Berklee College Groove Band to play Russian Jazz Festival in July


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BOSTON, MA (USA), June 20, 2006 - The Berklee College of Music Heavy Groove Ensemble directed by David Fiuczynski has accepted an invitation to perform at Russia's most prominent jazz festival, the JazzQ Festival, in St. Petersburg, on July 22. This will be the first time that a college group has performed at the festival where this year featured artists include Maceo Parker, Eddie Palmieri, Stanley Clarke, and George Duke. Additionally, Berklee faculty and administrators,along with festival personnel, will audition, select, and award one Russian jazz instrumentalist a full-ride Berklee scholarship established by JazzQ Founder Sergei Kremensky. The Sergei Kremensky Endowed Scholarship will cover tuition and housing for four years of study.

“Berklee College of Music is famous around the world for its quality music and education, hence we would like to show the JazzQ festival visitors this level of quality," says festival promoter Alexander Serdukoff. “This performance will invoke interest among local musicians and help cultural and musical exchange."

The Berklee Heavy Groove Ensemble will perform under the direction of Associate Professor David Fiuczynski. Guitarist Fiuczynsk is the bandleader and primary songwriter for the cutting-edge funk/fusion band the Screaming Headless Torsos, a member of the Black Rock Coalition. He and has performed and recorded with artists including Vernon Reid, Branford Marsalis, Stewart Copeland, and many others. The group is preparing an exhilarating program of jazz, soul, r&b, and hip-hop music with original student compositions and songs by Meshell Ndegeocello and the Screaming Headless Torsos.

The Band

Vocalist Danny McClain, a native of Cambridge, MA, graduated from Berklee in 2004 with a degree in Music Business/Management. McClain is currently a member of the group Radiance, performing professionally in New York City; Atlanta, GA; and Boston.

Vocalist Anjuli Stars is from Miami, FL. The prolific hip-hop songwriter and performer includes Latin music, Motown, Nat King Cole, and The Bee Gees among her wide range of influences. She is a three-time winner on Showtime at The Apollo, has been featured on Miami radio, and performed with Lil Kim, Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne. Stars is a Songwriting major at Berklee.

Saxophonist Nikolay Moiseenko was born in Moscow, Russia. The winner of the Russian Young Jazz Performers Competition among sax players, he studied at the Russian Academy of Music before receiving a scholarship to attend Berklee in 2004. Russian audiences know Moiseenko as a member of the Moscow funk band Cher-ta, and from performances with Igor Butman, Oleg Lundstrem, and Nikolay Arutyunov, among others. He was also a member of one of the most successful Moscow funk/jam bands, Sunlight. Moiseenko is a Performance major.

Drummer Ayeisha Mathis is from Boston, MA, and is a recipient of the prestigious, full- ride Berklee Presidential Scholarship for outstanding U.S. musicians. She has performed with percussion greats John Blackwell, Sheila E., Dennis Chambers, and Vinnie Colaiuta, among others. Mathis has endorsements from Zildjian and Vater Percussion, and was winner of the National Collegiate Minority Leadership Award. After graduating from Berklee, she plans to be a performer, songwriter, producer, and music publisher.

Pianist Jim Funnell lived in England, France, and Germany as a young man. Funnell began playing piano at age five and started playing gigs in Paris when he was 14. He later formed the NJR Trio, which played the Concours National de Jazz de la Defense in Paris, and the Jazz Vienne Festival. He studied classical piano at the French National Conservatory until he was awarded a scholarship from Berklee, where he is majoring in both Performance and Composition. Funnell also performs with the groups MUNDuO, and DiLe.

Bassist Jeremy McDonald is from Pittsburgh, PA. He counts Motown's James Jamerson, Pino Palladino, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Charlie Haden as his bass heroes. McDonald has been an active performer since the age of 13. Among early highlights was a tour of Hungary, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. McDonald was awarded a full tuition scholarship to attend Berklee, where he majors in Professional Music. His contemporary jazz group Metaphor will release a CD this summer.

Keyboardist Richard Wheare was born in England, and spent his formative years in Hong Kong. He began playing the piano at age five, and added voice, guitar, drums, and bass within a few years. At 16 he discovered DJ culture and became fascinated by the urban electronic soundscape with roots in jazz, funk, and soul music. On stage, Wheare's keyboard becomes a percussion instrument and a control surface for live sound design, triggering samples in real time and manipulating effects in a musical context. He is currently working towards a degree in Music Synthesis at Berklee.

Berklee College of Music was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music. For over half a century, the college has evolved constantly to reflect the state of the art of music and the music business. With over a dozen performance and nonperformance majors, a diverse and talented student body representing over 70 countries, and a music industry “who's who" of alumni, Berklee is the world's premier learning lab for the music of today--and tomorrow.

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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