Ben Kono - saxophone, flute, English horn, clarinet, composer
Since moving to New York City from his native home of Vermont in 1999, Ben Kono’s unique voice on woodwinds has graced the recordings and performances of jazz legends Bob Berg, Michael and Randy Brecker, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride and David Liebman; composers Darcy James Argue, Miho Hazama and Ted Nash; and superstars Patti Austin, Hugh Jackman and Natalie Cole among others. He is a member of the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, the BMI Jazz Composers Orchestra, the Ed Palermo Big Band, and has held chairs in many Broadway productions including the eleven-year run of Jersey Boys.
In 2013 and again in 2018, he received commissions from Chamber Music America to compose for his own critically acclaimed ensemble The Ben Kono Group, releasing two recordings and presenting concerts and clinics throughout the United States. And in 2023 his first opera was premiered by Whitesnake Projects to bring attention to anti-Asian violence in the U.S. Mr. Kono appears on over a hundred recordings and is a Grammy® Award winner. A passionate educator, he has served on faculties at University of North Texas, Morgan State University, Queens College, City College of New York, and is currently a teaching artist for the New York Pops Orchestra. Mr.Kono currently resides in the beautiful river town of Nyack, NY with his family, dog and chickens, and enjoys spending what’s left of his free time sailing on the Hudson estuary.
Tomoko Akaboshi - violin
In 2022, Tomoko Akaboshi became the first woman of color to music coordinate a Broadway musical through A Strange Loop. She has coordinated, supervised, produced, and performed as a violinist for productions in eight countries with artists such as Alicia Keys, Alan Silvestri, Andrea Bocelli, Kurt Elling, Tokyo Philharmonic. Tomoko’s passion for breaking down cultural, racial, and musical barriers led her to found ensembles and organizations such as: tutti, The Resonance Collective, Tokyo Strings Workshop.
Michael Blanco - bass
Michael Blanco has performed in the orchestras of more than 40 Broadway shows, and was recently the bassist for the 2022 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company. Michael is also a jazz musician and composer who has released three albums of original music, and has toured internationally under the auspices of both The Kennedy Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center. His most recent album, Spirit Forward, made Ralph A. Miriello's Best of Jazz 2016 list at the Huffington Post, and Jay Miller's Best Jazz Albums of 2016 list at The Patriot Ledger. Although he spends most of his time in New York City, Michael has also had the pleasure of performing in Bahrain, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Kuwait, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yemen.
Sara Caswell - violin
Grammy® Nominee Sara Caswell is recognized as one of today's foremost jazz violinists through her lyricism and technical facility. Voted into the DownBeat Magazine Critics and Readers Polls every year since 2013, Sara has released three highly-acclaimed solo albums, the most recent of which is The Way to You (2023, Anzic Records). Sara has performed and/or recorded with such artists as the WDR Big Band, Esperanza Spalding, Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade, John Patitucci, Regina Carter, Donny McCaslin, Henry Threadgill, Linda Oh, and Miho Hazama at venues including Carnegie Hall, Village Vanguard, Birdland, Jazz at Lincoln Center, SFJazz, and Blue Note (NYC and Tokyo). Currently on faculty at the Berklee College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, The New School, and New York University, Sara regularly appears as a guest artist and clinician at schools and festivals around the world. She has also been involved with Broadway as a sub for Honeymoon in Vegas and Oklahoma!.
Allen Farnham - piano
Allen Farnham has been active in the New York City jazz scene as a pianist, composer/arranger, producer and teacher since the early 1980's. He has performed and/or recorded with Joe Lovano, Chris Potter, Eddie Henderson, Frank Wess, Tom Harrell, Arthur Blythe, Special EFX, the John Fedchock NY Big Band, and Charlie Byrd. He has also accompanied a wide range of vocalists, including Mel Torme, Ernestine Anderson, Mark Murphy, Liza Minnelli, Susannah McCorkle, Roseanna Vitro, and Helen Merrill. He is presently a regular orchestra member at “The Lion King” on Broadway.
Mr. Farnham is active in the recording industry, having recorded extensively as both a leader and side musician, and has worked as a staff producer and arranger for the west coast based jazz label, Concord Records. He has also served as that company's director of national radio promotion. As a producer, he has produced over 50 albums for such artists as Charlie Byrd, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Lew Tabackin, Chris Potter, Buddy DeFranco and Jack McDuff. Mr. Farnham's arranging credits include recordings by Eden Atwood, Susannah McCorkle, Veronica Martell, Jesse Davis, and Monty Alexander, as well as his own albums. A 1997 release by Concord Records, "Allen Farnham Meets The RIAS Big Band," features his original compositions and arrangements for the renowned RIAS Big Band of Berlin, Germany.
A graduate of the Oberlin Music Conservatory, Mr. Farnham has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment For The Arts and the Meet The Composer Foundation. He also holds a Master of Music Degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging from William Paterson University and has been commissioned to write works for the CUG Orchestra (Nagoya, Japan), NPO Glovill (Tokyo), the RIAS Big Band, and the Englewinds Chamber Ensemble.
Jody Redhage Ferber - cello
Cellist and composer Jody Redhage Ferber is a passionate proponent of creative live music that blurs genres and connects chamber music and improvisation. As founder & director of EcoTones Concerts, she presents innovative performances on natural “stages,” opening awareness of local nature spaces and live acoustic music. Jody has performed on 5 continents at venues such as Carnegie Hall (Stern and Weill halls), Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, Disney Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, Chicago Symphony Hall, the Barbican (London), Hollywood Bowl, and at the world’s biggest jazz festivals including Montreux, North Sea, San Francisco, Capetown South Africa, Portland, Montreal jazz festivals, Tokyo's Blue Note, and the Village Vanguard. She has performed with and recorded for a wide array of world-renowned artists including Fred Hersch, Esperanza Spalding, Sara Bareilles, Neil Diamond, Chromeo, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and as cellist and singer on Broadway's King Charles III. You can hear her on the Super Grover segments on Sesame Street, and on the soundtrack of the HBO documentary Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present.
Please visit www.jodyredhageferber.com to hear her original compositions, works she has commissioned for voice, cello & electronics from a number of superstar composers on the current scene, and her full discography as a side-person.
Yuko Naito-Gotay - viola
Yuko Naito-Gotay, a native of Tokyo Japan, had arrived in the United States in 1989 to study with legendary violinist Aaron Rosand at Curtis Institute of Music. She has appeared with leading orchestras such as The New York City Opera, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, The New York Pops, Westchester Philharmonic, The Springfield Symphony, St.Louis Symphony Orchestra, and at Broadway shows such as War Paint, Anastasia, West Side Story, and Paradise Square, to name a few.
Jared Schonig - percusion
Grammy-Award winning drummer, composer & bandleader Jared Schonig has toured and/or recorded internationally with Nicholas Payton, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Donny McCaslin, Darcy James Argue & Secret Society, The 8-Bit Big Band, Miho Hazama & m_Unit, David Foster, Laurence Hobgood, Tim Hagans, Fred Hersch, Wycliffe Gordon, Tom Harrell, Joe Locke, and Ernie Watts among others. A favorite among vocalists, Schonig has toured with Grammy Award-winners Kurt Elling, The New York Voices, Kristen Chenoweth, Cynthia Erivo, Katherine McPhee, Jessica Vosk and singer/songwriter Donna Lewis, in addition to rising vocal supergroup Duchess, Spencer Day, Laila Biali and Shayna Steele. He has performed around the world from sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall to festivals in Zimbabwe.
Schonig co-led The Wee Trio, which released five critically-acclaimed albums over the past 8 years. The group received praise from numerous publications and toured internationally. He recently released two solo albums of original music (one quintet and one big band) in the fall of 2021 to critical acclaim. When at home in New York City, Schonig is a fixture in both the jazz and Broadway scene- he recently held the drum chair for the critically acclaimed Tony, Grammy and Emmy-award winning Broadway Revival of The Color Purple and is currently playing drums and percussion for the 10-time Tony-winning Moulin Rouge! The Musical. He also is an in-demand drummer/percussionist for studio recordings, jingle sessions and other commercial music recordings.