Birth of the Kakalla
Sonic Explorers are a creative and inspired acoustic jazz quintet. Their repertoire focuses on the original instrumental compositions of Jerry Sabatini. Compositions influenced by many styles, including modern, bebop and avant garde jazz, 20th Century Classical, Eastern, Middle Eastern and Balkan folk music as well as Latin, funk and rhythm & blues. The band performs with a high level of musicality, energy and spirit while combining sensitive group interplay with dynamic solo improvisations. Their explorations of both written and improvisational music make each live performance a unique and exciting experience. Their 1996 "Birth of the Kakalla" (Nada Brahma Records) release features the following New England-based musicians: Jerry Sabatini is the leader and principal composer/arranger for Sonic Explorers. He plays trumpet and flugelhorn with a profoundly unique style influenced by his love for such trumpet greats as Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Lee Morgan, Don Cherry and Dave Douglas. He has studied jazz improvisation, theory and arranging at SUNY at Buffalo as well as improvisation and composition for many years with internationally renowned jazz tenor saxophonist, Jerry Bergonzi. His compositional education comes mostly from the "self-taught school" and is inspired by his vast love of jazz, classical and world music. He has led and co-led many musical projects and appears as a sideman on many US New England recordings and live performances including work with avant garde pop group and Sub-Pop recording artists Combustible Edison and modern jazz quartet Kakalla led by bassist Thomson Kneeland. However since 1995, Sonic Explorers remain his brainchild and primary focus, both in terms of his work as a composer as well as a contemporary jazz musician. He is also a private trumpet instructor, teaches jazz improvisation and directs jazz ensembles at the Joy of Music Program in Worcester, MA. John Vaillancourt performs on tenor and soprano saxophones as well as flute, clarinet and EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). He studied music and jazz at UMASS at Lowell under Mike Monaghan and Tom Ferrante as well as privately with Jerry Bergonzi. He has been heard with the Jane Miller Quartet and the Mark Marquis Group with whom he has also recorded. He is a very active freelance woodwind player throughout the New England area and has performed on Worcester's Greater Media Access TV program, "Studio 3.' Rich Ardizzone is a classically trained trombonist with a Bachelor's degree in performance from Boston University and a Master of Education degree from Tufts University. He has performed with the Paul Fontaine/Jimmy Mosher Big Band, the Brass Mangerie and a variety of Salsa and Latin bands. While playing professionally in the Boston area in the early 1960's he was a member of Conjunto Azul, a Latin Jazz ensemble that played at the legendary Paul's Mall as the house band. For the past ten years he has been active in the area with the Rich Falco Quartet of Worcester, MA. He is the Associate Director and teaches trombone, jazz ensemble, recorder and Afro-Caribbean drumming classes at the Joy of Music Program in Worcester, MA. Joe Parillo is the Director of Jazz Studies at The University of Rhode Island and also leads his own band (The Joe Parillo Ensemble). He is a very active jazz pianist in the Rhode Island and greater New England area. Joe has several recordings to his name as a leader including: "Songbook" (1983), "Clouds" (1987), "Almost Carefree" (1994) and "Morning in the Garden" (1997) all on his own label, "Neoga Records.' In 1988, Joe received his Master Degree in Jazz studies and composition from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He has since toured nationally and internationally with The Glenn Miller Orchestra. Thomson Kneeland performs on bass and has been featured on over eleven released recordings to date, playing among world renowned jazz greats such as Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone and Matt Wilson. In addition he has also performed with Fred Hersch, Danilo Perez, Tom Rainey, Luciana Souza, Charlie Kolhase, Grey Sargent, John McNeil, Herb Pomeroy, Alan Chase, Mark Turner, Ron Blake, Bob Moses and Joe Hunt as well as poet Lawson Inada, George Russell and conductor Gunther Schuller. Thomson also leads the Worcester-based ethnic/jazz trio Trio Kakalla where he writes and arranges all the material. He works as a freelance musician throughout New England as well as an educator, conducting clinics and teaching privately at the Valley Music School and from his home studio. Mike Connors has studied jazz drumming at Berklee College of Music in Boston with jazz greats Joe Hunt and Alan Dawson. He performs not only on drums and percussion, but also on vibraphone as a freelance musician throughout New England in a variety of settings. Mike has traveled with several National Broadway Tours including Bye Bye Birdie and Anything Goes (the Lincoln Center version). He has toured the Caribbean with trumpeter Andre Rice and has toured the U.S. and Europe with the avant garde pop group Combustible Edison with whom he has also recorded. Along with Sonic Explorer members Thomson Kneeland and Jerry Sabatini, Mike also performs with Kakalla.