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Wednesday, June 29 - Musician Bios 

Wednesday, June 29

Avishai Cohen (Jazz, world music) Check out our feature on Avishai Cohen

Bruce Barth (Jazz) Bruce Barth is a pianist equipped with equal shares of brilliant technique and aesthetic sensibility. Since arriving in New York in 1988, Barth has been in demand to play with artists such as Tony Bennett, Karrin Allyson, David Sánchez, Wynton Marsalis, and many others. (RN)

Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers (Piano rock) Known in part for his work in the early 1990's as an adopted member of the Grateful Dead and later with Phil Lesh, pianist Bruce Hornsby now makes noise on his own with his touring band, the Noisemakers. Hornsby's piano-driven pop is beautifully understated and beautiful. The Grammy Award-winning Hornsby went off the rails experimentally with albums such as the electronic-heavy "Big Swing Face," but has since reeled it back in to the comfort of the piano-centric grooves he's known for. That's just the way it is. (FD)

Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People (Soul, R&B) Vocal powerhouse Danielle Ponder will blow your head off and paint the walls with your brains. Not only can the woman belt like a blast furnace, but her songs are funky neo-classic gems of social conscience and change. The choruses are immediately recognizable, the hooks, unavoidable, and that voice... that voice, unbelievable. Get down. (FD)

Djabe (World music) The word djabe means freedom in the African Ashanti language and the group, Djabe, fits that definition. Filled with lush textures and appealing melodies and combining elements of world music, jazz and Hungarian folk tunes, it’s not hard to understand why Djabe is the leading jazz-fusion band of Hungary. (RN)

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)

Johannes Linstead – Guitar of Fire! (Acoustic world guitar) Besides being a yoga instructor and humanitarian, Canada's "Guitarist of the Year" Johannes Linstead wields his guitar as if it were, well, on fire. You've heard his music on TV shows such as "Californication" and "Burn Notice." The music is driven by Linstead's Spanish guitar as he navigates the sensuality and beat of everywhere. (FD)

Jumaane Smith (Trumpet, vocals) I'm telling you, you want this young man's frequent flyer miles from playing Montreux at age 16, to playing for heads of state and world dignitaries, to touring with Michael Bublé since 2005. Smith was also a member of the inaugural class of jazz studies at Juilliard, a program developed by Wynton Marsalis. He's collaborated with everyone: Natalie Cole, Ravi Coltrane, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, and Wyclef Jean, to name just a few. (FD)

Mammal Hands (Contemporary jazz) Legend has it that pianist Nick Smart, his brother, saxophonist Jordan Smart, and percussionist Jesse Barrett met while busking in Norwich, England. As Mammal Hands, they play a wonderful combination of contemporary classical music and jazz, drawing as much from the minimal music of Steve Reich as the free jazz of Pharoah Sanders. (RN)

Marianne Trudel Trio with Ingrid Jensen (Jazz) In 2007, pianist Marianne Trudel won the Prix toiles Galaxie de Radio-Canada for the best composition played at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Among the most versatile pianists of her generation, Trudel is equally adept in a Chopin-like romantic style or with Cecil Taylor-flavored dissonance. Ingrid Jensen is a superb trumpeter who has played in Maria Schneider's Orchestra and toured with Lionel Hampton. (RN);

Nacka Forum (Avant-garde jazz) Saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar, trumpeter Goran Kajfes, bassist Johan Berthling, and drummer Kjell Nordeson are all well-known musician on the cutting edge of Scandinavian jazz. Their group, Nacka Forum, was founded in Sweden but you might hear strains of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Ornette Coleman. After playing Kilbourn Hall Tuesday, the group will hit the Lutheran Church on Wednesday. (RN)

Nikki Hill (R&B, rock 'n' roll) You can thank Etta James, Ruth Brown, and Irma Thomas for this young lady right here. Singer Nikki Hill attacks early rock 'n' roll like Little Richard on a cheesecake bender; she's ruthless and alright. Man, this lady can belt. But before you fall completely in love this songstress, save some affection for her old man, Matt Hill, on the guitar. He's a thriller-diller. (FD)

Russell Malone (Hard bop jazz) With a blur of fingers flying over the fret board, with equal shares of precision and abandon, Russell Malone is one of the most colorful guitar players on the scene today. Right out of the gate, he was hired by organist Jimmy Smith. He then paid his dues with Harry Connick Jr. and Diana Krall before going solo. (RN)

Rod Blumenau (Jazz) Pianist extraordinaire Rod Blumenau knows the history of his instrument, and he can adaptably play it. Blumenau can slip easily into the stride-piano style of Fats Waller, play some ragtime, or pull off arpeggios with the skill of Art Tatum. Ultimately, he's his own man, whether he's improvising on a Latin tune, playing bebop, or swinging. (RN)

Soil & "Pimp" Sessions (Modern swing) They call it death jazz, and you know what? It makes sense because these Japanese cats slay me. This is one of the coolest bands in the world. Soil & "Pimp" Sessions play aggressive jazz with an antagonistic hip swagger. It's Louis Jordan with new coat of paint. Unbelievably cool. (FD)

Tia Brazda (Jazz) This is a perfect blend of retro sophistication, classic charm, and contemporary accessibility. Tia Brazda is all kinds of fun. This coppertop dame is red hot and blue with a dash of noir. Dig her jive; it positively swings. (FD)

Trio East (Hard bop jazz) Trumpeter Clay Jenkins, bassist Jeff Campbell, and drummer Rich Thompson, three Eastman School of Music veteran professors, nicely tackle one of the most difficult combinations in jazz: the piano-less trio. Jenkins has played in the bands of Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, and Count Basie. Thompson has shared the stage with Tito Puente and Joe Pass. And Campbell has worked with Marian McPartland and Gene Bertoncini. (RN)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Soil and "Pimp" Sessions won't be able to make its Jazz Fest shows due to visa issues. The John Fossitt Project will replace them at Anthology, 7:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.

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