2014 Artist Lineup

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson, founder and artistic director of the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, began his musical journey at the age of 8 on piano, adding drums at 9, trombone at 10 then bass at 12. He grew up in Decatur, IL, loving genre-crossing jazz-pop artists such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, Tower of Power, The Brecker Brothers, David Sanborn, Yellowjackets and Chick Corea. So naturally gifted was Brian, his 7th grade piano recital consisted of all original tunes. Brian flourished in high school bands and then moved to Chicago to complete his musical studies at DePaul University under Cliff Colnot and Alan Swain. He then went on to compose jingles for clients such as United Airlines, Gatorade, Sears and McDonald’s in the bustling city’s highly competitive advertising community.

In 1994, at age 20, Brian self-produced his debut album, Long Night Out. Since then, Brian has released thirteen more albums, toured around the world, seen his name at the top of Billboard and radio charts, worked and performed with industry all-stars like Maurice White, Larry Graham, Chris Botti, Musiq Soulchild, Ledisi, Chuck Brown, and “Bootsy” Collins to name a few, and received numerous awards including recently being nominated for a 2012 NAACP Image Award and a 2012 Soul Train Award. Regardless of his success, fans can rest assured that with 14 albums and counting, Brian Culbertson always brings his very best - and brings the very best out of others - in all of his broad-ranging musical endeavors. Check out Brian’s newest album, Another Long Night Out -- a complete re-recording of Long Night Out, featuring some of the legends of jazz that inspired him 20 years ago.


Your host, performing all week

Your host, performing all week

Average White Band

Average White Band are widely regarded as one of the best soul and funk bands in the history of music. Though perhaps best known for their timeless instrumental mega-hit 'Pick Up the Pieces' the band's strength actually lay in their consistently accomplished song-writing, stretching across several gold selling albums and multi-Grammy nominations for the legendary Atlantic Records. Somewhat incongruously, given their Scottish roots, the six piece took the influences of their R&B heroes - people like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Donny Hathaway and others - and developed their own 'authentic' sound which was eagerly adopted by audiences in the US and elsewhere.

Whilst a good number of cuts - 'Cut The Cake' and 'Let's Go 'Round Again' to name but two - attracted chart action as hit singles, many other album tracks, like 'Schoolboy Crush' and 'Person to Person' became much sampled and turn-tabled 'rare' grooves. Many more tunes, such as 'Cloudy', 'A Love Of Your Own' and 'Nothing You Can Do' - amongst many others- stand alongside some of the finest soul 'album tracks' ever recorded.

The current line-up of the band - this time with noted US recruits augmenting founding members Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre - continues to record and tour around the world to ongoing critical and audience acclaim. All this and more is perfectly illustrated in the band's latest release Soul And The City which showcases the breadth and depth of the band's material, all captured within the excitement of a 2006 live performance.


Performing Saturday afternoon

Performing Saturday afternoon

Eric Benét

R&B crooner, songwriter and actor Eric Benét has successfully released six albums including his latest album featuring hits “Real Love,” “Harriett Jones,” and “News for You.” Very appropriately The One marks a moment of positive transition in his life and lyrically speaks to the many new beginnings developing in his career and family. The One was also the first of Jordan House Records, which he created in partnership with EMI.

In addition to a new album, single & record label, Eric Benét also has a new marriage and baby girl. Eric married Manuela Testolini on July 31st, 2011 in Newport Beach, CA and the newlyweds had their first baby together on December 20th, 2011, naming her Lucia Bella and weighing 6 lbs 5 oz.

Eric Benét grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1970s and was the youngest of five musically talented siblings. He started out singing with a group called Gerard in the late 1980s; then Benét, his sister Lisa, and his cousin George Nash Jr. formed a band called Benét and in 1992, they were signed to EMI and released a self-titled album. Two years later, Eric Benet broke onto the music scene with his solo career and signed with Warner Bros. Records, releasing his debut solo album, True to Myself in 1996. His sophomore album, A Day in the Life, was released in 1999 and featured his smash hit "Spend My Life With You,”, which rose to #1 on the US Billboard R&B charts (for 3 weeks), was certified gold, and nominated for a 2000 Grammy Award Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group and a Soul Train Music Award for  Best R&B/Soul Album, Male.

Benet has also been active as an actor and most recently starred in his first lead role in the feature Trinity Goodheart, which premiered at the American Black Film Festival on July 9th, 2011. Additionally, Eric had a recurring role on the television program For Your Love (1998-2002) and made his film debut alongside Mariah Carey in Glitter (2001).


Headlining Sunday evening's concert at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards

Headlining Sunday evening's concert at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards

David Benoit

Since launching his recording career in 1977, David Benoit’s expansive career as a contemporary jazz pianist and composer has included over 25 solo recordings. His ’80s releases This Side Up, Freedom at Midnight and the GRAMMY-nominated Every Step of the Way are considered influential genre classics. Among his other GRAMMY nominations are those for Best Instrumental Composition (for “Dad’s Room,” from 1999’s Professional Dreamer) and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance (for the GRP All-Star Big Band). His prolific output since 2000 includes several prominent Charlie Brown related projects (including Here’s To You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years and the star-studded 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas) that reflect his lifelong passion for the music of original Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi and solidify Benoit’s role as his musical heir. Benoit has also released the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charting albums Fuzzy Logic, Right Here, Right Now, Full Circle and Heroes, which paid homage to the pianist’s top jazz and pop influences. 

Benoit’s ever expanding slate of orchestral music endeavors include his ongoing role as conductor of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and leading such eminent orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphonies of London, Nuremberg, San Francisco, Atlanta, San Antonio and San Jose. Concurrent with his burgeoning career as a conductor, he recorded 1996’s American Landscape with The London Symphony Orchestra and 2005’s Orchestral Stories with members of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Orchestral Stories featured his first piano concerto “The Centaur and the Sphinx” and his acclaimed symphonic piece “Kobe,” both of which he has performed in live settings across the country. In 2009, 

Benoit performed and conducted Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” with the Asia America Symphony Orchestra in a show that included Broadway great Lea Salonga; he later conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the same orchestra in his critically acclaimed debut at Los Angeles’ Disney Hall. 

Benoit’s notable film scores include The Stars Fell on Henrietta, produced by Clint Eastwood and starring Robert Duvall; and The Christmas Tree, produced by Sally Field, voted Best Score of 1996 by Film Score Magazine. Benoit has also been a longtime guest educator with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, winning the organization’s “excellence in music education” award in 2001. 

This year, Benoit will head on the road to perform compositions from his latest album, Conversation. Released on May 29, 2012, on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, Benoit gets assistance along the way from musicians representing a broad cross section of styles: electric guitarist Jeff Golub, acoustic guitarist Pat Kelley, guitarist David Pack, flutist Tim Weisberg, classical pianist Robert Theis and a cadre of young classical players who are fearless about taking their music to less traditional and more adventurous and exploratory places.


Appearing with Brian for a special "piano2piano" performance Friday afternoon at Rutherford Hill Winery plus more.

Appearing with Brian for a special "piano2piano" performance Friday afternoon at Rutherford Hill Winery plus more.

Karen Briggs

Often referred to as "the lady in red", Karen Briggs’ fiery violin features on the multi-platinum selling, "Live at the Acropolis" PBS special have been seen literally by millions of people around the world. Her playing is strong and indicative of her exposure to Jazz, Gospel, Latin, Classical, African and Mid-eastern music styles. All are combined with a unique melismatic, 'vocal-like' soul, thus giving her a rare and distinguishable signature of sound.

Her Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist took place in 1997. While accompanied by Pianist/Composer Dave Grusin, she participated in a fundraiser event hosted by Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman. She appears in the resulting family movie classic entitled, "Music of the Heart" starring Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett and Gloria Estefan. Karen has recorded and toured with Stanley Clarke as part of the group project "Vertu" which included drummer, Lenny White. She has also conducted workshops as an Artist-In-Residency for Berklee Music College, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

Her current release "Soulchestral Groove", features the fire driven 'soul-os' that the violinist is most recognized for. It includes original compositions and clever cover arrangements. She is currently in the studio preparing her next independent project which will be an instrumental collaboration with famed Persian orchestral conductor/arranger, Shardhad Rohani, best known for his role as the dueling violinist with Karen in the Acropolis concert.

Karen Briggs will be performing as as member of Jazz in Pink. 

Performing with Jazz In Pink Sunday afternoon

Performing with Jazz In Pink Sunday afternoon

Morris Day & The Time

After making a name for himself as one of pop's most verbally pretentious vocalists in the '80s funk outfit The Time, singer Morris Day embarked on a solo career that began with the release of 1985's Color of Success.

Daydreaming, his second attempt, appeared in 1987 and featured the production work of ex-Time members, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam. Together they managed to reproduce some of the funky flair the trio is known for with "Fishnet," a single that soared to the R&B No. 1 slot shortly after its release.

A third album, Dangerous, was released in 1992. While recording through the late '80s and early '90s, Day also appeared in several feature films -- including playing himself in Prince's autobiographical epic Purple Rain, as well as appearances in Kevin Smith’s comedy Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and Ford Fairlane starring Andrew Dice Clay.


Performing Saturday night

Performing Saturday night

Eric Darius

Every now and then an artist bursts onto the scene, changing the rules and challenging the status quo. Eric Darius is one of those artists fearlessly pushing all musical boundaries. He is one of the most exciting musicians to enter the Contemporary Jazz scene in the last decade.

His explosive arrival as a recording artist at the age of 17 caused a frenzy! Now, with four critically acclaimed albums under his belt, a Number One hit single and Five Top 10 radio hits on Nielsen’s R&R/Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts, 30-year-old Shanachie recording artist, Eric Darius, is on a mission. Prophetically hailed Debut Artist of the Year by Smooth Jazz News in 2004, Eric has toured worldwide and shared the stage with innumerable renown artists, such as Prince, Jamie Foxx, Carlos Santana, Brian McKinght, Wynton Marsalis, Babyface, and George Benson, just to name a few. His music innovatively crosses over all music boundaries from Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop, to Pop, creating a very distinctive, fresh sound and approach that is uniquely his own. Eric Darius continues to be a force that is unequalled in today’s musical landscape.


Performing with his band Sunday afternoon plus with "Brian Culbertson & The Funk Experience" on Friday Night Funk Night

Performing with his band Sunday afternoon plus with "Brian Culbertson & The Funk Experience" on Friday Night Funk Night

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

To describe how the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has arrived at its 35th Anniversary, trumpet player Gregory Davis employs a tried-and true New Orleans-centric analogy: “It ends up being like a pot of gumbo – you drop in a little okra, drop in a little shrimp, you drop in some crabs. Before you know it, you’ve mixed in all these different ingredients and you’ve got a beautiful soup. That was our approach to music early on and it still is today.”

In 1977, The Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club in New Orleans began showcasing a traditional Crescent City brass band. It was a joining of two proud, but antiquated, traditions at the time: social and pleasure clubs dated back over a century to a time when black southerners could rarely afford life insurance, and the clubs would provide proper funeral arrangements. Brass bands, early predecessors of jazz as we know it, would often follow the funeral procession playing somber dirges, then once the family of the deceased was out of earshot, burst into jubilant dance tunes as casual onlookers danced in the streets. By the late '70s, few of either existed. The Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club decided to assemble this group as a house band, and over the course of these early gigs, the seven-member ensemble adopted the venue's name: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Thirty-five years later, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is a world famous music machine, whose name is synonymous with genre-bending romps and high-octane performances. They have revitalized the brass band in New Orleans and around the world, progressing from local parties, clubs, baseball games and festivals in their early years to touring nearly constantly in the U.S. and in over 30 other countries on five continents. The Dirty Dozen have been featured guests on albums by artists including David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Buckwheat Zydeco, Dave Matthews Band, Modest Mouse, Widespread Panic, and the Black Crowes.


Performing Saturday afternoon

Performing Saturday afternoon

Dave Grusin

One of the top 10 film composers of his generation, Dave Grusin is also renowned as a jazz artist and co-founder of the independent record label GRP. Early fusion jazz albums include Mountain Dance, Harlequin, and Migration, and a deep immersion in digital technology.  In the 1990’s he returned to a focus on the acoustic piano, which led to four critically acclaimed tribute albums of the music of Gershwin, Ellington, Mancini, and Bernstein.

More recently he has revisited his earlier roots, working with guitarist Lee Ritenour on some classical CD projects, Two Worlds & Amparo, with guests Renee Fleming, Joshua Bell, Chris Botti, and Gil Shaham.  In 2004 he released a solo piano album entitled Now Playing, a collection of his film themes. Over the years he has worked as an arranger/producer/pianist with a vast array of artists, including Gerry Mulligan, Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Grover Washington Jr., Patti Austin, Bobby MacFerrin, Diana Krall, & James Taylor.

Grusin has written over 60 film scores and received eight Academy Award nominations, including an Oscar in 1988 for the musical score of The Milagro Beanfield War. His work as a recording artist and producer has resulted in 12 GRAMMY® awards and countless nominations.

In addition to his professional life, Grusin is co-founder of the National Foundation for Jazz Education, a philanthropic group dedicated to helping young jazz musicians. Grusin holds honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado, the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and the Manhattan School of Music.

Dave Grusin on Wikipedia

Performing with Lee Ritenour on Thursday's "Jazz Legend" Night

Performing with Lee Ritenour on Thursday's "Jazz Legend" Night

Gail Jhonson

The First Lady of Smooth Jazz is a distinction that Gail Denise Jhonson has worked a lifetime to achieve. Jhonson brings all of her many talents to bear as soul-lifting spiritualist, next-gen feminist inspiration, big-picture band leader and, Philly street-corner rhythmist; building on a foundation of straight-ahead jazz, R&B, Funk and Gospel.

Born and raised in the city of Philadelphia, Gail’s fascination with the endless possibilities of the piano began at the young age of 10. By 14, Gail had played her first professional gig, starting her on a journey that has seen her travel the world, touching lives through her gift of music. From her humble beginnings on the streets of Philly to the height of her success on the stage and in the studio, Gail Jhonson has lived a life fully committed to music. She graduated from the Berklee College of Music, with a B.A. in Composition, then made the move west to Los Angeles, where she established herself in the vibrant heart of the music industry. Gail’s impressive resume as a recording artist and touring musician includes appearances with such notables as Norman Brown, Mindi Abair, Bobby Womack, Ray Parker Jr., Pink, Milli Vanilli, Morris Day and Rain Pryor.

In 2010 and 2011 The American Black Music Association awarded Gail a Spotlight Award at the red carpet event in Los Angeles; for which she won "Best Jazz Musician." Gail leads the all female ensemble “Jazz in Pink,” featuring such artists as Karen Briggs, Althea Rene & Maria Antoinette. She has her own band “3 Piece Suit” in Los Angeles. She is an educator and author of 3 music method books, and also composer for the musical Overcome, Overjoyed-showing at The El Portal Theatre/North Hollywood.


Performing with Jazz In Pink on Sunday afternoon

Performing with Jazz In Pink on Sunday afternoon

Marqueal Jordan

Chicago-based artist, and Los Angeles native, Marqueal Jordan is a rare musician who is blessed with the gift of being equally proficient as an instrumentalist and a vocalist. His distinctive saxophone tone and style, combined with his soulful vocals, places him in the tradition of legendary dual talents, Donny Hathaway and George Benson. Marqueal (pronounced Mar-KWELL) is intent on following in the footsteps of these giants on his debut solo CD, Catalyst. 

Described by fellow saxophonist Mike Phillips as “one of the most versatile saxophonists in the game today” and affectionately referred to as “a singin’ fool” by Gerald Albright, Marqueal earned his reputation as an electrifying live performer after moving to Chicago in 1995. He was the front man for the Chicago-based funk unit, Fat Time, and became an integral member in numerous Jazz and Blues bands in the city. In 2008, Brian Culbertson asked Marqueal to join his touring band, and since then he has captivated audiences around the world with his talent and magnetic stage presence. As a sideman, he’s performed with an amazing list of major artists such as Oleta Adams, Albright, Patti Austin, Average White Band, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Aretha Franklin, KRS-ONE, Larry Graham, Lalah Hathaway, Al Jarreau, Earl Klugh, Dave Koz, Jeff Lorber, Maysa, Najee, Ray Parker, Jr., Phil Perry, David Sanborn, Jill Scott, Sinbad, Gerald Veasley, and Kirk Whalum. Marqueal is featured on “You Send Me”, the lead single from Phil Perry’s latest CD, Say Yes; and Brian Culbertson’s CD/DVD, Live from the Inside.


Performing with "Brian Culbertson & The Funk Experience" on Friday Night Funk Night, on the "BC 20th Anniversary Show" on Saturday Night, as well as Saturday's "Wine Down" at The Westin Verasa Napa.

Performing with "Brian Culbertson & The Funk Experience" on Friday Night Funk Night, on the "BC 20th Anniversary Show" on Saturday Night, as well as Saturday's "Wine Down" at The Westin Verasa Napa.

Earl Klugh

In a recording career of over 35 years, Grammy® Award-winning guitar virtuoso Earl Klugh has been lauded first as a prodigy and groundbreaker, then a defining figure, and ultimately, as one of the true statesmen of contemporary jazz.

Working in a local music shop and haunting the Detroit jazz landmark Baker’s Keyboard Lounge accompanied by his mother, Klugh found encouragement from the giants of jazz as a young man: “George Benson was my first and foremost mentor; I worked in his band for a year, at 17. He spent a lot of time with me, and was key in helping me sign my first record deal,” which resulted in the debut album Earl Klugh (Blue Note, 1976). In Detroit, Earl also met pianist Bill Evans, a central songwriting influence; the great saxophonist and flautist Yusef Lateef, later playing on two of his albums; and Chick Corea, whom he briefly joined in Return to Forever’s earliest incarnation.

Earl absorbed a world of influences in his youth, from Wes Montgomery to Sergio Mendes, to the jazz and classical guitar music of Brazil, Argentina and Spain, the pop songs of Burt Bacharach and the Beatles, and the pop-folk eruption of the early Sixties and Motown’s legendary studio-session band, The Funk Brothers. “Music for me has always been a driving force in my life,” he says. “I love the emotion music evokes, and the stories it tells. No matter the genre, or style, I can always find something to enjoy. Music has no boundaries.” Klugh’s lifelong appreciation of contemporary popular music resulted not in a pastiche of styles, but in a philosophical positioning of his music for the broadest audience of music lovers. As a composer and recording artist, he was counted among the lynchpin figures of a new contemporary jazz, and rightly credited for the extension of his instrument’s artistic scope.

In recent years, Klugh has toured on nearly every continent, carrying the banner for jazz music, its legendary musicians, and for global social awareness. Joining such legends as George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Al Jarreau, Bob James, Patti Austin and Ravi Coltrane, Klugh has twice traveled on goodwill tours to India, jointly sponsored by the U.S. State Department and The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Klugh received the honor of 2008’s Best Jazz Concert by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the New York Times hailed Klugh, “…a guitarist with impeccable technique.” Whether he is performing as a soloist, with his quartet, his electric band, his ‘Little Big Band’ or with renowned symphony orchestras, Klugh’s magic onstage continues to delight audiences worldwide. In his newest album, THE SPICE OF LIFE, Klugh continues to show us just how much he has learned through his career, and makes us hope that his reasons to play will exist for many years to come.


Performing on Thursday's "Jazz Legend" Night

Performing on Thursday's "Jazz Legend" Night

Michael Lington

Michael Lington has performed for royalty and sold-out crowds around the world. He’s one of the most popular and charismatic saxophonists on the contemporary jazz scene and the first single from his latest CD Pure, “Roadtrip,” zoomed to No. 1 on the instrumental radio charts. For the past three years he has been on a worldwide tour with legendary vocalist Michael Bolton as his special guest and performed more than 300 shows in 48 countries. In 2012, Lington celebrates 15 years since his first CD release.

Since then, he’s piled up the accolades, as in 2009 he was Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards nominee and his 2008 CD Heat (featuring the No. 1 radio single “You and I”) was chosen as the influential Jazz Trax’s Best Album Of The Year. He’s now had more than a dozen hit singles, in addition to performing with other high-profile artists like Aaron Neville, Barry Manilow, Bobby Caldwell and jazz/R&B legend Randy Crawford.

A native of Denmark, Lington moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career and became a United States citizen in 2008. He was a part of the famed Tivoli Boys Guard at early age, later thrilling Queen of Denmark for her 50th birthday celebration. Lington once again performed for the Danish royal family, marking the fifth time he’s held center stage. When not recording music or performing, he manages his own cigar company, Michael Lington Cigars, and also served as a cigar columnist for Wine and Jazz magazine.


Performing Wed-Sat on various events including his own cigar events

Performing Wed-Sat on various events including his own cigar events

Eric Marienthal

Eric studied at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. By the time he left Berklee, Eric had achieved the highest proficiency rating given by the school. In 1995, Eric was awarded the Berklee Distinguished Alumnus Award for outstanding achievements in contemporary music. He has since gone on to perform in over 75 different countries, recorded 13 solo CD's and has played on hundreds of records, films, television shows and commercial jingles.

Eric started his professional career in 1980 with famed New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt. After returning to Los Angeles Eric became a member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band. He recorded 6 CD's with Chick Corea's band and received 2 of his 5 Grammy nominations. He's won one Grammy award as part of the GRP Super Live CD. Eric went on to perform with artists such as Elton John, Barbara Streisand, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Aaron Neville, Johnny Mathis, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, George Duke, David Benoit, The Rippingtons, The Jeff Lorber Fusion, The Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, Brian Culbertson, Patti Austin, Lou Rawls, David Lee Roth, The Yellowjackets, B.B. King, Ramsey Louis, Patti Labelle, Olivia Newton-John, and many others.

Among Eric's 13 solo CD's, his latest is entitled "It's Love", on Peak Records. Nine of the songs that Eric has recorded have made it to the top 10 of the National Contemporary Jazz Radio Charts and 3 have made it to #1. Eric was voted the year's "Favorite Alto Sax Players" in the Jazziz Magazine Reader's Poll along with David Sanborn and Phil Woods.

Every summer for the past 15 years Eric has put on an annual fundraising concert for High Hopes. High Hopes is a non-profit organization in Orange County, California that works with people who have suffered traumatic head injuries. With the help of many guest artists who have donated their time to perform, these concerts to date have raised well over $1,500,000 for this charity.


Performing as a special guest with Earl Klugh on Thursday plus with "Brian Culbertson & The Funk Experience" on Friday Night Funk Night

Performing as a special guest with Earl Klugh on Thursday plus with "Brian Culbertson & The Funk Experience" on Friday Night Funk Night

Ohio Players

The Ohio Players came into musical prominence in the 1970’s as pioneers of street funk and underground R&B. After signing with Mercury Records in 1974 through 1977 The Ohio Players landed three consecutive platinum albums “Skin Tight,” “Fire”, and “Honey”. The band traveled the world and produced more than a dozen albums,  earning 14 gold and platinum awards for their labors. They also appeared on many national television programs from Dick Clark, Don Kushner, to David Letterman.  Since then there is a long list of artists who have sampled or re-recorded their material including: Snoop Dogg, Puff Daddy, Salt & Pepper, Too Short, Sound Garden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul Jackson Jr., and Alex Bugnon.

Currently the band consists of 10 members, 4 of which are original members. James “Diamond” Williams (Drums), Billy Beck (Keyboard), Clarence Willis (Lead Guitar), and Robert Kuumba (Percussion). One might think the band members could now sit back, and count their gold and platinum records, enjoying their memories as they move into an easy retirement, but nothing could be further from the truth. These guys have kept busy and have been entertaining crowds of people all over the world.

Today, The Ohio Players are one of the few bands from the 70’s era who still perform all of their music using no computers or samplers to enhance their musical production. The Ohio Players are thankful for the large, loyal fan base who come to the shows and are still enthusiastic to hear the original sounds from the 70’s. And even now, The Ohio Players are enthusiastic and eager with the dawn of their newest release, “This is Your Night.”

Ohio Players on Wikipedia

Performing on Friday Night Funk Night

Performing on Friday Night Funk Night

Cecil Ramirez

Keyboardist Cecil Ramirez started as a music editor for PianoDisc, a company that records music that plays on high-tech player piano systems. While there he worked with many jazz artists on their projects, from a roster that included Steve Allen, Marian McPartland, Dick Hyman, Tom Grant, Freddie Ravel and David Benoit. Cecil also performed and recorded several best-selling compilation albums for PianoDisc. Upon assuming a new role in 1997 with PianoDisc's sister company, Mason & Hamlin, Cecil became more involved with pianos at the manufacturing level. His new position also brought him closer to working with artists, including a new major talent from Chicago named Brian Culbertson. 

"I had bought and studied all of Brian's albums before I had ever met him in person; his sense of groove and phrasing was incredible," says Cecil. "After Brian came onboard as a PianoDisc/Mason & Hamlin artist, I really looked forward to meeting him but I never thought I'd be performing with him someday!" As the current national sales manager for Mason & Hamlin, Cecil has worked supporting Brian on several projects and tours, including the Live From the Inside DVD at Capitol Records Studio A, Brian's "piano2piano" tour with David Benoit, and Napa Valley Jazz Getaway 2012 and 2013. 

Cecil is excited to be back at Napa Valley Jazz Getaway 2014 with his band. In 2013, he has performed with several other major and independent jazz artists including Michael Lington, Vincent Ingala, Kim Waters, Steve Oliver, Jessy J, Elan Trotman, and Lin Rountree. 

An avid wine and food enthusiast, Cecil had the honor of introducing Brian to fine Napa wine during a dinner in Chicago. As Brian recalls, "we went out to Maggiano's one night and he ordered a Silver Oak. I was hooked!" Cecil adds, "It was a great night, hanging with a great friend, a great pianist and composer, and a great musical mentor."


Performing Wednesday at the Opening Night Welcome Dinner.

Performing Wednesday at the Opening Night Welcome Dinner.

Althea Rene

Born on Christmas Day in Detroit, Michigan, Rene began her musical journey at age four as a classical flautist. She studied classical music while attending Howard University in Washington D.C., and later gained further musical inspiration from the accomplishments of Yusef Lateef, Ian Anderson, and her father, one of Motown's original Funk Brothers, Dezie McCullers. She since has developed her own creative style.

For more than 10 years, she was employed as a Wayne County Deputy Sheriff (Detroit, Michigan). Today she is a full-time performing/recording artist, regarded among many as a master of her craft, and one of the world's most exciting solo improvisational flautists.

In May 2013, she released her fifth project "In The Flow". Althea co-wrote the title track collaborating with Grammy award winning producer Michael Broening (producer for legendary icons George Benson, Marion Meadows, and Paul McCartney). That song has become a hit single, and has reached number one on both the Billboard Chart and the Smooth Jazz Chart. This partnership has allowed her to become the first flute player in the history of Billboard Chart to reach the number one spot.

Althea Rene will be performing as part of Jazz in Pink. 


Performing with Jazz In Pink Sunday afternoon

Performing with Jazz In Pink Sunday afternoon

Lee Ritenour

It’s hard to believe that 2010 marks 50 years since Lee Ritenour starting playing the guitar, setting in motion a career that legends are made of. A career that has earned him 19 GRAMMY® nominations, a GRAMMY® Award win for his 1986 collaboration with Dave Grusin, Harlequin, numerous #1 spots on guitar polls, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian SJ Awards and the prestigious Alumnus of the Year award from USC. He has recorded over 40 albums, with 35 chart songs, and was a founding member of the group Fourplay with keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason, considered the most successful band in contemporary jazz.

As a young guitarist, his diverse musical style became the foundation of over 3,000 sessions covering a broad spectrum of artists ranging from his first session at 16 with the Mamas and Papas, to Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Simon & Garfunkel and Frank Sinatra. Not to forget the dazzling array of talent appearing on his solo works and collaborations; from his legendary work with Dave Grusin, to Phil Collins, Brazilian greats Ivan Lins, Caetano Veloso, and Djavan, to opera great Renee Fleming.

On his latest endeavor, 6 STRING THEORY, Ritenour celebrates the instrument that has allowed him this blessing by producing and assembling a star-studded tribute with 20 of the greatest guitarists of our time. Incorporating all of his history, from jazz and classical to rock and blues, from acoustic to electric, Lee Ritenour’s 6 STRING THEORY is already considered one of the finest guitar recordings ever made!


Performing with Dave Grusin on Thursday's "Jazz Legend" Night

Performing with Dave Grusin on Thursday's "Jazz Legend" Night

Mavis Staples

No one should be surprised at the new Mavis Staples: for six decades she has been the solid rock of American music. Alongside the family group she is so identified with, the Staple Singers, Mavis has managed to transform herself as she goes, yet never alter.

From the delta-inflected gospel sound she helped create in the 1950s, to the engaged protest of the civil rights era, and to pop radio in the Stax era, through all these Mavis carried on with her warm embrace of a voice the only constant.

How many musicians can claim this: to exist outside any scene, outside any genre, yet weaving themselves into the fabric of soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, rock and blues? Many of the maverick names that come to mind are composers as well; that Mavis has created her legacy as an interpreter of others – an underestimated talent since the days of the band singers – makes her achievement all the more impressive.

Recently, recognition of Mavis’ unique role in American music has been growing beyond her longtime fans, dipping into the wider world of pop as she performs alongside Justin Timberlake at the White House tribute to Memphis Soul, or with Elton John in a show-stealing Grammy tribute to Levon Helm of the Band.

Her first album with Jeff Tweedy at the controls, You Are Not Alone, won a much deserved Grammy. Now, on her second collaboration with Tweedy – Mavis calls him “Tweedy” all day long, and they are a pleasure to watch in the studio, riffing like some old vaudeville team – she has made an album to match her new national profile. Her newest album, One True Vine is an album that will both surprise longtime fans and solidify her position at the helm of American music.


Performing Sunday evening

Performing Sunday evening

Keenen Ivory Wayans

The trail-blazing linchpin of a sprawling African-American family of comic entertainers, was multitalented writer/director/producer Keenen Ivory Wayans (born June 8, 1958, in New York City) who was the first to achieve national prominence by successfully creating, launching and hosting a landmark 1990s black-oriented comedy satire on Fox TV. That, in turn, ignited and/or advanced the careers of not only his younger siblings Damon Wayans, Kim Wayans, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans, but many others.

Keenen attended Seward Park High School, then majored in engineering at Alabama's Tuskegee University. He dropped out during his senior year when the comedy bug hit him full force. Heavily influenced by Richard Pryor, he found only lukewarm success on the New York standup stage, deciding later to relocate to Los Angeles in order to pursue film and TV opportunities.

After hooking up with comedian Eddie Murphy and earning writing credit on the star's raunchy live performance feature Eddie Murphy Raw (1987), Keenen's visibility rose. A few years later, the sketch-oriented, Emmy-winning variety series In Living Color (1990) was Keenen's creative baby and ultimate pièce de résistance. He also turned the show into a family act as well with Damon, Kim, Marlon and Shawn all appearing on the irreverent series that showcased the deviously scathing social humor Keenen was infamous for.

When it comes to outrageous satire Keenen has few peers. Come the millennium he directed the hilarious horror spoof Scary Movie (2000), which prominently displayed brothers Shawn and Marlon, and is one of the most successful feature films ever directed by an African-American. He also directed its first sequel, Scary Movie 2 (2001). Keeping things more or less a family affair, he also directed Shawn and Marlon in White Chicks (2004), and helmed Damon's Homey the Clown (2007), based on Damon's famous mean-spirited ghetto character from the "In Living Color" days.

 Keenen on IMDb


*artist lineup & schedule subject to change. 

Performing on Friday Night Funk Night

Performing on Friday Night Funk Night

Thanks to all of the 2013 Napa Valley Jazz Getaway Artists:

Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun, Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, Take 6, Ray Parker Jr., Eric Darius, Nick Colionne, Michael Lington, Cecil Ramirez, Selina Albright, DW3, Kim Waters, Paige Bryan plus special guest comedian, Sinbad.

2012 Napa Valley Jazz Getaway Artists:

Kenny Lattimore, Oleta Adams, Eric Darius, David Benoit, Eric Marienthal, Noel Gourdin, Cecil Ramirez and special guest comedian, Sinbad.