John Roberts began playing the piano at the age of 5 while living on an isolated ranch in Southeastern Montana. There was no TV, but there was a piano. From age 11-18, in Malta, MT, he was in band (trombone) and choir in the Malta, MT schools. After graduating in 1996 from Montana State University-Billings with a BA in Music Performance, John moved to Los Angeles to earn his Master of Fine Arts in Western Orchestral Performance from California Institute of the Arts.
Feeling equally comfortable in orchestral and commercial music realms, he has performed in all 50 of the United States and around the world, including; Mexico, South America, Israel, Cuba, India, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, Australia and Africa. Notable venues include the Lincoln Center in New York, Pantages Theatre, Kodak Theatre, Roskilde, House of Blues, Blue Note, Apollo and Apollo London. Tours include his own band, John Roberts y Pan Blanco (Afro-Latin Soul), Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca (Congolese/Cuban), Bobby Womack (Soul), Los Pinguos (Argentina), The Temptations, Chaka Khan, The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and more. Other performances and recordings include multiple Grammy and Emmy Award Shows, Chris Botti, LA Philharmonic, Feist, Sting, Dr. Dre, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Fallout Boy, Burt Bacharach, Bill Holman, The Ojays, Jill Scott, Christina Aguilera, The Today Show, NPR, PBS, Disney, and more.
Roberts is a Professor of Low Brass at MSU Billings, teaching Music Theory, Aural Perception, Jazz Ensemble, Commercial Ensemble, World Music courses and more. He is active in the Montana and Los Angeles performing and studio scenes as a bandleader, studio musician and composer/arranger. John is currently recording and composing for his next album, part of which was recorded in Santiago de Cuba and Los Angeles. This record will be a collaboration between Cuban, Congolese, Los Angeles and Montana artists.
Ben Markley, a jazz pianist, has performed with Brian Lynch, Greg Osby, Eddie Henderson, Terell Stafford, George Garzone, and John Fedchock. The Return (Dazzle records) is Markleyís latest recording. The album is co-lead by Kansas City trumpeter Clint Ashlock and features all original compositions by the two.
Markley is active as a composer and arranger with several big band and vocal jazz charts published through UNC Jazz Press. Upcoming arranging commissions include the 2015 Wyoming Jazz Educators All-State Jazz Band and The Wyoming Jazz Ensemble featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith. Compositions from Markley’s first two albums have earned him ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Awards. Markley was selected to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program held at the Kennedy Center.
Markleyís book A Practical Approach to Improvisation – The David Hazeltine Method was published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz in December of 2014. It documents David Hazeltineís process of creating etudes from transcriptions.
Markley is an active performer in the Denver-metropolitan area and along the front range. He can be seen regularly at in Ft. Collins as part of the Subterranean jazz trio at Ace Gillett’s Lounge.
Markley currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Wyoming where he directs and coaches the UW Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble II and combos. He also teaches applied jazz piano, improvisation and is the director of the UW Jazz Festival.
Ari Hoenig is a jazz drummer, composer, and educator known for his unusual and intense approach to drumming emphasizing complex rhythms in direct harmony with other group members. Ari is widely noted particularly for his drumming not being relegated to just keeping tempo, or being a side issue to the music he plays in, but rather for elevating drumming as an indispensable part of the performance.
Born on November 13, 1973 in Philadelphia, Ari Hoenig, was exposed at an early age to a variety of musical experiences. His father is a conductor and classical singer, his mother a violinist and pianist. Accordingly, at 4 years of age, Ari began studying the violin and piano. He began playing drums at age twelve, and by age fourteen he was honing his skills with other young jazz musicians at Philly clubs such as Ortlieb’s JazzHaus.
After attending the prestigious University of North Texas for three years, Ari transferred to William Patterson College in northern New Jersey. He soon found himself playing for legendary Philadelphia organist Shirley Scott and working regularly in New York City.
Shortly thereafter, Ari moved into Brooklyn and began playing extensively with a variety of groups, including Jean Michel Pilc Trio, Kenny Werner Trio, Chris Potter Underground, Kurt Rosenwinkel Group, Joshua Redman Elastic band, Jazz Mandolin Project and bands led by Wayne Krantz, Mike Stern, Richard Bona and Pat Martino.
Both of Ari’s self-produced solo drum CDs, “Time Travels” (2000) and “The Life Of A Day” (2002), document his exploratory nature and they represent an ambitious tribute to the melodic possibilities of the drum set. Today, Ari continues to build on the concepts of these two records by playing largely improvised solo concerts using a simple four-piece drum kit without help from extraneous percussion instruments.
The Ari Hoenig Quartet was formed at the end of 2002 while playing every Monday night at the New York Village jazz club Fat Cat. The band featured Jacques Schwarz-Bart on tenor sax, Jean Michel Pilc on piano, and Matt Penman on bass. They released two records on the Smalls Records label: “The Painter” (2004) and the DVD “Kinetic Hues” (2005)
In 2006 Ari signed a multi-record deal with Dreyfus Records and released his first record for them called “Inversations” (2006) which features the trio of Jean Michel Pilc and Johannes Weidenmueller. “Bert’s Playground” (2008), Ari’s second record for Dreyfus, features Ari’s Punk Bop Band joined by Chris Potter. Highlights of this record include Chris’s solo on Moments Notice and Ari jumping around in red pants on the cover. Jonathan Kreisberg, Matt Penman, Will Vinson, Gilad Hekselman and Orlando le Fleming also represent on this one.
His next record project was for “Smalls Live”, a record label set up in 2009 to document some of the music being performed at the “Smalls Jazz Club” in New York where Ari has appeared regularly since 2003. Ari chose his Punk Bop Band to make the live record “Punk Bop Live at Smalls (2010)”. The Punk Bop Band features Will Vinson on alto, Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar and fellow Jazz Mandolin Project alumni, Danton Boller on bass. Tigran Hamasyan is a special guest on 4 tracks as well.
Ari’s Quartet with Tigran Hamasyan, Gilad Hekselman, Orlando le Fleming and Chris Tordini released “Lines of Oppression” (2011) on the Naïve label.
In 2013 Ari and his quartet won the prestigious BMW Welt (World) award in Munich, an international competition for best band led by a drummer.
In 2016, Ari Released The Pauper and the Magician on AH-HA Records. It features the quintet of Shai Maestro on piano, Gilad Hekselman on guitar, Tivon Pennicott on Sax and Orlando Le Fleming on bass. On this record, Ari explores the link between story telling and jazz by creating a soundtrack to the improvised and sometimes twisted stories he tells his two small children.
In 2018, Ari released a standards record called NY Standard (a tribute to playing standards in New York). In 2019, Conners Days (his first full trio record) was released. It features Nitai Hershkovits on piano and Or Bareket on bass. Both of these are on the Fresh Sound label and have received widespread acclaim.
2022 brings two new exciting releases:
1) “Ari’s Funhouse” (OAM). Ben Markley Big Band with Ari Hoenig. Ari teamed up with arranger/pianist Ben Markley to record an album of his compositions with a full 19 piece big band from the Denver area.
2) The trio recording “Golden Treasures” (Fresh Sound). Golden Treasure features Ari’s current working trio of Gadi Lehavi and Ben Tiberio and documents Ari’s composing and other general musical activities during the pandemic. The record is indicative of Ari’s cinematic style of songwriting.
Ari also co-leads a variety of projects. Pilc, Moutin, Hoenig (The Three headed monster) released Threedom in 2011 on the Motema label. He has had various projects with partner Gael Horellou including the jazz electronica project “Nasty Factorz” with a self titled record released in 2016 and “Live” with the quartet featuring Horellou, released in 2019. Ari has also co-led various duo’s with Chris Potter, Edmar Casteneda, JD Walter and Dan Weiss. His recordings as a side-artist total around 120 to date.
As an educator, Ari teaches privately and is on faculty at New York University and the New School for Social Research in New York. He gives clinics and lectures at music schools and universities worldwide. In collaboration with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, Ari released “Intro to Polyrhythms Vol 1”, and “Metric Modulations, Expanding and Contracting Time within Form Vol 2. (Mel Bay 2009, 2012)
In 2011, Ari released two more educational products dedicated specifically to drumming. “Systems Book 1, Drumming Technique and Melodic Jazz Independence” (Alfred Publishing), and DVD “Melodic Drumming” (2011) on www.jazzheaven.com.
In 2014, Ari released the 3 part video entitled “Rhythm Training” geared for all musicians who want to improve their time and rhythmic vocabulary. It offers a clear step by step approach to learning rhythm essential rhythmic vocabulary and is available through www.mymusicmasterclass.com
Since 2014, Ari has released many other educational videos on mymusicmasterclass.com. He started an online members only club at Patreon.com to talk about musical concepts and to share video lessons. “The Ari Hoenig Songbook” (a book with the lead sheets of all of Ari’s compositions (not just the easy ones) is available for download at www.lulu.com)
Ari currently resides in Brooklyn with his wife and 2 kids.