Dion Parson

Grammy Award–winning drummer and composer Dion Parson has been leading the 21st Century Band for more than two decades. The outfit’s innovative sound bonds Virgin Islands traditions, such as Quelbe, and Caribbean expressions — reggae, calypso, soca, mento, ska, zouk, steel pan, chutney, and funk — with New Orleans and African influences. Whether you’re new to these sounds or they’re integral to your musical narrative, come hear their fresh and dynamic interpretations from Parson’s ensemble.

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Antoine Roney

Heart Music

Where does music come from? We are, indeed, speaking of the realm of the platonic, the realm of the spirit. We are talking of each note that goes to form a string of ineffably precious and beautiful pearls that, in turn, forms a proverbial necklace that adorns the melody of a song. From a black dot on a line or the spaces between the lines of a staved paper? Certainly not where Antoine Roney comes from.

In the case of Antoine – as in the case of the spiritual ancestors of the horns from whom he has descended: Dexter Gordon, Hawk and Bean, Charlie Parker, Jackie Maclean, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Pharoah Sanders – it pulsates from the beat of his heart.

The heart – more than the head – speaks through Antoine’s horns. It is something he always knew from listening to music at home with his musically noble family. “Of course, technique is important,” he says, “but what’s in the heart determines the sound of your voice.” We all breathe the same air, but what you make of it aurally is what counts.

It is one of those unforgettable lessons you learn when your early mentors are Wayne Shorter and Jackie Maclean. “Jackie and [his son] René always said, ‘focus on telling the story… sing the blues.’ Sure, structure – the 12-bar structure of WC Handy – is important, but ‘composition is storytelling.’”

Antoine says, “I believe I have a story to tell. That, and because music has the power to heal. It’s why I make music.”

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“Singing his Way into the Hearts of Jazz Vocal Fans” By John Zaff

Tyreek McDole is a rising star jazz vocalist who’s generating buzz among critics and fans of jazz vocal performers. At the tender age of 24, he seems ready to join the ranks of the top tier jazz vocalists. In 2023, Tyreek was only the second male vocalist to win the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. Tyreek’s vocals stand out not just for their pure quality, a prerequisite for any great vocalist, but more so for how well he uses his voice as an instrument. A sonorous, rich-voiced baritone, Tyreek has a fine-tuned control of vocal nuance and phrasing. Listening to him articulate a song can bring to mind some of the great vocal stylists of the past, such as Johnny Hartman, Nat King Cole or Joe Williams. He has clearly done his homework studying the great vocal masters, but ultimately Tyreek is on a journey to forge his own unique style and brand.

Tyreek was born in Suffern, NY and moved to Florida with his family when he was young. Growing up in the suburbs of Orlando with a Haitian mother and a father from New York who was into hip hop, Tyreek was exposed to a wide variety of music from both parents. “Haitian music folklore was something I heard a lot of as a child,” says Tyreek, “but I was the one who brought jazz into the house.” When Tyreek first saw the trumpet playing alligator in the Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog, he fell in love with both the instrument and with jazz. “I felt a connection to that kind of music. I got into Louis Armstrong initially, and then began listening to other trumpet players like Miles Davis,” says Tyreek, who was soon playing trumpet with the school marching band. He was also learning to play percussion instruments like the vibraphone.

One day, while playing percussion for the high school musical, Into the Woods, the actor who played the wolf was out sick, and the other kids were complaining that they couldn’t rehearse properly without vocals. Tyreek knew the songs and volunteered to sing for the rehearsal. “I started singing and began to notice a lot of heads turning,” he says.“‘Oh, he can sing and play percussion!’ The teacher for the jazz band happened to be in the room, and he asked me afterwards if I wanted to join the jazz band as a vocalist, and I did.” That year the band appeared at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition. During the summer, Tyreek continued to progress as a vocalist. “I was in Rodney Whitaker’s Jazz Camp. He taught me so much, even though it was just two weeks. I got the foundations of showmanship, of how to tell a story and how to sing in a jazz context,” he says.

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Tomoki Sanders has always been interested in playing music. Their first introductions to music were with their father, the great tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and their mother, music loving Yuko Abe, in their birthplace of Woodside in Queens, NY. Tomoki would check out the music of their father, John Coltrane and Gary Bartz. Tomoki picked up a lot of Japanese traditional music from their mother.

Tomoki’s earliest memory of the magnitude of their father’s footprint to Black music was during a concert in Central Park. Their father was wearing a long blue satin shirt and a blue kufi with William Henderson on piano, Alex Blake on bass, Hamid Drake on drums and Badal Roy on tabla. Another thing that was clear was the gathering of diverse people to witness Pharoah Sanders and ingest great vibes.

Tomoki has become a multi-instrumentalist and started teaching themself clarinet until they received their first alto when they were ten. In addition to playing tenor and alto saxophone, Tomoki plays drums and percussion. They also play piano, but it’s mostly for composition. This is what lead them to Berklee College of Music in 2014, where they were “very appreciative that the college offered me to learn about the diversity of so many genres and cultures. All students from all over the world sharing culture and music had really opened my mind and inspired me.” Tomoki felt extremely fortunate to have been able to count the late drummer Ralph Peterson Jr., alto/soprano saxophonist/flautist Tia Fuller and drummer Billy Kilson as mentors. Tenor/soprano saxophonist George Garzone was their private instructor in the last two years at Berklee. Tomoki enjoyed ensemble classes with drummer Neal Smith. “Each professor has their own story and experiences to tell and share, which was a blessing to learn and play the music,” they say.

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AC Lincoln

In Tap- Step with Ancestral Spirits by Raul da Gama