensation Kandace Springs jumps out with a voice that’s big and beautiful. With praise from cats like Don Was and Prince, Springs sings effortlessly with an easygoing phrasing that lets the soul shine through. Her new Blue Note CD, “Soul Eyes,” just landed in June. (FD)

Madeleine McQueen and the Breeze (Singer-songwriter) To quote myself after hearing this young lady: "Okay ... where did this chick come from? Where did that voice come from?" Madeleine McQueen projects spiritually and soulfully with a beguiling innocence and resolve. But it's far from fluffy; the songs are beautifully crafted and delivered. (FD)

The Majestics (Reggae) Rising from the ashes of local tropical sensation Bahama Mama, The Majestics have recently come out of dormancy. Its talent and buzz caught the ear of the legendary Lee "Scratch" Perry who invited the band to back him up on dates opening for The Clash and later brought the band to Jamaica to record. The band is back, I'm here to say. (FD)

Pedrito Martinez (Afro-Cuban jazz) With roots in the Afro-Cuban rumba tradition and the vocal chants of Yoruba and Santeria music, Pedrito Martinez plays some of the most infectious tunes you're likely to hear. In 2000, he took first place in the Thelonious Monk Competition in Afro-Latin Hand Drumming. Since moving to New York, he's worked with Paquito D'Rivera, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Bebo Valdés, and others. (RN)

Velvet Caravan (Gypsy jazz) This band is from all over and plays from all around the genre wheel. Spin it and you'll hear Gypsy jazz, honky-tonk, Latin, and swing in a sophisticated hybrid I like to call swingin' Gyps-honky Latino-tonk. That's right. (FD)

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