Joe Gransden has performed worldwide and released 16 CDs under his own name. Renowned first for the hard bop approach of his trumpet, Gransden’s singing voice has been compared to that of Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra.
"When I first heard Joe nine years ago, I immediately thought of Chet," says Jazziz magazine critic James Rozzi, “but lately his voice has taken on its own style with a deeper resonance. His trumpet has always alternated lyricism with an aggressive, angular approach. He has the ability to cover the gamut of emotions."
Joe is from just north of Manhattan, New York. Coming from a family full of musicians, Joe’s introduction to music came early on through his father, a gifted singer and pianist. His grandfather was a trumpeter of merit, playing professionally his whole life throughout New York.
Not long after high school, Joe was on the road as a sideman with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. A number of A.F.M. contracted sideman gigs include Barry White, The Moody Blues, Kenny Rogers, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Whispers, etc. Eventually moving to New York City, he performed with numerous groups, including sub work with Toshiko Akiyoshi and Chico O’Farrill at the famous Birdland Jazz Club.
A widening schedule has found Joe performing the 1st and 3rd Mondays of every month at Café 290 in Atlanta w/his 16 Piece Big Band , The Blue Note in New York City, The Jazz Corner in Hilton Head SC, The Ritz-Carlton at Reynolds Plantation W/Michael Fienstein, The Museum of Art and Design in midtown Manhattan, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Ga and Tehema Golf Club in Carmel, California (where Joe plays occasional events for Clint Eastwood). Joe also released his cd “Close To My Heart” produced by Saxophone great Kenny G. The cd is a collection of smooth jazz covers and originals written by Joe and Kenny. His brand new project entitled “Songs of Sinatra & Friends” features Joe w/his 16 piece Big Band & Strings Celebrating the music of Frank Sinatra! The CD and has been getting great reviews and lots of airplay around the country. Pick your copy up today on Joe’s website, ITUNES, CDBABY etc.... www.joegransden.com
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Lee Watts has been an active part of the Atlanta music scene since 2000. Lee came to Atlanta after graduating from the University of Kentucky. While at Kentucky Lee won the Eastern Trombone Workshop (Division III) solo competition. In 2003, Lee was a recipient of the International Trombone Association’s Kai Winding Award as a member of the Piedmont Trombone Society. Lee earned his Masters degree at Georgia State from 2004-2006, where he served as the graduate assistant to Tom Gibson. Lee currently serves as the bass trombonist for the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, the Joe Gransden Big Band, Russell Gunn’s Krunk Orchestra, LaGrange Symphony, and Macon Pops. Lee was bass trombonist for the “One and Only” Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, under Buddy Morrow, from 2006-2010. He has also performed with the Cab Calloway Big Band, the “World Famous” Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Nick Hilscher Big Band, the Marcus Lewis Big Band, and is a founding member of the DiMartino/Osland Jazz Orchestra. As an orchestral musician, Lee has performed with the Alabama, Augusta, Carrollton, Charleston, Columbus (GA), and Macon Symphonies. In 2011, Lee was chosen to perform in the original band for the show “Come Fly Away”, under the direction of Dennis Mackrel. Lee can be heard on dozens of recordings, ranging from jazz, orchestral, to period music. Lee has been a side man for countless artists including Arrested Development, Michael Feinstein, Wycliffe Gordon, Jennifer Holliday, John Driskell Hopkins, Wynona Judd, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, Doc Severinsen, Francine Reed, Frank Sinatra Jr, Three Dog Night, and Chris Tomlin. As a soloist, Lee Watts has been featured soloist the Georgia Music Educators Association Conference, as well as the UGA Midfest and Janfest concert band festivals. Lee has performed at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Great American Brass Band Festival, the International Trombone Association, International Trumpet Guild Conference, the Jazz Educators Network Conference, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the National Black Arts Festival. An avid educator, Lee Watts works regularly with band programs in the Georgia Public Schools. Lee currently works with Cambridge High School in Milton, Georgia, as a jazz and winds specialist. He is also works regularly with Drew Charter School and North Atlanta High School. Lee Watts’s trombone students are members of his North Fulton Trombone Cartel, one of the few pre college trombone ensembles in the country. The Cartel has performed at the University of Georgia Trombone Summit, the International Trombone Festival, and this summer at the Great American Brass Band Festival and the Southeast Trombone Symposium.
Ramon Pooser was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Atlanta. He attended the Northside School of the Arts where he received a scholarship to study with Tom Thoreson of the Atlanta Symphony. Following a successful season as a member of the Atlanta Youth Symphony he went on to the Berklee College of Music where by recommendation of his teacher he joined the MIT Symphony, performing throughout New England and at Carnegie Hall. He then moved to New York where he performed with numerous jazz greats and toured Europe and Canada, primarily as a member of The Decoding Society. He then moved back to Atlanta where he performed with many more greats and toured the US, Central and South America. A former visiting professor of jazz studies at Emory University he is the father of four children, and writes and records extensively. Artists recorded, toured or performed with include The Decoding Society, Bobby Watson, Freddie Cole, Stevie Wonder, Lizz Wright, Walter Bishop, Geri Allen, Bern Nix, Malo, David Gilmore, Jack McDuff, Jef Lee Johnson, Joe Sample, Little Jimmy Scott, and many others.
Kevin’s initial career move was to the University of North Florida and a budding if little-known jazz program. There he met and performed with, and went on to record and tour with, a number of monumental artists who had settled into that burgeoning North Florida jazz scene. Giants like Wynton Marsalis, Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, James Moody, Ben Tucker, Ira Sullivan, Sam Rivers, and Nat Adderley. He counts among his mentors bassist Ben Tucker, multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, guitar legends Nathen Page and Jack Petersen, and the fiercely individual saxophonist Bunky Green. His meeting with Bunky Green led to five years of tours. His encounter with guitarist Nathen Page blossomed into 15 years of spot tours and four albums. And his work with trumpeter extraordinaire Marcus Printup has become a lifetime association that has included recordings on Blue Note/Capital records. Ten years touring and recording with vocal iconoclast Rene Marie culminated in the a Grammy Nominated album.
Few artists have the patience for teaching – as are few teachers accomplished players. But Kevin has amassed a reputation for his prowess in both professions. While still a senior at North Florida he was drafted into a full teaching load, and continued to be an integral part of the school’s jazz program for upwards of a decade. Today, Kevin manages his own jazz program, overseeing an ambitious schedule of ambitious jazz students. Kevin has amassed a long list of awards and a reputation as one of the finest jazz pianists performing anywhere. In 1994, less than a decade into jazz, he won the American Pianist Association’s Jazz Piano Competition. In addition to nearly every important jazz venue in the South, he has performed in some of the most acclaimed clubs and festivals in America and around the world: the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, The Bakery in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center jazz series, the Toronto and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and the Moscow Center for the Performing Arts.
Wes Funderburk has performed across the United States and Europe and is currently one of the most sought after trombonists and arrangers in Atlanta and the Southeast. He is the author of Funderbone.com and the inventor of Blog Songs! Wes has written, performed, recorded with a wide array of national and internationally-renowned artists including John Driskell Hopkins, the Stiletto Brass Quintet, Jennifer Holliday, Band of Horses, Spoon, Jermaine Dupri, Cee Lo,The Boston Brass, Natalie Cole, Dallas Austin, Joe Gransden, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra. He has also been a featured performer at The Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Atlanta Black Arts Festival, Candler Park Festival, Inman Park Festival, Montreux-Atlanta Jazz Festival, Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival and North Sea Jazz Festival. Wes' recording credits include So So Def Records, Atlantic Records, Verve Records, Colombia Records, Universal Records, Arista Records, Giant Step Records, the Cartoon Network and the Weather Channel. His arranging credits include music for Russell Gunn's Krunk Jazz Orchestra, Jennifer Holliday, Ben van Dijk, Natalie Cole, Joe Gransden Big Band, The Georgia Brass Band, The Atlanta Jazz Orchestra, Kenessaw State University jazz ensemble, Georgia State University jazz ensemble and brass band, the Piedmont Trombone Society and the Tempest Little Big Band. Wes is also the leader and co-founder of The Funderhorns - a freelance commercial horn section that has recorded in some of the finest recording studios in the country.
As an educator Wes has given clinics and master classes at University of Georgia, Francis Marion University, The University of North Florida, Georgia State University, Columbus State University (Ga), the Mars Hill Low Brass Retreat, Tanglewood Music Camp and numerous high schools across the Southeast.
In 2007 Wes joined the faculty at Kennesaw State University as a jazz band director and in 2010 joined the faculty at Georgia State University as visiting lecturer in jazz studies. Wes earned his Bachelor's Degree in trombone performance from the University of North Florida and his Masters' Degree in trombone performance with a concentration in jazz studies from Georgia State University.
Wes is a former governor for the Atlanta chapter of the Recording Academy and a clinician and performing artist for Rath trombones.
Burroughs brings his passion to all musical styles and melodies. By weaving them into a distinct percussive tapestry, he is in a constant state of evolving. Chris takes a metaphysical approach to percussion, always in the present moment, intuitively seeking a higher level. A non-conformist, he creates his own path.
Born and raised in Rockford, Illinois drummer/percussionist Chris Burroughs began playing at the early age of four. Music was not only encouraged in the Burroughs household, it was mandatory. “My Dad was a huge fan of all things artistic, especially music. Everyone was required to play a musical instrument and I chose the drums.”
Over the course of his professional career, Chris has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has been blessed to record, tour, and share the stage with artist like: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Carmen Bradford, Col. Bruce Hampton, Jennifer Holiday, Russell Gunn, Michelle Malone, Chris Duarte, Dave Stryker, Joe Gransden, Dionne Farris, and Jacques Schwartz-Bart.
Chris endorses Evans drum heads and Pro-Mark drum sticks.
Kevin Lyons - Trumpeter Kevin Lyons hails from Clinton Mississippi, and has long had a dual passion for both classical and jazz music. Kevin received his early training in Mississippi from the great Sonny Hill, (THANK YOU SONNY!!!) and at Louisiana State University with James west, and at The University of Southern Mississippi with Allan Cox. Mr. Lyons continued his education at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Michael Sachs and James Darling and earned his Bachelors Degree in Music Performance. During that time he was awarded the Bernard Aldestein Award in Trumpet and was a participant at the Aspen Music Festival. After conservatory life, he went on the road for two years playing with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, touring the U.S., Canada, Japan, the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. Upon returning to the U.S., Mr. Lyons landed in his current home of Atlanta, Georgia, where he won positions of Associate Principal Trumpet with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as well as Principal Trumpet of the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, the Greenville (SC) Symphony, the Georgia Symphony and the Columbus (GA) Symphony. He has been featured as soloist with the Georgia Symphony, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, the Gwinnett Philharmonic and the Atlanta Community Orchestra. In 2018/19 Mr. Lyons embarks on a national tour with world renowned pianist Mac Frampton as special guest artist. Mr Lyons' playing can be heard on a number of major label recordings with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and with artists such as Sinead O'Connor, Matchbox Twenty, and John Driscoll Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band. Mr. Lyons is a founding member of the funk band Bumpin the Mango and is a member of the Joe Gransden Big Band. He can be regularly seen throughout Atlanta and the Southeast's jazz and live music venues, having been a side man for artists such as Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Frankie Valli and Peter Frampton. Mr Lyons can often be found playing both at Carnegie Hall and the Blue Note Jazz Club in the same season. His chamber ensemble credits include founding memberships of Il Brasso Magnifico and Atlanta Brassworks. He has performed in featured ensembles at the conferences of the International Trumpet Guild, International Trombone Association and International Tuba Euphonium Association. Mr. Lyons also enjoys playing with other classical ensembles and has joined the Cleveland Orchestra for a European tour and been Guest Principal Trumpet for the Malaysia Philharmonic, Nu Deco Ensemble and the Miami City Ballet Orchestra. In his downtime, Kevin enjoys playing a great round of golf, listening to records, and hearing live music!
Luke Weathington, an Alabama native, moved to Atlanta five years ago to study with the best in the music. While beginning his education at Reinhardt College, Luke finished his undergraduate degree in saxophone performance at Kennesaw State University under the direction of Sam Skelton in Spring of 2013. In 2015 he graduated from Georgia State University with a M.A. in Jazz Studies under the direction of Mace Hibbard and Gordon Vernick. While at Georgia State, Luke held a graduate assistantship. He has also had the privilege of studying saxophone with Dr. Tony Logsden and Dr. Mitchell Henson. As a classical saxophonist, he has toured Italy as principal saxophonist with the Tara Winds Orchestra, was co-principal at the GMEA All-College Band 2009, and was principal saxophonist in both the KSU Wind Ensemble and the Reinhardt College Wind Ensemble. Luke has held the lead alto chair in the Reinhardt College Jazz Ensemble, KSU Jazz Band I, and Georgia State Big Band. At KSU Luke was a member of Jazz Combo I which was selected to perform all original compositions at the 2013 JEN conference in Atlanta. Luke is currently the applied woodwind instructor at Miles College and an instructor of saxophone at Kennesaw State University. As a freelance saxophonist being versed in any style, he has also had the privilege of performing around Atlanta with jazz combos, big bands, rock groups, party bands, and latin bands. His grasp of the flute and clarinet has kept him busy playing in the pit orchestra of the Fox Theatre since 2016, Atlanta Lyric Theater since 2013, as well as numerous high school theater productions throughout Georgia. He has also had the pleasure of playing second alto with GSO JAZZ since 2013. Luke has also played with Johnnie Mathis, Carmen Bradford, Alan Vache, Freddie Cole, Jackie Burns, Don Braden, Matt Cattingub, the Macon Pops Orchestra, the Cobb Symphony Orchestra Jazz, Joe Gransden’s Big Band, , Atlanta All-Star Big Band, Atlanta Latin Jazz Orchestra, the UNG Big Band, the Douglas Cameron Orchestra, and the Due West Celebration Orchestra.
Grammy award winning tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams is one of contemporary music’s whirlwind improvisers. The imaginative multi-instrumentalist/ composer/producer/arranger/ teacher resists categorization. His innovative sound dives, blends and jumpstarts all music genres. Kebbi bends it to his will with his robust, distinct blasts. His playing and compositions create a sound that is uniquely and undeniably his own. Avant-garde jazz, hip-hop, Afro-beat, gospel, electronica, classical and fiery rock are all loops that Kebbi interweaves with passion and edge. The Atlanta native received both an undergraduate degree and Master's in Jazz Studies from prestigious Howard University. At the age of 22, he won the Jazz Instrumental Soloist Category (college division) award from Downbeat Magazine. Kebbi launched his professional career as a much in demand studio and touring musician. Outkast, the legendary Donald Byrd, Cee-lo Green, Mos Def, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, Bilal, Oteil Burbridge, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Russell Gunn, Julie Dexter and iconic Betty Carter are among the elite musicians and vocalists who jumped off of Kebbi’s unique horn. He is also an original member and presently touring for the sixth year with the Tedeschi Trucks Band (with whom he won the Grammy in 2012 in the Blues Album category.) "Kebbi Williams is a truly unique soul. His ability to step away from the norm and willingness to think outside the box makes him one of the most adventurous and creative saxophonists around. His playing is as free as his spirit and it's inspiring to see him continue to chart his own path.” Maurice Brown: Trumpeter/Grammy Award winner. Additionally, he fronts his own Atlanta band, The Wolf Pack. “When determining how badass a band truly is, its live show can’t just be good. The sheer physicality of its performance must force patrons to shut up and listen. No Atlanta band pulls off this feat with as much originality and force as The Wolfpack.” Kebbi was born into a musical family. His father Earl Williams, an inventive multi instrumentalist who plays bass, keys, banjo, harmonica, flute, and saxophone taught Kebbi music. The tenor saxophone that Kebbi plays is from Earl. A rarity from the 1920’s era, a CONN M, it’s the only saxophone Kebbi’s played. Earl also taught his brother, Milan Williams (Kebbi’s uncle) how to play music. Milan was an original member of The Commodores and composed their breakout hit “Machine Gun” as well as the pair of epic soul/funk classics, “Brickhouse” and “Easy Like (Sunday Morning)”. Family is a unifying theme for Kebbi, shared by his love for Atlanta. In 2010, Williams founded the non-profit organization, Music In The Park (MITP) Atlanta. Their mission: enlighten, educate, and galvanize young performers while inspiring vibrancy in the community through music and the performing arts. MITP Atlanta has supported nearly 6000 students, engaged over 400 professional musicians, and presented live music to 50,000 people since its inception seven years ago. MITP, begun in response to the absence of music education in schools and limited arts programming in his West End neighborhood, is constantly evolving and expanding for the next generation of musicians. Kebbi Williams continues to do what he has always done: break down barriers and push the boundaries with both his music and vibrant social consciousness for his hometown and beyond.
Trey Wright is a jazz guitarist, composer, and recording artist based in Roswell, Ga. Initially inspired by the blues, Trey was exposed to jazz early in his development by a private instructor. While studying Sociology at the University of Georgia, Wright furthered his study of jazz improvisation with pianist and composer Steve Dancz. In 1994, he co-founded the Athens/Atlanta based jazz band Squat. The group is a six-time winner of Best Jazz Band at the Flagpole Athens Music Awards and has been a featured artist at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Bel Chere, the Twilight Athens Jazz Festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival, Harvest Midtown, and Athfest. Several of Trey’s compositions with the group have received international airplay and have been featured on Sirius radio and NPR’s All Things Considered. Trey also performs freelance in the Athens and Atlanta area and has performed with Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, John Patitucci, Joe Lovano, Corey Christiansen and Darmon Meader of the New York Voices. Trey has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jazz A Vienne, and the World Sacred Music Festival in Bangalore, India. As a solo guitarist and with his trio, Trey has been a featured performer at the Athens Music and Arts Festival, the Lake Oconee Jazz Festival, and the Atlanta Jazz Festival. In early 2008, Trey began playing with the Georgia Symphony Jazz Orchestra. In December of 2002, Trey completed a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies at Georgia State University and he currently teaches Applied Jazz Guitar, Jazz Theory and Composition, Jazz Guitar Ensemble, Jazz History, Jazz Improvisation and The History of Rock at Kennesaw State University. Trey has also taught at LaGrange College, Gainesville College, the Atlanta Institute of Music and was a Jazz Artist in Residence at the University of Georgia. In addition, Trey writes a column on Jazz Harmony for the Guitar for the quarterly print magazine Just Jazz Guitar. In 2006, Trey released his first CD Where I’m Calling From, receiving rave reviews and airplay throughout the United States, New Zealand, England, Australia, Germany, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, Scotland, and the Netherlands. The Trey Wright Trio released Thinking Out Loud in the summer of 2009 on Blue Canoe Records. In 2010, The CD was included in the first round Grammy Nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. In the Fall of 2012, the Trey Wright Trio’s version of Thom Yorke’s “Analyze” was included on the compilation Head Radio Retransmissions: A Tribute to Radiohead on the German label ESC records. Trey’s long awaited collaboration with Grammy winning saxophonist Mace Hibbard The Hibbard/Wright Project was released to rave reviews in May 2013 and Trey will release a new CD titled Songs From Oak Avenue on Blue Canoe Records in March 2015.