Mary Ann McSweeney, bass
Mary Ann McSweeney was born in Aptos, California. She started playing piano at the age of five and began to study violin at age 8. In high school, she fell in love with the acoustic bass while watching Ray Brown perform at the Concord Jazz Festival. At age 16, she was chosen to play at the Monterey Jazz Festival with the All Star band fronted by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis.
McSweeney has played with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Joanne Brackeen, Lee Konitz, Gil Goldstein, and Bucky Pizzarelli. She has also played for renowned conductors, Leonard Bernstein, Lalo Schifrin, and John Williams. McSweeney has performed with Renee Rosness, Vic Juris, Ken Peplowski, Dennis Mackrel, Lewis Nash and Larry Goldings. Big Band performances include Maiden Voyage and Diva, and she has performed with her own quintet at the Seixal Jazz Festival in Portugal and the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center. She has arranged for and recorded with Warner Brothers artist, Lea Delaria. McSweeney has toured Europe and performed with David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness and five-time Tony award winning vocalist Audra McDonald. Her orchestrations can be heard on Chita Rivera’s CD entitled “Now I Swing” and her version of “Avenue Q Swings” is available on iTunes. McSweeney performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival with Claire Daly and the Baritone Monk Band, which was rated in the top ten on jazz radio in the USA.
Along with being a full-time professional bassist in New York City, McSweeney is on the faculty for the Middle School Jazz Academy at Lincoln Center and the New York Jazz Workshop. She performed at the White House with the Eli Yamin Quintet and the Kennedy Center Gala with the Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra. She was musical director/arranger for three shows at NYC's Birdland featuring Jane Monheit, in a program that included selections from Irving Berlin and the Cole Porter musical, Anything Goes. McSweeney has played more than 45 Broadway shows, including Tony award winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. This summer she performed in Greece and Berlin with her Urban Fado Project.
Sara Caswell, violin
Recognized as a “Rising Star” in the DownBeat Magazine Critics and Readers Polls every year since 2013 and featured on the cover of the September 2014 issue of Strings Magazine, Sara’s two groups (the Sara Caswell Quartet and the Caswell Sisters Quintet) have been heard in venues ranging from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club to university concert halls nationwide. In 2013 Sara and her sister, vocalist Rachel Caswell, released their CD, Alive in the Singing Air featuring jazz pianist Fred Hersch, to rave reviews and its selection by jazz critic Thomas Cunniffe as one of the year’s “Best Vocal CDs” on Jazz History Online. Sara’s two CDs, First Song (Double-Time Records, 2000) and But Beautiful (Arbors Records, 2005), were recognized in several year-end best-of jazz album releases and continue to receive international airplay.
Sara regularly performs with clarinetist David Krakauer’s The Big Picture, mandolinist Joseph Brent’s 9 Horses, bassist Brian Coughlin’s Fireworks Ensemble, jazz vocalist Roseanna Vitro, and trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis. She is a member of the house band for NBC’s weekly variety show Maya & Marty starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short, as well as the New York Pops Orchestra with whom she has been a featured soloist several times in Carnegie Hall and on national TV for NBC’s 2009 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular. In addition to touring for two years with 3-time Grammy-winning bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding in support of Spalding’s 2010 CD Chamber Music Society, Sara has toured with singer/ songwriter/violinist Kishi Bashi, violinist Mark O’Connor’s American String Celebration, and violinist Darol Anger’s Four Generations of Jazz Violin. She has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Regina Carter, Jenny Scheinman, Lynne Arriale, Fabian Almazan, Alan Ferber, Oscar Penas, Ike Sturm, John Clayton, Charlie Byrd, Gene Bertoncini, Skitch Henderson, and Bucky Pizzarelli.
Jason Ennis, guitar
Guitarist Jason Ennis is an exciting voice in the world of jazz guitar. His unique sound, deep groove and sensitive feel, along with a diverse background in jazz, blues, Brazilian music and classical music have made him highly in demand as a soloist, sideman, bandleader and musical director. A graduate of Middlebury College (BA in music), Jason attended Berklee College of Music (Boston) and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Ennis has performed and/or recorded with Tessa Souter (Motéma Music), Charles Neville (The Neville Brothers Band), Paul McCandless (Oregon, The Paul Winter Consort), The Sonya Kitchell Band (Velour Music, Starbucks Hear Music), Todd Reynolds (Bang on a Can, Steve Reich), The I/O Ensemble under the direction of percussionist Matthew Gold, actor and musician Joe Morton, Mary Ann McSweeney’s Urban Fado Project, The Ramón Ángel-Rey Trio, Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils, Choro da Manhá, The Julio Botti Quintet, Pablo Ziegler and others. In summer of 2016, he played in the world premier at the Williamstown Theater Festival of the musical Poster Boy, by Craig Carnelia and Joe Tracz.
Ennis transcribed and edited a collection of solo guitar arrangements by his friend and mentor, Gene Bertoncini, which was published in 2012 by Hal Leonard Publishing. Ennis leads his own instrumental group, Trio Jota Sete, and co- leads the world jazz trio, La Voz de Tres, which has toured extensively throughout the United States and Chile and has released two CDs: La Voz de Tres (2010) and Sueños y Delirios (2014). His searing blues style is a corner stone of the NYC-based jazz/blues powerhouse group, Opius Bliss, fronted by vocalist Michelle Walker. He is a member of The Thomas Bergeron Ensemble, whose May 2015 release, Sacred Feast, presents re-imaginings of selected works by French composer Olivier Messiaen, and is co-composer and musical director for En Diablada, an original music project by Chilean vocalist Natalia Bernal, inspired by Andean folkloric traditions.
Since Fall of 2015, Ennis has been a Lecturer in Music at Dartmouth College, where he teaches jazz, world and popular guitar styles. Currently residing in Pittsfield, MA, he teaches guitar privately and at the Berkshire Music School, is a faculty member at Interplay Jazz in Woodstock, Vermont and has given workshops at colleges and Universities throughout the US and Chile. Jason uses K and K pickup systems and DiGiacomo Custom Switches.
For more information and a current listing of upcoming performances, please visit www.jasonennis.com.
“...Especially Striking.” –All About Jazz
“Then, with Cream’s ‘White Room’ – superbly aided by guitarist Jason Ennis’ epic arrangement – [Souter] finds substance in a lightweight tune, her voice soaring freely across a turbulent landscape of shifting rhythmic meters.” -Don Heckman, International review of Music (review Tessa Souter’s Obsession)
“...Dynamic seven string guitar.”-Musico Pro Magazine, Independent Star Award presentation“A fantastic Guitarist... check him out!” -Jazz vocal legend Sheila Jordan
Todd Isler, percussion
Drummer, percussionist, teacher and author Todd Isler is based in New York City, where he has been active in the jazz and world music scenes for over 20 years. He plays with his trio, International Orange, and numerous projects around New York City. He has released two original CDs, Two Step: Duets and Beyond, and his current Soul Drums, as well as his book “You Can Ta Ka Di Mi This”, published by Gerard and Sarzin in 2005. Todd, along with the band Savane, won the Disc Makers Unsigned Band Contest. He was also a winner of the JAZZIZ Magazine Percussion On Fire contest. Todd has toured Africa under the Goethe Institute, and studied the South Indian Mrdangham with Ramnod V. Raghavan and Karaikudi R. Mani in India. Todd has also studied with Brazilian greats Portinho and Vanderlei, as well as teaching and extensive performances in Brazil.
In addition to his own releases Todd has played on hundreds of genre-crossing recordings and played, performed and/or recorded with a wide rang of artists including Sting, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Steve Turre, Mike Gordon, Melvin Sparks, Bakithi Kumalo, Brian Blade, Ivan Neville, Badal Roy, Mark Murphy, Betty Buckley, Francis Mbappe, Dave Kikoski, Leo Kottke, Jack McDuff, David Krakauer, Al Kooper, Charlie Burnham, and others. He has performed with several dance companies throughout the United States, many of whose performances featured his original compositions. Todd endorses Sonor Drums and Bosphorus cymbals.