"This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department."
NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a charismatic and rhythmically propulsive drummer with melodic sensibility, Miller has been named “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in Downbeat Magazine’s acclaimed Critics Poll.
Boom Tic Boom has been met with critical acclaim receiving 4.5 stars from Downbeat and making “Top 10 Jazz Albums” lists for Downbeat, The LA Times, Jazz Journalists Association, and Something Else. The band has been featured on WNYC’s New Sounds with John Schaefer, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series with Bob Boilen, JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater, The Checkout: Live with Josh Jackson, and festivals such as Stanford Jazz, SF Jazz, Willisau, Chicago Jazz, Saalfelden, Muenster Jazz, Iowa City Jazz, Reykjavik Jazz, Ear Shot-Seattle, Mary Lou Williams- Kennedy Center, Edgefest, Mass Moca, Pioneer Valley, Pittsburgh International, and Redwood Jazz Alliance.
Boom Tic Boom, featuring pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornet player Kirk Knuffke, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and Miller on drums and composition, is currently celebrating it’s fourth release, Otis was a Polar Bear (2016, RPF), which was recently included in NPR’s esteemed Jazz Critics Poll. The New York Times says, “(Otis was a Polar Bear) is a smart, engaging new album.”
Miller has performed with songwriting vocalists Ani Defranco, Natalie Merchant, and Erin Mckeown, and toured with avant-garde saxophonist Marty Ehrlich and organist Doctor Lonnie Smith and folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile. Previous releases include 5am Stroll (2005), Boom Tic Boom (2010), Live at Willisau (2012), and No Morphine No Lilies (2013) -“No Morphine No Lilies demonstrates that her (Allison Miller) craftiness as a percussionist is met by her ingenuity as a composer and group conceptualist.” -The New Yorker.
2018 Grammy Nominee Sara Caswell “is a brilliant world-class violinist…one of the very best of the present generation of emerging young jazz stars” according to the late David Baker, internationally-renowned jazz educator and former Director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Rooted in an early exposure to a variety of musical genres, Sara’s technical facility intertwined with her gift for lyricism continue to attract growing attention to her artistry as a jazz soloist, sideman, and teacher.
Recognized as a “Rising Star” in the DownBeat Magazine Critics and Readers Polls every year since 2013, Sara’s two groups (the Sara Caswell Quartet and the Caswell Sisters Quintet) have been heard in venues ranging from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club to university concert halls nationwide. In 2013 Sara and her sister, vocalist Rachel Caswell, released their CD, Alive in the Singing Air featuring jazz pianist Fred Hersch, to rave reviews and its selection by jazz critic Thomas Cunniffe as one of the year’s “Best Vocal CDs” on Jazz History Online. Sara’s two CDs, First Song (Double-Time Records, 2000) and But Beautiful (Arbors Records, 2005), were recognized in several year-end best-of jazz album releases.
Sara regularly performs with mandolinist Joseph Brent’s 9 Horses and has toured extensively with Grammy-winning bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society, clarinetist David Krakauer’s The Big Picture, vocalist Roseanna Vitro’s quintet, violinist Mark O’Connor’s American String Celebration, and violinist Darol Anger’s Four Generations of Jazz Violin. She has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Brad Mehldau, Linda Oh, Fabian Almazan, Regina Carter, Jenny Scheinman, Lynne Arriale, Alan Ferber, Ike Sturm, John Clayton, Gene Bertoncini, Charlie Byrd, Skitch Henderson, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Bruce Springsteen. She is a member of the New York Pops Orchestra with whom she has been a featured soloist several times in Carnegie Hall, and was part of the house band for NBC’s weekly variety show “Maya & Marty” starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short.
Currently on faculty at both the Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, Sara’s formidable teaching experience also includes the Mark O’Connor String Camps, the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, the Indiana University String Academy, and a private studio. She has given numerous jazz string improvisation workshops and master classes and is involved with JEN (Jazz Education Network), MENC (National Association of Music Education), and ASTA (American String Teachers Association).
As an award-winning classical violinist, Sara has soloed with several orchestras, given numerous recitals, and performed as a chamber musician in a variety of settings. She was raised in a musical family and began violin at age 5, moving through the first five Suzuki volumes in just nine months. Subsequent years of private lessons at Indiana University led to her involvement in the classical competition circuit where she won numerous awards and 1st-place prizes. “Sara has always shown a remarkable understanding of different musical styles and an uncommon power of communication. These qualities are making of this young artist an outstanding one,” spoken by the late violin maestro Franco Gulli.
A graduate of Indiana University which she attended under full scholarship as a Wells Scholar, Sara received B.M. Degrees with High Distinction and an Artist Diploma in both Violin Performance and Jazz Studies. In 2006 Sara completed her M.M. Degree in Jazz Violin at the Manhattan School of Music. In addition to several years of study with the legendary Josef Gingold (classical), Stanley Ritchie (baroque), and David Baker (jazz), Sara worked with many of today’s top jazz artists at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Summer Residency Program and at the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Jazz Festival.
Sara’s artistry and unique sound lead international recording artist/violinist Mark O’Connor to write: “Most good violinists will never experience what Sara creates with her instrument. It is beautifully refined emotion that lifts the spirit…Jazz violin needs a universal ambassador…a player who can pick up where the last generation left off. Sara is well on her way to extending that tradition to touch new audiences.”
Suzi Stern was born in Buffalo NY to a family of professional musicians. She has released 7 CD’s to date under her own name (Viewpoint Records, Aardvark Records and Bus Biscuit Records), and has performed on a myriad of other artists projects. Her latest release "Romancing the Dark" which received 4 star reviews from Jazz Times, All About Jazz and Cadence Magazine, steps out of the jazz idiom for which she is known, and is a collection of her own original compositions and arrangements based on eleven poems by Stern. Suzi will be releasing a new CD in the fall of 2018 of all original compositions.
She is a published poet and her lyrics appear in the Bill Evans second edition fake book and David Friesen's book of transcriptions called " Years Through Time", both Hal Leonard publications.
Suzi has penned lyrics to a plethora of classic jazz compositions not typically sung and has personally collaborated with numerous contemporary artists on their works such as Denny Zeitlin's "Quiet Now" Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus" and Joshua Redman's "Hide and Seek" which have been recorded by artists worldwide.
Some of Stern's musical colleagues and collaborators of note have been: Denny Zeitlin, David Friesen, Joe Henderson, Mal Waldron, Joshua Redman, Leroy Vinegar, Jesseca Williams, Bill Watrous, Bud Shank, Peggy Stern, Jerry Hahn, Nancy King, Jay Anderson, Peter Stolzmann, Harvie S, to name only a few.
Peggy Stern is as well-known as a composer as she is known for her fine piano playing. Her music has a particularly broad ethnic base — in addition to European and American classical music, Peggy’s music draws from Brazilian, African, Jewish, Irish, Cuban, and traditional jazz influences. Peggy has composed, played, recorded, and toured throughout Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan in a wide variety of situations: from solos to octets to jazz choruses. Peggy has worked and toured with many wonderful musicians: Lee Konitz, Diane Schuur, David “Fathead” Newman, Jay Clayton, Gary Peacock, Gene Bertoncini, Bud Shank, Red Holloway, Thomas Chapin, Machito, Puck Fair, Bobby Shew, Stanley Turrentine, Gerry Mulligan, Eddie Henderson, and Emily Remler, to name a few. In 2004, Peggy created the Wall Street Jazz Festival in New York, which has been held twelve consecutive years to date. The Festival has featured Sheila Jordan, Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen, Jay Clayton, Dena DeRose, Su Terry, Claire Daly, Jamie Baum, Teri Roiger, Roberta Piket, Virginia Mayhew, Laura Dubin, Sheryl Bailey, Allison Miller, Maryann McSweeney, Marilyn Crispell, Francesca Tanksley, Erica Lindsey, Lee Shaw, Nina Sheldon, Betty MacDonald, Rebecca Coupe Franks, Suzi Stern, Jenny Scheinman, Natalie Cressman, Amy Shook, and Peggy Stern's band Estrella Salsa. Peggy has given workshops and worked as an educator for the past 20 years throughout Europe and the US. Since May 2013, Peggy has made Austin, Texas her home. Joining the vibrant music scene there, in 2015, she released "Z Octet", a Chamber Jazz mini-orchestra recording of original tunes. 2017 saw the release of her "Shine On: The Songs of Peggy Stern", featuring Danielle Reich, Joey Colarusso, Rick McRae, Sam Pankey, and Masumi Jones -- original lyrics and music (and piano, or course) a new exploration, she calls it Cowboy Jazz.
JUNE 3RD, 2017, the Festival's first year, The concert line-up was also outstanding: Two phenomenal musicians from NYC were headlining: world renowned jazz pianist/ composer Helen Sung, http://www.helensung.com and grammy award winning trumpeter Ingrid Jensen http://ingridjensen.com. A young star from New Orleans, Albanie Falletta presented western swing jazz on her guitar & vocals. From the Austin area, Susanna Sharpe and her Brazilian quartet. The evening culminated with Peggy Stern's exciting driving latin group, Estrella Salsa, featuring the best and brightest stars on the Austin music scene. Workshops were held (piano, voice, trumpet, guitar, and music business), led by the bandleaders.