2017 Judges

Aaron Goldberg piano

Darren Barrett trumpet

Yasushi Nakamura bass

Jimmy Greene saxophone

Obed Calvaire drums


Aaron Goldberg

Piano

Aaron Goldberg exemplifies the concept of “young veteran,” a player who began amassing invaluable sideman and collaborative experiences while in college, continued honing his skills and his vision in the years that immediately followed, and now stands as a leader with his own perspective on one of jazz’s most revered formats, the piano trio.  Goldberg grew up and attended college in the Boston area, where he formed early and long-lasting friendships with such notable contemporaries as Guillermo Klein, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gregory Tardy and Mark Turner. He became an early participant in vocal icon Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program for young musicians, and was Carter’s pianist of choice at the time of her death. Other veterans who have called upon Goldberg’s services include Al Foster, Freddie Hubbard and Wynton Marsalis.  While Goldberg has kept busy for the past two decades as a valued accompanist with these and other leaders, his heart has been focused on his own trio music. Beginning in the late ‘90s, when he formed the OAM Trio with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Marc Miralta, Goldberg has developed a profile in which a thorough understanding of jazz verities is paired with an equally keen and ever- expanding appreciation of other musical cultures. His vision has been captured in a series of discs he has recorded over the past 17 years with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland. The group’s most recent effort, The Now, was released in late 2014 and features music from Brazil and Haiti as well as original compositions and classics by Charlie Parker and Warne Marsh. 

Aaron Goldberg exemplifies the concept of “young veteran,” a player who began amassing invaluable sideman and collaborative experiences while in college, continued honing his skills and his vision in the years that immediately followed, and now stands as a leader with his own perspective on one of jazz’s most revered formats, the piano trio. 

Goldberg grew up and attended college in the Boston area, where he formed early and long-lasting friendships with such notable contemporaries as Guillermo Klein, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gregory Tardy and Mark Turner. He became an early participant in vocal icon Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program for young musicians, and was Carter’s pianist of choice at the time of her death. Other veterans who have called upon Goldberg’s services include Al Foster, Freddie Hubbard and Wynton Marsalis. 

While Goldberg has kept busy for the past two decades as a valued accompanist with these and other leaders, his heart has been focused on his own trio music. Beginning in the late ‘90s, when he formed the OAM Trio with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Marc Miralta, Goldberg has developed a profile in which a thorough understanding of jazz verities is paired with an equally keen and ever- expanding appreciation of other musical cultures. His vision has been captured in a series of discs he has recorded over the past 17 years with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland. The group’s most recent effort, The Now, was released in late 2014 and features music from Brazil and Haiti as well as original compositions and classics by Charlie Parker and Warne Marsh. 

Darren Barrett

Trumpet

Barrett, has been anchored in New York and Boston, Massachusetts ever since attending the famed Berklee College of Music where he presently serves as an associate professor in the ensemble department, won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 1997. Two years later, he issued his debut recording as a band leader, the aptly titled “First One Up.”  Barrett soloed on Esperanza Spaulding’s double Grammy winner “Radio Music Society” and has recorded or performed with pop and jazz royalty such as Roy Hargrove Big Band, Elvin Jones, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Will I Am, Jackie McLean, Common and D'Angelo. The trumpeter is a jazz purveyor who leads a handful of groups that provide a variety of outlets for his wanderings and full creative expression in the genre. Still enjoying a remarkably prolific period that brought to fruition two releases last year - “Energy In Motion: The Music of the Bee Gees” and “Live And Direct 2014: Darren Barrett and the dB Quintet”.  In 2015 he released a new project called "Trumpet Vibes" mixing Jazz and Reggae.  He’s already at work crafting his next unpredictable endeavor, jazz interpretations of Amy Winehouse’s songbook, which is slated to arrive in the Fall 2016.

Barrett, has been anchored in New York and Boston, Massachusetts ever since attending the famed Berklee College of Music where he presently serves as an associate professor in the ensemble department, won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 1997. Two years later, he issued his debut recording as a band leader, the aptly titled “First One Up.”  Barrett soloed on Esperanza Spaulding’s double Grammy winner “Radio Music Society” and has recorded or performed with pop and jazz royalty such as Roy Hargrove Big Band, Elvin Jones, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Will I Am, Jackie McLean, Common and D'Angelo. The trumpeter is a jazz purveyor who leads a handful of groups that provide a variety of outlets for his wanderings and full creative expression in the genre. Still enjoying a remarkably prolific period that brought to fruition two releases last year - “Energy In Motion: The Music of the Bee Gees” and “Live And Direct 2014: Darren Barrett and the dB Quintet”.  In 2015 he released a new project called "Trumpet Vibes" mixing Jazz and Reggae.  He’s already at work crafting his next unpredictable endeavor, jazz interpretations of Amy Winehouse’s songbook, which is slated to arrive in the Fall 2016.

Yasushi Nakamura

Bass

One of the most commanding voices on bass today, Yasushi Nakamura is praised for imaginative, quicksilver bass lines that deepen the groove. His blend of guitar-like precision and gut-level blues has sparked collaborations with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Hank Jones, Dave Douglas, Steve Miller, etc. With his charismatic stage presence and artful, hard swinging melodic touch, Nakamura is a first-call performer capturing new audiences and fans around the world. Born in Tokyo, Nakamura moved to the United States at age 9, and considers both places home. He began with clarinet and tenor saxophone, but his older brother’s study of guitar and drums drove him to pick up the bass. His love of rock and funk aside, the music of Charlie Parker, Ray Brown, Miles Davis were a potent influence on him. Nakamura received a BA in Jazz Performance from Berklee School of Music in 2000, and was awarded a full scholarship to The Juilliard School for his Artist Diploma in 2006. He credits Myron Walden as an early champion, and keeps close ties to Juilliard mentors Victor Goines, Wycliffe Gordon, and Carl Allen, all of whom maintain him in their bands. Nakamura’s career is flourishing, with consistent engagements at premier jazz festivals including Tokyo, North Sea, Monterey, Ravinia, and venues such as Birdland, Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. In 2014, he was honored to play the “NEA Jazz Masters Concert: Celebrating Jamey Abersold, Anthony Braxton, Richard Davis, and Keith Jarrett,” sharing the stage with Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman. A wide array of projects permits him to explore musical styles and collaborations. In 2016, he recorded with one of his long-time inspirations, Toshiko Akiyoshi, for her recent release, Porgy and Bess. His performance with Akiyoshi’s Jazz Orchestra was also broadcast as a documentary film. Recent works include “For the Love of Duke” with New York City Ballet choreographed by Susan Stroman, and “Ellington at Christmas: Nutcracker Suite” with Savion Glover, Lizz Wright, the Abyssinian Baptist Choir, and David Berger conducting. In 2010, he toured the Middle East with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Kings of the Crescent City” project, and he toured Asia in 2008 with the Juilliard All-Stars. As an educator, Nakamura has led master classes and summer intensive courses at the The Juilliard School, New School, Koyo Conservatory, Osaka Geidai, and Savannah Swing Central. In fall 2016, Nakamura begins a European tour with Aaron Goldberg, Dave Douglas Quartet. He is also an established member of Clarence Penn and Penn Station, Mark Whitfield Family Band, and more. Yet Nakamura is equally passionate about creating new music with the artists of his generation. He is a founding member of New Century Jazz Quintet and Japanese jazz band, JSquad, for which he also composes. Inspired by the totality of his musical journey, Nakamura is poised to make his highly anticipated album debut as leader in late 2016.

One of the most commanding voices on bass today, Yasushi Nakamura is praised for imaginative, quicksilver bass lines that deepen the groove. His blend of guitar-like precision and gut-level blues has sparked collaborations with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Hank Jones, Dave Douglas, Steve Miller, etc. With his charismatic stage presence and artful, hard swinging melodic touch, Nakamura is a first-call performer capturing new audiences and fans around the world.

Born in Tokyo, Nakamura moved to the United States at age 9, and considers both places home. He began with clarinet and tenor saxophone, but his older brother’s study of guitar and drums drove him to pick up the bass. His love of rock and funk aside, the music of Charlie Parker, Ray Brown, Miles Davis were a potent influence on him. Nakamura received a BA in Jazz Performance from Berklee School of Music in 2000, and was awarded a full scholarship to The Juilliard School for his Artist Diploma in 2006. He credits Myron Walden as an early champion, and keeps close ties to Juilliard mentors Victor Goines, Wycliffe Gordon, and Carl Allen, all of whom maintain him in their bands.

Nakamura’s career is flourishing, with consistent engagements at premier jazz festivals including Tokyo, North Sea, Monterey, Ravinia, and venues such as Birdland, Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. In 2014, he was honored to play the “NEA Jazz Masters Concert: Celebrating Jamey Abersold, Anthony Braxton, Richard Davis, and Keith Jarrett,” sharing the stage with Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman. A wide array of projects permits him to explore musical styles and collaborations. In 2016, he recorded with one of his long-time inspirations, Toshiko Akiyoshi, for her recent release, Porgy and Bess. His performance with Akiyoshi’s Jazz Orchestra was also broadcast as a documentary film. Recent works include “For the Love of Duke” with New York City Ballet choreographed by Susan Stroman, and “Ellington at Christmas: Nutcracker Suite” with Savion Glover, Lizz Wright, the Abyssinian Baptist Choir, and David Berger conducting. In 2010, he toured the Middle East with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Kings of the Crescent City” project, and he toured Asia in 2008 with the Juilliard All-Stars. As an educator, Nakamura has led master classes and summer intensive courses at the The Juilliard School, New School, Koyo Conservatory, Osaka Geidai, and Savannah Swing Central.

In fall 2016, Nakamura begins a European tour with Aaron Goldberg, Dave Douglas Quartet. He is also an established member of Clarence Penn and Penn Station, Mark Whitfield Family Band, and more. Yet Nakamura is equally passionate about creating new music with the artists of his generation. He is a founding member of New Century Jazz Quintet and Japanese jazz band, JSquad, for which he also composes. Inspired by the totality of his musical journey, Nakamura is poised to make his highly anticipated album debut as leader in late 2016.

Jimmy Greene

Saxophone

Jimmy Greene’s latest release, Beautiful Life (Mack Avenue Records), is a celebration of the life of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, whose life was tragically taken, along with 19 other children and 6 educators, on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.“ In late April 2017, Mack Avenue Records will release Greene's newest album, Flowers - Beautiful Life Volume 2. I want the music to convey a sense of how Ana lived,” Greene says. He fulfills that mandate with an intense, cohesive, genre-spanning program, juxtaposing the hardcore instrumental jazz for which he is best known with traditional spirituals, contemporary Christian music, standard ballads, and three original songs framing his own lyrics. Animating the repertoire is a gold-standard rhythm section (Renee Rosnes, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Lewis Nash, drums), augmented at various points by guitarists Pat Metheny and Jonathan DuBose; pianists Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut; vocalists Kurt Elling, Javier Colon and Latanya Farrell; spoken word from Tony® Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose; a 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; as well as an accomplished children’s choir. He composed or arranged every selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones and flute with customary authority, melodic focus and abiding soulfulness. The project garnered two Grammy® nominations, one for Best Jazz Instrumental Album and one for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for Greene’s original song “When I Come Home.”  A native of Hartford, CT, Greene is considered one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since his graduation from the Hartt School of Music in 1997. Greene’s quartet performs at the Village Vanguard, Jazz Standard and Smoke in New York, and has performed in festivals and concert venues worldwide, including tour dates throughout the United States, Italy, Russia, Israel, Canada, Brazil, and Uruguay. In one such appearance, Jim Macnie of the Village Voice said, “[Greene] is good for a couple of body chills every time you see him. He’s got a big barrelhouse sound, and a way of negotiating changes that make academic moves seem natural.” In addition to his 10 CD releases as a leader on the Mack Avenue, RCA Victor, Criss Cross and Sunnyside labels, Greene appears on 75 recordings as a sideman and has toured the world with the bands of Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Tom Harrell, Harry Connick, Jr., Avishai Cohen, Lewis Nash, Steve Turre and Claudia Acuña among many others.  Greene, the composer, won a prestigious 2013 Governor’s Arts Award from the State of Connecticut, a 2012 Innovator Award in Music from the City of Hartford, a 2010 Creative Works grant from the University of Manitoba, a 2009 Artist Fellowship by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, a 2005 ASCAP / IAJE Commission in honor of Ornette Coleman, a 2005 Artist Fellowship in Music Composition by the State of Connecticut and a 2004 Chamber Music America Grant in jazz composition. Greene is Co-Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University. He has performed clinics and master classes throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Israel and Russia and has served as Assistant Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the University of Manitoba, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Purchase College (State University of New York), and as Lecturer at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School (University of Hartford). Greene was the First Runner-Up in the 1996 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Saxophone Competition, is currently a doctoral candidate in music at the Manhattan School of Music, received a M.Mus in Music Education from Boston University and a B.Mus in Jazz Studies from the Hartt School.

Jimmy Greene’s latest release, Beautiful Life (Mack Avenue Records), is a celebration of the life of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, whose life was tragically taken, along with 19 other children and 6 educators, on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.“ In late April 2017, Mack Avenue Records will release Greene's newest album, Flowers - Beautiful Life Volume 2.

I want the music to convey a sense of how Ana lived,” Greene says. He fulfills that mandate with an intense, cohesive, genre-spanning program, juxtaposing the hardcore instrumental jazz for which he is best known with traditional spirituals, contemporary Christian music, standard ballads, and three original songs framing his own lyrics. Animating the repertoire is a gold-standard rhythm section (Renee Rosnes, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Lewis Nash, drums), augmented at various points by guitarists Pat Metheny and Jonathan DuBose; pianists Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut; vocalists Kurt Elling, Javier Colon and Latanya Farrell; spoken word from Tony® Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose; a 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; as well as an accomplished children’s choir. He composed or arranged every selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones and flute with customary authority, melodic focus and abiding soulfulness. The project garnered two Grammy® nominations, one for Best Jazz Instrumental Album and one for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for Greene’s original song “When I Come Home.” 

A native of Hartford, CT, Greene is considered one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since his graduation from the Hartt School of Music in 1997. Greene’s quartet performs at the Village Vanguard, Jazz Standard and Smoke in New York, and has performed in festivals and concert venues worldwide, including tour dates throughout the United States, Italy, Russia, Israel, Canada, Brazil, and Uruguay. In one such appearance, Jim Macnie of the Village Voice said, “[Greene] is good for a couple of body chills every time you see him. He’s got a big barrelhouse sound, and a way of negotiating changes that make academic moves seem natural.” In addition to his 10 CD releases as a leader on the Mack Avenue, RCA Victor, Criss Cross and Sunnyside labels, Greene appears on 75 recordings as a sideman and has toured the world with the bands of Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Tom Harrell, Harry Connick, Jr., Avishai Cohen, Lewis Nash, Steve Turre and Claudia Acuña among many others. 

Greene, the composer, won a prestigious 2013 Governor’s Arts Award from the State of Connecticut, a 2012 Innovator Award in Music from the City of Hartford, a 2010 Creative Works grant from the University of Manitoba, a 2009 Artist Fellowship by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, a 2005 ASCAP / IAJE Commission in honor of Ornette Coleman, a 2005 Artist Fellowship in Music Composition by the State of Connecticut and a 2004 Chamber Music America Grant in jazz composition.

Greene is Co-Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University. He has performed clinics and master classes throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Israel and Russia and has served as Assistant Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the University of Manitoba, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Purchase College (State University of New York), and as Lecturer at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School (University of Hartford). Greene was the First Runner-Up in the 1996 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Saxophone Competition, is currently a doctoral candidate in music at the Manhattan School of Music, received a M.Mus in Music Education from Boston University and a B.Mus in Jazz Studies from the Hartt School.

Obed Calvaire

Drums

Obed Calvaire, a native of Miami and of Haitian descent is a graduate with both a master and bachelor degree of music from one of America’s premiere private music conservatories in the nation, Manhattan School of Music. He received his bachelor’s degree in 2003, completing the undergraduate degree requirements in three years and receiving his master’s in 2005. Mr. Calvaire has performed and recorded with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Seal, Eddie Palmeri, Vanessa Williams, Dave Holland, David Foster, Mary J. Blidge, Stefon Harris, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Peter Cincotti, Music Soulchild, Nellie McKay, Yellow Jackets, Joshua Redman, Steve Turre, and Lizz Wright to name a few. He has also performed with large ensembles such as the Village Vanguard Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band, RoyHargrove big band, and the Bob Mintzer Big Band. Currently, Obed Calvaire can be found playing with the SF Jazz Collective, Richard Bona, Monty Alexander, Sean Jones, Yosvany Terry, The Clayton Brothers Quintet, Mike Stern among others.

Obed Calvaire, a native of Miami and of Haitian descent is a graduate with both a master and bachelor degree of music from one of America’s premiere private music conservatories in the nation, Manhattan School of Music. He received his bachelor’s degree in 2003, completing the undergraduate degree requirements in three years and receiving his master’s in 2005. Mr. Calvaire has performed and recorded with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Seal, Eddie Palmeri, Vanessa Williams, Dave Holland, David Foster, Mary J. Blidge, Stefon Harris, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Peter Cincotti, Music Soulchild, Nellie McKay, Yellow Jackets, Joshua Redman, Steve Turre, and Lizz Wright to name a few. He has also performed with large ensembles such as the Village Vanguard Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band, RoyHargrove big band, and the Bob Mintzer Big Band. Currently, Obed Calvaire can be found playing with the SF Jazz Collective, Richard Bona, Monty Alexander, Sean Jones, Yosvany Terry, The Clayton Brothers Quintet, Mike Stern among others.