The Vail Jazz Foundation
2013 Vail Jazz Festival Artists

ERNIE ADAMS  |  bio

One of the most popular and highly regarded musicians in Chicago, percussionist/drummer Ernie Adams is an experienced, high profile all-styles drummer, who has performed and recorded with many of the world’s great musicians. Known for perfect timing, his solid groove, and brilliant technique, Ernie combines his percussion mastery with great musical taste and a wonderful personality. Having graduated as a jazz major from University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Ernie has been a Jazz Mentor at Ravinia since 1995, tutoring young drummers and percussionists. He has performed, recorded, and toured with Ramsey Lewis, Al DiMiola, Joe Williams, Billy Dickens, Arturo Sandoval, Steve Cole, Dianne Reeves, Stanley Turrentine, Ahmad Jamal, Richie Cole, James Moody, Joe Zawinul, Slide Hampton, Clark Terry, Orbert Davis, and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. Ernie has played on three CDs and a DVD with The Al DiMeola Electric Band, as well as world tours for that band from 1996 to 2006. He has also played for 12 years with Ramsey Lewis and is featured on two of his CDs.


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MONTY ALEXANDER  |  website

In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has built a reputation exploring and bridging the worlds of American jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica, finding in each a sincere spirit of musical expression. In the process, he has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe and entertainment world: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Barbara Hendricks, Bill Cosby, Bobby McFerrin, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare, among others.  Jazz’s greatest luminaries welcomed Alexander to their “musical fraternity” in the mid-1960s. Among these earliest enthusiasts for his playing were none other than Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Miles Davis. In August 2000, the Jamaican government awarded Monty Alexander the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador. In Hal Leonard’s 2005 book The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time, Alexander was listed among the top five Jazz pianists of all time. To date, Monty has recorded over 70 albums as a leader, and maintains a rigorous touring schedule worldwide, playing in jazz clubs, concert halls and international Jazz Festivals.


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MARCIA BALL  |  website

Born in Orange, Texas to a family whose female members all played piano, Marcia grew up in the small town of Vinton, Louisiana, right across the border from Texas. She began taking piano lessons at age five, playing old Tin Pan Alley tunes from her grandmother's collection. From her aunt, Marcia heard more modern and popular music, but it wasn't until she was 13 that Marcia discovered the blues while watching the soulful and spirited Irma Thomas. Since those early days, Marcia has created her own music, mixed with equal parts of simmering soul fervor and two-fisted piano pounding. Her deeply emotive vocals and poignant songwriting make her a unique, wildly popular performer who combines groove-laden New Orleans R&B with driving Gulf Coast blues. A five-time Grammy® nominee, she knows how to raise roofs and tear down walls with her infectious, intelligent and deeply emotional brand of southern boogie, rollicking, roadhouse blues and heartfelt ballads. Over the course of her three-decade career, Marcia has earned a global, intensely loyal following. Her latest album, released in 2012, is Hot Tamale Baby, the follow up to her Grammy®-nominated Roadside Attractions. Don Bennett, bass/vocals, Mike Schermer, guitar/vocals, Damien Llanes, drums/vocals, Thad Scott, saxophone.


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ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY  |  website

Among our most frequently reinvited musical guests, Ann continues to delight Vail audiences with her gorgeous voice, musical wit and iconic selections from the American Songbook. Her performances showcase her warmth, spontaneous creativity and passionate delivery of standards, jazz classics and originals. Ann has been a special guest performer with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood and has sung with many of the world's top orchestras and big bands. Ann recently debuted her latest symphony show "The Streisand Songbook" with The Boston Pops and is currently touring with them. Ann is joined by Eric Gunnison (piano), Ken Walker (bass) and Paul Romaine (drums). Ann’s latest CD is At Last.


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BRYAN CARTER  |  website

With a confidence reflecting an instrumental and compositional maturity that both belie his age and announce the arrival of a remarkable talent Bryan Carter exudes what promises a highly successful career. He studied at The Juilliard School in New York City and was the recipient of the Irene Diamond Scholarship as well as the Samuel L Jackson Scholarship. At the very outset of his career, Carter has played and/or recorded with many notable artists including Clark Terry, McCoy Tyner, Wynton & Branford Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller, Jon Faddis, Ted Nash, Terell Stafford, Bobby Watson, Lew Tabackin, Kenny Barron, Cyrus Chestnut, Michael Feinstein and Kurt Elling. He has also performed at iconic and globally recognized venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Staples Center and the Chicago Symphony Center. 


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JEFF CLAYTON  |  website

Born in Los Angeles, alto saxophonist Jeff Clayton cites the “emotional majesty” of his childhood Baptist church as a major musical inspiration. Jeff took a break from studying oboe at California State University Northridge to tour with Stevie Wonder. Jeff credits saxophonists Johnny Hodges and Cannonball Adderley as his most significant jazz influences, along with trumpeter Thad Jones and bassist Ray Brown. He co-leads the Grammy®-nominated Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with brother John and drummer Jeff Hamilton and is co-leader of the Clayton Brothers Quintet. In demand as a touring and studio musician, Jeff has recorded with Wonder, Kurt Elling, Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle, Madonna and Earth Wind & Fire. He has worked with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton and Lena Horne, and had a short stint with Count Basie & His Orchestra. Jeff has toured with Gene Harris, Dianne Reeves, Joe Cocker, B.B. King and Ray Charles and was a member of the Philip Morris Superband from 1989-91. He is featured on Ray Brown’s 1990 release Evergreen recorded with Milt Jackson and on all of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra releases as well as the Clayton Brothers Quartet/Quintet releases, including Grammy®-nominated Brother to Brother on the ArtistShare label and the recently released, Grammy®-nominated The New Song and Dance also on the ArtistShare label. This is Jeff’s 17th year teaching at the Vail Jazz Workshop.


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JOHN CLAYTON  |  website

Los Angeles native John Clayton began seriously studying the bass at 16 with Ray Brown. At 19, the Grammy® winner and eight-time Grammy® nominee became the bassist for Henry Mancini’s television series “The Mancini Generation.” After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in double bass in 1975 from the University of Indiana, John toured with Monty Alexander and Count Basie & His Orchestra. He moved to Amsterdam and was principal bassist in the Amsterdam Philharmonic for five years. John’s work as a composer and arranger has been guided by, among others, Robert Farnon, Count Basie, Johnny Mandel, Mancini, Marty Paich and Frank Foster. He has written and arranged music for Diana Krall, Dee Dee Bridgewater (including her Grammy®-winning Dear Ella), Natalie Cole, Regina Carter, Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, George Benson, Paul McCartney and Dr. John. He has received commissions from the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the American Jazz Philharmonic, the Iceland Symphony, the Metropole Orchestra, the Carnegie Hall Big Band, the Richmond Symphony and the Amsterdam Philharmonic, among others. He is co-leader of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Clayton Brothers Quintet. He is president of the International Bassist Association and artistic director of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and Centrum Jazz Workshop. John is Director of Education and a Board member of the Vail Jazz Foundation and Director of the Vail Jazz Workshop for the past 17 years. Recent releases include the Grammy®-nominated albums Brother to Brother and The New Song and Dance, and he is featured on Paul McCartney’s latest project Kisses on the Bottom.


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BILL CUNLIFFE  |  website

Jazz pianist, composer and Grammy-winning arranger Bill Cunliffe has performed with legends including Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, Ray Brown, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Art Farmer. He currently appears with his trio; his big band; his Latin band, Imaginación; and his classical-jazz ensemble, Trimotif. Bill’s latest releases include his trio album “River Edge, New Jersey,” with bassist Martin Wind and drummer Tim Horner; and his Overture, Waltz and Rondo for jazz piano, trumpet and orchestra, which he performed with trumpeter Terell Stafford and the Temple University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Luis Biava. The recording won Bill his fifth Grammy nomination, for Best Instrumental Composition. “That Time of Year” (2011), his album of solo-piano improvisations on Christmas carols, was described as a “tour de force” in the Los Angeles Times. Bill was awarded a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for “West Side Story Medley,” on the 2009 album “Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson.” His film work includes the score for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s basketball documentary, “On the Shoulders of Giants.” The movie recently received an NAACP Image Award for Best Documentary. Bill’s soundtrack was nominated for Best Album. Bill is a jazz studies professor at Cal State Fullerton. He received his master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and was the 1989 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition. This is Bill’s 17th year teaching at the Vail Jazz Workshop.


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TONY DESARE  |  website

Named a “Rising Star” Male Vocalist in Downbeat magazine’s 2009 Critics Poll, DeSare has lived up to the distinction by winning critical and popular acclaim for his concert performances throughout the United States, as well as in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. From jazz clubs to Carnegie Hall to Las Vegas headlining with Don Rickles, Tony has brought his fresh take on old school class around the globe. DeSare has three top ten Billboard jazz albums under his belt and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, NPR, the Today Show and his music was even recently posted by social media celebrity juggernaut, George Takei. Notwithstanding his critically acclaimed turns as a singer/pianist, Tony is also an accomplished award-winning composer.  He not only won first place in this year’s USA Songwriting Contest, but Tony has also written the theme song for the motion picture, My Date With Drew, along with several broadcast commercials. The critics agree. “He is two parts Sinatra to one part Billy Joel, meshed seamlessly…. A Sinatra acolyte in his early 30s who sings Prince as well as Johnny Mercer,” raved the New York Times.


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ALLAN FINNEY | website

The son of a big band drummer, Allan Finney hails from Stoke-on-Trent, England. He first started playing trombone, but after seeing a performance by Buddy Rich, when he was 12, Allan soon switched to drums, and by the age of 19, he was playing professionally in nightclubs, ballrooms, and resort hotels all over the UK. After settling in Madison, WI. Allan graduated from the University of Wisconsin, continuing to play all over the world before moving to Vail, Colorado in 1995. He recently completed a tour of Colorado with organist Tony Monaco, and is in great demand for his creative and sensitive drumming for which he cites a wide variety of early influences, ranging from his father to Kenny Clarke, Joe Morello and Art Blakey. Allan has played with Ben E. King, Freda Payne, Bruce Forman, Tony Monaco, Russell Malone, Bill Cunliffe, Eric Alexander, Jerry Weldon, Lewis Nash, Justin Allison, Tamir Hendleman, Curtis Stigers, John Clayton, Cyrille Aimee, Diego Figueiredo, Ken Peplowski, Eric Gunnison, Terell Stafford, Jaimee Paul, Frank Vignola, Plas Johnson, Katie Thiroux, Alphonso Horne, Tony DeSare, Bramwell Tovey, Christoph Luty, and Johnny O’Neil.




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