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Jon Cowherd, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Steve Cardenas
Jon Cowherd, John Patitucci,
Brian Blade and Steve Cardenas

Jon Cowherd, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Steve Cardenas

Jon Cowherd, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Steve Cardenas
@ the PizzaExpress Jazz Club
11 August 2012

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Jon Cowherd biography

Although Mercy is Jon Cowherd’s first album under his own name, the esteemed pianist/composer/arranger/producer is already firmly established as one of the jazz world’s most accomplished, expressive and in-demand young musicians.

The Kentucky-born, New Orleans-schooled, New York-based Cowherd is best known for his long-running partnership with drummer/bandleader Brian Blade, with whom he co-founded the Brian Blade Fellowship, whose acclaimed, influential albums showcase Cowherd’s stellar keyboard work and singular compositional skills. When not recording and touring with the Fellowship, Cowherd has worked extensively with a broad array of players and singers from the jazz, pop and rock worlds.

His impressive resume aside, “Mercy” is the most compelling example yet of Jon Cowherd’s remarkable sensitivity, inventiveness and versatility. Recorded in an inspired three-day session at New York’s Avatar Studios, the sterling set is comprised of ten new Cowherd originals, with his sublime keyboard work anchoring an all-star quartet that includes Bill Frisell on acoustic and electric guitars, John Patitucci on acoustic bass and longtime collaborator Brian Blade on drums. The resulting album is a creative landmark for Cowherd, with such ambitious numbers as “The Columns,” “Postlude,” the three-part “Mercy Suite” and the playful departure “Recital Hour (Timmy's Theme)” demonstrating his gifts as an instrumentalist and composer.

“It definitely feels like a personal milestone,” Cowherd says of Mercy. “My collaboration with Brian Blade has given me the freedom to record my own pieces, but I still felt the need to make a statement under my own name. That notion was intimidating for a long time, and I never felt ready until the last couple of years. I felt that my playing had to get to another level before I released something as a leader. Studying classical piano with Jeff Goldstein from 2001-2009 really helped me gain that confidence.”

A consistent dedication to honing his talents and broadening his musical horizons has been a lifelong mission for Cowherd. Growing up in Kentucky as the son of musician parents who doubled as music educators, he embraced music early in life, taking up piano, French horn and violin as well as singing. In 1988, he migrated to the musical mecca of New Orleans to attend Loyola University. There, he studied jazz piano and improvisation under Crescent City piano legend Ellis Marsalis and with noted players John Mahoney, Steve Masakowski and Michael Pellera. He also joined local bands led by Tony Dagradi and Delfeayo Marsalis, and played with the New Orleans Ballet and the New Orleans Symphony and Opera. In 1993, Cowherd moved to New York, where he earned a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the Manhattan School of Music.

It was in New Orleans' hotbed of musical inspiration that Cowherd met fellow Loyola student Brian Blade, with whom he would form the Brian Blade Fellowship. With Blade on drums and Cowherd on piano, and both sharing compositional duties, the Brian Blade Fellowship has proven to be an enduring and rewarding creative unit, releasing the albums “Brian Blade Fellowship” (Blue Note, 1998), “Perceptual” (Blue Note, 2000) and “Season of Changes” (Verve, 2008).

When not collaborating with Blade, Cowherd’s keyboard work, as well as his producing and arranging skills, have kept him at work on a wide variety of projects with an equally varied assortment of artists. He’s currently a member of Cassandra Wilson’s band, and his instrumental work has graced albums by the likes of Rosanne Cash, Lizz Wright, Iggy Pop, Marc Cohn, Mark Olson and Victoria Williams, and he's recorded alongside such world-class musicians as Daniel Lanois, Joni Mitchell, John Leventhal, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dave Easley, Jeff Parker, Marcus Strickland and Jack Wilkins. As a producer, Cowherd has overseen albums by Lizz Wright, Alyssa Graham and The Local NYC. He also recently served as keyboardist for and co-musical director for the all-star Joni Jazz concert at the Hollywood Bowl, in honour of Joni Mitchell, in which he performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chaka Khan, Kurt Elling, Aimee Mann, Glen Hansard and Cassandra Wilson

John Patitucci biography

Born in 1959 in Brooklyn, New York, John Patitucci began playing the electric bass at age ten. Patitucci began composing and performing at age 12. At age 15, he began to play the acoustic bass and at age 16 began the piano. He quickly moved from playing soul and rock to blues, jazz and classical music. His eclectic tastes caused him to explore all types of music as a player and a composer. Patitucci studied classical bass at San Francisco State University and Long Beach State University. In 1980, he continued his career in Los Angeles as a studio musician and a jazz artist.

As a studio musician, Patitucci has played on countless albums with artists such as B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Was Not Was, Dave Grusin, Natalie Cole, Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah, Sting, and Carly Simon. In 1986, Patitucci was voted by his peers in the studios as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences MVP (Most Valuable Player) on acoustic bass.

As a performer, Patitucci has played throughout the world with his own band, and with jazz luminaries Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Hubert Laws, Mulgrew Miller, James Williams, and scores of others. Some of the many pop and Brazilian artists he has played with include Sting, Aaron Neville, Natalie Cole, Carole King, Milton Nascimiento, Astrud and Joao Gilberto, Airto and Flora Purim, Ivan Lins, Joao Bosco and Dori Caymmi. Patitucci has worked with film composers Jerry Goldsmith, Ry Cooder, James Newton Howard, Dave Grusin, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Mark Isham, Michel Columbier, Carter Burwell, and Howard Shore.

Since 1985, Patitucci’s association with Chick Corea has brought him worldwide acclaim and put him at the forefront of the jazz world. His many recordings with Chick Corea’s Elektric Band and Akoustic Band, his six solo recordings for GRP Records and his subsequent recordings have brought him two Grammy Awards (one for playing and one for composing) and over fifteen Grammy nominations. In addition, his first solo recording, “John Patitucci” went to number one on the Billboard Jazz charts. He arranged and produced his own records as well as those of other artists. In1996, he signed with Concord Jazz and has released five records on their label: “One More Angel,” “Now,” “Imprint,” “Communion and Songs, Stories and Spirituals.” The two most recent recordings were nominated for Grammy Awards in the composition category.

Patitucci has won many magazine polls for his electric and acoustic bass playing, including Best Jazz Bassist in Guitar Player Magazine’s 1992, 1994 and 1995 Readers’ Poll and Best Jazz Bassist in Bass Player Magazine’s 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996 Readers’ Poll. He has taught many seminars on playing and composing at prestigious music schools worldwide and was formerly the Artistic Director of the Bass Collective, a comprehensive school for bassists in New York City. Patitucci is also regularly involved with The Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz and has taught at the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program in Washington, D. C. in 2000.

In 2002, Patitucci began teaching at The City College of New York upon the retirement of Ron Carter from his teaching duties there. In 2003, Patitucci was appointed Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at City College.

After exploring many different writing styles on his own records and those of Chick Corea’s, Patitucci continues to compose for many mediums. In 1994 he was commissioned to write a piece for six-string electric bass and string orchestra for the Italian chamber orchestra Suono e Oltre in Pescara, Italy. With Patitucci as soloist, the piece was performed in March of 1995 in Italy and in August of 1995 with the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in Tokyo. Patitucci was also commissioned to write a piece for the Turtle Island String Quartet, a group fluent in both classical and jazz music.

Since moving back to the New York area in 1996, Patitucci has continued to work with his own group, as well as many others. He has toured the world with his group, The John Patitucci Quartet. He was the featured Jazz Bassist at the 1999 International Society of Bassists convention. In 1998, Patitucci was a part of the Roy Haynes Trio, along with Danilo Perez on piano. This trio recorded a critically acclaimed album for Verve Records and has toured throughout the world.

In the fall of 2001, Patitucci toured the United States as member of an all-star quintet called Directions in Music led by Herbie Hancock and featuring Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove and Brian Blade. Subsequently they released a live CD entitled “Live at Massey Hall” which became a Grammy Award winner.

In the year 2000, Patitucci had begun working again with the legendary Wayne Shorter, touring the world in a new quartet featuring Danilo Perez on piano and Brian Blade on drums. This group released a live recording, “Footprints Live,” that was the result of their Summer 2001 World Tour and it was nominated for a Grammy. Following that, a studio recording was released in 2003 entitled “Alegria” which won a Grammy. Also in 2003, Patitucci took part in a commission project by the string quartet Elements entitled “Snapshots.” His string quartet composition was performed at Merkin Hall alongside works by composers John Corigliano and David del Tredici.

In January 2004, the Wayne Shorter Quartet played with the Orchestra de Lyon in Paris under the direction of the talented David Robertson (new musical director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra) for a week of concerts in various formations. The quartet then took part in a residency with the BBC Radio Orchestra in London.

Other highlights in 2004 include recording with legendary pianist Hank Jones, a summer reunion tour of Europe with Chick Corea, taking part in Michael Brecker’s Grammy award winning recording “Wide Angles,” performing with pianist Kenny Barron at Orchestra Hall in Detroit, playing on the soundtrack of the remake of The Manchurian Candidate starring Denzel Washington, performing the Mendelssohn Sextet and a Bach Brandenburg Concerto on a chamber music concert at Concordia College featuring violist Lawrence Dutton of the Emerson String Quartet, touring with his own group and teaching seminars. Also in 2004, Patitucci recorded on Herbie Hancock’s latest project (not yet released) and performed in concerts with The John Scofield Trio and Roy Haynes’ Birds of a Feather group featuring Kenny Garrett and Nicholas Payton.

In 2005, Patitucci has recorded and /or played with Jack DeJohnette, Danilo Perez, Kenny Barron, again with Hank Jones and Steve Khan. At this year’s Chamber Music concert at Concordia College, John premiered a piece he wrote for his friend Larry Dutton for viola and piano entitled Gardens and Pools, which was a commission work inspired by the painting of artist Sedar Arat. John also performed on a recording with his friend Jeremy McCoy, Assistant Principal Bassist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra entitled Dialogues with the Double Bass on Bridge Records. He recorded two original pieces and the Bottesini Duetto “No. 3 for Two Basses” with Jeremy on this recording. Also this year, Patitucci has continued to be busy with the Wayne Shorter Quartet, which recently performed again at Carnegie Hall as part of the JVC Jazz Festival and released a new recording entitled “Beyond the Sound Barrier.”

Brian Blade biography

Brian Blade was born on July 25, 1970 in Shreveport, Louisiana. His mother, Dorothy Blade is a retired kindergarten teacher and his father, Brady L. Blade, Sr. is the pastor of the Zion Baptist Church in Shreveport. During his childhood, Brian would hear Gospel music in his everyday life, as well as the music of Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, and the Staple Singers. In elementary school, his music appreciation teacher, Lucy Bond, introduced her students to the music of Maurice Ravel and in this class, Blade would play the recorder and various melodic percussion instruments associated with the Carl Orff pedagogy.

From about age nine to age thirteen, Blade played violin in the school orchestra and continued to play until following in the footsteps of his older brother, Brady l. Blade, Jr. who played the drums in the Zion church.

During high school, both Brady, Jr. and Brian were students of Dorsey Summerfield, Jr. and performed as part of Dorsey’s professional group, the Polyphonics. During this time and through his experience with Mr. Summerfield, Brian began listening to the music of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Elvin Jones, and Joni Mitchell.

In 1988, Blade moved to New Orleans to attend Loyola University. It was at this time that he would become friends with Jon Cowherd. Both Blade and Cowherd were able to study and play with most of the master musicians living in New Orleans, including: John Vidacovich, Ellis Marsalis, Steve Masakowski, Bill Huntington, Mike Pellera, John Mahoney, George French, Germaine Bazzle, David Lee, Jr., Alvin Red Tyler, Tony Dagradi and Harold Battiste.

There were many inspiring musicians living and visiting New Orleans who helped Blade in his development. Some of these friends are Chris Thomas, Peter Martin, Nicholas Payton, Antoine Drye, Martin Butler, Delfeayo Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Harry Connick, Jr., Gray Mayfield, Marcus Roberts, Victor Goines and Daniel Lanois.

In 1998, Brian Blade and Jon Cowherd began recording their own music with the group Fellowship. The band members are Chris Thomas, Myron Walden, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Melvin Butler. They have released 3 albums together – “Fellowship” and “Perceptual,” both on Blue Note, and the 2008 Verve recording, “Season of Changes.”

Since 2000, Brian has been part of the Wayne Shorter Quartet with Danilo Perez and John Patitucci.

Steve Cardenas biography

Steve Cardenas has many diverse credits as a performer and recording artist. Beginning his musical career in his hometown of Kansas City, he has been an integral part of the jazz community in New York for nearly twenty years.

Over time, Cardenas has performed with many well-known and highly esteemed musicians. Notably, he was a longstanding member of the Paul Motian Electric Bebop Band (which later became the Paul Motian Octet) as well as Joey Baron’s band, Killer Joey. Cardenas is currently a member of the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, Steve Swallow Quintet and the Ben Allison Band. He has toured the U.S., Canada, Europe and South America extensively, performing at numerous jazz festivals including the North Sea Jazz Festival and Montreux Jazz Festival several times. In addition, Steve leads his own trio performing at various venues around New York City.

Along with performing and recording, Cardenas is on faculty at the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York where he teaches the Thelonious Monk Ensemble, the Guitar Duos class and gives private lessons. He has been on faculty at the Siena Summer Jazz Workshop, Stanford Jazz Workshop and Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, to mention a few. Cardenas was also invited as guest faculty for a semester at the California Institute of the Arts in 2003 and 2010. Also, Cardenas collaborated with editor Don Sickler on a book of Thelonious Monk’s compositions through Hal Leonard Publishing. The Thelonious Monk Fakebook marks the premier publishing of all of Monk’s compositions together, with many of them appearing for the first time.

Jon Cowherd, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Steve Cardenas

Jon Cowherd, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Steve Cardenas

Jon Cowherd

Jon Cowherd

Jon Cowherd, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Steve Cardenas

Jon Cowherd, John Patitucci & Steve Cardenas

John Patitucci

John Patitucci

John Patitucci

Steve Cardenas

Brian Blade

Brian Blade

Brian Blade

Brian Blade

Brian Blade



Jon Cowherd - Mercy John Patitucci - Line By Line Brian Blade Fellowship Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band



Click the image below to see Wayne Shorter Quartet @ the Barbican Centre...

Wayne Shorter Quartet @ the Barbican Centre (click to go to this page)

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