Sitka Jazz Festival
Feb 3-5, 2022
Past Artist Performances
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.
"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
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.
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.
John Daversa is a multi-Grammy winning artist, composer, arranger, producer, bandleader, educator, and Chair of Studio Music and Jazz at The Frost School of Music, University of Miami.
Daversa’s celebrated and distinctive musical perspective has been a passport to performances on world stages such as The Today Show, Late Nite with David Letterman, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Live 8 (Berlin), Hamburg Music Festival, Java Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreux Festival, and the Playboy Jazz Festival. He has also had the opportunity to perform or record with artists such as Fiona Apple, Michael Bublé, Dori Caymi, Andraé Crouch, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, Bob Mintzer Big Band, and The Yellowjackets.
3 GRAMMY AWARDS for 2019!
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom
Best Arrangement, Instrumental, or A Capella: "Stars and Stripes Forever", John Daversa, Arranger
Best Improvised Solo: "Don't Fence Me In", John Daversa, Soloist.
Saxophonist/pianist Brian Hogans has one of the most dynamic, exhilarating, and fervent sounds of today’s young jazz artists. Described as “fluid, fiery, yet subtle”, Hogans pushes the creative envelope when composing and playing, setting new artistic limits for fans and musicians alike. Hogans has just released his debut solo album on Turnaround Records, titled Evidence of Things to Come.
Hogans’ background includes a lifetime of playing music. Hailing from Morrow, GA, he has wailed on the saxophone for over 15 years and played the piano since childhood. Hogans describes that “I chose jazz because I loved its rhythms and harmonies, and because it was different. No one around me was listening to or playing jazz at the time.” Hogans was introduced to jazz by his older brother, Lee, who is now a talented R&B/pop trumpet player in his own right. Lighting up the stage today as either a saxophonist or pianist, Hogans has studied under noted jazz masters like Danny Harper, saxophonists Bunky Green, Don Bradan, and Antonio Hart, and the late great pianist James Williams. Honing his skills throughout the years, Brian has studied and played as part of the Steins Institute of Jazz and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program.
Hogans’ artistic influences come from all corners of the musical landscape. On the saxophone, they include Sonny Stitt, Bird, and Coltrane, among others. On the piano, Hogans credits Cedar Walton, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea as favorites who have helped him craft his unique musical voicing. Says Hogans, “I enjoy how jazz is always changing. There is such a depth to its creative possibilities. I am passionate about harmony, and about the vast artistic options available by manipulating harmonies in my work.”
Hogans has performed with some of the great artists of today’s jazz scene, including James Williams, Winard Harper, Russell Gunn and Marcus Printup. Hogans may be best known, though, as part of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Sean Jones Quintet. In addition to playing and touring with the ensemble, he has played saxophone on two recent Sean Jones albums, Kaleidoscope and The Search Within. In its recent review, Hippo Press said of The Search Within, “I can’t imagine anyone finding a single fault with this album aside from its utter lack of imperfection.” Two songs from the album, “Blak Music” and “Summer Spring”, were also composed by Hogans.
Gary Pratt has led a distinguished career as a music educator, performer, conductor, adjudicator and arranger, and is co-director of the famed California State University, Northridge Jazz Studies Program at California State University, Northridge.
Throughout his career as a professional Jazz Bassist, Mr. Pratt has performed and/or recorded with such legendary jazz artists as Louie Bellson, Lionel Hampton, Snooky Young, Conti Candoli, Pearl Bailey, Bobby Shew, Don Menza, Blue Mitchell, Pete Christlieb, Cat Anderson, and more recently with Bob Florence, Kim Richmond, Billy Mintz, Mary Bond Davis, Sandra Booker, Cathy Segal-Garcia, Brian Swartz, Matt Otto, Clay Jenkins, Rob Lockart, Matt Harris and many others.
His guest conducting engagements have included performances in both Europe and Japan, and his noted versatility as a music educator has made him a highly sought after clinician and guest conductor of jazz ensembles, orchestras and concert bands.
During his tenure as a member of the music faculty at California State University, Northridge, he has served as chairman of the CSU Northridge Wind Area and Director of Orchestras. In addition his private teaching schedule, Mr. Pratt teaches courses in jazz musicianship, directs the Studio and Lab Jazz Ensembles, jazz repertoire, jazz combos, and directs, composes and arranges for "NuVeau,"CSU Northridge's avant-garde jazz ensemble.
Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Formerly The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz
The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is a nonprofit education organization with a mission to offer the world’s most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and to present public school music education programs for young people around the world. The Institute preserves, perpetuates and expands jazz as a global art form, and utilizes jazz as a means to unite people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. All of the Institute’s programs are provided free of charge to students, schools and communities worldwide. The Institute’s programs use jazz as the medium to encourage imaginative thinking, creativity, a positive self-image, and a respect for one’s own and others’ cultural heritage. Founded in 1986 as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the organization began operating as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz in January 2019 in recognition of Mr. Hancock’s commitment to the Institute since its establishment, his expert guidance as Institute Chairman, and his immense contributions to and impact on music, education and humanity.