Bijon Watson’s career as a musician and educator spans more than 25 years and has taken him around the globe to perform for audiences worldwide. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bijon began playing the trumpet at the age of 8. He attended the New England Conservatory of Music Preparatory School, and the University of Southern California, and was a member of the 1994 Disney All-American College Band and 1995 Disney/Grammy All-American College Jazz Band.
Bijon’s recording and/or live performance and touring credits are vast and the short list includes iconic artists such as Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé, Justin Timberlake, Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, Michael Jackson, Arturo Sandoval, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Joe Williams, Queen Latifah, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Nicholas Payton, Rosemary Clooney, Steve Tyrell, Eric Benét, Jamiroquai, Prince, Barbara Morrison, Dianne Reeves, Nancy Wilson, Alicia Keys, Chaka Khan, Luis Miguel, The Temptations, and Gladys Knight.
Born and raised in Peoria Illinois, Brianna grew up surrounded by music. Her father, Charlie Thomas, not only influenced her with his own unique talents as a vocalist and percussionist, he created an exceptionally well-rounded musical environment that fostered Brianna’s emerging abilities.At the tender age of six, Brianna made her singing debut performing a duet rendition of the jazz classic, “What A Wonderful World” with her father. At the age of eight she won her first of thirteen trophies, all first place and overall, from various district and regional talent shows. Between the ages of eight and ten she had her first gigs performing for a variety of banquets, black tie affairs and as a guest on local radio stations. It didn’t take long for people to notice her talent and potential. Just shy of her teens, Brianna’s talents were discovered by distinguished jazz educator Mary Jo Papich. Soon after, Brianna toured Europe with the Peoria Jazz All-Stars, a big band under Ms. Papich’s direction. This was the beginning of Brianna’s career as jazz vocalist.
Brianna’s singing is deeply enriched by an understanding of the masterful voices of jazz past. Beyond a healthy serving of sass, Sarah Vaughn’s influence contributes to Brianna’s style the artistic savvy needed to communicate myriad moods and feelings as well as a keen instrumental perspective. Add to that a coyness reminiscent of Nancy Wilson, an Ella-esque skill and enthusiasm for scatting, and the stylistic breadth and vocal grandeur evocative of Dianne Reeves. Perhaps Brianna’s greatest asset is the soulfulness of her sound. Captivatingly unique, her sound moves in tones ranging from sweet invitations to assured convictions, establishing a personal and classic quality that leaves listeners swooning after her performances.
Adam Theis is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, bandleader and composer based in Oakland, CA who plays trombone, trumpet, tuba, bass, keyboards and anything/everything else he can get his hands on. In 2000, Theis co-founded Jazz Mafia - an eclectic artist collective of some of the most forward thinking and accomplished players in the fields of Electro, Hip-Hop, World, Classical and of course, Jazz. As Jazz Mafia’s director, Adam has assembled over 100 different live projects over the past 17 years and led/co-led dozens of acclaimed bands. He is also the Director of SFJAZZ's Monday Night Band, Director of the Truckee Jazz Camp, and winner of the Gerbode-Hewlett Foundation’s “Emerging Composer” Grant.
Theis has produced and co-written music for notable artists such as Lyrics Born, Zion-I, Rebelution, Latyrx, Galactic, Ledesi, Blackalicious and many more. As a sideman, Adam and his horn section have created eclectic collaborations with a wide range of top level artists including: Bobby McFerrin, Roy Ayers, Chali 2na, Booker T. Jones, Spearhead, Zigaboo Modeliste, Zap Mama, Eric Lindell, Dead Winter Carpenters, KRS One, Wax Tailor, The New Master Sounds, Peter Rowan, Coultrain, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science, The Velvet Teen and dozens more.
Adam will be the 2019 All Alaska Jazz Band Director.
“Brass, Bows & Beats is a work on par
with Miles Davis & Gil Evans’ Live at
Carnegie Hall or Charles Mingus’ Epitaph
visionary in scope, staggering in depth.”
-Gabe Meline, Bohemian.com, 2009
Xavier Del Castillo
Kyle Athayde Dance Party
"Ms. Thomas has a strong voice and
a big range, descended from Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter and routed through Dianne Reeves, with clarity
and confidence and a little dirt."
- Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
2020 Artist Lineup