/ synthesizers / voice / balafon / alto flute
composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist for
nearly four decades, Smolens artistic sensibility freely
incorporates colors, moods, and arranging concepts from a multitude
of influences. His primary sources of inspiration include: contemporary
jazz (Art Lande, Paul McCandless, Nguyên Lê), modern
vocal flights (Bobby McFerrin), 20th-century classical (Brian
Eno, Steve Reich, Gabriel Faure), North Indian Classical (Hindusthani),
African music (West African, Afro-Cuban), modern Brazilian music
(Egberto Gismonti, Heitor Villa-Lobos), accompanied Sufi poetry
(Hafiz, Rumi), and stage magic (Jeff McBride).
Michael holds two music degrees from UC Santa Cruz, and has
studied with some of the most innovative jazz teachers, including
Art Lande, Allaudin Mathieu, and Kenny Werner. His works have
been comissioned by Meet The Composer, National Public
Radio, the Occidental Choir, UCSC Dance Dept., and
numerous Bay Area solo vocalists. They've also appeared on the
"Critics' Choice" lists for the S.F. Chronicle,
S.F. Weekly, East Bay Express, KCSM-FM, and KPFA-FM.
Michael has recorded six CDs in various formats from duo to
large ensembles. His recordings feature jazz legends Stefon
Harris (vibes), Paul McCandless (reeds), and Zakir Hussain (tablas),
and he has also performed and recorded with members of Bobby
McFerrin's "Voicestra." His most recent release
is with his jazz octet Kriya Live at Yoshis.
Additionally, he leads and arranges for jazz vocalist Paula Bradman and co-leads the Jewish music duo (with Biaja Solomon) The Batkas. His West-African trio Bal du Kor has performed extensively while both the Kriya Octet and earPlay Jazzquintet are soon to be releasing studio recordings of his works scheduled for late 2010.
Michael is a senior-level teacher, and has been working with
people from all backgrounds, skill levels, and interests for
over three decades. He has published and lectured extensively
on the art of practicing, and is adjunct faculty at Sonoma State
University and JFK University.
Over the last ten years, Michael has been creating the most
comprehensive list of entertaining and obscure tune titles known
to anyone on the Left Coast.
credit: D. Ross Cameron
alto, & tenor saxes / C & alto flutes / bass clarinet
Murzyn has been a major saxophone/flute/clarinet force in the
Bay Area for well over a decade. His versatility and passion
has lead him to play with leading artists in traditional and
contemporary jazz, soul, rock, funk, and different flavors of
His music was shaped in part through his private studies with
jazz legends Dave Liebman and Jerry Bergonzi at the Berklee
College of Music. Further studies included work with symphonic
teachers on flute and clarinet. Alex has chosen to return this
gift in the form of his private, workshop, and school teaching
throughout the Bay Area.
Mr. Muryzn has performed with jazz greats Freddie Hubbard, Bobby
Hutcherson, Arturo Sandoval, Ben Vereen, the Dizzy Gillespie
Big Band, and Sammy Davis Jr.; jazz-fusion artists Ray Obiedo,
Russ Ferrante (of the Yellowjackets), and legendary bassist
Stanley Clark; and pop favorites the Temptations, the O'Jays,
and Huey Lewis and the News (with whom he toured).
Alex has released three CDs as a leader under the Kamei and
Monarch labels. (His recent recording with the Machete Ensemble
was nominated for a Grammy in 2003). He can also be heard on
recordings with local luminaries Pete Escovedo, Rebecca Mauleon,
Mark Little, Mike Vax Big Band and Benny Rietveld.
/ "marimba lumina" / sampler / accordion / percussion
refugee from Bowling Green, Ohio, Michael Hatfield entered Nirvana
when he was picked up hitchhiking by premiere four-mallet vibraphonist
Gary Burton. This began his involvement at the Berklee College
of Jazz. Along with his work with flute and voice, Michael jammed
and studied next to the likes of Pat Matheny, Mike Stern, Steve
Vai, and Vinny Caliuta. It was an easy step from school onto
the road, touring with Jay Azzolina and Steve Cantor, and eventually
landing a job back at Berklee teaching vocal improvisation,
small band, ear training and theory.
Since moving to California Michael has played in many interesting
far-ranging groups, including Frank Macchia's 'cartoon fusion'
band "Booga-Booga", donned a strap-on keyboard
for his 80's 'hair band' "Runnerz", and doled
out fusion with "The Ensemble." Yet his most
enduring oufit remains "The Fabulous Bud E. Luv Show."
This group was created in 1988 as an offshot of Robert Vicker's
alter ego, Bud E. Luv, a lounge singer who wrote every hit you
can think of and taught Frank, Dino and Sammy their shticks.
Starting as an alternate to the Dino's at San Francisco's Paradise
Lounge, the quirky and hilarious show became a hit on its own
right and soon gained national recognition, including appearances
on MTV, VH-1 and the Today Show. (Ozzy Osborne even asked
them to perform lounge versions of his songs at his re-nuptials).
More than 15 years later, The Fabulous Bud E. Luv Show
is still going strong.
Alternating three or four instruments within one "earPlay"
composition is not uncommon for him and reveals his complete
versatility. He leads several bands that cover everything from
rock and country to jazz and electronica. Michael is also well-known
in the music community for his company Hatfield & Walker--a
sound, lighting, and backline business. Yet he still finds time
to cultivate a sweet life with his wife, Valerie, and three
dogs, four cats, innumerable kittens, and three unidentified
wild creatures that play guitar, bass and drums, all in sunny
South San Francisco.
Mr. Hatfield is hands-down, the funniest Music Biz storyteller
in Northern California...
credit: D. Ross Cameron
& electric basses & guitars / soprano sax / clarinet
a youngster in Honolulu, Fred Randolph's his main interest was
surfing, but gradually he gravitated toward music. He has studied
and performed on guitar, saxophone, clarinet, flute, and trumpet
but decided to focus primarily on acoustic and electric bass.
After spending two seasons with the Diablo Symphony, Fred pursued
a Masters Degree in composition from Hayward State. He co-led
the jazz quintet "The Zone" for several years,
composing much of the music for that group's first CD "Grand
Canyon Blue." Fred recently recorded his first solo
CD entitled "Learning Curve."
As a composer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist, Fred brings a
unique perspective to the wide ranging material of "earPlay".
He has performed with many of the Bay Area's finest jazz artists,
including: Bruce Forman, Vince Wallace, Graham Connah, Akira
Tana, Art Hirahara, Scott Amendola, and Jeff Massanari. Vocal
luminaries such as Kenny Washington, Faye Carol, Frankye Kelly,
Brenda Boykin, and Bobbe Norris have also experienced his sensitive
and supportive playing. In addition he is busy on the Latin
circuit, performing with: Sandy Cressman's "Homenagem
Brasileira", Marcos Silva's "Intersection",
Phil Hawkin's "Carribean Jazz Ensemble", Tito
Garcia's "Oquestra la Internacional" and many
others. As a faculty member with U.C. jazz ensembles, Fred performed
in clinics with guitarist John Scofield and saxophonist Bob
Shephard. Currently, Fred teaches privately and jazz combo/bass
at Stanley Middle School, Lafayette, and at Diablo Valley College.
Fred is, once again, finding his experience with surfing useful
now that he is playing eight instruments with the "earPlay
set / tabla / percussion
Brian Festa been playing and performing for over 20 years and his rhythmic curiosity has taken him to every corner of the U.S. as well as studying in the Netherlands, Croatia, Hungary, Turkey, and India. He has been teaching for a dozen years and in 2007 created a community teaching space in Asheville, North Carolina to implement a unique curriculum that he designed. He teaches all ages on a variety of percussion, stringed, and other melodic instruments and describes teaching as “beautifully challenging”.
In 2012, Brian settled in the East Bay to teach, perform, and collaborate with rich high diversity of artists, including Stu Allen and Friends (classic rock), sitarists Kari Field and Hasu Patel, vocalist Kankana Banerjee (classical indian), and Kirtan leaders Rudra Sundari and Stephanie Winn. Brian has appeared at Askenaz, Cafe du Nord, Yoga Society of San Francisco, The Presidio, Teripin Crossroads, and the California Jazz Conservatory.
He is currently enrolled at the California Jazz Institute and is the newest member of the ensemble.
artist Heather Rogers
word / stage magic
Rogers is a full-time professional magician and the winner of
the 1999 "Women in Magic Award" in Las Vegas.
Heather has performed her close-up and stage magic at over 2,000
public and private events throughout Northern California.
Heather has written and performed several unique solo shows,
including "Real Magic" - a play about a fallen
faery looking for redemption in the strangest places (premiered
at the Shelton Theater in San Francisco), "Magic Now
" - the world's first Slapstick-Dominatrix-Magician
speaking out (performed at Venue 9's Women's Work Theater
Festival), and "An Evening with Heather Rogers"
- a stand-up comedy/magic show (performed at the "Wonder
Dome" in Las Vegas). She is currently developing "The
Spiritualism Show", a mulit-character spoof of Victorian
channelers while dressed in a full Victorian gown.
Ms. Rogers has also performed at trade shows for corporations
such as American Express, Price-Waterhouse-Coopers, and the
Nurse Recruiters Association while other clients include Cisco,
San Francisco 49'ers, and Fidelity National Title.
Despite her firm belief in aliens, she has never personally
seen one. She does, however, regularly 'channel' evil pagan
credit: D. Ross Cameron