The Kentucky Jazz Connection is a group of acclaimed Louisville jazz musicians formed especially for this In Performance.
Dick Sisto, vibraphonist and leader, is music director of the Seelbach Hilton, where he has performed with Joe Morello, Dave Liebman, Ira Sullivan, and numerous others. Growing up in Chicago, he studied with Chicago Symphony mallet master Jose Bethancourt and co-led a quartet with Maurice White. He has performed nationally and internationally, has produced three CDs, and does two weekly public radio shows for WFPK in Louisville. He is also the vibes teacher for the Aebersold Summer Jazz Clinics.
For years, Steve Crews has been the number one call pianist in the Louisville area. He enjoys an excellent reputation for his ability to play a wide variety of piano styles and has been featured with the Louisville Orchestra. He has taught at the University of Louisville, but now devotes more time to performance. Crews has produced a CD of his trio and still gets in some teaching at the Aebersold Clinics.
Sonny Stephens experience on the Louisville music scene spans several decades. His musical ability has allowed him to work with the whos who of the Louisville scene and can be heard on several locally produced CDs. Stephens also teaches for the Aebersold summer clinics.
Ron Jones is a top performing saxophonist in the Louisville area. After receiving his degree from the University of Florida, he returned home to a busy performance and private teaching career. He also produced a CD as leader of his own group that helped propel him into the jazz performance arena at colleges, festivals, and clubs.
Trumpeter and fluglehornist James Lewis hails from Toronto, where he is highly respected for his work. He is working on his masters degree at U of L, where he also teaches undergraduates and jazz combo and is much sought-after by students for his deep knowledge of improvisation. He is a frequent collaborator with Sisto at the Seelbach and other venues.
As one of the four sons of Ellis Marsalis, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis has enjoyed the training of his father as well as the opportunity to perform with his brothers. Combining his New Orleans roots with a modern melodic edge in his playing, he has appeared on The Tonight Show and in numerous performances with his illustrious family. Since 1994, he has been the trombonist with the great Elvin Jones. Marsalis is also working toward his masters degree at U of L and collaborates frequently with Sisto at the Seelbach.
Colby Inzer, the groups drummer and youngest member, studied at the famous William Patterson College in New York City. He returned to Louisville and continued his studies at U of L, where he is another masters candidate. The drummer with the universitys number one big band, he also works with the Sisto trio at the Seelbach Jazz Bar and teaches for the Aebersold Summer Jazz Clinics.
John LaBarbera, the composer who arranged one of the two numbers performed by the Kentucky Jazz Connection for this program, is from a family of world-class jazz professionals that also includes his brothers Pat and Joe. LaBarbera has arranged and composed for numerous big bands, such as Buddy Richs, as well as for television, film, and commercial projects. He is a professor of music at U of L, where he has built the college-level big band into an award-winning ensemble. He also teaches at the Skidmore Summer Jazz Clinic.