Pat LaBarbera (Tenor Saxophone), Jon Ballantyne (Keyboard), Gene Perla (Double-bass), Alan Jones (Drums)
Gene Perla grew up in northeastern New Jersey attending public school grades 1-12. After one year of post graduate study at New York Military Academy he entered the University of Toledo majoring in civil engineering and business. He then attended Berklee School of Music and Boston Conservatory before heading to New York City.
At age five Gene’s musical studies began with classical piano. Upon entering high school he was given a trombone which he played for five years culminating in marching on Fifth Avenue in New York City as part of the Memorial Day Parade. During high school he became aware of jazz and was thrilled to attend the first New York performance of Ted Heath’s big band at Carnegie Hall. It wasn’t until his last year at TU that his interest in music became primary.
After struggling with too many notes, and thanks to Charlie Haden’s performance on Ornette Coleman’s The Shape Of Jazz To Come,” Perla, at 24, switched to the bass as his main instrument. Not long after arriving in the City his talents became in demand and he found joy in performing with artists such as Willie Bobo, Carlos “Patato” Valdes, Nina Simone, Woody Herman, Sarah Vaughan, Elvin Jones, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra.
As an educator Mr. Perla has taught at William Paterson University, New School University, Center for the Media Arts and is currently at Lehigh University. Sound design has been a significant endeavor yielding credits on Broadway shows, theme parks and custom installations.
Having a business sense, Gene has continuously expanded his activities to include music publishing, record labels, recording studios, promotional firms, Internet design and hosting and computer networking businesses as vehicles for his ideas.
Pat LaBarbera (Tenor Saxophone
Pat Labarbera, saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist, composer, jazz educator was born in Mt. Morris, New York and spent the first thirty years of his life in the United States before moving to Toronto in 1974. His father taught the basics of music to Pat and his two younger brothers, John (a gifted arranger/trumpeter) and Joe (a highly accomplished drummer). He studied at the famed Berklee College of Music, and soon after graduating, began to make his presence felt with the best of the American big bands.
By the time he relocated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1974, Pat LaBarbera was already well-known for his solo work with the bands of Louis Bellson, Woody Herman, and for seven years, touring and recording as featured tenor saxophone soloist with the Buddy Rich Band throughout every major city in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Universally considered one of the world’s most exciting saxophonists.
LaBarbera has performed and recorded consistently with Elvin Jones since 1975, appearing at premier jazz festivals all over the world. After a brief hiatus, he rejoined Elvin Jones’ ‘Time Machine’ in 2001 to perform and tour North America, Britain. Europe, and Japan for the next two years. Describing LaBarbera’s phenomenal talent, Elvin Jones said, “Pat has tremendous musical ability beyond technical facility. He has great power of concentration to detail and is totally committed with body and soul.”
LaBarbera has played on every major network television show including The Ed Sullivan Show and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show several times. He has worked with the biggest entertainers in the business including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Corea, Woody Shaw, and McCoy Tyner.
Pat LaBarbera has been among the key members of the Toronto jazz scene for the past three-plus decades, claiming Junos and ‘Jazz Report’ Awards for writing and performing with his own jazz ensembles all along the way. He has been on the full-time teaching faculty at Humber College for the past several years instructing on Saxophone, Ensemble Performance, Jazz Repertoire Development, and Advanced Jazz Theory and Performance. His album, Deep in a Dream, won the 2000 Juno Award for Best Mainstream Jazz Album.
His album, Deep in a Dream, won the 2000 Juno Award for Best Mainstream Jazz Album. His album, Crossing the Line, features pianist Brian Dickinson and bassist Neil Swainson, as well as special guests trumpeter Randy Brecker and drummer Joe LaBarbera.
In 2013, Pat and pianist Don Thompson released A Little SImple Magic, a duo recording featuring twelve standards.
Saskatchewan born, New York area-based pianist and composer Jon Ballantyne has released 10 albums, won 2 Juno Awards (4 Juno nominations), most recently for the collaborative album with drummer/programmer Hugh Sicotte, entitled Twenty Accident Free Workdays.
Jon is an artist who deftly combines the unknown with the known. Listening to the wondrous sounds he makes at the piano, audiences can never be sure where he will take the music next. There can be a palpable sense that they are hearing a feeling, harmony, melody or rhythm they may be familiar with, and at the same time, they are likely to be figuratively on the edge of their seats, excited, gratified that they are being taken on a musical adventure unlike anything they may have experienced previously.
Jon comes by this strong sense of musical adventure honestly. Having been born with it is the most obvious explanation, but, for example, in performing hundreds of sets with saxophone great Joe Henderson, Jon was never a passive participant. Even when he was ‘laying out’, or ‘strolling’, Jon was observing Henderson (or Roy Haynes, who played with the band on several occasions), with a keen sense and an even quicker ear. The same applies to the time Jon spent with fellow pianist and friend Paul Bley. They played, they hung out. They recorded; they played 2 pianos in concert. Very few pianists have played and recorded duo pianos with Paul Bley, aside from Bill Evans ("Jazz in the Space Age"), as Paul, pointed out to Jon before their first studio collaboration.
No matter whom Jon has played with (*see extended list below), Jon has observed, Jon has listened and learned, all the while honing his own wit and otherworldly musical skills in the company of his contemporaries and the masters he has shared the stage and recording studio with. This continues unabated today (i.e., recent performances with saxophone greats Dave Liebman, Seamus Blake, Phil Dwyer and trumpet virtuoso Ingrid Jensen), though Jon is also now enjoying mentoring and inspiring younger musicians intent on the most creative paths in music.
In the past two and a half decades, Jon has performed critically acclaimed solo piano concerts and with his stellar quartet at venues and major music festivals across Canada, Japan, the USA, The UK, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, and Israel.
Solo concerts and club and concert performances with such notable artists as, once again, saxophonist David Liebman's quintet, with drummer Adam Nussbaum, guitarist Dave Stryker, saxophonists Adam Niewood and Roger Rosenberg, drummer Bill Goodwin, bassist Gene Perla, drummer Eliot Zigmund and trumpeters Joe Magnarelli and Thomas Goehring were the highlights of 2015/2016.
2014 saw Jon touring the Canadian jazz festival circuit, and the Northeastern US, performing solo concerts + concerts with his newly formed trio (Adam Nussbaum, drums; Evan Gregor, bass), and gigs with such jazz stalwarts as Warren Vache, Lew Tabackin, Michael Stephans, John Mosca, Bill Crow and Tony Marino.
In 2012-2013, Jon performed in concert with saxophonist David Liebman, and also for the first time played in concert with four-time Grammy award-winning saxophonist Phil Woods. Jon also became a member of a sextet led by former Elvin Jones/Sonny Rollins bassist Gene Perla.
Whether he’s performing his original compositions, virtuosic two-handed spontaneous improvisations, or reworking jazz standards in his own innate, organic way, Jon Ballantyne’s openness, originality and inborn creativity always inform his music, much to the delight of his listeners.
*Jon Ballantyne’s early interest in studying and playing jazz ultimately led to performances with musicians such as Joe Henderson (Jon was a member of Joe’s quartet from 1989-92), Paul Bley, Dewey Redman, Billy Hart, Roy Haynes, Gene Perla, Pepper Adams, Drew Gress, Seamus Blake, Ingrid Jensen, Phil Dwyer, Alan Jones, George Garzone, Dave Liebman, Donny McCaslin, Mark Turner, Matt Wilson, Ray Drummond, Joe LaBarbera, Herbie Lewis, Kevin Dean, Joe Lovano, Andre White, Gene Jackson, Boris Kozlov, Yannick Rieu, Kent Sangster, The Mingus Big Band and Ben Perowsky.
In his formative years, Jon played gigs with Pepper Adams, Benny Wallace, PJ Perry, Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd (with guests soloists Clark Terry, Al Cohn, Jimmy Giuffre, Buddy DeFranco, Shorty Rodgers, Red Mitchell, Terry Clarke, Richard Stolzman), Jack Sheldon, Neil Swainson and Jerry Fuller among many others.
And before that Jon studied and played with greats like Dave Holland, Lee Konitz, Cecil Taylor, Ed Blackwell, Kenny Wheeler, Ron Carter, Peter Erskine, Don Thompson, Michael Brecker, Elvin Jones, Phil Nimmons, Karl Berger, Steve Coleman, John Abercrombie, Nat Adderley, Bob Mintzer, and Emily Remler. He also had several private lessons in New York with Richard Beirach, Barry Harris, Joanne Brackeen, Kenny Barron, and Hal Galper.
A Portland native, Alan Jones ranks as one of America and Europe’s most creative jazz drummers, composers, multi-instrumentalists and teachers. He has performed, toured and recorded with a long list of jazz legends, including his very own Sextet! He also runs his own successful Portland school, the Alan Jones Academy of Music.
Alan began playing the drums at a young age. In high school, he toured with organist Count Dutch and saxophonist Jim Pepper. After graduating from Berklee College of Music, he studied with Alan Dawson and spent 2 summers at the Banff Center for the Fine Arts in Canada. Alan has also studied with Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Tony Williams, Jaco Pastorius, Roy Haynes, and Billy Higgins.
Alan has worked with some of music's greatest artists including: Esperanza Spalding, Andrew Hill, Leroy Vinnegar, Red Mitchell, Kenny Wheeler, David Friesen John Abercrombie, Jim Pepper, Miroslav Vitous, John Clayton, Cecil Taylor Bud Shank, Randy Brecker, Denny Zeitlin, Dave Liebman, Airto Moriera, George Cables, Lee Konitz, Ralph Towner, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Holland, Charles McPherson, Chuck Israels, and John Hicks.
In high school, Alan began teaching private lessons. He worked with children ages 6-17 at the Krebs School for the Learning Disabled in Boston teaching music and music therapy. He has held positions at The American Institute of Music in Vienna, Austria (1990-1992) and at Portland State University (1993-Present). Alan has presented Master Classes and Clinics in exciting places like:
Paris Conservatory of Music, France Hochschule fur Musik Graz, Austria The New School NY, USA Berklee College of Music Boston, USA Amsterdam Conservatory of Music Geneva Conservatory, Switzerland Pacific National University, Siberia Musik Conservatory Hamburg, Germany Khabarovsk Col. of Arts & Comm, Russia Venice Conservatory, Italy Stockholm Institute of Music, Sweden Hochschule fur Musik, Berlin, Germany Freiburg Music Institute, Germany Shanghai JZ School, China Far Eastern Academy, Vladivostok Russia Basel School of Music, Switzerland Music Institute of Technology, and Los Angeles Vienna Conservatory of Music
Alan's love and understanding of music and his ability to communicate, both as a player and a teacher led him to the creation of The Alan Jones Academy of Music. AJAM is an innovative education system focused on personal and collective improvisation from grade school through retirement, and prompted the city of Portland to honor him with an award for “Outstanding Achievement in Jazz”. Students have been involved in projects ranging from collaborating with Michael Curry on multimedia stage presentations to balancing on tightropes to playing in International Jazz Festivals.
Alan's sextet CD's, “Unsafe”, The “Leroy Vinnegar Suite” and “Climbing” were recorded and produced by pop/rock legend Gino Vannelli and highlight his turbine playing as well as his extensive and cutting-edge composing. Recordings with his band The Bridge Quartet on the CD's “Day” and “Night” reflect a hard-hitting live performance vibe on standard tunes, whereas the soundtrack composed for Michael Curry's massive stage production “Spirits” shows the jazz-influenced, world music side of Alan. Then there's the highly creative chord-less quartet The Fensters represented on two recordings “Jazz Music Vol 1” and “Jazz Music Vol X” where each instrument plays an equal role in delivering groove, humor, jabs, and knockouts.
Alan's recording with Francois Theberge, “Another View”, is an ambitious work three years in the making and features over 20 musicians and 3 vocalists. “...this is thoughtful material that reaches something deeper than the usual vocal Jazz Session, an experiment in songwriting and arranging that deserves attention.” - Jerome Wilson Cadence
Alan just released a new sextet album, "Storyline." The new Sextet is a multi-generational band (2, 20somethings, 3, 30somethings...and a 50something) and by anyone's estimation John Nastos, Nicole Glover, Charlie Porter, Greg Goebel, and Jon Lakey are among the finest musicians there are. "Storyline", by way of Alan's new compositions and the band's improvisations, aims to capture the essence of the spoken narrative, in hopes of carrying on the traditions of storytellers, musicians, and listeners alike.