Credits (About the band)
GARY FARR (Piano, Director)
Pianist, composer, producer, arranger and founder of Secret Formula Records, GF Creative Music, and his All Star Big Band. In 1999 he recorded and released his first two CD’s on SFR label. The Gentle Awakening, a new age CD and Lost, the first jazz CD that put him on the map as a recording artist. Gary and his jazz quintet debuted the Lost CD at Sunfest in Palm Beach Florida on May 1, 1999. The original jazz band started recording Deep as the Night in 1995. One of Gary’s latest projects as producer and musician is Ron Fattorusso’s successful smooth jazz CD, Up All Night released in 2004. They will be releasing Ron’s new smooth jazz CD in 2012. Fresh Brew was released in November 2004 and Movin’ Thru LA was released in April 2007. Gary released a solo piano romantic CD in Feb. 2009 titled Romance, Piano & Love. His latest release is a compilation with Ron Fattorusso of sexy love songs titled Sexy Sensuous Sounds. Gary is creator and host of the several radio channels for Sky.fm and jazzradio.com radio. Among the channels are the successful Solo Piano, Piano Jazz (2), Beatles Tribute, American Songbook and Sinatra Style. For more info on Gary’s film scoring and TV music, click here.
TONY LAVENDER (Drums and Vocals)
Tony came from Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1979 to study and teach at the University of Miami, earning a Masters of Music Education in Jazz Pedagogy. He has performed throughout South Florida with a broad spectrum of artists including Tony Bennett, Joan Rivers, Ben Vereen, the Boca Pops, and a 6 year touring and recording stint with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Dion. Tony also teaches music in the Palm Beach County Public School system and percussion for the Department of Music at Florida Atlantic University. Tony and Gary performed together back in the 1980′s in nightclubs and hotel lounges from Cleveland Ohio to South Florida.
BILLY ROSS (Saxes & flute)
“Anyone who plays a Gene Ammons—Sonny Stitt tune is a friend of mine,” record producer Bob Weinstock told Billy Ross after hearing the multi-woodwind player perform in North Miami. Weinstock, the founder of Prestige Records, had once produced Ammons and Stitt, as well as Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and countless others.
Billy Ross was born into a show business family in Brooklyn. His parents, Larry Ross and the late Sonia Zomina, performed as a song-and-dance team in New York’s Catskill Mountains before becoming Broadway, motion picture, and television actors. Billy himself began acting at age 8, at first appearing in commercials, later playing small roles in such films as Love with the Proper Stranger and The Way We Were. Ross turned professional at 14, spending summers playing at hotels in the Catskills, where he eventually backed such headliners as Lena Horne and Vic Damone.
After a stint with Machito’s Afro-Cuban orchestra, Ross joined the Herman band at age 18. He later played with the Latin orchestras of Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez. In 1970, he went to Australia to visit his aunt and, within three days, was hired as first flutist in the Australian Broadcasting Recording Orchestra.
Homesick for the U.S., Ross moved to Miami Beach, where his parents had settled, and was accepted with a full scholarship to the University of Miami School of Music, from which he graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in studio music and jazz. While there, he played and toured with the award-winning University of Miami Jazz Band, which included, among other notables, guitarist Pat Metheny.
Among his many credits include two CD’s of his own; Tribute to Stan Getz and Woody. Billy can also be heard as a feature artist on Gary Farr’s CD’s Fresh Brew and Deep as the Night. Other record dates include James Brown, Millie Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Julio Iglesias, Duffy Jackson, and Melton Mustafa; tours with Marvin Gaye, Michel Legrand, Frank Sinatra, and Mel Tormé; and club engagements with Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lou Rawls, and Nancy Wilson. For the past nine years, Ross has been a member of the house band of Sabado Gigante, a Spanish-language variety show filmed at Univision in Miami and viewed by 140 million people worldwide.
MIKE BRIGNOLA (Baritone Sax)
Mike Brignola played with big band legend Woody Herman from 1980 to 1987. He is a member of Woody’s saxophone section on five Concord recordings and two videos from that time period. During those last 7 years of Woody’s long career, Mike played with Woody on approximately 1000 performances in the United States and around the world. The band often backed special guests including singers Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney and saxophonists Stan Getz, Sal Nistico, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Bill Perkins, and Flip Phillips. Mike’s association with the band has continued for the last 24 years ( 1987 to the present), and he is now the road manager, personnel director and baritone saxophonist for the Woody Herman Orchestra directed by tenor saxophonist Frank Tiberi. The Woody Herman Orchestra directed by Tiberi has recorded two CD’s: Tribute to the Legacy of Woody Herman and Live in London At Ronnie Scott’s. Mike is also a member of the Jaco Pastorius Big Band and plays on their debut CD , Word of Mouth Revisited and their most recent CD, The Word is Out . The Word of Out was also named JazzWeek’s 2006 Record of the Year.
RANDY EMERICK (Saxes & flute)
Born in Dayton Ohio, and a graduate of Dartmouth College. He was leader of Dartmouth’s jazz ensemble, The Barbary Coast orchestra. Member of Wayne Cochran’s C.C. Riders, 1971-1975. Performed on baritone saxophone and other woodwinds with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Liza Minnelli, Johnny Mathis, Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls, The Temptations, Mel Torme, and many others, 1978-present. U.S. and world tours with Jaco Pastorius, 1981-82. Recorded with Wayne Cochran’s C.C. Riders (Cochran on Columbia Epic, 1971) Recorded with Jaco Pastorius (Invitation, Twins I & II, The Birthday Concert, Portrait of Jaco – The Early Years, Punk Jazz) Recorded with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (Dorsey, Then And Now) Bass saxophone with Jaco Pastorius, Florida Symphonic Pops at Boca Raton, and Florida Sunshine Jazz Society Repertory Orchestra. Currently plays alto, tenor, baritone and bass sax, flute, clarinet and bass clarinet with the Palm Beach Pops.
RON FATTORUSSO (Saxes & Flute)
Ron started his professional career in 1974 as a multi-insturmentalist (Alto, Tenor and Soprano saxes, flute and clarinet). By 1979 he had played for and performed with such stars as Bing Crosby, Shirley Bassey, Steve Lawrence, Edie Gorme, Hal Linden, Joan Rivers, Mitzi Gaynor, Julio Iglesias, Celia Cruz, Rodney Dangerfield, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Olga Guillo, Willie Chirino, Lissette, Lola Flores, Iris Chacon, Susy Leman, Robert Carlos, Tony Orlando & Dawn, Vicki Carr, Peter Allen and Eddie Arnold. By the 1980′s he backed up Desi Arnez, The Temptations and jazz giants Ira Sullivan, Joe Dirorio and Eddie Daniels. From 1981-83 Ron went on a ‘sold out’ concert tour with El Puma. In 1980, while working as a musician, he opened a recording studio in South Florida (Star Track Recording). Having recorded countless talented musicians over a 20 year span, he has been able to use his experience and knowledge and apply it to his first solo jazz cd, Up All Night. Since early 1990′s Ron has been working with pianist and founder of Secret Formula Records Gary Farr, performing and recording various jazz and commercial CD’s. Ron & Gary will be releasing his new smooth jazz CD in 2012.
DAVID GIBBLE (Trumpet)
Teacher at Palm Beach State College since the fall of 1995 and in his role as Associate Professor of Instrumental Music he directs the Concert Band, Tuesday Nite Big Band, 12 O¹clock Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combos and Brass Ensemble. He also has performed with the Woody Herman Orchestra, Jaco Pastorius Big Band and the Capitol Bones Big Band. In the classical vein, Mr. Gibble continues to play with the Brass Renaissance quintet as principal trumpet and has also appeared with the South Florida Wind Symphony and Palm Beach Opera Orchestra. Prior to his arrival in Florida, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from West Chester University (Pa.) with a B.S. in Music Education. After graduation, he taught instrumental music in the Eastern York School District in Pennsylvania to a variety of grade levels for eight years before returning to school to receive his M.M. in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas where he played with the world-renowned One O’clock Lab Band.
RICHARD BROOKENS (Saxes & flute)
An arranger/composer and multi-instrumentalist performing on saxophones (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone), flutes (C and Alto), and clarinets (Bb and Bass), Tabla drums (from India), Udu (Clay Pots), Native American Indian Flutes, and bamboo flutes from India (Bansuri) and China (Dizi). During his musical career Richard has enjoyed studying and working in many different musical styles and settings: Jazz, Rock, Classical, Musical Theater, Flamenco, Indian, Japanese, and World Fusion. All of these have influenced his approach to composition and improvisation in his recordings and live performances with his World Fusion group Yellow Bell. While in South Florida he has worked with Bailles Ferrer, a South Florida based Flamenco dance company, guitarist Randy Bernsen, (Jazz Fusion), and Duo DADA, an improvisatory dance/music performance art group. He has also been principal Saxophonist with the Palm Beach Pops and has led the Palm Beach Pops Saxophone Quintet since 1999, playing 20-30 concerts in the Palm Beach School system every year. In addition to these groups Richard freelances with many other performing groups, including orchestras at Actor’s Playhouse, New Vista Theater, Florida Atlantic University, The Broward Performing Arts Center, and The Kravis Performing Arts Center (WPB), and the Arsht Performing Arts Center (Miami).In addition to the fine musicians above and on the Yellow Bell CDs, he has performed with: The Artie Shaw Orchestra, Cab Calloway, trumpeter Nat Adderly, pianist James Williams, Buddy Greco, Roy Clark, Boots Randolph, Tiny Tim, Clark Terry, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Hal Linden, Mary Street Dance Co., Lucie Arnaz, Jimmie Rosselli, Shirley Jones, Tony Orlando, and has worked in many recording studios as a player and arranger on records and commercials.
SCOTT MELARMESON (Trumpet)
Known as one of the top solo trumpeters in Florida. Holds first chair in the Palm Beach Pops orchestra and is on-call for Natalie Cole whenever she goes on tour.
TOM STANCAMPIANO (Trumpet)
Tom has performed with such top acts as Aretha Franklin, Lionel Hampton, Sammy Davis Jr., Vic Damone, Mel Torme, K.C. & The Sunshine Band, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Englebert Humperdink, Kenny Rogers, Patti Page & Rosemary Clooney.
DOUG MICHELS (Trumpet)
A talented graduate of the University of Miami music department and best known for his extensive tour with Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. Doug also toured with K.C and The Sunshine Band for a few years all along working with Gary off and on since the 1990’s.
JUAN NATIVIDAD (bass, trumpet & vocals)
Originally from Barcelona Spain, Juan made his way across the Atlantic Ocean blowing his trumpet on cruise ships, backing up shows before relocating in South Florida. Juan started working with Gary in the 1980′s, becoming one of his closest friends and eventually, responsible for encouraging Gary into putting this wonderful, all star band together. Juan brings to the stage his Latin flare singing in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French. You will find Juan’s bass and stylish trumpet playing on several of Gary’s jazz CD’s. He is the proud father of actress/singer Danielle Natividad.
GARY THOMAS (Upright Bass & Electric 6 string bass)
Gary is too young yet to have the resume some of these other musicians have acquired through the years. Gary is currently a student in the Music dept. at the University of Miami. Gary Farr likes to discover young talented musician as he did with Doug Michels back in the 90′s. Farr believes this young bassist is way ahead of his time in talent and professionalism. Farr was quoted, “This kid can really swing and has a great feel for the music we are playing.”
OUR GUEST SINGERS
Lisanne received her Doctorate in jazz vocals from University of Miami in 2009. While still a student, she received two Down Beat awards for Best Jazz Vocalist and one for Bess Jazz Arrangement. She has performed with Joel Grey on NBC Orange Bowl half-time show, was with the national touring company Tony award winning “City of Angels”. Dr. Lyons has performed with the Woody Herman Orch., Maynard Ferguson, Arturo Sandoval, Palm Beach Pops, South Florida Jazz Orch. just to name a few. Lisanne has two solo CD’s available, “Right as the Rain” and “Smile” with the John Toomey trio. She is in demand as a performer, adjudicator, arranger and conductor. Gary and the big band are delighted to have her performing with us this upcoming winter season.
Born on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, Dana Paul grew up in a musical family. His dad was much in demand as a tenor sax man in the Boston area, and his mom copied the arrangements for society gigs. By the age of 13, Dana’s family moved to Miami and he began playing trumpet in the junior high school band. During this same period Dana’s stage acting chops were developing under the tutelage of drama teacher and school counselor, Janet Dean.
HIS VOCAL TALENTS surfaced almost accidentally. After high school graduation, Dana set out in a van to see the country. Unable to play a horn and drive at the same time, he began singing along to every song that came on the radio. He found he had an a special affinity for the jazz influenced material and when he returned to Miami a year later, he established his first band. Since then, Dana has been one of the most sought after entertainers in South Florida. In 2002, Dana was awarded ‘Jazz Vocalist of the year” by the Florida Music Awards. Dana brings an exciting dimension to the big band.
Growing up on the shores of South Florida, influenced by cases full of tapes and shelves full of old LP’s ranging from jazz greats, to 60′s rock icons, to reggae masters, and modern day hipsters, Farr has tirelessly pursued making music since a very young age – chasing the goal, living the adventure, and loving every bit of it – Matt has acknowledged songwriting as his natural gift. “Playing and writing music is my passion, I just want to do it at a very high level, and hopefully share that vibe with all the music fans I come across each and every day”, Farr explains. With both parents musicians themselves, Farr was born into a musical environment that was contagious eventually leading to formal study and fronting numerous projects around the South Florida area. Matt’s recent solo album, Matt Farr was released in April of 2010. The album was recorded in St. Augustine, FL by legendary producer Jim DeVito. Matt’s dedication and future potential has attracted world class musicians on both his album and on stage including Craig Barnette, known for his work with Mofro and as Donavon Frankenreiter’s touring drummer, Pete Winders, and Eric Brigmond, also known for their work with Frankenreiter’s touring group. Rounding out the lineup is Farr’s long time friend and collaborator Craig Stevens on bass.
Singer Danielle Natividad is a South Florida native and has been studying musical theatre for most of her life. She had professional training at the New World School of Arts in Miami Beach and the Boston Conservatory. She was seen in previous years singing at Jazzid Club in Miami. This past spring, you may have seen her in Boca Raton performing in the musical, Cabaret. She recently was cast in Sweet Charity for the 2012 spring season. She is very excited to be joining the stage with Gary Farr’s big band this year.
Debbie sings the great jazz standards with passion and emotion that comes from a lifelong love of great lyrics and melodies as well as reflections on life with its changes and challenges. Even as a child, Debbie imitated the sounds and songs of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.Debbie studied flute in college and theater at the University of Miami. In 2010, Debbie became a Founder of the Miami Jazz Cooperative, a non-profit organization promting jazz performances and jazz education in South Florida.