The Babatunde Lea Jazz Quartet (USA)Jazz Tour Babatunde Lea, drums and percussion, Geoff Brennan, bass, Glen Pearson, piano, Richard Howell, tenor saxophone
Bringing a ferocious energy to the bandstand whether playing African, Latin or straight-ahead jazz rhythms, the inspirational percussionist and pedagogue Babatunde Lea makes his Irish début in a nationwide Music Network tour from October 12-21, prior to an appearance at the Cork Jazz Festival. A giant of Afro-Caribbean jazz, Babatunde Lea has worked with some of the biggest names in jazz including Pharoah Saunders, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Randy Weston and Bobby Hutcherson. For his début Irish tour, San Francisco-based Babatunde has assembled a stellar line-up. Bassist Geoff Brennan is a regular with Cuban virtuoso pianist Omar Sosa, while pianist Hilton Ruiz has recorded with Charles Mingus, Betty Carter, Archie Shepp, Clark Terry and Chico Freeman, among others. Tenor sax maestro Richard Howell, one of the biggest names on the San Franciso jazz scene, has worked with Etta James, Chaka Khan, Don Cherry, Cecil Taylor, Willie Bobo, and Buddy Guy. This tour is funded by the Arts Council.
Babatunde Lea remains a percussionist of choice in the Bay Area and beyond, performing at The Kennedy Center with Mary Stallings, at the Blue Note with Hilton Ruiz and as a member of Bill Cosby’s All-Stars at The Playboy Jazz Festival (2001 and 2002). Lea has led his group at many world-class venues including New York’s Jazz Standard, Yoshi’s, The Jazz Bakery and the Atlanta Jazz, Bumbershoot, Playboy and Monterey Jazz Festivals. Lea also recorded his own albums, Levels of Consciousness (1979), Level of Intent (1995, re-released by Motema Music 2004) on which his Afro-influenced signature sound came into focus, and Soul Pools (Motema 2003). He also appeared in Bill Cosby’s Leonard Part VI, Partners in Crime and in dancer Bill T. Jones’ opera, Mother of Three Sons, at Lincoln Center.
Bassist Geoff Brennan is one of the most innovative and versatile young bass players on the jazz scene today. Geoff has spent the last several years traversing the globe performing at prestigious festivals including North Sea Jazz, JVC, and Montreal Jazz, and at the opening night début of the new Zankel Hall in Carnegie Hall. In addition to his work with Omar Sosa, Geoff records and tours with such notables as Hilton Ruiz, Chico Freeman, and Mary Stallings. He has recently moved to New York after a 12-year stint in the San Francisco Bay area. Brennan also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Arizona StateUniversity.
Pianist Hilton Ruiz is one of the leading figures in Afro-Cuban music as well as an expert bebop player. Born in New York City in 1952, Hilton was a child prodigy who performed at Carnegie Recital Hall when he was eight. As a teenager he played with Latin bands and also gained early mainstream jazz experience playing with Joe Newman, Frank Foster, Cal Massey and Freddie Hubbard. Hilton later studied with Mary Lou Williams before spending two years with George Coleman’s band. He recorded with Charles Mingus, Betty Carter, Archie Shepp, Clark Terry and Chico Freeman, among others before embarking on a solo career in the early ‘80s. Manhattan Mambo, his first recording on Telarc, was released July 1992 and earned rave reviews. Enchantment, his most recent recording also for Telarc, was hailed as “one of the finest jazz outings of 2003.”
Saxophonist Richard Howell's professional experience covers the entire spectrum of the music business. Richard has performed and recorded with major artists, involving everything from film to television soundtracks to advertising jingles and musical education. As a saxophonist, Richard Howell's spirited abilities have been mingled with the talents of Della Reese, Willie Bobo, Angela Bofield, Narada Michael Walden, Buddy Guy, Charlie Musslewhite, and the Motels among others. Mr. Howell has performed at many famous venues such as Lincoln Center, The Royal Albert Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl, at the Montreaux and Monterey Jazz Festivals, and on The Tonight Show.
On Tour: Tues 12 Oct Dundalk (Táin Theatre, Town Hall, 8pm), Wed 13 Oct Oldcastle, Co. Meath (Gilsenan School, 8pm), Thurs 14 Oct Castlebar (Linenhall Arts Centre, 8pm), Fri 15 Oct Sligo (The Factory Performance Space, 8pm), Sat 16 Oct Moate (Tuar Ard Arts Centre, 8.30pm), Mon 18 Oct Nuns Island (Nuns Island Arts Centre, 8pm), Tues 19 Oct Newbridge (Riverbank Arts Centre, 8pm) Wed 20 Oct Bray (Mermaid Arts Centre, 8pm), Thurs 21 Oct Dublin (Bank of Ireland Arts Centre, Foster Place, 8pm)
"…not since Mingus and Blakey has music bristled with a sense of message like this."- Down Beat