Johnny O'Neal - piano, voice
Dennis Carroll - bass
Charles Heath - drums
“My jaw dropped when I heard him play piano — and then my heart dropped when I heard him sing.”
-- guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel
"There are so many outstanding things about Johnny’s playing. Two or three of the most outstanding: number one, the touch. Johnny has a million dollar touch. Very few people touch the piano like that to get that kind of sound and feeling... The other thing is his feeling of swing, which is so natural. Then there’s Johnny’s personality, so engaging. And Johnny can play a ballad like few people, if any. I’ve always held his talent in the highest regard, and I think he’s a very special artist." -- pianist Mulgrew Miller
A consummate pianist, vocalist and entertainer, Johnny O’Neal is considered a “master” by fellow musicians and audiences the world over. No wonder he was selected to play the part of piano virtuoso Art Tatum in the 2004 Academy Award-winning film Ray. He has performed in some of the world’s most renowned music venues, making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985 on solo piano, opening for Oscar Peterson, and was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998.
A Detroit native, Johnny’s enormous musical gifts were immediately apparent to jazz icon Ray Brown and led to his 1983 debut album “Coming Out.” Stints with Ray Brown, Milt Jackson and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers soon followed. While playing with Blakey, he accompanied some of the great jazz divas, including Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. Johnny has also been tapped for appearances by Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Nancy Wilson, Anita O’Day, Lionel Hampton, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Stitt, Benny Golson, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Clark Terry, among others. Performances on the festival circuits in Europe, Australia, Japan and South Africa have gained him an international following.
Johnny admits to loving to shout the blues, but calls himself a piano player first. Astonishingly, he is largely self-taught. His playing evokes the influences imbued in him by his idols Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, and he has reshaped these elements into his own very swinging and melodic approach. In live performances, he is apt to catch his audience off-guard with his soulfully rendered yet unpretentious vocalizations.
Johnny explains, “I’m a tune guy. I know 1,500 songs. My father was a pianist and singer who emphasized that learning lyrics creates dynamics and a better interpretation of melody. I rehearse so that the bassist, drummer and I can get familiar with each other’s styles—not to set the songs we’ll play. Jazz is the highest level of performance because it’s instant composition. I like to be spontaneous and respond to cues from the audience.”
This annual promotee ceremony celebrates the newest voices to our premier citywide ensemble, Voice of Chicago, with a free high octane concert featuring singers from all over the city.
This seasonal showcase will bring to life the sounds of Chicago's Beverly neighborhood through a concert featuring original music, exciting choreography and multimedia presentations.
John Hanrahan, (Chicago native) started the Coltrane project in 2003 when John met Elvin Jones in Santa Cruz at The Kuumbwa Jazz Center. I went on to see every show at Yoshi's and Elvin invited me to hang out at the Jazz Bakery! To check out my video library, ust type my name in YouTube: John Hanrahan Drums...We hope you enjoy Iit. That year on John's birthday, December 9th ( the date of ALS recording in 1964) he created an ensemble that first performed A Love Supreme in Chicago. We are working hard to bring forth the spirit of this music, that's the purpose, to humbly bring joy, peace and happiness through music. I owe that spirit to John Coltrane This recording from 2003 ended up 10 years later in Tim Jackson's office, the Director of the Monterey Jazz Festival ( and founder of The Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, Ca, Thanks Tim!- JH). I was scheduled at the Monterey Jazz Festival to perform A Love Supreme in Dizzy's Den to commemorate the 50 anniversary of the 1964 recording of ALS.
Andy Schumm - cornet, clarinet, tenor sax Natalie Scharf - tenor sax, clarinet Jim Barrett - tenor banjo, tenor guitar Paul Asaro - piano, vocals Jeff Parker - bass Formed in 2017, the Chicago Cellar Boys is a five-piece band specializing in the jazz and hot dance music of the 1920s and 30s. The Chicago Cellar Boys strive to authentically play the jazz and hot dance styles of the 1920s. They do not simply recreate performances of past. The Cellar Boys specialize in bringing America's forgotten musical era back to life in a way that excites both the astute listener and the casual music fan.
Jeremy Kahn - piano Leslie Beukelman - vocals Larry Kohut - bass Tom Hipskind - drums Jeremy Kahn is one of Chicago's busiest pianists, spending time in jazz clubs and orchestra pits, as well as in teaching and recording studios. He has played in all of the most visible local jazz venues, and was the house pianist at Streeterville's legendary Gold Star Sardine Bar for its final three years. Jeremy has performed internationally, most recently (5/16) in Posnan, Poland, as part of the "Made In Chicago" Jazz Festival. He has been the featured guest on the radio shows on Marian McPartland and Studs Terkel. Jeremy has also played for many theatrical productions, Including "Wicked", "Spamalot" and "The Lion King". He served as the Musical Director for "Louis & Keel Live At The Sahara" at the Royal George Theater, as well as at the Geffen Playhouse and Laguna Playhouse in California. He also is a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University, teaching Jazz Piano and Jazz Improvisation.
Hinda Hoffman - vocals Chris Foreman - organ Greg Rockingham - drum Lee Rothenberg - guitar Soul Message Band: A soulful and infectious style crafted around classic organ grooves, and rooted in the tradition of great Hammond B3 organists like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Jack McDuff, and “Groove” Holmes. SMB is founded on the enduring partnership of Chris Foreman, the Chicago-based and nationally celebrated Hammond B3 Jazz Organist, and the always solid drummer, Greg Rockingham, aka “The Rock.” Greg and Chris have a 25-year history of collaboration, including groups like the Deep Blue Organ Trio. Mr. Rockingham and Mr. Foreman have an unmistakable chemistry that has taken them from Chicago to Jazz Clubs and Arenas around the world as both headliners and as an opening group for Steely Dan.
Spider Saloff - vocals Jeremy Kahn - piano Stewart Miller - bass Eric Schneider - sax, clarinet -- -- -- “A wicked way with a lyric and a glint of well-controlled mischief.” – The New York Times She’s been heard around the world as the host/ star of the syndicated public radio series Words and Music, but for thousands the most familiar way to enjoy the jazz stylings of Spider Saloff has been through live performances. The Chicago –based jazz vocalist has won accolades around the world for her introspective approach to the genre, most profoundly through her one-woman tribute to George Gershwin, The Memory of All That, conceived with the blessing of the Gershwin estate and headlining the Gershwin Centennial in St. Petersburg, Russia. With full symphony orchestras or intimate jazz groups, Saloff is acclaimed as one of the great interpreters of the American Songbook. Saloff has composed multiple concert tributes to Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim and many others. With her vocal partners, Dee Alexander and Frieda Lee, she performed The 3 Ellas Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald to audiences of over 26,000 at Chicago’s Millennium Park as well as many other venues. Saloff’s concert career includes recent performances at the Poznan Poland Jazz Fest, The Pheasantry in London, as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Overture Center, Ravinia Music Festival, The Auditorium Theater, and the Smithsonian Institution. Days after receiving the acclaimed Bistro Award in New York, Spider Saloff will present a Tribute to the great Irving Berlin who wrote for over 6 decades and influenced American song, particularly jazz forever. Along with pianist Pete Benson and award winning saxophonist Eric Schneider, the Berlin tribute will be featured throughout all 3 sets during the evening of classic jazz. Endorsed by the Berlin family, Saloff will include stories about the amazing life or Irving Berlin told with her special brand of humor.
Marques Carroll - trumpet; Lenard Simpson - alto saxophone; Christian Dillingham - bass; Greg Artry - drums; Julius Tucker - piano Chicago based trumpeter Marques Carroll is keeping the tradition of jazz alive while pushing the genre forward into exciting new territory. A bold performer and passionate educator, he is dedicated to preserving the authentic culture of jazz and spreading his holistic love of music around the world. Born into a musical family in St. Louis, Marques fell in love with the trumpet when he was only 8 years old. His grandfather worked with jazz legend Clark Terry who would become a major influence on the young musician. Marques grew up absorbing the blues of Louis Armstrong and the laid back sounds of Miles Davis, eventually going on to study jazz performance at DePaul University. He expanded his palette to include classical and hip-hop influences, making him a throughly modern and versatile musician. Marques has worked and shared the stage with jazz powerhouses like Carmen Bradford, Dee Dee Bridgewater (Count Basie Band), Etienne Charles, Christian McBride, Jon Faddis, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Randy Weston (Chicago Jazz Ensemble). Marques’ compositions are soulful explorations of culture and consciousness. A storyteller at heart, he uses his horn to break down barriers between genres, writing evocative music that speaks directly to the soul. “Every instrument plays a character,” Marques says, describing his methods. “I want people to open their minds to what the story is about. Every piece I write is purposeful.”
Micheal Hackett - trumpet Tim Coffman - trombone Sharel Cassity - saxophone Jeremy Kahn - piano Christian Dillingham - bass Bob Rummage - drums The sextet co-lead by trumpeter Michael Hackett and trombonist Tim Coffman is a collaboration based upon a 40 year friendship. While attending the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music during the 1980’s, the two played together frequently in groups ranging from quintets to the university big bands, in rehearsals, concerts, on recitals, gigs, and tours. Upon leaving school, Hackett headed east; first to the Washington, DC area and later New York City, while Coffman chose to locate in the Chicago area, where he became a mainstay on the jazz scene and a successful teacher. Recently relocated to the Madison, WI area, Hackett approached Coffman about perhaps creating a joint project, and this new recording is the result. Settling upon a sextet format, Hackett reached out to a recent acquaintance, rising saxophone star Sharel Cassity, to fill the other horn slot. Meanwhile, Coffman secured the services of some of the most high-profile Chicago musicians for the rhythm section: pianist extraordinaire, Jeremy Kahn; the young bass prodigy, Christian Dillingham; and legendary Chicago drummer, Bob Rummage. Splitting the writing and arranging duties, this recording features five Hackett originals, one by Coffman, and arrangements of tunes by Tom Harrel and McCoy Tyner. Michael Hackett’s career has been quite diverse, backing up artists such as Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Frankie Valli, and Perry Como as well as performing in jazz clubs such as Birdland, The Village Vanguard, Swing 46, and Blues Alley while living in New York City and Washington, DC. His playing has been featured in national television and radio commercials, and many recordings, including those with Scott Whitfield’s “Birdland Band” the Jazz Orchestra East, with The Buselli/Wallarab Jazz Orchestra in Indianapolis, and his own recordings as a leader: “Circles” (2005), “New Point of View” (2013), and a new sextet recording co-led with Chicago trombonist Tim Coffman “Western Skies” which is due to be released in June of 2022. Tim Coffman is one of the most active trombonists and teachers in the Chicago area. A graduate of the prestigious Jazz Studies program at Indiana University, Mr. Coffman worked closely with David Baker and Keith Brown. He was awarded the Performer’s Certificate following his Senior Recital. Mr. Coffman is in demand for studio and show work and has performed with Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls, Louie Bellson, Aretha Franklin and many others. In 2022 Mr. Coffman toured with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He is a former member of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble and The Rob Parton Big Band and is currently a member of the New Standard Jazz Orchestra, The Bob Lark Alumni Big Band and the Bob Lark Septet. Mr. Coffman was on the Jazz Studies faculty at DePaul University from 1997-2021. He is now on the faculty and is the Jazz Studies Coordinator at North Central College in Naperville, IL. In the summer, he teaches at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop at the University of Louisville.
Ryan Cohan - piano; Ethan Philion - bass; Neil Hemphill - drums Throughout his critically acclaimed recordings as a leader and as a collaborator with numerous leading jazz figures and world-class ensembles, Ryan Cohan has masterfully walked the line of writer and player, proving himself time and again to be a composer of rare vision as well as a highly versatile, powerfully expressive pianist. Recognized for his “ingenuity and virtuosity” (Chicago Tribune), Cohan’s expansive body of work ranges from solo piano pieces to arrangements for symphony orchestra and scores for independent films. He has produced six albums of original compositions: Real World (Real World Music); Here and Now (Sirocco Jazz); One Sky (Motéma), named one of the year’s best recordings by the Chicago Tribune and a number of jazz publications; Another Look (Motéma), hailed as “a model for modern jazz piano albums” by ICON magazine; and The River (Motéma) which features Ryan’s sixty minute suite inspired by his travels in Africa. Described by JazzTimes as “Cohan’s most ambitious and important work to date”, The River was performed at Millennium Park in Chicago to a crowd of over 8,000 and the recording and live concert was selected for several prominent ‘Best of 2013′ music lists in national publications.
Paul Marinaro - vocals Tom Vaitsas - piano Mike Allemana - guitar John Tate - bass Neil Hemphill - drums “(a) formidable singer, bold and evocative...an exquisite new recording...a stunning debut documenting one of the most beautiful vocal instruments in the business today...Marinaro owns one of the most plush baritones in Chicago — or just about anywhere else, and one of these days, perhaps the rest of the world will know it…a room is fortunate to have him.” Howard Reich - producer, author, and arts/jazz critic of the Chicago Tribune Vocalist Paul Marinaro, dubbed as having “one of the most beautiful vocal instruments in the business today” by Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune, is a modern classic. With Chicago as his home base, Paul has become one of the most in-demand and respected male vocalists and has “taken his place among the top five male jazz singers active today.” (Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene) Paul demonstrates a mastery of and an infectious passion for the material he chooses, allowing him to successfully command audiences with his fresh interpretations. At home, he is currently enjoying sold-out engagements in Chicago’s world-famous venues, including Joe and Wayne Segal’s Jazz Showcase, The Green Mill, Andy’s Jazz Club, and at Winter’s Jazz Club where he is currently in residence. He has been a featured performer at The Chicago Jazz Festival in 2014 and again in 2017 for an audience of 10,000 on the stage at the massive Pritzger Pavilion, where his performance with jazz legend Sheila Jordan earned rave reviews and was named “Best of 2017” (Chicago Tribune). He has earned “Best Performance of the Year” in the Chicago Tribune in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018; and “Best of Chicago 2015” in NewCity Magazine. In 2013, Paul celebrated his widely acclaimed debut album Without a Song, a carefully crafted concept album stemming from and inspired by his father’s unfulfilled dream to have been a professional singer. For this album, Paul incorporated the beginnings of his love affair with music, when at the age of five, he found his father’s homemade 78rpm acetate discs in the attic, heard him singing “That Old Black Magic”, and was mesmerized. This scratchy recording of his father’s voice was Paul’s first musical inspiration…and it was restored and used to open his debut album 66 years later. Without a Song has gone on to receive widespread acclaim and national airplay, was named among the “Best of 2013” in the Chicago Tribune and has been prominently featured on NYC DJ Jonathan Schwartz’s “The Jonathan Channel”. Now in its third pressing, the album was re-issued in late 2015 as a deluxe, limited-edition, audiophile 2 LP Vinyl set. The album and its story went on to inspire acclaimed choreographer, Ron De Jesus, who premiered his original dance suite “Without a Song: Mic Check 1, 2” in April 2014, with Paul and his quartet performing the music live. Released in October, 2015, his first live album, One Night in Chicago, has also been critically acclaimed, being called “…a shining example of male jazz vocal at the top of its game.” (Midwest Record).
Alyssa Allgood - vocals Chris Madsen - saxophone Tom Vaitsas - piano Clark Sommers - bass Neil Hemphill - drums Jazz saxophonist Christopher Madsen is one of the most in-demand figures in the Chicago jazz world as a performer, composer, and pedagogue. He serves as full-time jazz faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago, jazz faculty at Midwest Young Artists in Highwood, IL, and was Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) from 2008-2014. He is a sought-after jazz clinician, adjudicating at jazz festivals and offering workshops to ensembles of all ages and levels from across the globe. He is a Vandoren Performing Artist, and has also contributed jazz articles to The Instrumentalist magazine and been interviewed on several radio broadcasts about jazz history and his performing career. As a leader and sideman, Madsen’s discography is extensive. He has released five albums as a leader since 2004 and can be heard as a player and composer on countless additional releases with artists such as Michael Dease, Marquis Hill, and Jeff Hamilton. He has performed at jazz festivals and live music venues domestically as well as in Japan, Spain, and Costa Rica.