Ray Silkman has been touted as one of the best sax men in the business. Emerging from humble beginnings, Ray Silkman has persevered through the hardest of times to be recognized as a viable force in the music industry. Silkman began playing the saxophone at the age of 12 in an effort to feel a connection with the father that he never knew.
His love for the craft inspired him to practice daily and achieve first chair ranking in middle school and throughout college. Growing up in a struggling household, he found his greatest inspiration to be his mother, who told him, "You can do anything that you put your mind to." Silkman moved to Chicago shortly after his mother's death only to find himself homeless and alone after being robbed and abandoned by the very people who brought him there.
After spending months on the streets playing in subways and on street corners, he got his first break performing in a fashion show entitled “OGGI”, interpreted "Live for the Day." Other opportunities followed, including a principal role in a recurring Chicago HMO commercial. Since those lonely and cold days performing on street corners, Ray Silkman has gone on to perform at countless clubs, festivals and special events in and around the Chicagoland area. His many performances have taken place in venues such as Chicago's United Center, Donald E. Stevens Convention Center, Poplar Creek and virtually every major jazz club in Chicago over the past 17 years. Ray has independently released five CDs, including his signature work "Sound Check" which features the hit single "So Saxual." "Sound Check" has received national and international acclaim as an epic work, producing multiple hit songs that still receive airplay on public and NIC radio stations across the U.S. Jazz FM in Europe has featured many of Ray's tracks on their evening jazz show, and "So Saxual" still receives major airplay here in the States. Ray Silkman has opened for jazz greats such as David Sanborn, Kenny G, George Benson, Keiko Matsui, Tom Scott and the late great Art Porter.
Mr. Cannon recently released his third CD album, “Steppin' Up the Game”. It consists of R&B with smooth urban jazz and soulful vocals. Mr. Cannon’s album has gotten airplay on major radio stations including Chicago's radio V103, 106.3 and Chicago's Smooth Jazz, WLFM 87.7FM radio with Rick O'Dell, who honored Mr. Cannon with, "Chicago's Best Smooth Jazz Artist" award in 2013.
In 2013, Mr. Cannon was called on to perform with The Temptations and open shows for well-known artists as the George Duke & Stanley Clark at the Country Club Hills Theater in Dolton, IL. He also opened for Paul Taylor and Mesa (from Incognito Band) at Governor State University. Other artists include Queen Latifah, Michael Bolton, Angel Bofill, Fred Hammond, Pieces of a Dream, and Marion Meadows.
At the age of 12, Mr. Cannon started playing the bass guitar in neighborhood bands and later in high school. Inspired by the late Grover Washington Jr., Carlos Cannon eagerly picked up the alto saxophone and became the first chair player in the Paul Robeson High School jazz band in Chicago.
Carlos Cannon went on to major in music performance at Illinois State University where he formed his own jazz band and took first place in the state jazz band competition. He later transferred to Roosevelt University and continued his musical studies.
Carlos's musical influences include Boney James, Kenny G, Grover Washington Jr., Gerald Albright and David Sanborn. Carlos credits these icons that have inspired his musical development journey and make him the great saxophonist, producer and songwriter he is today.
The Chicago Sun-Times says, "The Carlos Cannon Band is one of the best entertaining bands seen in a long time." The Chicago Defender says, "If you want to be entertained, romanced and uplifted, saxophonist Carlos Cannon will do just that." Abyss Jazz magazine says, "Wow, Carlos Cannon incorporates magic in his musical performance; it's awesome!"
Back to Top
Delivery Point Band is recognized for bringing smooth urban jazz into your comfort zone. Just envision lights turned down low, your favorite cocktail and being surrounded by friends or that special someone. Now, you unwind and listen to these musicians serenade you throughout the evening.
The band members have been playing together for several years. Their experience comes with jazz, R&B, blues and other sounds that come from an amazing instrumental ensemble. They will often feature guest vocalists who can groove to well-known melodies just for your listening pleasure.
Prior to coming to Chicago approximately 14 years ago, Angel d’Cuba (Angel Luis Badell) performed with several groups in Cuba, including a hitch as Mezcla’s lead singer. He has also had a varied career in Chicago, performing not only Cuban music but some other genres, such as reggae.
He currently leads his own group, which performs a variety of Latin music—old standards such as “El Bodeguero,” material from other countries, and d’Cuba’s own compositions, which are closer to the contemporary Timba style.
No history of the Chicago soul scene would be complete without a chapter on Marzette Griffith. As the main singer in the group Essence, he propelled their two singles, “Sweet Fools” and “I Ain’t Much But I’m All I Got,” onto Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart in the late ’70s.
Since then, Griffith has continued honing his skills as a songwriter, producer, solo artist, and dancer. His 1995 release as a member of ASAP, with Dick Fowler and Keith Stewart (produced by Jim Peterik with ASAP), achieved strong regional sales that led to a 1996 tour, and his songs have received airplay both in the U.S. and overseas.
Through it all, he has nurtured his love for dancing. He has captivated audiences for years with his smooth “Steppin’ Style,” becoming one of the pioneers of that dance genre in Chicago. Subsequently he was the first-place winner of the inaugural World’s Largest Steppers Contest. He took a year off and returned the third year to reclaim his title. Griffith’s dancing talent is also showcased in a cameo film appearance in the 1997 worldwide release Love Jones.
Fantastic, stylistically diverse, versatile and energetic! “Best Kept Secret in Chicago” describes the phenomenon that is Time Morris featuring Diva D.
The core unit of this musical ensemble includes husband and wife duo Timothy “Time” Fullerton and Darlene “Diva D” Fullerton, who have combined their many years of band performance experience, to create an entertainment venture that would showcase their individual and collective musical styles and talents to interest music lovers of all ages and cultures.
The sensational vocalist “Diva D” has been lauded for her high energy, show-stopping performances. “Diva D” honed her classic, soulful, charismatic vocal style singing and performing with various local bands only as precursors to what was to be as a solo artist. Her mesmerizing contralto voice can catapult one to rock/pop band highs, while engaging the audience with fun flirty, jazz & rhythm and blues tunes. Then tug at ones heart strings with her masterful delivery of any ballad. “Diva D’s” vocal performance can be compared to the energy and excitement of Tina Turner and the soulful sounds of Gladys Knight.
Timothy “Time” Fullerton the charismatic band leader is an accomplished bassist who is captivating and skillfully reminiscent of the likes of Marcus Miller & Jaco Pastorious. Conversely, he demonstrates cool poise when executing smooth sounds of the big band era on the acoustic upright bass. Time is a member of the stellar nominated, inspirational jazz band Masque and has accompanied artists such as Daryl Coley, Tramaine Hawkins, Kirk Franklin and Gladys Knight.
Time Morris featuring “Diva D” took Chicago’s Gold Coast by storm as the featured act at the Back Room Chicago, has wowed audiences at Navy Pier Beer Garden, and many other music festivals around the Chicago area. Currently, you can hear them every Thursday night at Gibson’s Steak House in Oakbrook, Illinois. They have lent their talents and graced the stage with many of Chicago’s well known bands playing Las Vegas at the Bellagio, Treasure Island and Mirage hotels and entertained for numerous corporate & private events and weddings.
Classic, soulful, stirring, exciting and engaging describes the Concert Party and musical stylings of Time Morris featuring Diva D. The musical journey one would experience listening to this infectious, musical ensemble will evoke emotions and memories that will remain long after the music has ended.
When asked how long she has been playing the drums, Taylor Moore is quick to answer, “Since I was in utero.”
Even before she was born, Taylor would “beat” to the rhythm inside of her mother when there was music in the air. As a toddler, she had a favorite pot that she would “play.”
While in kindergarten, she entered an Afro-centric after-school program that offered the rhythms that had always been a part of her. As the only female in the African drum corps, Mandinjalia, Taylor played the djembe with such passion and skill, she was always a standout during group performances.
Over the years, Taylor honed her skills playing classical music pieces as a member of the Kenwood Academy High School concert and marching bands. Her classical music training also included playing with the Protégé Philharmonic and the All-City Concert Band in Chicago, Illinois.
A lover of all kinds of music, this talented young lady branched out into jazz in her sophomore year, playing with the Kenwood Jazz Band and the Jazz Links Ensemble. Taylor was identified as a gifted percussionist and was the first female drummer in the Ravinia Jazz Scholars program in the Chicago Public School system. Taylor was also the first female drummer selected to perform as a part of the Illinois Music Educators Association jazz combo.
A college graduate, Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in music performance (jazz drumset) and production from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on May 15, 2011.
The rhythm that attracted Taylor Moore even while she was in the womb has become an integral part of her life. Her drumming is crisp, passion-filled, expressive and all-consuming.
A Los Angeles native now based in Chicago, Marqueal Jordan is one of the rare musicians blessed with the gift of being equally proficient as an instrumentalist and a vocalist. His distinctive saxophone tone and style, combined with his soulful vocals, place him in the tradition of legendary dual talents Donny Hathaway and George Benson.
Described by fellow saxophonist Mike Phillips as “one of the most versatile saxophonists in the game today,” Jordan earned his reputation as an electrifying live performer after moving to Chicago in 1995. He was the front man for the Chicago-based funk unit Fat Time, and became an integral member in numerous jazz, R&B, and blues bands in the city.
In 2008, smooth jazz star Brian Culbertson asked Jordan to join his touring band, and he has since continued to captivate audiences around the world with his talents. As a sideman, he’s performed live with major artists including Gerald Albright, Patti Austin, the Average White Band, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Nick Collione, Eric Darius, George Duke, Aretha Franklin, Larry Graham, Earl Klugh, Dave Koz, Jeff Lorber, Najee, Phil Perry, David Sanborn, Gerald Veasley, and Kirk Whalum. Jordan’s solo debut CD, Catalyst, was released in 2013.
A native of Chicago, Milton Suggs began his formal musical training at age 19 under the tutelage of renowned pianist Willie Pickens. His father, bassist Milton Suggs, toured and performed extensively in New York and throughout the world. For the younger Suggs as well, music proved to be both a passion and a calling.
Suggs earned a BA in jazz studies from Columbia College Chicago, followed by a Master of Music from DePaul University in 2008. During his studies, Suggs began to hone his abilities as a vocalist in addition to pianist.
After graduating from DePaul, he began to establish himself as a recording artist and performer, producing three albums to date and touring throughout the country. Forward looking, yet rooted in culture, history, and tradition, Suggs’s music and educational efforts are a reflection of his artistic values. Since relocating to New York in late 2012, Milton Suggs has made strides in establishing himself as one of the premier male jazz vocalists of his generation.
Adam Emil, a young, vibrant singer/songwriter out of Chicago, is paving the way with his hot new sound. Emil, who has been playing the piano since the age of six, describes his sound as “urban/pop".Following the footsteps of greats in Harlem, New York, Adam was crowned an Apollo Legend. Another proud moment came when he won B.E.T.’s YA HEARD new artist competition for his single “One and Only”. He won a Valentine's Day songwriting competition with a landslide victory of well over 20,000 votes from around the world.
Emil has performed across Illinois alongside such acts as Jeremih and at such events as Taste of Chicago. He has also been selected as Chicago station WGCI’s first-ever Hometown Hero. With an energetic vocal performance and a spectacular ear for infectious hooks and grooves, Emil is poised to take the industry by storm.
Dee Alexander is among the premier vocalists and songwriters in American music today, and one of Chicago's most gifted and respected artists. Her performances span virtually every music genre related to the African diaspora: gospel, blues, neo-soul, rhythm-and-blues and world music. But her true heart belongs to jazz, the one idiom that can encompass all her influences. Ms. Alexander gravitated toward jazz at an early age and names Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald among her major influences, as well as Chicago saxophonist Henry Huff, who encouraged her to take risks and cross boundaries, setting her on the path to becoming one of the most accomplished voice improvisers in the world today.
Her 2007 "Sirens of Song" tribute to Nina Simone and Dinah Washington (commissioned by the Jazz Institute of Chicago), at Chicago's Pritzker Pavilion, introduced her to a larger audience and helped her garner world recognition as well, resulting in frequent tours of France, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Poland. Ms. Alexander boasts long and fruitful associations with Chicago's jazz elite (including Ramsey Lewis, Orbert Davis, and Nicole Mitchell), and leads two of her own bands: the Dee Alexander Quartet and the Evolution Ensemble, which emphasizes her original compositions. Her accolades include "Chicagoan of the Year" (Chicago Tribune, 2008) and "Jazz Entertainer of the Year" (Chicago Music Awards), and her 2009 album “Wild Is the Wind” received five stars (highest honor) from Downbeat Magazine, which named it among the Top 10 recordings of the new millennium. Ms. Alexander is also a member of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), Chicago's internationally known musicians' collective, and has performed frequently in major AACM productions, as well as in other large-scale works on Chicago stages and television; recent projects include re-interpreting the music of rock and soul legends James Brown and Jimi Hendrix.
La Wuandia is a renowned multitalented singer/songwriter/promoter — this truly gifted songstress is an infusion of real music: jazz, R&B, standards and sprinkles of funk. She has incredible vocal range with unbelievable control and a powerful delivery. Her stage presence is sensual. La Wuandia has a sultry, soulful, full-bodied sound that is compared to Phyllis Hyman as well as Gladys Knight and Shirley Bassey. Her raw energetic performance is like that of Tina Turner, and for this reason, in addition to her chiseled limbs, many have coined her “baby Tina Turner.”
This talented entertainer began her professional career with unceasing encouragement from her sister Sherry. La Wuandia would go on to receive mentorship from Chicago’s elite promoter Helen Keller-Wooten of HK Productions. Helen would educate La Wuandia about and expose her to the entertainment business world.
Later, La Wuandia caught the ear of Sony songwriter Michael Gray, who suggested she take part in an open mic event at the Cotton Club (Chicago, IL, USA), where she received a standing ovation. She was urged by the late actor/singer Jimmy Spinks to return, and both he and the late comedian/actor Bernie Mac would go on to mentored her. This exposure created a dynamic yet enchanting vocalist who does more than just sing — she creates a mood!
Back to Top
Avain Hightower's professional musical experience started with the amicable show band The Scott Brothers in the 1970's. The Scott Brothers were the backup band for various reputable recording artists: The Chi-Lites, Otis Clay, Garland Green and Tyrone Davis, to name a few.
From the 1980s through 2005, Avain Hightower toured with The Chi-Lites, Marvin Gaye, The Whispers, The Stylistics, The Manhattans, The Dramatics, The Delphonics, The O'Jays, Harold Melvin Blue Notes and many other groups that were contracted with Universal Entertainment.
Avain Hightower formed the band Full Circle in 2005. The band consists of keyboards, lead guitar, bass guitar and drums as well as female and male vocalists. Avain Hightower and Full Circle had the pleasure in 2010 of opening for Toni Braxton, Al Jarreau and Smokey Robinson at the Country Club Hills Theatre, Country Club Hills, IL; ConFunkShun at the Majestic Star Casino, Gary, IN; and War at the Hyde Park Summer Festival in Chicago, IL; and in 2011, Russell Tompkins and The New Stylistics at the South Shore Summer Festival, Chicago, IL; Roy Ayers and War at the Hyde Park Summer Festival, Chicago, IL; and Charlie Wilson at the Country Club Hills Theatre, Country Club Hills, IL.
Avain Hightower and Full Circle have never failed in mesmerizing a captive audience with his velvet tones and their high-energy performance ranging from jazz, pop and R&B to neo soul.
For a delectable night of entertainment, come experience Avain Hightower and Full Circle.
Back to Top
When you think of the true essence of timeless soul, jazz and other forms of adult music, music icons come to mind such as the beautiful velvet voices of Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Sarah Vaughn and Luther Vandross. Rarely does one talent capture the epitome of various influences in their style and grace. Terisa Griffin has re-designed an authentic blueprint of musical blends of modern soul, jazz, house and inspirational music into her repertoire.
A native of Monroe, Louisiana, she has called Chicago, Illinois, her adopted home for the past 18 years. Establishing a loyal fan base, the Louisiana-born singer hails from a family entrenched deeply in music, with lasting roots within the church. Her singing siblings were never far from the influence of their dad, who happened to be a prominent pastor in the community. Terisa reminisces, “Dad had perfect pitch and an ear for music; he taught us how to listen to each other's voices and harmonize. He could keep the audience captivated and I learned how if you could control an audience's emotions...you could keep them captivated with drama and honesty.”
On a music scholarship as a student at Northeastern Louisiana University, she packed up her belongings and relocated to Chicago. “I started checking out the night club scene in Chicago and hounding the club owners to allow me to sing on one of their off nights. They took a chance on me where I sang with some of the known bands in the city, so their audience would get to know me and become a Terisa Griffin fan. I sang background vocals for music legend Jerry Butler and in time, his large audience became my fans as well. This became my way of working in the music business.” As Terisa's popularity grew on the musician and nightlife scene, so did her ability to land work for various advertising agencies recording jingles for popular commercials. Her strong and distinctive voice was quickly in demand as she gathered consistent commercial work. Along with paid gigs, this helped her financially fund and build her own independent music company, My Naked Soul Productions.
In 1998 she released her first EP, Songbird as an introduction of original and cover works showcasing her amazing vocal skills. Having captured the attention of media and entertainment icons such as Oprah Winfrey, Diana Ross and the late comedian/actor, Bernie Mac; Songbird became a hit indie seller with local independent music retailers. Her first full length release didn't arrive until seven years later, My Naked Soul, showcasing the singer's talents as both a songwriter and producer. I remember when people first heard My Naked Soul and they would stand back with reservations and say 'Oh, I wonder if this will work'. I didn't care because it was my music in a very "naked" form and extremely pure. It was a reminder of what just pure Soul was about.
Representing the new generation of Cuban musicians, Hector Silveira embodies a compositional style that’s an extension of his multi-instrumentalist abilities and strong knowledge of orchestration. Incredibly versatile, he is equally at home performing numerous styles of popular dance music, including salsa, jazz, and Afro-Cuban.
Silveira and his orchestra present a repertoire of original compositions rooted in the genres of his native country, as well as arrangements of classic Cuban and Latin dance music. Armed with a brass section that soars, a hard-driving rhythm section, and the heartfelt voice of a true sonero, this band will take you to the extreme of enjoyable fun.
The jazzy style of Aziza Lisa, infused with a touch of neo-soul, reflects the influence of many phenomenal songstresses whom have paved the way. She has opened for many great artists, including Erykah Badu, Kindred Family Soul, The Whispers, Amel Larrieux, Anthony Hamilton, Bilal, Musiq Soul Child, Eric Benet, and more.
Her refreshing sound and soulful music have garnered radio airplay in the Midwest. Her singing, dancing, and acting talents were showcased in her role as the late great Lena Horne in My Black Chicago, the musical play about Chicago’s Black Renaissance movement. The energetic spirit of this rising star is lifting audiences everywhere she goes.
A proud 2014 graduate of Chicago State University’s Communications, Media Arts and Theatre program, Aziza Lisa has performed for numerous CSU events. This is her third year performing at Jazz in the Grazz.