Tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III (born 1980) is a Houston native who graduated from his hometown’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and in 2003, from Berklee. He has already appeared on over 75 recordings worldwide, has performed or recorded with the likes of Terence Blanchard, Roy Haynes, Christian McBride, Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Bob Hurst and Joe Lovano, and released three albums to date, including III in 2010. He currently divides his time between leading his own quintet and being a featured sideman in bands led by Ambrose Akinmusire, Eric Harland and others.
Guitarist Matthew Stevens (born 1982) grew up in Toronto, graduated from the Etobicoke School of the Arts and later, the Berklee College of Music, where he received the Guitar Department’s highest honor, the Jimi Hendrix Award. Though he is best known for his ongoing contributions both on and off the stage in the ensemble led by fellow Berklee graduate Christian Scott, Matthew has also shared the stage and recorded with the likes of: Donald Harrison, Victor Bailey, Jason Moran, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jeff Lorber and Esperanza Spalding.
Keyboardist Gerald Clayton (born 1984) is the scion of Los Angeles’s well-known jazz family, which features his father, bassist/composer John, and his uncle, saxophonist Jeff. In 2011, he won the Edison award for Best International Jazz Album, has had three Grammy nominations and was second place in the 2006 Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Pianist Competition. He is the product of years of intensive training, at the University of Southern California and the Manhattan School of Music, and on-the-gig experience with the likes of Roy Hargrove, Lewis Nash, Terell Stafford, Clark Terry, Hank Jones, Benny Green, Kenny Barron, Ambrose Akinmusire, and others. He currently leads one of the most popular piano trios on the scene with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown and will release his Concord Jazz debut album in April of 2013.
Keyboardist Kris Bowers (born 1989) stands as the youngest of this youthful conclave, a prodigy who just last year (2011) won the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition Award. Raised and schooled in Los Angeles, he has studied with Eric Reed, Fred Hersch, Frank Kimbrough and Kenny Barron and has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Marcus Miller, Benny Golson, Q-Tip, Jay Z and Kanye West, Louis Hayes, Ludacris and José James. He is the first recipient of the Luther Henderson Scholarship at Juilliard, where he received his Master’s degree in Jazz Performance with a focus on film composition. His debut solo record will be released on Concord Jazz in 2013.
Bassist Ben Williams (born 1984) was raised in Washington D.C., studied at Michigan State University, earned his Masters at Juilliard, won the 2009 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, and is already one of today’s most in-demand sidemen, playing regularly and recorded with such headliners as Pat Metheny, Jacky Terrasson and Stefon Harris. He has been picked to perform with Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Paquito D’Rivera, Roy Hargrove, and others. In 2011, he recorded with George Benson on his album The Guitar Man and released State of Art, his debut recording as a leader.
Drummer Jamire Williams (born 1984), like Walter Smith, is a Houston native who graduated the city’s High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, after which he received a B.F.A. in Jazz and Contemporary Music from New York’s New School. He has since toured and/or recorded with such notable R&B and jazz artists as Christian Scott, Bilal, Corrine Bailey Rae, Kenny Garrett, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Solange Knowles, Jason Moran, Gretchen Parlato and Robert Glasper. He currently leads his own group ERIMAJ and has recently released his debut album, Conflict Of A Man.
Trumpeter Christian Scott (born 1983) is a New Orleans-raised, Berklee-schooled, Grammy-nominated bandleader and composer whose impact on today’s scene has grown exponentially with each successive recording, including his fifth release: this year’s double-disc best-seller Christian aTunde Adjuah. Nephew of famed saxophonist and Big Chief, Donald Harrison, he is intensely proud of his heritage (as depicted by his choice to adorn [his latest album with] the Afro-Native American Culture of New Orleans ceremonial regalia) and shares this sentiment from the stage. Most recently, Christian was featured on the cover of JazzTimes magazine, along with many other major press acknowledgments.
Producer Chris Dunn (born 1968) is both a former alto saxophonist and producer/radio host on San Francisco’s famed KJAZ, where his father was a longtime deejay. He joined Concord Music Group in 1996, produced his first album—Christian Scott’s Rewind That—in 2005, and has co-produced other important titles by Scott, Ben Williams’ State of Art, Ninety Miles with Stefon Harris, David Sánchez and Christian Scott, and most recently, Kurt Elling’s 1619 Broadway—The Brill Building Project.