Ulysses Owens Jr.’s multifaceted approach to music ensures that he’ll be with us in excellence for a long while. He’s an accomplished sideman, (Kurt Elling, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton), a bandleader featured on his own projects (Unanimous , Onward and Upward) and also features and presents live talent in concert (Minton’s). He’s a thoughtful young man with an ever-growing wisdom as a global citizen and ambassador for improvisational music. As I experienced in a recent concert, not only is his command of the drums powerful and filled with a dynamic pulse, but feeling the actual vibrations of his groove put me in the space of another one of improvisational music’s greatest ambassadors and masters of rhythm, Art Blakey.
We caught Ulysses just after a tour of China to talk to him about his recent road trips as a bandleader and his philosophy about cultivating new audiences at home and abroad. Enjoy our chat and learn more about him at http://www.usojazzy.com.
Multi-instrumentalist and trumpet master Nicholas Payton continues to spread the Black American Music tradition to audiences across the globe. His forthcoming double CD, “Letters” is a diverse representation of this tradition and he plans to have the project out this summer. As has become customary in concert, the forthcoming release features Payton on trumpet, piano and Rhodes piano, along with Vicente Archer’s bass and the drums of Bill Stewart. You’ll also hear Payton covering organ and vocal duties on “Letters.” In our interview, Payton speaks about his new process for composing, the recent BAM Festival held in his honor in Italy, his affinity for his home city of New Orleans and reflections on music masters and mentors such as Ray Brown and Elvin Jones. Hear samples of the forthcoming “Letters” project at soundcloud.com/NicholasPayton and find out more information at nicholaspayton.com.
Sullivan Joseph Fortner Jr. is a native New Orleanian who has already made a significant foray into the jazz world that belies his young age. While touring with Stefon Harris & Blackout, Christian Scott Quintet, and the Roy Hargrove Quintet, Sullivan completed his Master’s degree in Jazz Performance at Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Jason Moran, and Phil Markowitz. He has studied and performed with The Marsalis Family, Donald Harrison, Nicholas Payton, Billy Hart, Gary Bartz, Marcus Belgrave, The Jordan Family, Irvin Mayfield, Peter Martin, and Dave Liebman.