Donn Trenner

 Donn Trenner

Donn Trenner

Donn Trenner is an Emmy Nominated musical director, conductor, arranger that came up in the ranks of early bebop pianists playing with the likes of Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Oscar Pettiford, Charles Mingus, and Ben Webster, appearing on over 100 jazz albums from 1950 onward. During the Big Band era he played with Ted Fio Rito, Buddy Morrow, Charlie Barnett and Tommy Dorsey. While with the Les Brown Orchestra, he worked with Bob Hope for seven years as his personal accompanist and occasional music director, participating in six of the Bob Hope International Christmas tours. 

As an accompanist, he has worked with such artists as Lena Horne, Anita O’Day, Vicki Carr, Dick Haymes, Jose Feliciano, Jack Jones, Frances Faye, Nelson Riddle, Paul Broadnax, Rita Moreno, Nancy Wilson, Ann-Margret, and Shirley MacLaine.

A much sought after musical director, Donn Trenner appeared nightly on the famed “Steve Allen Show,” leading theDonn Trenner Orchestra.  He was also Ann-Margret’s musical director for 18 years. He worked extensively touring with Shirley MacLaine which led to an Emmy Award nomination for music direction, arranging and conducting the television special, “Gypsy In My soul,” and in 1977, a three-hour television special from the Kennedy Center on the eve of Jimmy Carter’s Inauguration. As musical director for Nancy Wilson he conducted many International orchestras and performed in television specials for Swedish Broadcasting, German broadcasting and the BBC, and in 1978, again at the Kennedy Center, he was the musical director for the “Happy Birthday Bob” show honoring Hope’s 75th birthday.

In 1996, he moved back to the East Coast where he now makes his home in Guilford, Connecticut. Weekly you can hear him leading The Hartford Jazz Orchestra, a role he took on in 2000 upon the death of acclaimed arranger and bandleader Chic Cicchetti.

http://donntrenner.com/

Elise Cardinale

 Vocalist Elise Cardinale

Vocalist Elise Cardinale

Elise Cardinale began her musical training studying classical violin at a young age.   Her love of singing was evident throughout her childhood and blossomed when she sang a cappella throughout high school and college. She began singing jazz in High School and was a lead vocalist for the Georgetown University Jazz Orchestra.  She has continued to sing while pursuing her education which led to her obtaining her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience.  She currently works at the National Institute of Health pursuing her research interests.  During this time, she has traveled home to CT to perform with Dr. Joe in Friends as much as she can including, head-lining yearly sold out performances at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

Jeff Fuller

 Bassist Jeff Fuller

Bassist Jeff Fuller

An integral part of the Connecticut, New York and international jazz scenes, Fuller toured worldwide and recorded with saxophonists Lou Donaldson and Paquito D’Rivera.  He has played with jazz masters from all styles and eras including such diverse artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Mose Allison, “Papa” Jo Jones, Gerry Mulligan, and Clark Terry.  Fuller is one of the most sought after jazz bassists in Connecticut, and currently leads his own ensembles in many jazz venues.  In September, 2014, he was awarded the annual Jazz Haven Award, “For all you have done in presenting and preserving the culture and music of jazz.”  Fuller plays the Hawkes Hybrid double bass and a newly-commissioned Concord model from Upton Bass ~ a copy of the famous Prescott bass owned by Scott LaFaro.  He also plays a Ken Smith 6-string bass guitar.

Fuller has wide experience in both Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music. He is co-leader of the popular Brazilian group, Sambeleza, which features singer Laura Volpintesta and guitarist Joe Carter. He has toured with Paquito D’Rivera’s New York/Havana Quintet, the Hilton Ruiz Quintet, Daniel Ponce's Jazzbatá and Orlando “Puntilla” Rios’ Nueva Generación. He composes and arranges for the top salsa group, Irazú, whose CDs have featured soloists Arturo Sandoval and Tata Güines. Fuller's Latin big band and combo arrangements are frequently performed worldwide and published by 3-2 Music, the predominant distributor of written Latin jazz. His earlier Brazilian jazz group, Samba Brasil, was seven-time winner of the "Best Latin" category in the Hartford Advocate Reader’s Poll.

Always expanding his compositional repertoire and vocabulary, Fuller has received commissions from both the New Haven and the Hartford Symphony Orchestras and has twice received project grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.  He has been the recipient of commissions from 3-2 Music, Florida International University and Meet The Composer.  His String Quartet was recorded by the Haven String Quartet in 2012.   His first CD of all original jazz music, The Call From Within, was released in 2014; another CD - Sambeleza Live! - came out in 2015; and Shoreline Blueswas released in 2016. Fuller graduated cum laude from Yale College and received his master’s degree in composition from the Yale School of Music.  From 1995 to 2016, Fuller taught composition and jazz theory, and was conductor/composer/arranger for jazz ensembles at ACES-Educational Center for the Arts, New Haven’s arts magnet high school.  He currently teaches at Yale University in the Jazz Initiative program, and at Sacred Heart University.  He also gives private lessons and leads the Premier Jazz Ensemble of the Neighborhood Music School, New Haven.

www.jefffuller.net/

Gene Bertoncini

 Guitarist Gene Bertoncini

Guitarist Gene Bertoncini

Gene Bertoncini is one of the pre-eminent jazz guitarists’ active today. His fluid
technique and lyricism have won him international praise and accolades as the
“Segovia of jazz.” An eloquent and versatile improviser, Mr. Bertoncini has been heard with an extraordinary range of jazz greats, including performances and recordings with
Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Wayne Shorter, Hubert Laws, Paul Desmond among others, as well as such distinguished singers as Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson, Vic Damone, and Eydie Gorme.
F1

The Washington Post proclaimed his solo appearance in New York City the best jazz concert of the year 1999. Mr. Bertoncini’s acclaim is hardly confined to this country. His CD, “Someone to Light Up My Life” which features his own arrangements of the compositions of the great bossa nova composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, won international raves. Brazilian critic’s and listener’s polls also named him the best acoustic jazz guitarist. Gene Bertoncini has just released a striking new solo CD, “Quiet Now” on the heels of his highly successful “Acoustic Romance,” which reached the top ten of the jazz playlists. Jazziz magazine’s March 2004 issue ranked it Number 1 in their list of the top 20 acoustic guitar CDs.

His newer cds: “Concerti” features Gene with a string quartet and bass; “Reunion” with Michael Mainieri, Michael Moore, Joe Corsello and “Joy” with Clay Jenkins and Ike Sturm.
A prolific and popular studio musician, Bertoncini honed his professional chops as a member of the Tonight Show band during Johnny Carson’s tenure, and he has worked with composers and arrangers such as Lalo Schifrin and Michael Legrand and has performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

In addition to an active performing and recording schedule, Gene teaches at the Eastman School of Music and William Patterson University. A New York City native, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame ‘59 with a degree in architecture. According to the New Yorker magazine, “Bertoncini is an affecting, highly original guitarist that moves easily back and forth between classical and jazz guitar.”
Gene was just nominated as the best jazz guitarist of the year (09) by the New York Jazz Press Association.

On January 20th, 2017, Gene Bertoncini received a distinguished award from the University of Notre Dame honoring his achievements in the performing arts. The Rev. Arthur S. Harvey, C.S.C., Award recognizes Gene’s distinguished work
as a jazz musician.

www.genebertoncini.com

Brian Torff

Brian Q. Torff is a renowned bassist, composer, author and educator.  He is Professor of Music and Music Program Director at Fairfield University. He is a featured bass soloist who performs in jazz festivals throughout the United States, and is musical director of the Django Reinhardt New York Festival.  His current project New Duke is an acclaimed eight-piece band that performs Torff’s updated arrangements of Duke Ellington’s music. In 1992 he served as co-chairperson of the Music Advisory Board for the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2008 Mr. Torff was honored as Artist of the Year by the Fairfield Arts Council.

http://www.briantorff.com/

 Bassist Brian Torff

Bassist Brian Torff

Ben Bilello

 Drummer Ben Bilello

Drummer Ben Bilello

 As one of the most in demand freelance jazz drummers in New England, Ben Bilello can be seen at numerous clubs, concert halls and festivals with a wide variety of artists. Originally from Narragansett, Rhode Island, Ben began playing the snare drum in his elementary school band. As time passed, Ben became interested in learning the drum set, acquiring his first kit at age fourteen.  His first significant exposure to jazz occurred around this time and he made the decision to study music at a formal conservatory. After graduating from Narragansett High School in 1995, Ben moved to West Hartford, Connecticut to begin college. 

After graduating from Hartt, Ben began to establish himself as a noted performer and a much sought after private instructor. He has performed and recorded with Mulgrew Miller, Eddie Henderson, Joe Wilder, Curtis Fuller, Branford Marsalis, Anthony Braxton, Charles Flores, Javon Jackson, Steve Davis, Eddie Bert, Nat Reeves, Larry Willis, George Cables, Jimmy Greene, Shelton “Fatman” Laster, Wayne Escoffery and Dezron Douglas/New Jazz Workshop, among many others. In addition to performing with noted jazz musicians, Ben has toured with the South American folk groups Viva Quetzal and Markamusic. 

Currently residing in Durham, Connecticut, Ben is a self-employed private instructor and clinician. In addition to private instruction, Ben has taught classes and workshops at many local public and private schools, jazz camps and at several colleges and universities.  

At this time, Ben can be seen performing with his own trio, the Hartford Jazz Society’s New Directions Ensemble, Atla and Matt DeChamplain, trumpeter Josh Evans, and bassist Jeff Fuller, as well as with many others. 

www.benbilello.com

Darren Litzie

 Darren Litzie

Darren Litzie

Pianist/Composer Darren Litzie has been performing throughout the tri-state area in a wide variety of settings for over ten years. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance Degree from Western Connecticut State University. He has studied with Peter Tomlinson, Dr. Rex Cadwallader, Jim McNeely, Mike Holober, Jimmy Greene, and Jamie Begian. Darren has performed with such artists as Dave Scott, Andrew Beals, Chris Morrison, Thierry Arpino, Dave Livolsi, Nick Biello, Harvie S, and Phil Palombi.

Darren has also been the touring keyboardist for singer Andrew Strong of the band/1991 film The Commitments. Stops on the tours have included The Regatta Bar in Boston, B.B. King Blues Club in NYC, and Anthology in San Diego. 

An avid composer and arranger, Darren recently completed a three-year stint as a member of New York's prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, where he had several of his works premiered in concert by the BMI Jazz Orchestra. 

Darren also currently leads his own eight-piece jazz ensemble, The Saxtet, for which he plays piano and composes music. The band performs regularly in Connecticut and New York.

Since 2013, Darren has served as an Adjunct Professor of Music at Sacred Heart University, where he teaches classes and piano lessons.

http://www.darrenlitzie.com/

Jason Ennis

 Guitarist Jason Ennis

Guitarist Jason Ennis

Jason Ennis is an exciting voice in the world of jazz guitar. His unique sound, deep groove and sensitive feel, along with a diverse background in jazz, blues, Brazilian music and classical music have made him highly in demand as a soloist, sideman, bandleader and musical director. A graduate of Middlebury College (BA in music), Jason attended Berklee College of Music (Boston) and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Ennis has performed and/or recorded with Tessa Souter (Motéma Music), Charles Neville (The Neville Brothers Band), Paul McCandless (Oregon, The Paul Winter Consort), The Sonya Kitchell Band (Velour Music, Starbucks Hear Music), Todd Reynolds (Bang on a Can, Steve Reich), The I/O Ensemble under the direction of percussionist Matthew Gold, actor and musician Joe Morton, Mary Ann McSweeney’s Urban Fado Project, The Ramón Ángel-Rey Trio, Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils, Choro da Manhá, The Julio Botti Quintet, Pablo Ziegler and others. In summer of 2016, he played in the world premier at the Williamstown Theater Festival of the musical Poster Boy, by Craig Carnelia and Joe Tracz. Ennis transcribed and edited a collection of solo guitar arrangements by his friend and mentor, Gene Bertoncini, which was published in 2012 by Hal Leonard Publishing.

Ennis leads his own instrumental group, Trio Jota Sete, and co-leads the world jazz trio, La Voz de Tres, which has toured extensively throughout the United States and Chile and has released two CDs: La Voz de Tres (2010) and Sueños y Delirios (2014). His searing blues style is a corner stone of the NYC-based jazz/blues powerhouse group, Opius Bliss, fronted by vocalist Michelle Walker. He is a member of The Thomas Bergeron Ensemble, whose May 2015 release, Sacred Feast, presents re-imaginings of selected works by French composer Olivier Messiaen, and is co-composer and musical director for En Diablada, an original music project by Chilean vocalist Natalia Bernal, inspired by Andean folkloric traditions.

www.jasonennis.com