Berklee Students Pay Homage to Heroes at Jazz Revelation Records CD Release Concert

by Nick Balkin

Berklee's student run label Jazz Revelation Records will celebrate the release of Dedication, its sixth album in as many years, Thursday, April 23, 8:15 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center. The concert will feature six of the label's most exciting student artists, including Billy Buss, Lucas Ellman, Emi Inaba, Randy Runyon, Eli Winderman, and Alex Wintz.

Dedication is dedicated to the late Richard Ehrman, Berklee's concert office manager for the past 25 years, who passed away last November. The album includes 13 original compositions by 13 student bandleaders, who each dedicated their song to a musical or personal inspiration (Ravel, Michael Brecker, "our dog, Sandwich"). The title also refers to the tremendous discipline it takes to live the life of an artist. "The musicians presented here are a living embodiment of dedication in action, " says Kevin McCluskey, faculty advisor and producer, Jazz Revelation Records.

Dedication features artists from Russia, Belgium, London, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and California, and musical styles ranging from third stream, contemporary, and straight ahead jazz, to fusion, groove, and funk. The label's staff are responsible for managing a strict budget, choosing artists from a pool of over 100 submissions, producing, engineering, and promoting the album, and designing its artwork. The artists, in turn, receive a free professional recording and invaluable production experience.

About the artists performing April 23:

Billy Bus, from Berkeley, CA, has been playing trumpet since he was 9. He has received numerous awards, including Berklee's full-tuition Jimmy Lyons Scholarship, two Outstanding Performance/Soloist awards from Down Beat, the Gold Award in Jazz from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and recognition from the White House as a 2006 presidential scholar. He has performed at the New Orleans, Monterey, Umbria, Montreux, and JVC jazz festivals, the Dubrovnik Summer Music Festival in Croatia, and has had multiple festival gigs in Japan. Bus is currently in his final year at Berklee, where he has studied and performed with Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington, Phil Wilson, Greg Hopkins, and Dave Santoro.

Lucus Ellman, from Chicago, IL, has been playing saxophone for 10 years. He gigs regularly with the Reverend Funk Connection at various venues in the Chicago area. In 2006, he was invited to go on tour with New Orleans-based funk band Galactic. Ellman is currently majoring in performance at Berklee, where he studies with George Garzone. He is also a member of Esperanto, a Boston quartet which performs re-imagined jazz standards by such artists as Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, and Radiohead.

Emi Inaba, a pianist from London, England, grew up with extensive classical music training, though her current tastes are more influenced by jazz and contemporary styles. In London, she performed at world-renowned venues such as Royal Albert Hall and the Jazz Cafe. In 2007, she received a scholarship to Berklee, where she is currently pursuing a degree in jazz composition.

Randy Runyon, from Washington DC, began playing guitar at 11. He grew up listening to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, but later discovered a love for jazz and began studying with Baltimore guitar great Carl Filipiak. In 2005, Runyon came to Berklee on scholarship. In the past four years, he has performed with Terri Lyne Carrington at the Blue Note and Iridium jazz clubs in New York, as well as with Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker, Mark Walker, Joe Lovano, and Tiger Okoshi at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. He has also played at the Thailand Jazz Conference in Bangkok, IAJE in New York, and at the International Trumpet Guild in Alberta, Canada. Runyon currently plays in the jazz/rock/funk band Animal Zoo.

Eli Winderman, from Philadelphia, PA, has played Hammond organ and other keyboard instruments in a variety of bands throughout the Northeast. He has performed with the likes of G Love, Melvin Sparks, Sam Kininger, Toussaint, Stanton Moore, and many others. Winderman's main project is Dopapod, an experimental funk four-piece.

Alex Wintz, born in California and raised outside New York City, began playing guitar at 4. In 2006, Wintz was named a Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellow, and was the recipient of a NFAA ARTS Award for Jazz. Other honors include a Most Outstanding Jazz Soloist Award from Down Beat and the Berklee Guitar Achievement Award. He has performed at the Monterey and Montreal jazz festivals, as well as at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Since coming to Berklee on full scholarship, he has studied with Mick Goodrick, Hal Crook, Dave Santoro, and others.

Jazz Revelation Records, Berklee's student run jazz record label, was formed in 2003. Under previous management, JRR released the compilation CDs Rebirth, Two, and Ars Nova. Under the direction of faculty advisor Kevin McCluskey, the label released The Old New School (2007), Common Ground (2008), and Dedication (2009). This summer, the label will present its fifth annual Kendall Square Concert Series and its second annual Regattabar Courtyard Series both are weekly showcases of the label's artists and for the second straight year, JRR will be represented at the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival.

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