May 09, 2007


Matt Savage was born May 12, 1992 Sudbury, Massachusetts, he is the son of Diane and Lawrence "Larry" Savage. . He was diagnosed with autism at age 3. Not one to be pegged with a label even as a toddler, Matt absorbed everything he could from early and intensive therapy. He taught himself how to read piano music at the age of 6 1/2, and immediately thereafter began studies in classical piano. He discovered jazz in 1999 and studied for 3 years at The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. When his family moved out of state, Matt did not have a piano teacher for over a year until he began private studies with his current teacher. Matt has never had any instruction in composition.

Always up for a new challenge, Matt recorded his first CD in December of 1999 in collaboration with his instructor at The New England Conservatory to raise money for autism research. Matt became the youngest child to perform at the NEPTA “Gifted and Talented” classical piano recitals in early 2000.

In September of 2000, Matt met and played piano for Dave Brubeck. The meeting was aired by WGME-TV Channel 13 in Portland, Maine. Brubeck’s comments about the meeting: “I was amazed at how talented he is. Amazing is the word I can tell you. I keep track of young talent in kids, and he’s the first one that I met that young that was THAT talented. He has such a musical mind that it isn’t music that he has to learn. It seems like he’s such an advanced musician in so many ways already at 8.”

On December 21st, 2000, Matt met and played piano for and with Chick Corea (at a sound check). Matt jammed with Avishai Cohen and Jeff Ballard, Chick’s sidemen, during the meeting. Matt was playing with the sidemen when Chick walked in, and when Avishai said, “Hey Matt! Play something for Chick!” Matt proceeded to launch into one of the most well known of Chick’s own tunes…”Steps.” He played it flawlessly and at breakneck speed. Avishai ribbed Chick, saying, “He plays it better than you do.” Fortunately, Chick has a good sense of humor. The two pianists sat at the piano, playing impromptu duets and eventually a kind of “dueling improv,” smiling all the time. Then Chick shared his dinner with Matt while conversing about life and music.
Matt released his second CD (and first solo piano effort) entitled “Live at the Olde Mill” in January of 2001. Matt’s first live radio interview and performance was on May 16th, 2001 on WERS 88.9, a Boston-based radio station.

At the age of 9, Matt indicated he wanted to play in an ensemble. He attended a few open jazz jams on a few Sunday afternoons and hit it off with two adult musicians, John Funkhouser and Steve Silverstein. Matt was scheduled to play a benefit concert to raise money for autism research a few weeks later and asked John and Steve to join him. They agreed, and the chemistry among the musicians at that concert was such that The Matt Savage Trio was born. The band never rehearsed. They just started performing gigs together as a band. The Matt Savage Trio is headed by Matt, on piano, with John Funkhouser on bass and Steve Silverstein on drums.
Matt was featured as “The Artist of the Month” for Orchard music distributors in the spring of 2001, and opened for The Alon Yavnai Group around the same time at The Center for the Arts in Natick, MA.

McCoy Tyner was the next jazz great to invite Matt to his sound check in August of 2001. So, Matt jammed with Avery Sharpe and Al Foster and got words of praise and wisdom from McCoy. After an article came out about Matt in The Boston Globe in October of 2001, Matt started selling out concerts. And in November of 2001, The Matt Savage Trio released their first CD as a trio, a CD entitled “All Jazzed Up”. Around that time, Matt appeared on Lifetime Television and on ABC’s “20/20”. He also did interviews and performances on many, many radio stations across the country. Matt received his first CD review on the “All About Jazz” web site in February of 2002, and was heralded as “phenomenal”.

Matt has received many awards, including being signed in 2003 to Bösendorfer pianos. He is the only child to be so recognized in the company's 175-year history.
Matt has toured the world, performing for heads of state and others, and appearing on numerous television and radio programs such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Today Show, and All Things Considered. In 2006, at age 14, he was featured on a CNN report about the human brain, in which he was defined as a "prodigious savant," as opposed to the other types of savants. Matt has also appeared in several documentaries about savants.

May 08, 2007


Safiyyah Amina Muhammad was born in Harlem, in 1969 to Gloria and Gilbert Muhammad. She was raised between Newark and East Orange, New Jersey; where she currently resides. Safiyyah’s paternal grandfather was a self-taught Jazz musician in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Safiyyah attributes much of her inherent enthusiasm for Jazz music to this fact. Safiyyah was also highly influenced by her mother’s extensive collection of musical greats such as Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Etta Jones, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Shirley Caesar, Bobby Womack, Bobby Blue Bland, The O’ Jays, Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin and many of the Motown greats and Philadelphia sounds of the 70’s. It was the original and playful lyrics of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band that invited Safiyyah to test the art of writing songs and poetry.

“I used to write poetry and songs all the time in my youth, I even co-founded an all girls rap group and, believe it or not, I used to break-dance. But as I got older, my interests had shifted”, states Safiyyah of why she decided to unlock her self-proclaimed “Briefcase of Verse” ©, which she plans to publish and record later this year. Safiyyah’s voice is like poetry in motion and her poetry is as soothing as it is powerful! Safiyyah’s first effort at reciting in public was what she proclaims to be “sweaty palms” moment when she read before Miguel Algarin of Nuyorican Poets CafĂ© and Amiri Baraka. Encouraged by Miguel’s positive words, she began featuring at the Jordan’s Red Carpet Restaurant in Roselle, New Jersey.

Safiyyah says that, as of four years ago, writing poetry became a therapeutic retreat to compliment her hectic lifestyle. "I believe that Sufyaan's love of jazz is also inherent. Jazz delivers the synchronicity, syncopation and dissonance in its musical expression that often captures what's going on inside the mind. It's melodic and pragmatic all at once. I believe this is characteristic of Jazz music, Autism, even Attention Deficit Disorder; the latter of which I have been striving to live with. There's so much going on that it's not. A mind in a confused state is like having internal comping with your psyche. Each instrument represents a different thought, a different scope; a different point of view. It begins so serene and subtle, but like MY thoughts, the melodies all take on a life of their own. The syncopation of the bass line, the percussion and the melodic instrumentation is like fluctuating feelings. My chest gets tight and my throat begins to close. I read the same reaction as I study my son. Jazz music is so deliciously invasive. The music jumps inside of the body to define the mind. We’re consumed by Jazz." Safiyyah admits that the only instrument that she plays is the violin, “But in my mind I have a mean Johnson stride”, she says jokingly.

Safiyyah has been married for eleven years to her best friend and has five dynamic children ages 21, 11, 9, 8, and 4; four boys and one girl. Her eldest son is expecting his first child in August, which will add more excitement to Safiyyah’s already eventful life. One of the main facts that make her life so busy is raising a child with special needs. Safiyyah’s nine year old son, Sufyaan, has Autism. “It was a lonely struggle trying to figure out why my son was different and what that difference was”, she stated, “I couldn’t defeat this challenge until I knew what the challenge was”.

Once Safiyyah began advocating for the rights of her son and challenging the status quo in decisions regarding his care, it was evident that advocacy was her calling. She began by learning everything about Autism Spectrum Disorder and the options that are available in obtaining treatment and educating herself and her child. By age three, Safiyyah was taking Sufyaan to Speech therapy sessions on one side of town, sending him to school in the Preschool Disabled program in her public school district and juggling maintaining and supporting a family both inside and outside of her home. Safiyyah is the oldest of 7 and maintains a matriarchal relationship with her relatives both in New York and New Jersey and the in the South.

As an African-American Muslim woman, Safiyyah has always been aware of the biases and prejudices that exist in society, however, having a child with a developmental disability opened up a whole new world that Safiyyah did not expect. Her Islamic upbringing and strong spiritual influence of her grandmother has led her to declare that “if you’re a true follower of your faith, who YOU ARE should define how you deal with who I AM”. She soon found that this compassion for others was not shared in every venue she and her son were exposed to and this eventually led to her crusade for justice for people with disabilities and the disparities that are apparent in today’s public school systems. She began volunteering in her children’s classrooms by providing their teachers with a support network and chaperoning school trips. Consequently, she was elected to the Parent Teacher Organization. Safiyyah has worked diligently with parents, school staff and administrators and students in addressing concerns within public schools for children who receive mainstream and Special Education instruction. “I’d like to know that if I present a problem, I equally present a viable solution, or at least, I’d like to help in finding resources that lead to a solution”.

Following in the footsteps of their talented mother, Safiyyah’s oldest son Bashir has played the guitar, saxophone and writes poetry and songs. Her daughter Aatikah is an aspiring singer-songwriter and has already written seven songs. The second oldest, Abdul-Salaam, has written a 3-part comic book series and aspires to complete an animated series and video game.

Safiyyah says; “Like Loretta Claiborne, I would love to one day see Sufyaan take the world by storm displaying his athletic prowess in the Special Olympics World Games. I know he can do it. He’s determined, he has support and he’s loved and with that love that we feel for him, if he wanted to touch the moon, he could.”

Safiyyah’s advice to other parents of children with disabilities is that early intervention is the most important aspect of addressing differences in your child that concern you. "Seek advice from a professional but don’t limit yourself to the diagnosis of one. Many medical professionals have not yet unlocked the mystery of Autism and they may ignore something that could be crucial to your child’s success in treatment. Support legislation that promotes better means of connecting with the community of individuals who have or are affected by disabilities. Knowledge is the key to understanding. If you don’t know someone who is affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder; chances are YOU WILL”.

May 06, 2007


Erik Lawrence was born in upstate NY and grew up around NYC area. His father, a jazz saxophonist and noted jazz educator (creator of the Jazz Studies Department at the New School) introduced him to Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Chico Hamilton and other jazz masters at an early age. He played with their bands. When Erik turned 5 years old his father handed him his first saxophone, taught him how to hold it, where the notes where and how to breathe and said "Now play what you feel" and that is what Erik is still doing.

In addition to the jazz he heard with his father Erik became entranced with the sound of the saxophone and with saxophonists with great sounds. He immersed himself in the music of Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Sidney Bechet, Booker Ervin and George Adams. Later it was Pharoah Sanders, Charles Lloyd, Archie Shepp and even Grover Washington Jr and David Sanborn. Along the way he developed his own sound on all of the saxophones and the flute.

Erik was also drawn to the soulful music of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, New Orleans Rhythm and Blues, Chicago Blues, Reggae, African Music, Asian Music, Middle Eastern Music, Eastern European Music, Spanish Music, South American Music until finally he listened to sounds in nature; bird songs and humpback whales.

Erik began teaching jazz history in college when he was 18 years old and has continued the role as educator throughout his career. Erik believes the creative process does not belong to one person or people; that it's not what you are doing but HOW you are doing it and he wishes to convey this idea to the young and the young at heart. Aside from saxophone and flute students, Erik teaches his method of creative approach to drummers, brass players, strings, in fact all instruments, also to poets and artists who wish to learn the nature of interaction and how to respond to the natural rhythm found in all things.

Erik says, “I believe my own personal learning will never be completed.”

Erik Lawrence plays Saxophones and Flutes. He has received a Meet-the-Composer Grant for his writing. He began playing sax at five years old under the guidance of his father, jazz musician, founder of the New School of Jazz in NYC and the International Center for Creative Music Studies in Jerusalem, Rock and Roll Guru Arnie Lawrence, who told him to "Play what you feel." Thus beginning what has been a lifelong spiritual quest through music. He is at home playing in various styles, from tradition to experimental, from large ensembles to solo.

By now he has brought his original melodic and rhythmic approach to Europe, Across the United States, South America and the Caribbean. He has performed Solo improvised saxophone at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York and has been the featured performer at the World Peace Festival and has performed in Europe at the Northsea Jazz, Discover Jazz, Montreal Jazz, Molde Jazz, Pori Jazz, Porto and Saalfelden Jazz festivals, the Free Jazz Festival in Brazil, the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Berkshire Jazz Festival and Bumbershoots.

Erik leads and plays with various ensembles. His sidemen have included Garth Hudson, Mark Egan, Steven Bernstein, Dave Tronzo, Aaron Comess, Mark White, Eric Schenkman, Alex Blake, Cameron Brown, Lonnie Plaxico, John Pizzarelli, Murali Coryell; and poets Jane LeCroy, Frank Messina and many, many others. His current original projects include Hipmotism, featuring Grammy nominee Steven Bernstein and drummer Allison Miller; MERGE Poetry/Music project featuring poet Cassandra Cleghorn, Allison Miller drummer and Rene Hart acoustic bass .

Erik has also currently or recently performed and recorded with legendary jazz drummer Chico Hamilton; with Steven Bernstein's much acclaimed Millennial Territory Orchestra; Levon Helm and the Barnburners, Branford Marsalis, and The Masters of the Groove, featuring Bernard Purdie, Grant Green Jr. and Reuben Wilson.

Erik currently teaches jazz saxophone at Williams College and the Putney. He has taught sax, jazz, jazz history, ensembles, and methods classes at Montclair State University (94-2000) and Rockland Community College (80-84). He has also taught saxophone and flute to all ages and improvisation to all instruments for well over 20 years and is available for clinics.

He would ask that if you say daily prayers you consider adding the phrase "May Peace Prevail on Earth" to your daily prayers to help raise both personal and world consciousness about the possibility that peace is a viable alternative to anger in ANY situation.

Erik has performed and/or recorded with numerous artists in his roles as sideman and bandleader. Notable artists include:

Chico Hamilton (legendary Jazz drummer)
Neville Family Affair (featuring Aaron Neville and his sons)
Buddy Miles
Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint
David Amram
Rickie Lee Jones
Sonny Sharrock (Avant Garde Guitar Legend)
The Band
Levon Helm
The Spin Doctors
John Popper (from Blues Traveler)
Bob Dylan
Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra
Joan Osborne
Branford Marsalis
Masters of the Groove: Bernard Purdie, Grant Green Jr, Reuben Wilson
Istanbul Orchestra
Jackie Cain and Roy Kral
Arnie Lawrence
John Cale (from Velvet Underground)
A.C. Reed (Chicago Blues Sax Legend)
David Tronzo (Slide Guitar Master)

May 04, 2007


April Sims aka Sensual Angel was born April 16, 1966 in Washington, D.C. She was raised in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area where she still resides today.
She is the proud mother of three beautiful daughters who are her constant inspiration for striving to be the best she can be each and every day.

She is a true renaissance woman that can do it all when it comes to the arts. She is spoken word artist (currently working on her debut cd), a poet (currently working on two books of poetry) and photo artist (photographer who is proficient in Photoshop).

Her works touch the very essence of the soul and whispers to the heart deeming her a “Heart Whisperer”. Her writings keep you hanging on each and every word and hold you with baited breath in anticipation of the next word.

She has been writing since she could hold a pen, but due to high demand has recently started formulating her writing for the public at large to consume.
Her kind spirit and selfless attitude have deemed her by many an angel on Earth while her sensual and sultry voice commands her audience, hence Sensual Angel.

May 03, 2007


Lee Mack Ritenour, was born January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles, CA. The prolific Ritenour has established himself as one of the world's leading jazz guitarists with a series of accessible albums over three decades. Starting at the age of 16, Ritenour played his first session with The Mama's and the Papa's. Two years later he was backing Tony Bennett and Lena Horne at L.A.'s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Know as "Captain Fingers," Ritenour became a sought-after session player in the mid-70's. Starting in 1976, at the age of 24, he began his own solo career which now includes over 30 albums and collaborations. Although heavily influenced in his early days by the relaxed styles of Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and Barney Kessel, he now has his own distinctive sound and fluid style. His list of session work is awesome (some 3,000 sessions), but some of his most notable performances were with Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and Pink Floyd. Since the mid-80's, Ritenour has been strongly influenced by Brazilian music.

Along the way, Ritenour has received 17 Grammy nominations, earned several gold albums, numerous #1 spots in guitar polls and the prestigious "Alumnus of the Year" award from USC. In 1981, he scored the pop15 hit "Is It You," featuring vocalist Eric Tagg, which has also become a smooth jazz radio classic. He joined GRP Records in 1985 after recording for Electra the previous 7 years. At that time, he recorded the magnificent "Harlequin" album with GRP co-owner Dave Grusin. It was nominated for 4 Grammy’s and won 1 that year.

May 02, 2007


Rebecca "Butterfly" Vaughns has been married to poetry since the age of ten. There are no words that can explain the passion and love Rebecca has for poetry. She holds Langston Hughes accountable for turning her into a fiend. Rebecca leaves audiences amazed at her ability to freestyle poetry leaving one to think its been inked for awhile.

She impressed Bruce George ~ Co-Founder of Def Poetry Jam in 2002 at the 2nd Annual Spoken Word Expo held in St. Louis, MS when she came hard from the dome in the midst of a cipher out in the parking lot after an open mic session. Rebecca has tapped many of mics on various stages from elementary schools to high schools to colleges to jails to festivals and is in high demand for weddings, funerals, baby christenings, retirement parties, church galas and everything else in between.

She's an International Spoken Word Artist with people appreciating her work in Canada, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Africa, and Argentina just to name a few. She's appeared on internet and mainstream radio as well as underground radio. She's done live broadcasting performances on Haitian and Spanish television locally and has appeared on various radio stations and television in other cities throughout the USA . Her work is supported and loved by the likes of Shang~comedian/ poet, Betty Wright ~ singer/songwriter, Floetry, MC Lyte, Joss Stone, and Robert Townsend just to name a few. Rebecca has truly made a name for herself in the arena of spoken word and poetry since taking the stage May, 1997. Rebecca holds several accolades for her craft to include 2003 Spoken Word Artist of The Year, two slam wins, and her work is featured on compilations in New york, Chicago, and Miami just to name a few as well as appearances in anthologies to include Drumvoices Revue ~ spring,summer, fall 2004 issue with a tribute to Katherine Dunham.

She's released three cds My Voice, Your Ears being her current project as of April 2, 2005 and a book of poetry under the title of Gypsy Poet: A Journey of All Roads That Lead to Poetry. She's in rotation on MusicChoice ~ digital cable ~ Smooth R&B channel Spoken Word Music & The Lounge that airs on Saturdays 6:00pm-8:00pm, Sundays 9:00am-11:00am and Tuesdays 3:00pm-5:00pm. Rebecca's most memorable moments date back as far as January 1995 when she was given the opportunity to open up for and introduce Dave Chappelle to April 27, 2005 as she was one of five poets selected to perform for Nikki Giovanni at the closing reception for the Pan African Book Fest ~ April 16-27 ~ Ft. Lauderdale, FL..

May 01, 2007


Sonny Rollins was born in New York City, in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, on September 7, 1930. As a very young child, he tried his hand at piano, but switched to alto sax at age 11. Rollins became part of a Harlem-based nucleus of young musicians, which included drummer Art Taylor and pianist Kenny Drew, who were regularly called on to perform and record with larger lights.

At just 19, Sonny had spent several months rehearsing with Thelonious Monk and had already recorded with trombonist J. J. Johnson and trumpeter and pianist Bud Powell Monk. Alto saxophonist Louis Jordan and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins -- whose saxophone case the young Sonny would dutifully carry to and from gigs -- were key early influences for Sonny.

In 1951, Rollins began a professional and personal friendship with trumpeter Miles Davis, with whom he collaborated on the latter's Dig album. While Rollins' career track was on the rise, his personal life was sadly, slowly taken over by heroin, with his first drug possession arrest coming in 1950.

But Rollins fought back and successfully preserved his growing reputation in the mid-1950s as one of the jazz scene's most innovative improvisers. His resume included work with pianist Thelonious Monk and trumpeter Clifford Brown. At the decade's end, Rollins and drummer Elvin Jones recorded the classic Night At The Village Vanguard album.

Rollins shocked the jazz world in 1959 when he took the first in a number of self-imposed exiles. During this hiatus, he practiced on New York's Williamsburg Bridge, and delved into a number of Eastern philosophies. Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean often practiced with him on the Williamsburg Bridge.
His return in the 1960s saw intense creative development, especially in his growing string of landmark concert and studio efforts. Rollins became particularly celebrated for his live performances, well documented on collections like 1974's The Cutting Edge.

Rollins continues to perform and record, but he's increasingly drawn to the solitude found on his upstate New York farm, which he shares with his wife and manager, Lucille. Though he frequently notes that "It's four in the afternoon for me", age has only further sweetened Rollins' ever-soulful invention and sound.