New Orleans locals, and tourists, searching for a different scope on New Orleans culture, or a new experience in this most musical city, will enjoy a spicy taste of the ensemble Africa Brass. With a signature sound described as “powerful, moving, and spiritual, bridging the cultures of two continents and eight centuries”, the ensemble has delighted audiences at various major events, including the Congo Square Festival, Voodoo Festival, and the Dalai Lama Resilience. With a collection of featured artists hailing from various corners of the world, Africa Brass successfully captures the city’s diverse background of Jazz, Brass, and African music, then combines them into what The Louisiana Weekly recently described as “expressively modern.”

 

“There’s something earthen and romantic about the sound—there’s a “oneness” that resounds…commanding vocals, enticing drums, bold brass.” “These are top-notch artists creating a sound that is remarkably unique and fresh, [while] successfully capturing the familiarity that all lovers of Jazz music recognize and long to hear when walking through the streets of New Orleans.”

 

“In many respects, the expressively modern group, Africa Brass, represents the continued lineage that has long linked New Orleans and the African continent. This forward thinking ensemble,  plays often in the Crescent City and has enjoyed an ardent following. Exceptional musicianship defines the ensemble that is lead by Troi Bechet-vocals, Luther Gray-percussion,  Jeff Klein-African drums and Mario Abney-trumpet. The elements of the ensemble that speak most strongly of the African/New Orleans connection are the shared rhythms and the deep sense of spirituality. The musicians’ diverse musical and cultural backgrounds excitingly highlight  the we are one aura of Africa Brass.”

 
 
 

 

Troi Bechet

A New Orleans native, song stylist, and Actor, having graced many stages both locally and nationally. A classically trained vocalist, Troi has been singing since she was six years old, and has performed with Bob French's Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Kermit Ruffins Band, and Africa Brass amongst others. She has opened for internationally renowned recording artists Stevie Wonder and Boney James. Africa Brass is honored to have Troi Bechet as a member of the Africa Brass familyHere onstage  presence is powerful, and her ability to connect with any audience is a rare trait, and in her own unique style, she has everyone singing and dancing with us by the end of a show. Her voice is multi dimensional, powerful, yet tender, spoken word, scat, its all in her vocabulary. 

 

Luther Grey

World music percussionist

(Djembe, Congas),

Luther has performed all over the world with his group Bamboula 2000 and The Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians. In 2009 Luther received the prestigious 2009 Community Arts Award from the Arts Council of New Orleans, the Asante Award. & in 2014, A Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Conference of Artists. In addition to his musical endeavors Luther also formed the Congo Square Preservation Society with Bamboula Queen, Jamilah Peters-Muhammad in 1989. The Society is responsible for placing Congo Square on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and has played a part in all of the major improvements in Congo Square since 1989. Africa Brass is blessed to have Luther Gray in our musical family, and his strong spirit brings unity to the band.


 

 

Owen Callahan

Saxophones, Flute, Clarinet

Owen Callahan has had a lifelong love for music and started playing the sax in his childhood. Coming up in Massachusetts he learned from teachers with various musical backgrounds ranging from classical music to jazz and rock n roll. In 2008 he won second place in the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra's concerto competition, by performing the Glazounov Concerto for Alto Saxophone. Prior to his time in New Orleans, Owen could be found performing with Anthony Braxton in his ensembles at Wesleyan University, in the cavernous New York City subway system, on cruise ships, or in nightclubs throughout Vietnam and Thailand.

 

Owen Callahans versatility enables Africa Brass to comfortably expand our repertoire from Sidney Bechet to John Coltrane,  as he is equally accomplished on the flute, saxophone, and clarinet. Owen’s ability to play traditional to avante garde jazz infuses the band with a sound that is unique and full of surprises.

 

 

Jeff Klein

A musician, composer, and educator,

of 40+ years, founder and director of AfricaNOLA, as well as performance ensembles Africa Brass Band, Kora Konnection, and African/Zydeco Revue. Mr. Klein’s many years of African drumming experience  has taken him to festivals, African retreats and music camps where he has refined his craft.

 

He has been blessed to share the stage with James Singleton, Tim Green, Jason Marsalis, Michael White, griot Morikeba Kouyate, Johnny Vidacovich, Hamid Drake, Sunpie Barnes, Lee Oskar, Bamboula 2000, Anders Osborne, Cedric Watson, Patrice Fischer, Aly Camara, Thierno Dioubate, and Zion Trinity.

 

Additionally, Mr. Klein has shared his love for African music and jazz with the youth of New Orleans through AfricaNola’s education outreach programs. In partnerships with New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and Preservation Hall, he has directed a series of classes with their music students focusing on the African roots of jazz.

 


Mario Abney

Born and raised in Chicago,Jazz Trumpeter, band leader, composer, Abney fuses traditional and extended trumpet techniques in a most inventive way; his strikingly personal instrumental vision endows the music with an infinite array of tonal color. Recognized for his ability to create pure musical dialog, and hear music in a universally spiritual way, he is definitely one of New Orleans most pioneering young jazz musicians.By spring of 2008 Abney moved to New Orleans to absorb its rich musical culture and become part of the music scene. During the first year of his residency in the Crescent City, Mario was invited to perform with renowned artists Charmaine Neville, Ellis Marsalis, Delfayo Marsalis, Irvin Mayfield, Bill Summers, and George Porter Jr. Mario has also appeared on stage with musicians such as Jimmy Cobb, Herlin Riley, Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Kermit Ruffins, Erykah Badu, Ellis Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, etc

 

 

 

Steven Glenn, aka TubaSteve,

hails from Denver, Colorado and is a recent addition to the New Orleans music community. Classically trained, Steven has established himself as a freelance tuba/sousaphone player in his new home. In his relatively short time in New Orleans, he has appeared in performance with the Panorama Jazz and Brass Bands, Aurora Nealand's Royal Roses and James Andrews' Crescent City All-Stars.

In addition, he has been featured as a guest sitting in with New Orleans'

own Bonerama as well as television appearances with Magnetic Ear,

and Kid Merv. Steven's latest project, DinosAurchestra, continues to expand on what has set New Orleans apart in the music world by blending traditional jazz and New Orleans R&B into a diverse group of musicians with eclectic, and modern, backgrounds. In expressing his views on music and the role of tuba in today's world, Steven spreads his message and love of instrument through a simply hashtag: #TurnUpBassAmplitude, amply filling out the bottom for Africa Brass.


Jake Gold

Started playing piano at age 5 and has only looked forward from there. Constantly seeking out and exploring new musical frontiers, he has played and toured the nation with over 30 bands and recorded on more than 20 albums. Gold has performed with jazz luminaries Anthony Braxton and Pheeroan akLaff, international reggae artists such as Everton Blender (Jamaica), Shasha Marley (Ghana), Queen Omega (Trinidad), Buru Style, and Toussaint the Liberator (USA), EDM producer DJ Craig Mitchell, and the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra. Since arriving in New Orleans, Gold has been creating music with brass bands, funk bands, singer-songwriters, jazz groups, and hip-hop producers, and his Gold Standard Organ Trio and avant-jazz band Jupitang. Jake is our first keyboard player , and his subtly innovative chord voicings, and his love for musical adventurism and  international music make him a perfect fit for Africa Brass.

 

Anier Alonso del Valle

Anier Alonso Del Valle was born in 1985 in Havana, Cuba. Raised in a religious family, he was constantly surrounded by Afrocuban religious music. He was initiated into the regla de ocha religion at the age of 5, began to play drums at 8, and was initiated to be able to play the sacred batá drums at the age of 10. At the age of 13 he began working as a drummer and singer in religious ceremonies and celebrations of various types throughout Havana. He attended Cuba’s top art’s high school, the Conservatory Amadeus Roldan, and in 2009 graduated from the island’s top arts university, the ISA, with a degree in classical percussion. In addition to other awards and honors, Anier was awarded the first place prize in Cuba’s most prestigious folkloric music festival, the Fiesta del Tambor, twice, once in 2005 and once in 2008. Before coming to the United States in March of 2014 he worked in the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba (Cuban National Folkloric Ensemble) for 9 years. He has also worked with some of Cuba’s top artists, including Chucho Valdes, Roberto Fonseca, Omara Portuondo, Descemer Bueno, los Muñequitos de Matanzas, los Van Van, and many more. His music has brought him to such countries as Italy, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Vietnam. From the moment  he arrived in New Orleans from Havana Cuba, Anier has been an important member of the Africa Brass Family.

 


Rick Trolsen

arrived in New Orleans in 1982 after attending Berklee School of Music, and has established himself as a bandleader and a freelance trombonist. Rick has enjoyed featured performances with Dr. John, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, The Temptations, Barry Manilow, Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, The Four Tops, Doc Severinsen, Johnny Cash, Harry Connick Jr., and Natalie Cole.

 

 

Tim Green

is a Master saxophone player who has been active in the New Orleans jazz scene for many years. He has played with renowned musicians such as Phish, the Indigo Girls, James Singleton, Germaine Bazzle, Michael Pallera, Herlin Riley, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Hornsby, Medeski Martin and Wood, George Porter and many other too numerous to list. Green also served as the President of the Louisiana Jazz Federation <


 

 

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