Gabriel Espinosa was born in Merida, Mexico in 1952. His love of music began at a very young age. With the help of his mother he began playing the guitar at the age of six. By the age of fourteen, along with his brothers Victor and Patricio, Gabriel performed with their group Los Deltons, where he played bass guitar.
In 1976 Gabriel attended Central College, in Pella, IA, where he received a BA in music. He then attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he received a degree in arranging and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1983. In his last at Berklee Gabriel formed the group Ashanti along with his friend and George Robert. During that year, he played with Ashanti in venues all Boston.
From 1984 to 1991 he performed with his group Ashanti in Can Cun, MX.
In 1992 Gabriel attended the University of North Texas in Denton, TX where he received his Masters degree in Jazz studies in 1995. While studying at UNT, Gabriel was also a part of the UNT Jazz Singers. Along with his studies Gabriel produced several albums for Mexican artists including, Armando Manzanero.
In 1996 Gabriel returned to Central College in Pella, IA, where he became Director of Jazz Studies. He not only directed the jazz band and taught private music lessons but also started the Vocal Combos music program, which has been very successful.
With his return to Pella also came the return of his band Ashanti. In the years that followed Ashanti recorded three albums, which include En Fuego, Sin Fronteras, and Dyos Bo'otik, as well as touring in venues all over the Midwest and Mexico. Ashanti has had many guest musicians including, Alex Acuña, Anat Cohen, Gil Goldstein and Dave Samuels among others.
In January 2008 Gabriel celebrated his 40 years in music. On January 7, 2008 Gabriel had the opportunity to present his band Ashanti Mundo at the Teatro Jose Peon Contreras in his native Merida, MX. His concert with Ashanti Mundo featured Berklee alumni and close friend George Robert on sax, Edsel Gomez on piano, Claudio Roditi on trumpet and Tim Crumley on drums.
In August 2008 Gabriel presented a concert with the Doctors in Jazz in Avigliana, Italy featuring George Robert on sax, Francis Coletta on guitar, Maria Rusca on piano, Riccardo Fioravanti on bass and Sangoma Everett on drums.
From August 31 to September 3 Gabriel was a guest vocal professor for the Due Laghi Jazz Workshop in Avigliana, Italy.
In November 2008 Gabriel recorded his first solo album project in New York City. The album features compositions by Gabriel Espinosa and Alison Weddingwith the talented collaborations of Antonio Sanchez, Claudio Roditi, George Robert, Helio Alves, Adriano Santos, Anat Cohen, Romero Lubambo, Darmon Meader, Kim Nazarian, Jacinto Macedoand Alison Wedding.
In July of 2010 Gabriel presented the music of his From Yucatan to Rio CD at the Iowa City Jazz Festival together with: Helio Alves, Adriano Santos, Alison Wedding, Jim Snidero, Paul Meyers and Tim Crumley.
In May of 2011 Gabriel and Hendrik Meurkens recorded a CD entitled Celebrando together with: Antonio Sanchez, Anat Cohen, Alison Wedding, Misha Tsiganov, Mauricio Zotarelli and Jim Seeley. In March of 2012 the group had a CD release concert at the Pella Opera House. The CD was released worldwide in April 2012. In May 2012 the group was invited to participate at the Allegro Convention in Portland, Oregon. In November 2011, Gabriel had the opportunity to perform in two concerts with Canadian jazz singer Carol Weslman and in November 2012, Gabriel played two concerts with French jazz singer Cyrille Aimee.
During 2012 the CD Celebrando spent 26 weeks in the JazzWeek charts ending at #25 on the list of the best CDs of 2012. JazzTimes and Downbeat had great reviews of Celebrando as well as other important jazz websites like All About Jazz. This Summer of 2013 the group will be performed live shows in Iowa, New Jersey and at the Dizzys Coca Cola (Lincoln Center) in New York city.
In March of 2014 Espinosa and Merukens started to record their new production Samba Little Samba. The CD came out the month of October of 2014. The group will have a CD release concert at The Iridium Jazz (in New York City) in the summer of 2015.
In October of 2014 Gabriel was awarded a recipient of the Hall of Fame by the Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
In November of 2014 Espinosa presented de music of his new CD Samba Little Samba at the Festival de la Cultura Maya in Merida, Yucatan Mexico. Also in January of 2015 Espinosa and Meurkens presented a concert at the Tucson Jazz Festival.
Gabriel and Hendrik Meurkens had a CD release at the Iridium in New York City on August 2, 2015. They also performed at the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival on November 26, 2015.
Gabriel presented a concert with Antonio Sanchez and Anat Cohen at Grinnell College in Feb 2016.
On October of 2016 Gabriel released his fourth solo CD, “Songs of Bacharach and Manzanero” with special guest and seven time Grammy nominee Tierney Sutton. The band had a CD release concert in Merida, Mexico on January 19,2017. The group also had a CD release at “Noce” in Des Moines, Iowa on March 9 & 10 2017
Alison Wedding started her music career at age two, singing for family and friends in the living room. But it was not until she walked into a jazz ensemble at her fine arts high school in Dallas, Texas, that she was first introduced to jazz. The harmonies, chord progressions, and rhythms fascinated her. She listened constantly to horn players, learning their solos, and with the help of her mentor Dave Alexander, Alison began to explore improvisation, which has become one of her greatest skills.
Her early influences included Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, and horn players such as Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Michael Brecker. She went on to study jazz at University of North Texas under the guidance of Paris Rutherford and began to sing professionally in the Dallas area. One of her career highlights was singing with the One O'clock Lab Band with the late Gerry Mulligan.
Upon receiving her Bachelor's degree, Alison moved to Los Angeles to further develop her career. There she spent 4 years, performing professionally, both live and in the studio, as well as teaching voice and piano. Career highlights included touring as a back-up singer with Kevyn Lettau, and recording with artists such as Andy Summers (formerly of The Police) on his CD “Peggy's Blue Skylight.”
After moving to Australia in January 2001, in addition to teaching at major music schools and universities in Melbourne, she was fortunate to play with many truly amazing musicians, including Sam Keevers, Jamie Oehlers, Colin Hopkins, Peter Knight, Bob Sedergreen, Joe Chindamo, Kate Ceberano, Richard Clapton, just to name a few. Alison's first solo CD, "The Secret", was released in September 2003 on the ABC Jazz label. She toured Australia celebrating this release, and shortly thereafter, The Secret went on to win the 2004 Bell Award for the Best Vocal Jazz Album in Australia.
Alison’s second CD ,"Sometimes I Feel", was released on the label Jazzhead in October 2005. This album, consisting entirely of Wedding’s compositions, was a more modern departure from her previous acoustic release. Later in that same year, Alison was named a semifinalist at the Wangaratta Jazz Competition, and the following year she won the Gibson-May award at the London International Vocal Jazz Competition. It was in this time frame that Alison met and began studying with Master vocal improvisation teacher and singer, Rhiannon. Alison's studies with Rhiannon changed her approach to her own music and improvisation, and her teaching.
Alison moved back to the US in 2007, choosing NY as her new base to continue on her musical journey...She has performed at various venues throughout the city, including Rockwood Music Hall, Cornelia St. Cafe, and The 55 Bar as both a solo artist and background singer. Her album, “This Dance”, featuring strings and special guests Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, and Theo Bleckmann, was released on the GroundUP label in May 2012, and toured multiple times as an opening act for the Grammy award winning group Snarky Puppy to promote that album.
Alison still has a deep passion for teaching voice and improvisation, She was a member of the voice faculty of Berklee College of Music for 11 years where she taught voice lessons and led the Spontaneous Composition class, birthed from the concepts of her teacher, Rhiannon. Alison recently relocated to Miami, Florida in July of 2019, and is now a full time Jazz Lecturer at the Frost School Of Music at the University of Miami. Her new album, On The Brink, is set for release in November, 2019 on FloodMusic.
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