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Jazz Bassist Jeff Denson Spearheads Ridgeway Arts, New Bay-Area Non-Profit

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Jazz Bassist Jeff Denson Spearheads Ridgeway Arts, New Bay-Area Non-Profit

Jazz Bassist Jeff Denson Spearheads Ridgeway Arts, New Bay-Area Non-Profit

Renowned bassist/composer/educator/community activist Jeff Denson and a small group of colleagues have formed Ridgeway Arts, Inc. – a multi-faceted San Francisco Bay Area-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Two years in the planning, Ridgeway Arts is built upon a series of initiatives designed to enhance and fortify the Bay Area scene, and to make a strong contribution to the national landscape of jazz and the arts in general.

While Jeff Denson’s vision provides an extremely significant force, the spirit of partnership and collective effort are also major components of the organization’s direction. Ridgeway’s imperative is built upon a four-pronged plan of expression, education, presenting and documentation, all with a clear focus upon revenue production leading to self-sustenance. They include:

  • Jeff Denson performance and composing activities
  • Education/community outreach
  • Ridgeway Presents
  • Ridgeway Records

DownBeat Magazine praises Jeff Denson for his “considerable gifts as an improviser, interpreter and sonic trailblazer…” The activities of his own ensembles as well as those of his two cooperative groups, all take place under the Ridgeway umbrella. They include The Jeff Denson Trio plus, a fixed trio of Jeff on bass, pianist Dan Zemelman and drummer Alan Hall, augmented by a special guest artist. For the past year, this guest has been the legendary alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, with whom Jeff has had a decade-long relationship.  In Summer 2015, the group released their debut Ridgeway Records release Jeff Denson Trio plus Lee Konitz.  The band is just back from a highly successful October 2015 European tour to support the record, one of many US and international tours.

Denson’s two cooperative ensembles are also part of the Ridgeway family. Electreo is an adventurous electric group, featuring Jeff on electric bass and vocals, with Grammy-winning virtuoso bassoonist Paul Hanson, and Hall on drums. The group has been performing regularly in the Bay Area and has been developing a strong and loyal audience for its unique and genre-defying approach to modern music. The San Francisco String Trio is a collaboration with another pair of internationally renowned musicians – Grammy-winning violinist Mads Tolling and guitarist Mimi Fox. Together they have developed The Sgt. Pepper Project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the groundbreaking Beatles album.

All of these ensembles will be represented at the 2016 Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference in January as part of the UNITY Arts Alliance, of which Ridgeway and Jeff are founding members.

Denson’s composing is multi-leveled. In addition to composing for his own small ensembles and Electreo, Jeff also composes large-scale works, and has been working on a three-act chamber opera entitled WEBS.

The Educational/ Community Outreach component has been developed in conjunction with the California Jazz Conservatory (CJC) under Dr. Jeff Denson’s position at the prestigious college as Director of Outreach and full-time professor. The program has a triple purpose of 1) exposing primary and secondary students to the profound legacy of jazz; 2) providing opportunities for young musicians to learn from and perform with top professionals of both local and national renown; and 3) fortifying the Bay Area scene to make it attractive to graduating students to remain in the area to make their professional contributions to the jazz legacy.

Ridgeway Presents is the organization’s curating program that will be launched in 2016 in five separate cities in the Bay Area. Presentations will feature national artists, local musicians of varying statures, and emerging student ensembles from the CJC and high school jazz programs. Part of the program is focused upon allowing young talent to share the stage with professionals to restore “learning on the bandstand” that has been such an important, but recently too often neglected element in the development of outstanding talent throughout the history of jazz. Final arrangements are being made in the development of the partnerships with venues and institutions that will be involved with the program. Ridgeway Presents will also be working nationally on exchange programs with the curating activities of other members of the UNITY Arts Alliance.

Ridgeway Records has been conceived with an innovative plan in a partnership mode where the artists share revenue, team resources, marketing and distribution – all integrated within the overall plans of Ridgeway Arts.

The first album – the aforementioned Jeff Denson Trio plus Lee Konitz – was released in the summer of 2015. There are currently four new projects in motion. Alan Hall’s six-member Ratatet, featuring Denson and Hanson, along with trombonist John Gove, vibraphonist  Dillon Vado and Greg Sankovich on keyboards – and described by Hall as “a modern-oddball-jazz sextet” – will be releasing its debut album Arctic in March 2016. Denson takes another angle on his Trio plus concept with a new permanent quartet that adds Paul Hanson to the mix, and their recording will be issued later that year. The Sgt. Pepper Project, with its fresh and innovative take on the revered album’s compositions is slated for early 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original release. Other upcoming albums will include the first album by Electreo, as well as Paul Hanson’s Homecoming, a sweeping exploration of Jewish music for a sextet of bassoon, violin, guitar, cello, bass and drums

Denson, who has developed a productive ongoing relationship with the famed Fantasy Studios, serves as producer and/or executive producer on all of the label’s projects.

Management and development assistance for all of Ridgeway’s activities is provided by an experienced and accomplished team of associates working directly within Ridgeway Arts, and are also supported on a national basis by the other members of the UNITY Arts Alliance.

As extensive as the current programs may be, groundwork is being laid for additional projects including Ridgeway Publishing (educational books by Denson and other extraordinary educators); and a series of podcasts about the Bay Area scene with 27 episodes already recorded and new episodes being prepared for a national focus. With all of these initiatives, Ridgeway’s impact upon the Bay Area and national scenes will undoubtedly be a profound one.

As Denson says: “Ridgeway Arts is here to lend a voice to the remarkable creativity in our communities and to work to bring it to the people who are hungry for it.”

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STYX Announces Terry Gowan As New Bass Player

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STYX Announces Terry Gowan As New Bass Player

Band photo 2024 courtesy of ABC Public Relations. Photographer, Jason Powell. Left to right:  Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan, Chuck Panozzo, James “JY” Young, Tommy Shaw, Terry Gowan, Will Evankovich

STYX Announces Terry Gowan As New Bass Player…

Terry Gowan declares, “It is within an honor and somewhere beyond a dream come true to be joining JY, Tommy, Chuck, Will, and my brother Lawrence – and to be reacquainted with decade long Gowan bandmate Todd — in taking on the mantle as the new bassist of the legendary STYX. Here’s to many years ahead on the Styx adventure!”

“I’m very pleased and proud to have my brother, Terry, join Styx,” says Lawrence Gowan. “Terry played on four of my six solo Gowan albums. He’s on records that include some of the world’s most renowned musicians: Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Jon Anderson, and Alex Lifeson, as well as touring with Gowan from 1985 to 1990 and again 2010 to this year of 2024. It’s really great to have him aboard!”

As Tommy Shaw exclaims, “We’re all looking forward to the Canadian shows that are coming up soon and introducing Terry Gowan on bass guitar and vocals as the newest Styx member!!! Are you ready to rock? We are too! See you soon!”

Drummer Todd Sucherman adds, “I’ve had the pleasure of being a rhythm section partner with Terry Gowan for several years in Gowan’s band, and I look forward to welcoming this talented multi-instrumentalist into the fold.”

STYX has five decades of hits and immortal rock songs. Like a symphony reaching a crescendo, a STYX show covers a wide range of styles. From “Suite Madame Blue” to “The Grand Illusion”, including “Lady”, “Blue Collar Man”, “Renegade”, “Miss America”, “Lorelei”, “Crystal Ball” and obviously “Come Sail Away,” the band has a virtually limitless supply of classics.

CRASH OF THE CROWN, STYX’s most recent album released in 2021, reached #1 on the Billboard Rock chart after its release.

Visit online:

www.styxworld.com
www.crashofthecrown.com
www.facebook.com/styxtheband
www.x.com/styxtheband
www.instagram.com/styxtheband
www.youtube.com/styxtheband

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Bassist/Music Educator Andreas Farmakalidis Candidate for LAUSD District 3

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Bassist:Music Educator Andreas Farmakalidis Candidate for LAUSD District 3

Bassist/Music Educator Andreas Farmakalidis Candidate for LAUSD District 3: A Champion for Music and Arts in Schools…

Andreas Farmakalidis, a renowned music educator and business owner, will be on the ballot for LAUSD District 3 School Board. As an independent candidate, Farmakalidis brings a fresh perspective and a passionate commitment to revitalizing music and arts programs in schools. With a proven track record of success and a vision for a brighter educational future, Farmakalidis aims to provide every child with a well-rounded education. Andreas Farmakalidis is not just an exceptional educator and business owner; he is also an accomplished movie composer, having contributed music to several renowned films.

His talent and dedication earned him a prestigious Spotify and Hollywood Music Award. Beyond music, Farmakalidis enjoys cooking, specializing in Greek and Cypriot cuisine. He is happily married to Alexis Lopez, a former American Idol finalist, and together they embrace the joy of parenting their two-year-old daughter, Mavis. Known for his unwavering hard work, dedication, and passion, Farmakalidis has always championed causes that are close to his heart, especially education. 

With a diverse and vibrant community in LAUSD District 3, Farmakalidis recognizes the unique challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. His commitment to this district is rooted in the belief that every child, regardless of their background or circumstances, deserves a high-quality education that equips them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life. 

“I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of education in the lives of young people and the broader community,” says Farmakalidis. “It is our responsibility to invest in our schools, teachers, and students. By ensuring safe and welcoming learning environments and providing necessary resources and support to our educators, we can achieve equity and inclusivity in our educational system. 

Every child should have a fair shot at achieving their dreams.” Furthermore, Farmakalidis is dedicated to fostering strong partnerships between schools, parents, businesses, and the broader community. Recognizing that collaboration and engagement are essential to address the unique needs of the district, he aims to create opportunities for learning, growth, and success for all. In addition to his commitment to academic excellence, Farmakalidis firmly believes in the importance of the arts in education. 

He envisions a District 3 where every child has access to a comprehensive arts education, regardless of their background or neighborhood. By investing in music, visual arts, theater, and dance programs, and providing students with the necessary tools and resources, Farmakalidis aims to inspire creativity, foster innovation, and provide a powerful means of self-expression. The arts play a crucial role in developing critical thinking skills, enhancing cultural awareness, and building empathy by exploring diverse perspectives. “I am running for LAUSD District 3 because I believe that, with the right leadership, we can make our schools even better, provide our children with a brighter future, and strengthen our community as a whole,” says Farmakalidis.

 “Together, we can work towards a brighter, more equitable future for all our students.” In the upcoming election, LAUSD District 3 voters have a choice to make. Farmakalidis stands out as the only candidate who prioritizes bringing music and arts back to schools, recognizing the profound impact they have on students’ development and growth. The stakes are high in this election. The right candidate can shape the future of education in LAUSD District 3, ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to thrive. Andreas Farmakalidis’s proven dedication, commitment, and passion make him the ideal candidate to lead the way.

For more information on Andreas Farmakalidis and his campaign, please visit www.lausd3.com 

Follow him on social media @afarmakalidis.

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Freekbass Crowned TikTok LIVE Fest Finalist

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TikTok LIVE Fest

Hometown bassist and frontman, Freekbass is representing Cincinnati as a Top 30 Award Winner for TikTok LIVE Fest, with a ceremony set to take place in January 2024, in Los Angeles, CA.

TikTok LIVE Fest is a global event across 50+ countries and regions that recognizes and celebrates top creators. The contest took place from December 1st-16th, with each talent accruing points based on support from their communities during their live streams. What began as thousands of streamers competing worldwide, was reduced to a cut of 300, then 150, and ultimately the final Top 30 were crowned as the winners. Freekbass, who just started streaming on TikTok in March of this year, placed as Top 24 creator, globally. To give context, social media influencer and TikTok veteran, Jeffree Star, placed third in the same competition. All Top 30 winners receive airfare, hotel and travel expenses to appear at the TikTok LIVE Fest Awards Ceremony, along with other prizes.

Freekbass performs a one-man show, creating live music with his signature bass-playing, and also plays guitar, percussion, keys and vocoder, using DJ beats and samples, while staying continually engaged with the viewers via chat. He accredits his rapid rise in popularity to his loyal community, lovingly dubbed the “Freek Squad”. To meet them virtually and check out a nightly Freekbass live stream, visit TikTok.com/@freekbass most evening, starting at 10pm ET.

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Immortal Sÿnn Welcomes Former Grim Reaper Bassist Chaz Grimaldi

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Immortal Sÿnn Welcomes Former Grim Reaper Bassist Chaz Grimaldi

Immortal Sÿnn Welcomes Former Grim Reaper Bassist Chaz Grimaldi…

Denver-based heavy metal group, Immortal Sÿnn, proudly announces the inclusion of Chaz Grimaldi, former bass player of Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper, as the latest addition to their dynamic lineup. This development follows Sean Ryan’s departure from the band four months ago. With Chaz on board, Immortal Sÿnn is forging ahead, actively resuming live performances in the Denver area and strategically planning a forthcoming United States tour for the summer of 2024.

Chaz Grimaldi, an accomplished bassist originally from Silver Spring, MD, brings an impressive musical history to the fold. With a prolific career that notably includes his role in the 80s NWOBHM legends Grim Reaper, renowned for their iconic “See You In Hell” (2008-2016 & 2019), and Dave Lombardo’s Grip Inc. (1993), Chaz’s journey has been one of remarkable experiences. Reflecting on his global tours with distinguished musicians, he shares, “Having been fortunate to tour the world playing with some of the best musicians has been an incredible blessing in my life. The lifelong friendships of people I’ve met and the incredible places I’ve seen has been truly amazing.” Chaz’s recent endeavors with Tampa-based band Jezabelle garnered significant online attention. Now, as he joins forces with Denver’s Immortal Sÿnn, he eagerly anticipates contributing his prowess to the collective.

Chaz states, “I’m excited about the opportunity to play with Immortal Synn! The song catalog kicks ass and has all of the elements of METAL that I love to play. I look forward to being a part of this incredible band!”

Immortal Sÿnn recently unleashed their latest single, “Lady Nocturna,” on August 4th. Currently collaborating once again with engineer Nick Nodurft at Rusty Sun Audio in Parker, CO, the band is immersed in recording a 5-song EP titled “Hellspawn.” The EP is set to release on September 15th across major streaming platforms and digital stores, with physical CDs to follow.

Reflecting on the addition of Chaz Grimaldi, Tony Z, guitarist of Immortal Sÿnn, affirms, “We all knew Chaz was our guy when he came to the audition and actually knew all of the material and was well-prepared. He didn’t just ‘look at’ the songs we had sent him and fake his way through them like so many people in the local scene do when it comes to auditions.”

For fervent fans of bands such as Grim Reaper, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth, Immortal Sÿnn’s signature blend of heavy metal elements continues to resonate and excite.

Visit online at immortalsynn.com

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Listen to the First New Recording from The Fusion Syndicate in Over 10 Years!

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Listen to the First New Recording from The Fusion Syndicate in Over 10 Years!

In 2012, the world of fusion rock/jazz was shook by the introduction of a new supergroup of unparalleled musical virtuosos who came together under one umbrella for a blockbuster studio album.

Both the group and its debut album were called simply The Fusion Syndicate, and it featured some of the biggest names in fusion including members of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Yellowjackets, Brand X, Soft Machine, and Spyro Gyra PLUS Yes, Dream Theater, King Crimson, Tool, Porcupine Tree, Hawkwind and more! Now a new single is released today with the first new recording from The Fusion Syndicate in over 10 years!

That new single, “The Bottle,” is unique in several ways. For starters, it is the Fusion Syndicate’s first ever cover song, a trippy, groovy version of jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron’s 1973 dramatic story of alcohol abuse in the inner city. Second, the track is the first to incorporate R&B and soul music flavors into the band’s repertoire driven by a stellar vocal from intergalactic superstar Bootsy Collins. In addition, joining Collins is multi-instrumentalist Brian Jackson, who was a member of Gil Scott-Heron’s band and performed on the original recording of “The Bottle.” Here, Jackson recreates the vibe 1970s soul jazz while bringing a modern flair that perfectly suits The Fusion Syndicate’s style.

Could this be the first song from a forthcoming full-length album from The Fusion Syndicate? Stay tuned in to The Fusion Syndicate revolution to learn more!

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