LEOPOLDO F. FLEMING
Afro–Caribbean Jazz Ensemble
As a musician, composer, lyricist, and arranger Leopoldo is a great personality with a rich and multicolored palette. His inspiration stems from his Latin–Afro–Indian roots, his childhood in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, his many years as highly active on the jazz and beyond music scene of New York, and his international experience from since his youth collaborating and touring with US, Caribbean, and African stars all over Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, the Orient and Australia. Since 1951 Leopoldo’s home is New York, however, from 1987 to 98 he had residence in Vienna, Austria, and since 2006 he has a base in Copenhagen, Denmark, too.
Though mainly a jazz musician, Leopoldo goes about well versed in several musical genres – jazz, funk, R&B, Caribbean, Cuban, Brazilian, African, gospel and spirituals. He is a brilliant accompanist, a fascinating soloist, has a special melodic gift in his playing, and his performances sparkle with surprises, sophistication, grace, and exquisite timing.
Besides his own music and theater projects, Leopoldo has played, recorded, toured with a cornucopia of other great artists such as Nina Simone (for 31 years off and on), Miriam Makeba, in recent years “Sing The Truth” (w. Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright, Angélique Kidjo, Simone Kelly, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stacey Kent and more), The Symphony of the New World, Harry Belafonte, Monica Zetterlund, The String Reunion, Eartha Kitt, The World Bass Violin Ensemble, Beaver Harris, Novella Nelson, Lonnie Liston Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Sonny Stitt, Richard Grove Holmes, Queen Esther Marrow, Leon Thomas, Randy Weston (in big band format and in a trio including Ron Carter), Archie Shepp, Bob Cunningham, Kenny Barron, Horace Parlan, David Murray, The Boys’ Choir of Harlem, a number of local world class musicians in Vienna and Copenhagen respectively, the all–stars Lou Caputo Not So Big Band, and once a year he tours the Far East with the New York Harlem Singers. Learn more about Leopoldo F. Fleming
DANNY MIXON QUARTET
Daniel Asbury Mixon was born in Harlem, New York. Danny began his artistic expression as a tap dancer. He was a student of the Ruth Williams Dance Studio and even at the tender age of ten was known as “the show stopper.” Danny attended the High School of Performing Arts with Dance as his major.
During an afternoon outing at the Apollo Theatre with his grandfather, Danny was inspired by the jazz musicians he heard. It was then that he decided he wanted to play the piano. At the age of fifteen Danny began piano lessons with Mr. Cecil. However, his most memorable teacher was Roland Hanna.
At 17 years of age, while employed at a fabric company, Danny was invited to play with Sam Brown’s band backing Patti Labelle & the Blue Bells in Atlantic City at Reggie’s Cocktail Lounge. He never went back to the fabric business and Danny has never looked back.
By age 19 Danny found himself in Europe with the Muse Quartet under the auspice of Chris White. Then Danny worked with Art Blakely, next Kenny Durham, then Cecil Payne. His first professional organ gig was with Carlos Garnet at the Baby Grand in Brooklyn. Danny accompanied Big Maybelle at the Blue Coronet. The singer, Danny is most known for accompanying, is Betty Carter. After which Danny worked extensively with Charles Mingus. He ran the U.S. circuit with Yusef Lateef. Danny enjoyed a few years with the Lionel Hampton Big Band. Since Danny was in his 20’s he has worked continuously with Frank Foster as a pianist for the Big Band; Frank Foster’s Loud Minority, and his quartet – the Non–Electric Company.
Danny Mixon is an accomplished Pianist and Organist who performs all over the world. Danny has also worked with Joe Williams, Mariena Shaw, Oscar Brown, Jr., Dakota Staton, Leon Thomas, Chaka Kahn, Lou Rawls, Gloria Lynn, Lysle Atkinson, Earl May and many others. The Danny Mixon Trio performs annually at the Jazz Mobile. He appears regularly at Showman’s as an Organist.
Jazz Vocalist extraordinaire, artist and teacher Betty Shirley is blessed with all the range and tonal control one might expect from a first–class Jazz singer. Ms. Shirley can scat, propel, coax and hang on to a note. She improvises with unerring instincts and delivers exactly what a song needs, spinning notes like silk.
Her extensive repertoire ranges from original compositions, Jazz (modern and traditional) and Blues to R&B, and Bossa Nova. She has sung with some of the best Jazz musicians in the world: Ellis Marsalis, Art Blakey Jr., Benny Green and Bross Townsend, to name a few and her tours have included Europe and Brazil. Her credits include the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Pensacola Jazz Festival, Essence Fest and the Women in Jazz Series.
As a recording artist, Shirley has 3 critically acclaimed CDs to her credit as a leader. Unveiled (1995), Betty Shirley Sings (with the Chuck Chaplin Trio, 2002), and Close Your Eyes (released March 2007). Her latest work, Close Your Eyes, was completed just at the time Hurricane Katrina was rolling in.
A 2012 inductee to the NYC Blues Hall of Fame, Karlus Trapp has been playing music since he was 5 years old, and has been teaching guitar and making a living playing music for over 30 years. His music has been featured on network TV, as well as international markets around the world. In 2012, Karlus produced and released his latest CD, S’Allright. Last year, he contributed guitar and vocals to the debut recording by singer/songwriter, Gina Catalino. He’s shared the stage and played in bands with members of renowned groups like Bon Jovi, The Modern English, The Band and The Paul Shaffer Band. He’s opened concerts for Richie Havens, Tuck and Patti, and was the 2008 winner of the Bob Dylan competition at the New York Guitar Festival. His CD WOW Karlus Trapp with Magumbo, was co–produced by Grammy–winning producer, Bob Cutarella (Les Paul).
As a music educator, Mr. Trapp has been bringing his music and talents to Staten Island schools for over 20 years. One of his most notable accomplishments was in 2002, when he worked with the education department of Snug Harbor Cultural Center, the New York Times School Arts Rescue and over a half–dozen schools, which resulted in close to thirty original songs co–written with school children directly affected by September 11th.
A multi–instrumentalist and producer, Karlus recently co–produced several tracks on the new CD of New York songwriter, Joan Nerlino Caddel. His music melds together pop/rock songs with bluesy guitar and the rhythms of New Orleans, Jamaica and Africa. A solo performer as well as band leader, Karlus regularly performs across NYC, is currently producing new young artists, and is collaborating once again with Kenyan songwriter, Kahoro Kibochi. Learn more at karlustrapp.com
Vinnie Ruggieri was born on October 23, 1946 in Staten Island NY. He began playing piano at 5 years of age. At 16, he studied theory and composition with Werner Oberbedr, then attended CSI in Staten Island as a music major and also studied with pianist Jaki Byarrd. In the seventies he worked in bassist Vinnie Burke's quartet when he shared the bandstand with such notables as Thad Jones Phil Woods, Joe Newman and Grachan Moncur III. In the eighties, he worked with the Billy Mitchell Quartet. In the nineties, he was a member of the Staten Island Chamber Ensemble Jazz quartet which gave concerts and lecture demonstrations in the NYC area. Vinnie is musical director for vocalist Annette St. John and he performs at Smoke Jazz Club in Manhattan every Sunday afternoon.