Jorge Sylvester ACE ( Afro Caribbean Experimental) Collective

Jorge Sylvester

Alto Saxophone, Band Leader  and  


Nora McCarthy Voice, Poetry and


Waldron Mahdi Ricks Trumpet

Pablo Vergara Piano

Donald Nicks Electric Bass Guitar

Kenny Grohowski Drums and Percussions

The ACE Collective is a group of improvising musicians created and led by saxophonist/composer/arranger Jorge Sylvester.  An extension of the ACE Trio (alto saxophone, electric bass and drums), the ACE Collective includes three additional independent rhythmic and melodic elements: the voice, trumpet and piano expanding its harmonic colors, its scope of sound and its textural capacity.  The music is original, new and experimental and draws from the Afro- Caribbean Diaspora, jazz and the free music art forms.

A native of Colon, Republic of Panama, Sylvester's original compositions are indicative of the vast cultural mixture that is Central America.  The ACE Collective utilizes the rich spectrum of rhythms from the Caribbean and other Latin American countries as a vehicle to create new and undiscovered rhythmic melodic lines within the jazz tradition. Collective and free improvisation is an essential part of the concept utilizing juxtaposition and retrograde as main components of the experimentation.
Afro-Caribbean rhythms and their relationship to the avant-garde music form have not been
documented. Unlike the work of composers such as Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others who used Afro-Caribbean rhythms in their works without experimenting with their rhythmic pulse, the compositional structure of the music of the ACE Collective goes beyond an absolute interpretation, and delves deeper into the core of the rhythms breaking them down and expanding the pulse into a myriad of complex configurations that tap into the original primal properties of the music itself, reflecting its history and its origin, unraveling its many transmutations and adaptations over time and discovering new possibilities and applications within the tradition itself that are related to the avant-garde.

The poetry reflects the message of the compositions by telling the story of each piece and its historic relevance to the music adding an important educational dimension.  Other compositions that are significant to the history of jazz music are also occasionally introduced into the performance highlighting certain lesser known but meaningful composers from the Caribbean.

Alto-Saxophonist, Conductor, Composer, Arranger, Produce

Born in Colon, Panama attended the Panama Conservatory of Music and the University of Panama.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Music from the State University of New York College at New Paltz in 1981.  A unique innovator in the idiom of creative
music, Sylvester‘s  sound is reminiscent of another time in jazz
history when artists like Dolphy and Ornette were exploding on
the scene and experimenting with concepts that would ultimately revolutionize music at large.  A throwback to the future, Mr. Sylvester has been on the cutting edge of that scene since 1980
when he first came to New York City.  His blend of African-Caribbean rhythms with new music is what gives Sylvester his distinguished voice.  An impressive composer and arranger, his music moves, entices and stirs the imagination, as visceral as it is visual, his ability to transform colors into  sounds  and  sounds  into  textures  place  him  in  the  company of  the  great  expressionist painters.

Beginning his professional career at age 14, Jorge was leading his own Caribbean dance band, writing  his  own  arrangements  and  compositions.     He  studied  privately  with  renowned Panamanian jazz saxophonist, Euclides Hall, who took him along on gigs to observe from the bandstand  in the old school style.  When Jorge‘s professor at the conservatory,  Efrain Castro,
sent him to sub for him in a band led by the great Panamanian pianist Victor Boa, Jorge wataken on as a regular.

Heading for Europe in his early twenties, Sylvester spent ten years touring and recording with his ensembles and freelancing throughout Europe. In 1979 he studied advanced harmony with Argentinean pianist, composer Luis Vecchio in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias, Spain. It was during this period that Mr. Sylvester began to explore free jazz by playing and recording with the Luis Vecchio Quartet.

Upon his arrival to New York in 1980, he studied with Dave Holland, Oliver Lake, Steve Lacy, Ramsey Ameen, Marion Brown and many others at vibraphonist  Karl Bergers Creative Music Studio in Woodstock.   Since that time, Sylvester has performed with:   Stefon Harris, Rodney
Kendrick, Karl Berger, the David Murray Big Band, poet Sekou Sundiata, the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra, the Oliver Lake Big Band, Kuumba Frank Lacys Vibe Tribe,  the Next Legacy Orchestra, Joe Bowie‘s Defunkt Big Band and Nora McCarthy  who is a member of his group The ACE (Afro-Caribbean Experimental) Collective and with whom he also co-leads
several groups, namely:   The ConceptualMotion Orchestra and A Small Dream In Red (voice and saxophone duet) a CD by the same name was released on the Sundown label in March, 2003. The ConceptualMotion Orchestra, conducted and orchestrated by Sylvester, is a 20-piece all original music orchestra with compositions contributed by both he and McCarthy, opened the renowned avant garde VISION FESTIVAL X in New York City, June, 2005.  Also in 2005,

In the Spring of 2006, Jorge Sylvester toured Europe and Israel with the World Saxophone Quartet filling the chair formerly occupied by its founding father Julius Hemphill, Arthur Blythe, James Spaulding, Eric Person, John Purcell and Bruce Williams.  Mr. Sylvester performed alongside luminaries David Murray, Oliver Lake and Hammiet Bluiett.

In January, 2007, Mr. Sylvester returned to his native Panama as a member of the Panamanian All-Stars led and directed by pianist Danilo Perez at the fourth annual Panama Jazz Festival performing with Carlos Garnett, Santi Debriano, Billy Cobham and Renato Thoms.

In the Spring of 2007 he performed a series of workshops and a concert in Podgorica, Montenegro with A Small Dream in Red for Jazz Appreciation Month and appeared on the television show, Good Morning Montenegro.

In December 2010, Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective performed in concert for an enthusiastic capacity filled audience the illustrious, Brucknerhaus in Linz, Austria and recorded the music for their new release Spirit Driven several days afterward in Hagenberg.

Mr. Sylvester performs frequently and conducts workshops throughout New York and elsewhere in the United States teaching his unique approach to composition using Afro-Caribbean rhythms.


·    Spirit Driven, double CD on RedZen/foUR (friends of UNSEEN RAIN) Records with Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective
Jorge Sylvester - Bandleader, Alto Saxophone and Compositions
Nora McCarthy voice, poetry; Waldron Rickstrpt; Pablo Vergarapno; 
Donald Nickselec. bs;  Kenny Grohowskidrums, percussion.

Spirit Driven is a highly rhythmic and spiritually motivated compositional journey through the various cultures that make up the Caribbean Islands encompassing their significance and contribution to the present day advanced musical concepts in jazz and avant-garde/free music. The music is original, modern, imaginative and experimental.  The use of language, word, in the form of poetry and lyrics  is throughout and used to convey each song‘s spiritual and historicamessage
The CD includes a composition dedicated to Haiti.

·    in the language of dreams - a tribute to Ornette Coleman and Wassily Kandinsky with A Small Dream In Red, minimalist innovative voice and saxophone duo, Nora McCarthyvoice, Bodhran;  Jorge Sylvesteralto saxophone. ( A powerfully artistic CD comprised of original compositions, poetry and improvisation as
well interpretations of five of Kandinsky's masterpieces graphically and spontaneously composed in the moment. There are also several covers of choice music which includes two Ornette Coleman compositions with lyrics written by McCarthy. The duo employs various techniques they discovered working in this format as well as other techniques employed by all art forms. Deconstruction, diminution, expansion, elaboration, symbolism, line and design among others. Intuitive and symbiotic, the two altos enter into each work with absolute freedom from preconception and create within and outside the form the textural content of each piece.

·   2008 release Waldron Ricks with trumpeter, composer Waldron Ricks, Danny Grissett, Jaleel Shaw, Nashiet Waits and Vicente Archer, featuring Jorge‘s Quintet version of his composition ―Playground.

·    May, 2011, Toward The Hill of Joy, with trombonist, composer George Brandon's Blue
Unity Ensemble featuring Nora McCarthy.

·    New Double CD just released on Sylvester‘s label Lizoka Music: Following the Line/
Live in New York City is the documentation of his 1999 quartet featuring Monte Croft on

vibraphone, Jeff Carney on bass, Terreon Gully on drums, and a special appearance by pianist James Hurt on the Bud Powell composition Willow Grove.


·    As co-leader of the quartet Asymmetry with pianist, Lucian Ban, Sylvester recorded a CD for Jazzaway records which was released in December, 2005 entitled Playground which is also the name of the title track a composition written by Sylvester.

·    In The Ear of the Beholder, 2001 (Billboard‘s Spotlight, Feb. 2001) 
Jazz Magnet Records, features: Donald Nicks on electric bass and Bobby Sanabria on drums and is Sylvester‘s second release as a leader.

·     Critically acclaimed MusiCollage (Postcards, 1996, re-released on Arkadia Records) featured Claudio Roditi - trumpet, Marvin Sewell guitar, Monte Croft vibraphone Gene Jackson drums, Santi Debriano acoustic bass and Bobby Sanabria percussion. 

It received a **** rating from Downbeat Magazine and won a Billboard 
( Critics‘ Choice award )

·    In 1999 Jorge Sylvester appeared on BET Jazz 
Live from the Knitting Factory"with his group, The ACE Trio.


·    Magic Night (Jazz Stop Records, Madrid Spain, 1989) with the Chastang/Sylvester
·    Viriato Blue (Jazz Stop Records, Madrid Spain, 1983.)
·    The Mass (Palmetto Records, 2000) with the Collective Identity Saxophone Quartet featuring Sam Newsome, Aaron Stewart and Alex Harding.
·    Another Side (CIMP Records, 2000) with tenor saxophone Ken Simon Quartet featuring drummer Barry Altschul.
·    The Blue Oneness of Dreams (Mouth Almighty Records, 1997) with Sekou Sundiata.
·    The Essence All Stars featuring Doug Carn, Idris Muhammed and Josh Roseman 
(Hip Hop Records, 1997.)


October 2013 Jazz Inside Magazine

Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective

By Alex Henderson

This two-CD set (which contains about 87 minutes worth of music) underscores the unpredictable, risk-taking nature of the Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective, which includes not only Sylvester and McCarthy, but also, trumpeter Waldron Mahdi Ricks, pianist Pablo Vergara, electric bassist Donald Nicks and drummer Kenny Grohowski. The music ranges from avant-garde jazz to post-bop, and Sylvester’s alto playing is soulful, heartfelt and convincing whether he is playing inside or outside.

It’s easy to understand why this double-disc is titled Spirit Driven: the ACE Collective’s performances have a very spiritual quality. That spiritual outlook is as evident on 
“Cycle of Life,” “Masouc” and “Obeahman” as it is on “The Light of Truth’s High Noon Is Not For Tender Leaves.” The latter has a spirituality that recalls the late Abbey Lincoln, and McCarthy really soars with that Lincoln-ish mood.

“Remember Haiti,” one of the more avant-garde offerings on Spirit Driven, is a gem. Sylvester and McCarthy wrote that piece in remembrance of the victims of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti in January 2010, and McCarthy expresses herself with a combination of spoken word poetry and wordless scatting.
One of the appealing things about Sylvester’s albums is his ability to incorporate a variety of world music and make it all fit together. Sylvester, who is originally from Panama but now lives in New York City (also the home of Cleveland native McCarthy) has had no problem showing audiences the relationship between African, Caribbean and Latin music. And he does exactly that on the exuberant “Obeahman,” which is full of world music vitality.

Another one of Sylvester’s strong points is his determination to be consistently musical no matter how outside a particular song might become.“Masouc,” “Remember Haiti” and“Construction No.2” are among the more outside offerings on Spirit Driven, yet all of those selections are quite musical. Some free jazz favors atonality for the sake of atonality: instead of venturing outside, the musicians stay outside. But that isn’t the approach that Sylvester is going for on this album. Sylvester, even on the most abstract parts of this album, thrives on musicality, melody and composition. He also thrives on rhythm, savoring the rhythmic traditions of the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa while maintaining his improvisatory jazz focus.


 by Sam Spokony

The musical relationship between alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester and vocalist Nora McCarthy dates back 12 years to their first performance as the duo A Small Dream in Red (which takes its name from the 1925 masterpiece by Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky). Each is a complete and free thinking performer in their own right, but it’s hard to deny that together they have developed a particularly powerful sense of interplay. This year, Sylvester and McCarthy are back as A Small Dream in Red, with a new record called In The Language Of Dreams, which they dedicate to both Kandinsky and Ornette Coleman, as “leaders of the avant garde movement”. The 12-track, 70-minutealbum covers plenty of ground, including several diverse duo originals, two of Coleman’s tunes (with poetry by McCarthy) and a decidedly trippy take on“April in Paris”. The album opener, an original called “Dizzy Bird”,is a perfectly paced starting point, as Sylvester bounces nimbly through bop-tinged riffs and McCarthy pays lyrical homage to Coleman and the historical context of his innovations. Both performers are really in their element on Coleman’s “The Blessing” and “The Sphynx”, stretching out into abstract territory and channeling their spiritual perception of the alto saxophonist’s forward-thinking messages while also maintaining their own confidently probing voices.Another original worth highlighting is the unsurprisingly loosely structured “Composition VII”, an especially minimalist free improvisation in which the pair beautifully explore longer held notes and more deliberately jarring choices in tonality.  McCarthy returns as a compositional collaborator and performing member of Sylvester’s Afro Caribbean Experimental (ACE) Collective, for that group’s hefty two-disc, nine-track, 87-minute album Spirit Driven.The sextet - with includes trumpeter Waldron Mahdi Ricks, pianist Pablo Vergara, electric bassist Donald Nicks and drummer Kenny Grohowski - skips ably across the spectrum between ethereal free improv and tight, funky beats while often sticking with the typically dense harmonies of Sylvester and McCarthy’s writing, as well as pursuing unexpected paths within the rhythmic terrain of Afro Caribbean traditions. Nicks and Grohowski form a particularly strong backbone on“Construction No. 2” and “Construction No. 1”, which open the first and second discs, respectively. Both tunes are refreshingly accessible from an improvisational standpoint, beginning with relatively straight ahead grooves that gradually morph and reach farther outside the changes, with spontaneous yet swinging solos and McCarthy’s strong vocal presence. Sylvester’s somber tune “Paulina’s Prayer” is a great addition, featuring sensitive ensemble playing and a moving solo by the leader, as well as some good mute work from Ricks.And the creative duo of Sylvester and McCarthy come to the forefront once more on “Remember Haiti”, a jointly written and extremely inspired tune, which begins with chaos and coalesces into a unique verbal and aural documentation of the societal troubles faced by that nation.

...Jorge Sylvester's distinctive alto saxophone sound  is imbued with the 

volatility of Caribbean basin's complex mosaic, transformed and focused by the probing

musical linguistics pioneered by the great saxophonists of modern jazz. Jorge's composer'

imagination is the matchless structural coherence of his improvisational work.

Ramsey Ameen, 12/2005

...If Ornette Coleman had be born and reared in Nassau, his music would have sounded like this.
C. Michael Bailey - All about Jazz

 Sylvester's alto work is deeply rooted in bebop but fluent in the most modern of horn vocabularies. With this album, (In The Ear Of The Beholder) he makes his mark as one of the more advanced, imaginative voices in Afro-Caribbean  jazz.
 David R. Adler – All Music Guide

...Panamanian-born, New York-honed alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester has produced a set of challenging island-accented jazz with his aptly named, Afro-Caribbean Experimental Trio.

In The Ear Of The Beholder‘, bespeaks variety in the form, with each track opening up different vista.   
Billboard Spotlight, February 24, 2001.

...There are no clichéd romantic notions of breezy island music on this bold adventure led by Panamanian alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester. With his edgy rhythmic pulse and diamond-hard tone, Sylvester has crafted an album that boasts the same sort of Herculean, calypso-driven improvisations of Sonny Rollins and the lofty intentions of Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake's
1970s Arista Freedom dates.
John Murph, Jazz Times Magazine Review of In The Ear of The Beholder

...As for Sylvester, he‘s one the most capable soloists holding an alto today"Por la Clave," for instance, is full of outright Ornette-ish inflections with ample support once again from the rhythm section. There are several gutbucket textures here that evoke the wailing harmonic breadth of some of jazz‘s best improvisers, from Eric Dolphy to Sonny Simmons.  It‘s a
restrained but flawless stream of emotive improvising and it heralds one of the greater under
looked talents of the day. Jorge we never knew ye!
 Joe S. Harrington – New York Press,
Review of In The Ear of The Beholder

...Sylvester chose McCarthy‘s voice because of its similarity in sound and spirit to the horn and for her versatility within the context of the instrumentation of the Collective as well as for her unique improvisational and interpretative abilities.  
Ramsey Ameen, A Gathering of the Tribes Magazine

Singer/Vocal Improviser/Composer/Lyricist/Poet 
Nora  McCarthy  has  thus  far  had  a  very  productive  and
significant musical career. A poet and a songwriter in addition to being a highly original singer, she is an important force in the advanced New York jazz vocal scene since 1996 when she recorded her  first  CD,  red&blue.  Hecollaboration  with  alto-saxophonist Jorge  Sylvester  began  in  2001  and  the  synergy  of  their  near telepathic level of communication has produced several unique and groundbreaking projects:     A Small Dream In Red, an innovative voice and saxophone duo; ConceptualMotion Orchestra, a 20-piece
all original music ensemble; and the ACE (Afro-Caribbean-Experimental) Collective, a sextet of improvising musicians consisting of alto saxophone, voice, trumpet, piano electric bass, and drums. The ACE Collective performs original, new and experimental compositions that draw from the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, jazz and the free music art forms. Nora and her various groups have appeared in concerts, festivals and club dates in NYC and elsewhere in the world.

Nora has performed with:  Trombonist Kuumba Frank Lacy‘s Vibe Tribe; Trombonist George Brandon and the Blue Unity Ensemble; Conductor, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris‘ A Chorus Of Poets; the Next Legacy Jazz Orchestra; Bassists:  Dominic Duval, Santi Debriano, Juini Booth,
Andy McCloud, Calvin Hill, Reggie Washington, KeFiliano, Essiet  Okon Essiet, Donald Nicks; Vibraphonist, Multi-Instrumentalist  Gunter Hampel; Pianists:  James Weidman, John diMartino, James Hurt, Eric Lewis, Guitarists:  Barry Wedgle, Dom Minasi, Marvin Sewell, Andrew Green; Drummers:   Gene Jackson, Derrik Phillips, Dafnis Prieto, Michael Wimberly, Jay Rosen as well as the legendary Bluesman, Wilson Pickett among many, many other notables
in addition  to  her  own QuARTet  with John  diMartino;  Jeffrey  Carney-Bass  and  Tony
Jefferson-Drums. Nora and her various groups have appeared in concerts, festivals and club
dates in NYC and elsewhere in the world.

On December 6, 2010,  Nora performed in concert  at the illustrious Brucknerhaus  in  Linz, Austria  debuting  her  original  poetras  well  as  new  compositions  and  completed  a  new recording, Spirit Driven, with Jorge Sylvester‘s ACE Collective to be released February, 2012. Nora is the featured vocalist on trombonist, composer George Brandon's new CD, Toward The Hill Of Joy (May, 2011) with the Blue Unity Ensemble. in the language of dreams, her newest offering with, A Small Dream In Red, a tribute to Ornette Coleman and Wassily Kandinsky, is also due for release February, 2012. Nora‘s CD Circle Completing (2009), is an exquisite duet CD with pianist John diMartino that features several of her original compositions and poetry including her tribute to the great jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott and includes her original composition, Faith in Time Jimmy‘s Song, her homage to Scott.

In 2009 Nora was featured in Italy‘s  foremost jazz magazine, The Jazz Magazine, alongside luminaries Ahmad  Jamal and Phil Woods and her composition  My Dream‖ from her CD, red&blue, was included on the accompanying compilation CD. From 2009-2010, Nora hosted,
New York Jazz Expressions, for UKJazz Radio, an online radio program presenting over 15 shows that featured a vast array of vocal and instrumental jazz recordings from early jazz to the avant-garde and free music art forms highlighting those artists currently on the cutting edge of the New York City jazz music sceneThrough her vast experience in the jazz and creative music field, Nora has developed a unique approach to teaching voice and improvisation. She is founder of, The Zen Of Singing...The Spiritual Path To Finding Your Voice, and currently teaches privately, conducts workshops, master classes world-wide and will soon offer on-line instruction. 
DISCOGRAPHY:                                               Spirit Driven 2012 
In the language of dreams -2012                      Toward A Hill of Joy - 2011,   red&blue, 1998
Circle Completing - 2009  A Small Dream in Red - 2012                                  REVIEW:
"...A striking woman of unusually elastic voice, McCarthy infuses her music with poetry and theatricality
thats both stark and sensual."  
Carlo Wolff,Cleveland Scene, April, 2010

McCarthy is a fearless singer who  deftly refuses to be categorized as she explores personalized means for expressing ideas; she travels infrequently heard avenues for exploring thought and adapts vocal technique to fit the circumstances of her message."  Bill Donaldson for Jazz Improv NY, 2008

"...McCarthy's vocals often recalled the soft, strained desperation of another Cleveland vocalist, the great Jimmy Scott. The album is, in fact, something of homage to Scott, ending with the McCarthy original, "Faith in Time (Jimmy's Song). The singer closed with a barn-burning version of Willie Dixon's "Little
Red Rooster" that left the crowd crowing for more and nicely "upset, in every way."
4-18-2010, All About Jazz/ 31st Tri-C Jazz Festival, Matt Marshall

...Her shaping of pitch often foregoes the fluid note-bending of the jazz singer in favor of the full press
of a sculptors touch against viscous clay." Ramsey Ameen/The Gathering Of The Tribes Magazine, 2005

"The ballad "Too Late Now" (Lerner/Lane) from her CD, Circle Completing, is a charmer.  Reminding me very much of the late lamented Irene Kral, Nora provocatively sings this melancholy ballad in full throttle."  Dan Singer, In-Tune International Magazine-UK, 3/2009

"McCarthys vocals are rich and subtle and laced with varying degrees of earthy blues and soulful phrasings."  Sounds of Timeless, 2/2009

Circle Completing is a moody suite that deals with the evolution of life, coming to a place of forgiveness, letting go, and ultimately moving on to the next level.  "Nora's adventurous singing, the spontaneous interplay with John diMartino, and the unpredictability of the music result in the innovative duets being full of subtle surprises."  Scott Yanow, Jazz Critic & Author, 2008

McCarthy, who works in every setting from a bass and vocal duo to a twenty-piece orchestra, demonstrates that she is not one to simply serenade with the usual mix of standards.‖ Dan Bilawsky/Jazz Improv Magazines New York Jazz Guide, 2008

"…A good poet can tell a story with a minimum of text. So when Nora McCarthy tells the story of lies that have been "swept under the carpet / all scramble like roaches in the early morning light," she extends the idea in a couple of directions at once with a kind of vocalese, aided by skittery piano bits. The presentation says far more than a couple of paragraphs could, that's for sure." Mark Saleski/

…Nora is a wonderfully  focused musician, singer composer.  Her original compositions  are splendid examples of modern and traditional jazz song.  I highly recommend her as a fellow  artist.‖ Dom DuVal, musician / composer / bassist.“  April 9, 2009

"You can hear this woman's life in her voice…" Walter Kolosky,

…Nora McCarthy has a deep voice, with the timbre and range of Sarah Vaughan….she uses ever-so- subtle pitch-bending and straight tones and just a lovely  touch of vibrato.‖  Julianne Carney/International Society For Improvised Music, 2007

"Nora is a musical flurry of passion, soul, emotion, soothsaying, truth telling and jazz poetry that takes you on flights of improvisational abandon with grace and wit. She is a force to be experienced!"  Sarah James, Musician, Poet, Vocalist, 2009
"Nora McCarthy, the diva, one of the top singers who shaped the jazz vocal, a superb artist!" João Da
Penha ("Jazz & Bossa Nova", Brazil, 2009 )

...Its delightful to hear music that plays so freely with the known and the unknown elements of jazz."
Florence Wetzel/All About Jazz Magazine, NY, 2006

...A non-generic and exciting vocalist to be aware of." Alex Henderson/All About Jazz And L.A. Jazz Scene

…A voice that is alternately liquid, breezy, and lustrous. Sophistication in the same vein as Chet Baker."
Mark Keating, Editor, Sound Views

…She plays her tender voice  like  a musician  trying  to get the best out of some favored, old horn.
Edward Hill/The Cleveland
Plain Dealer

...Yet another voice in the retro-cool schoolalmost at times, as cool as Julie London, but with a serpentine edge". Gary Giddins/The Village Voice

...Continental  and  sophisticated,  McCarthy is  as  much  chanteuse  as jazz singer.”  CarlWolff/The
Cleveland Plain Dealer

…Nora McCarthy delivers with the improvisational  intuition of Betty  Carter and the compassion of Billie Holiday. McCarthy tackles harmonically complex material of Thelonius Monk with relative ease then easily slips into a relaxed Latin  style that owes much to Brazilian samba queen Astrud Gilberto.‖ Edward Hill/The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"...The first set featured Jorge Sylvester's Conceptual Motion Orchestra and they were grand. Great writing and superb singing from Nora McCarthy."  The Vision X Festival, June 14th - June 19th, 2005 - Review By Bruce Lee Gallanter
*McCarthy has penned lyrics to a dozen jazz standards and countless others.

*McCarthy's has written over 20 compositions some are tributes to:  Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Grover Washington, and Jimmy Scott.

*In 2007 Nora performed a series of workshops and concerts in Panama and Podgorica, Montenegro and appeared on the television show Good Morning Montenegro.

*In June, 2005, The ConceptualMotion Orchestra (CMO) that she co-leads with Jorge Sylvester opened the highly acclaimed avant-garde Vision Festival X

Waldron Mahdi Ricks
Composer and Trumpet Player

Waldron  Mahdi  Ricks  has  played  alongside  many  legendarjazz greats such as:  Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Wynton Marsalis,
Bobby Watson, Barry Harris, Arthur Taylor, Eddie Henderson, and Roy Hargrove and performed with David Murray, Greg Tardy, Myron Walden, the Charlie Persip Big Band, and the Mingus Big Band. As a
composer, his credits appeared on the 2003, PBS 6-part series, This
Far by Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys, and in the Emmy
Award winning 1996, ―Secret Daughter‖. Ricks is a 2000 graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, 19xx, Waldron started playing the trumpet at the age of nine. His father, who plays sax, gave him his first music lesson. He studied music in Detroit for six years, taking lessons from Marcus Belgrave, among others. Waldron moved to New York City in 1984 to study with jazz masters Barry Harris, Tommy Turrentine, and Wallace Roney. He played with: the Bert McGowan Jazz Quintet, the Percy France Jazz Combo, and the Willie Williams Quintet. Waldrons  group performed at Indigo
Blues, Showman's Lounge, the Village Gate, and the Time Café in New York. His group included tenor saxophonist Willie Williams, drummer Victor Jones.

Waldron toured in Europe with tenor player James Carter and performed at the Verona Jazz Festival in
1992, and again in 1996 at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston. The Waldron Ricks Quartet performed at the Toulon Jazz Festival in France in l994. As a sideman, Ricks performed as part of the John Coltrane Memorial Concert in Boston, Mass., from 1994 - 1999, featured alongside jazz greats Cecil McBee, Teri Lynn Carrington, Shirley Scott, Bill Pierce and Frank Foster


·    2008 release Waldron Ricks with, Jorge Sylvester, Danny Grissett, Jaleel Shaw, Nashiet Waits and Vicente Archer.

Pablo Vergara
Pianist, Producer, Composer

Pablo Vergara has already made a mark in the New York scene  by working  with  a  wide  array of  artists  in  the most diverse  musical  contexts.  Classically  trained  in  his  native Chile,  Pablo  moved  to  the  US  to  studat  Harlem's  City College with distinguished professor Ron Carter. Since then he has  played  and  recorded  with  artists  like  tenor  saxophone legend Gato Barbieri, Grammy Award winner Dave Valentin, Antonio  Hart,  Jay  Rodriguez,  Victor  Jones,  Greg  Tardy,
Alfredo de la Fe, Valery Ponomarev, Andy  Gonzalez, Santi Debriano and the Chico OFarill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra.

Pablo Vergara played keyboards with Brazilian/Electronic music star Bebel Gilberto. He also produced and co-wrote  the album On the Moon‖, with Cuban violin legend Alfredo De La Fe, featuring Dave Valentin in flute along with some of the finest Cuban musicians in New York.

Pablo performed across the US with Turkish Sufi Music virtuoso Omar Faruk Tekbilek. He was the musical director of Anath‘s Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, which performed at the Super Bowl   XXVII   in   Sa Diego,   California.   H also   produce Anath' "Rapture EP,   a groundbreaking crossover of North African rhythms, Middle Eastern vibes and French Electronica.
Vergara's music interests are wide and diverse. He recently completed a European tour with R&B and Funk legends Brass Construction and B.T. Express. He has also been a guest artist with the Grammy Nominated band The Groove Collective.

Pablo Vergara has traveled the world, playing jazz and world music festivals across Europe, the US, Australia and the Caribbean. His performance credits include Lincoln Center‘s Avery Fisher Hall, Bumbershoot Music Festival in Seattle, New York Central Park Summerstage, Paris' Le Zenith, Marseille's Fiesta des Suds, Spain's Festival de Santander and Australia's Sidney Festival, among many others.

Donald Nicks
Electric Bass

Education:  Queens College, CUNY New York, NY, Jazz mobile
Workshop, East Harlem Music School

Bass Study:   Buster Williams (acoustic), and   Lyle Atkinson
·    Toru Oki Blues Band Far East Tours - (Japan)
·    Luther Thomas & Dizzazz - (Europe)
·    Charles Earland - (U.S.A.)
·    Charanga Sensual - (Nicaragua World Music Festival)
·    Ray Mantilla - (Europe)
·    Henry Threadgill - Very Very Circus Tour (Europe)
·    Nancy Wilson, Jonathan Butler.
·    Children of Africa - (Lagos, Nigeria)
·    Roy Ayers - Double Trouble Tour (Europe), Havana Jazz Festival (Cuba), Jazz Explosion Mid-West Tour , Roy Ayers - (Australia), Los Pleneros de la 21 - (U.S.A.), Roy Ayers - (Japan),
·    Roy Ayers - Ongoing to present

·    Toru Oki:  "Manhattan Midnight", "Broadway Shuffle", "Toru Oki & Albert King"
·    Pepe Castillo:  "Banana land"
·    Bobby Sanabria"New York City ACHE"
·    Roy Ayers:  "Naste", "Hot", "Good Vibrations"
·    Zachary Breaux"Groovin", "Time & Space", "Crazy Love Songs"
·    Jorge Sylvester ACE Trio:  "In The Ear of the Beholder"

Kenny Grohowski
Drummer, Percussionist

Brought up in a musical household in Miami, 28-year-old drummer, Kenny Grohowski has been performing since the age of 14. His rich musical background is demonstrated through the growing list of his collaborators and guest artists, including Vernon Reid, Corey Unger (of Blood Has Been Shed), Jason Lindner, Emeline Michel, Peter Cincotti, Bobby Sanabria, Bill T. Jones, Rory Stuart, Cassandra Wilson, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz, Giovanni Hidalgo, John Benitez, DomingoQuinones, and Bobby Valentin.

Grohowski  has been a member of bassist Lonnie Plaxico‘s  band since 2003, and a member of Andy Milne‘s  Dapp Theory since 2006, having come  back from a successful US/Canada tour with Dapp Theory, with Highlight shows in Vancouver opening for Jazz and Bass legend, Stanley Clarke, and
performed in the 2007 Latin Grammy Awards Live from Madison Square Garden with the award winning group RBD. He has appeared on several recordings, including Plaxico‘s hit So Alive[Sony, Japan]. As of 2009, Grohowski has become a new member of acclaimed Haitian singer/cultural figure Emeline Michel‘s Acoustic Quintet, and has also performed at the Museum of Modern Art with the Ze Luis Quartet as part of their Live Art performances. Grohowski has also
toured across the United States, as well as in Australia with an upcoming tour of China with NeClassical Composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (a.k.a. DBR).

When not working with his various affiliated ensembles, Grohowski enjoys a steady and fast paced Free lancing schedule, working with many of New York City‘s top Jazz, Rock, and Brazilian artists, as well as a multitude of others, and has recorded on over 40 albums.

Grohowski has also given back to the community of NYC with years of experience as a private drum set instructor, as well as guitar and bass instruction, is an affiliated private instructor for New School University‘s Jazz and Contemporary Drum set divisions,  and was the head of the music department
for Generation X-Cel‘s X-Press After School Program from

Grohowski   is also a composer and member of the Orchestra of St. Luke‘s Young Composers Symposium Development Program, who premiered his string quartet in 2005. The New York Times praised the piece as insightfully combined dark Shostakovich-like harmonies with an edgy rhythmic drive.‖

Grohowski received his B.F.A. from The New School Jazz and Contemporary Music program in
2005. He also has finished his first solo record titled Second Last Minute, available for download
on iTunes and The album blends a multitude of influences ranging from Weather
Report, Allan Holdsworth, Meshuggah, Miles Davis, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Brand X. His brand new project and 2nd solo release, will feature him not only as Producer, but also showcase his Guitar
work and programming skills as well as his drumming, is currently in the development stage, and seeks to be a more Aggressive yet Mature release. Grohowski is currently endorsed by Factory Metal Percussion and represented by Larry Mazer (via New York City‘s Melodic/Progressive, Violin-driven Metaller‘s, Hung).


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