Drummer, percussionist, composer, bandleader, educator, and ethnomusicologist, DANA HALL has been an important musician on the international music scene since 1992 after leaving aerospace engineering for a life in music. Dana has performed, toured, and/or recorded with such luminaries as Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman, Horace Silver, Clark Terry, Maria Schneider, Jackie McLean, Mulgrew Miller, Marcus Belgrave, Joe Henderson, Curtis Fuller, and Charles McPherson. His debut CD, Into the Light, was released to great critical acclaim. Former Artistic Director of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Dana is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Ethnomusicology at DePaul University and the Director of the DePaul Jazz Studies program. In addition to his active composing, travel, and university schedule, Dana leads his group Black Fire around town. Neil Tesser has noted that “even among modern drummers, Dana Hall stands out.” Howard Reich describes him as “viscerally exciting, intellectually formidable” with a “seemingly bottomless well of ideas.” In June, Dana premiered "The Hypocrisy of Justice: Sights and Sounds of the Black Metropolis: Riffin' and Signifyin(g) on Richard Wright's Native Son” at Symphony Center, receiving great acclaim for his powerful work.
Alto saxophonist and composer NICK MAZZARELLA has been a participant in Chicago’s jazz, free jazz, improvised music, and rock scenes as a sideman, bandleader for his own eponymous trio, and presenter of Umbrella Music, and the Ratchet Series in Pilsen. Of his work, Peter Margasek has written, "Many of Mazzarella's compositions borrow Ornette Coleman's ebullient, jaunty melodicism, but he often changes the mood when he takes an extended solo--his dark, visceral phrasing and strident tone recall fire breathers like Pharoah Sanders and Albert Ayler.” Nick’s distinctive style is informed by elements of both the traditional and the avant-garde. His eponymous trio, quartet, and quintet are the primary platforms for his work as a composer and leader, while his notable work as a sideman includes collaborations with Ken Vandermark, Rob Mazurek, Frank Rosaly, Dana Hall, Avreeayl Ra, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Mike Reed, Devin Hoff, Cameron Pfiffner, Mars Williams, Bill MacKay, Wayne Montana & Damon Locks, and Mikel Patrick Avery.