Roger Glenn is jazz royalty. Son of the late Tyree Glenn, a trombonist and vibraphonist who played with Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong, Tyree was one of 57 notable jazz musicians to appear in Art Kane’s 1958 photograph ‘A Great Day in Harlem’.
The young Roger acquired an early musical education, playing with his father in a band that also featured jazz greats Wynton Kelly (piano), Joe Jones (drums), and Slam Stewart (bass). In addition to his father’s tutelage on vibes, some of Mr. Glenn’s earliest teachers were Julius Baker (flute), Alberto Socarras (flute), Garvin Bushell (clarinet, sax, flute).
Leah began singing on stage at the age of 9. Since then, she has been a featured soloist in an all-female a capella group, and lived and worked in France as the house ‘chanteuse’ at a popular Parisian nightclub.
In 1998, Tysse returned to the States to join the Glide Memorial Church Ensemble, where she still solos regularly.
Her debut album, ‘Real Good Fire’ was released in 2007 and features the track “You Don’t Scare Me”, awarded Billboard’s Best R&B/Blues Song of 2007. Released in 2011, Tysse’s follow-up ‘Love Again’, features a collection of original music as well as covers of “Let Him Fly” (Patty Griffin), “Only So Much Oil…” (Tower of Power) and “Write One This Way” (Tommy Sims).
As a model, actor, singer, songwriter, and filmmaker, living life to the fullest just comes naturally for Reneé Wilson.
Since leaving her hometown of New Orleans, she has modeled on runways in New York, Miami and Los Angeles; taught acting, singing and songwriting around the world; appeared in the Academy Award-winning film Ray with Jamie Foxx, co-produced and directed a documentary; and released her debut album, Voodoo Queen.
Ms. Wilson is also actively involved with life-improving organizations in the Bay Area, such as the Pride Foundation (the largest employer of people with disabilities), HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere), and YES!, where she is a Jam alum and facilitator.
As a member of the 51Oakland Advisory Board, and an Elevate Oakland Artist-in-Residence (Year 1: Castlemont High School) Ms. Wilson is excited to have the chance to apply her prodigious energy and talents to yet another worthy effort, and is looking forward to accomplishing big things with 51Oakland.
Pianist. Emcee. Producer. Bandleader. Sideman. Music historian. Kev Choice wears many hats, and all of them fit. Blessed with prodigious talent, plus the skill and dedication to his craft to pull it off, the Oakland-based artist is redefining what it means to be a musician in this day and age. Not too many classically-trained pianists who hold Master’s degrees in jazz can rock microphones with blazing-hot 16s.
Yet such versatility comes natural to Choice, whose diverse array of influences ranges from Prince to Rakim to A Tribe Called Quest to Stevie Wonder to McCoy Tyner to Chopin and Ravel.
“I grew up in the Hip-Hop era,” he explains. “I had love for Hip-Hop before I even knew what classical music really was.” Hip-Hop, he says, “was always the music that helped me express myself the most,” while “Classical music gave me a broader understanding and appreciation for music beyond Hip-Hop.”
Randy Porter has been active in the Bay Area music community for over 25 years, as both a performer and an educator. As co-founder of both The Composers Cafeteria and the Improvised Music Association, he has made a significant contribution to the presentation of new and unusual music in the Bay Area. He has performed guitar, mandolin, and saxophone on numerous recordings, has scored three documentary films. He is the founder of The Downtown Berkeley Music Circus, coordinating the simultaneous performance of more than 200 musicians around the Shattuck Avenue Corridor at a variety of locations by ‘conducting’ them over the airwaves of KPFA radio.
Jordan McConnell has been playing the guitar for as long as he can remember. He spent his early years playing punk rock in various bands in his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and generally being a loud, obnoxious nuisance.
At the impressionable age of 16 – much to the relief of his parents – Jordan was introduced to traditional Irish music by Dadgad specialist Zan Macleod. Macleod’s music resonated deeply with the teenage McConnell, and led him to a passionate exploration of the form which continues today. In addition to his love for traditional Irish music, Mr. McConnell also began playing classical guitar, and in 2000 was awarded a scholarship to study under Skender Sefa at the University of Manitoba. Today, he has developed a unique style of guitar that incorporates techniques and harmonies from his diverse and varied influences.
Gabrielle L. Wilson Williams
Gabrielle L. Wilson Williams received the degree of Juris Doctor after studying French and International Law at University of Paris. An on-air Personality at KPFA – Berkeley’s listener-sponsored Free Speech Radio station since 1999, Gabrielle produces and hosts BAJABA [Bay Area Jazz & Blues Artists] Ear Thyme, a long-running jazz program created by the late Doug Edwards to spotlight Bay Area Resident Artists.
Her shows feature new talent, interviews, book and music reviews, Jazz, Blues, Latin Jazz, and European Classical music. Her interview subjects have included Abbey Lincoln, Ray Charles, Branford Marsalis, Afro-Cuban Bandleader Israel ‘Cachao’ Lopez, and 51Oakland Board Member Don Reed. She lives in Oakland.
At a young age, Juan Escovedo began teaching himself how to play bongos, congas, trap drums, timbales, percussion and other instruments. At the tender age of 14, he began playing with his father, Pete Escovedo. In the years since, he has established himself as a unique music talent in his own right – a musician of complexity, style and originality. His artistic achievements flow from his rich musical heritage and compassion for his art form.
Juan Escovedo tours, writes and records both as a solo artist, and with his family – father Pete Escovedo, brother Peter Michael, and sister 51Oakland Board Member Sheila E. Together, they recently release a collaborative album titled “The-E-Family”, which is quickly rising up the charts. Juan co-wrote and produced three original tracks on the album, which also features Joss Stone, Gloria Estefan, Earth, Wind & Fire.
Juan expects to release his own album next year. He’s made special appearances in videos and film, as well recording and performing with many of the most influential music-makers of our time.
Sterling James has been on Bay Area radio airwaves since 1987 when she was still in high school. KSOL, Alice 97.3 for ten years and now mid-day and Sundays at KBLX since 2007. She is involved in Television and hosts many major events. She is a strong advocate of Youth Speaks.