Brian O'Neill: Artistic Director, Percussionist, Composer
Brian O'Neill is a versatile multi-percussionist based in New York City and Boston. A "percussion master and musical polymath" (Boston Phoenix), he has performed in a variety of contexts including opera and classical (South Florida Symphony, Boston Festival Orchestra, Arizona Opera Ring Cycle Orchestra, Flagstaff Symphony), as a concert soloist (Sun City Symphony), pop music (Kristin Chenoweth, Donna Summer, Archie Bell, the Del-Larks), and jazz (Bert Seager, Peter Erskine, Wallace Roney, Ernie Watts). While he continues to freelance as an orchestral player and theatre drummer, he has become active in the global music scene performing music from Europe, the Middle East and Latin America regularly. As a multi-percussionist, he performs with his Mexican roots band La Tuza, klezmer-Balkan-Mediterranean hybrid The Klezwoods, The Bert Seager quartet, Mexo-Americana all-stars David Wax Museum, sephardic trio Aljashu, flamenco guitarist Juanito Pascual and others.
Brian's musical adventures have brought him to the Montreal Jazz Festival (main stage), Hawaii International Jazz Festival, the prestigious Festival de Mexico, various stages in Japan, The Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. Currently, he leads a "marvelously flexible" ensemble (Boston Globe) called Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica, which is comprised of two unique ensembles: a vibraphone quartet re-interpreting exotica music from a jazz and classical perspective, and the world's only big band performing Brian's transcriptions of the lost music of Juan Garcia Esquivel, the Mexican arranger and king of space-age-bachelor-pad music. In 2010, his Exotica for Modern Living recording series launched with an homage to Esquivel that received "four stars" from the Sunday Times London and was deemed "deliciously entertaining" by the Wall Street Journal. "O'Neill may be, in the long run, a better exoticist than [John] Zorn"AllAboutJazz
As a double agent, Brian is sometimes spotted on his first, and perhaps the most ubiquitous percussion instrumentthe pianoand recently joined the contemporary chamber quartet CORDIS.
Keep up with Brian and learn about his addiction to studying global tambourine techniques at crashandboom.com or on Twitter (@orchestrotica).
Orange photo by Robin Holland.
Geni Skendo: Bass Flute, Flute, Shakuhachi
The Boston Globe calls flute and shakuhachi specialist Geni Skendo a “virtuoso,” creating a unique blend of jazz, free jazz and world music. After a successful performing career in his native Albania, Geni moved to the US in 2003 to raise his jazz playing to a higher level. Studies at the Berklee College of Music and The New England Conservatory (MM) led to a deep, ongoing involvement with the Boston music scene. Geni performs with Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica (Best World Music Act, Boston Phoenix Readers’ Poll, 2012), in both its quartet and big-band incarnations. The quartet utilizes Geni’s full palette, while the big band relies heavily on Geni’s powerful bass flute in its recreation of long-lost arrangements by the legendary Mexican arranger Juan Garcia Esquivel. Geni also leads the free improvised chamber music group, Samurai Jazz Trio, consisting of shakuhachi, bass/shamisen and piano. Geni has released three CDs, most recently Acoustic Cowboy, featuring original compositions and new arrangements of songs from Olivier Messiaen, African pygmies and the Balkans.
More at GeniMusic.com
Brad Barrett: Bass
Brad Barrett is a highly skilled bassist and has performed virtually all genres of music. His musical stylings and high-level improvisational skills have landed him academic scholarships, tours, and unique performance opportunities in many states as well as Europe and Asia. Brad has recorded with Ran Blake, Bob Moses, Jerry Leake, and Hankus Netsky. He has also performed at the Panama Jazz Festival, Idlywild Jazz Festival, USO Tour (Asia) as well as with a variety of bands over the past 10 years. Brad is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Jazz Improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
More at bradbarrettbass.com
Tev Stevig: oud, tanbur, resonator guitar
Tev Stevig is a Boston-based guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, specializing in a variety of pluckedstring instruments from the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey. He joined the Orchestrotica's quintet in 2013 and had been playing guitar and steel guitar with the group's 22-pc Esquivel big band since 2011. Tev also performs with his solo/duo project called Jeni Jol, which incorporates elements of music from the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey in his original compositions and arrangements for clawhammer style fretless guitar. Jeni Jol's first CD was released in the fall of 2013 and is the first of an exciting new series of CD releases featuring solo clawhammer style guitar. Tev also plays electric guitar and oud with the klezmer/Balkan/jazz/rock band Klezwoods. He plays tanbur with the Ottoman art music group Orkestra Marhaba and acoustic guitar and oud for the Balkan/new-grass group, Hickory Strings. His musical travels have brought him to the main stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Apollonia Festival of Arts in Bulgaria, as well as many other music venues in North America and Europe. He has performed with such seminal Balkan folk artists as Yuri Yunakov, Goran Alachki, Gieorgi Yanev, Adam Good, Beth Cohen, and Walt Mahovlich. He has also performed with Ramon de los Reyes Spanish Dance Theater, Julia Madeson and Aljashu (Sephardic music), Zamir Chorale, and the Turkish art music ensemble, Dunya.
More at tevstevig.com
Jeremy Smith: Percussion
Jeremy Smith is a percussive artist whose unique versatility allows him to move seamlessly among numerous musical styles from around the world. While the foundation of his playing comes from his classical training at Juilliard, his passion lies in improvisational percussion traditions such as those found in South America, Africa, India, the Middle East, and jazz.
He has performed with ensembles and artists such as Alí Bello and the Sweet Wire Band, Ensamble a Contratiempo, Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros, Gian-Carla Tisera, Los Crema Paraiso, and Latin Grammy nominee Luisito Quintero. He is also a member of the innovative Middle Eastern music group Brooklyn Nomads led by oudist Hadi Eldebek.
As a composer, Jeremy has written two works for percussion trio. “In Unison” was written for and premiered by students at the 2013 Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar. In 2012, he premiered “5-7-9” at Juilliard’s electro-acoustic concert series Beyond the Machine 13.0. This work has also been performed at the Manhattan School of Music and had its Asia premiere in July 2014 at the International Percussion Festival in Seoul, Korea. Jeremy is an active freelance artist based in New York City where he is also an accompanist for modern dance classes at Peridance Capezio Center, Steps on Broadway, Paul Taylor School, Ballet Tech School, and Harkness Dance Center. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School as a student of Gordon Gottlieb and Markus Rhoten.
More at jeremysmithpercussion.com