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 Band Bios

April Grilly – Vocals/Leader

April's sultry voice has graced virtually every jazz venue in Chicago.

During the late 1980's she performed and co-wrote, with pianist, John Roothaan and bassist, Steve Hashimoto, all the material for the popular latin-jazz group, "Abril".

From “Abril,” she developed a following for her jazz quartet, the April Grilly Band, and continued to work  in local clubs, private and corporate events, and festivals.

 Besides her vocal talent, April has composed a sizeable body of original music (over 45 compositions to-date).  Her work has been featured on the  John Roothaan & Terry Sullivan cd, “Acapulco Stomp,” and she currently is composing music for a soundtrack that will be featured on “HBO” and released as a DVD.

 Along with singing with our band, Swing Odyssey, April performs as a duo in local clubs with pianist, Jeff Kier. She performs jazz standards and much of her of her original material.

April also does voice-overs, and is composing a piano book of original material for piano students that will be released in the near future.

Lanny Grilly –- Drums/Business Manager

Lanny's career goes back to the 1960's when he worked and toured with his father, famed entertainer, Russ Holliday. His work with Russ brought him to the attention of Kim Martell and they forged a long association as the premier jazz trio in Chicago. They also toured the country and made a home at the "Desert Inn" show lounge in Las Vegas where they rotated with other acts between the "Desert Inn" and "La Costa Country Club." At those casinos they backed such a diverse group of stars - from Hoagy Carmichel to Harry James to Robert Goulet.

During the early 1980's, Lanny formed a jazz quintet with his brother Dave, "The Grilly Brothers," which featured such local greats as bassist, Mike Arnopol, and vibist, Kathy Kelly. The "Grilly Brothers" talented ensemble was featured at the 1980 Chicago Jazz Festival, where they opened for Ahmad Jamal.

From 1980 through 1984, Lanny was also the owner of a popular jazz club and restaurant, "Benchley's." Jazz was featured 7 nights a week and virtually every jazz performer (Judy Roberts, Frank D'Rone, Laurel Masse, Howard Levy) in Chicago played there. Some of the regular performers went on to famous careers such as: Bill Lamphrey (Madonna) and Paul Wertico (Pat Metheny).

In recent years, Lanny has led groups such as the "Rio Brothers," and co-led, with his wife April, "Abril" and the "April Grilly Quartet."

Lanny's new venture is Orchestra Hall Recording Studio, Besides acting as chief recording engineer, Lanny, also does drum tracking, and with his son Max, films, edits, and produces music videos. Lanny's partner, Jeff Kier is also an on-site composer & pianist nLa

 

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Nick Drozdoff – Trumpet/Fluglehorn

Nick is our renaissance man in the group. He has made his mark as a stellar jazz & classical musician, recording artist, lecturer, clinician, author, and  as award-winning educator. His trumpet soloing also kicks butt!

Besides touring with the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra, Nick has played for such entertainment superstars as:

Sammy Davis, Jr., Bill Cosby, Melissa Manchester, Rich Little ,John Denver ,The Spinners ,The Temptations , Gladys Knight and the Pips, Patti Page, Frankie Lane , Della Resse , Carole Lawrence, Robert Goulet, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, Fred Rogers (Mr.Rogers), Bobby Vinton, Vic Damone, Frankie Avalon, Diahann Carroll, Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin, Rosemary Clooney, Helen O'Connell, Pat Boone,  Lawrence Welk All Stars (Myron Floren and Company), Dick Shawn, George Kirby, Jack Jones, Liberace, Julie Budd,Tex Beneke and these are just to name a few.

A few quotes about Nick and his Music:

Maynard Ferguson:"Nick is one of today's stongest players."

Larry Kart, Chicago Tribune:  "a powerful lead trumpeter..."

Owen Cordle, Downbeat Magazine: "soaring trumpet work..."

Barry Winograd, WXRT Radio:  “Nick Drozdoff is one of Chicago's most versatile and refreshing musicians." 

For further info about Nick and to hear some his original music go to: http://www.ampcast.com/music/23689/artist.php

Jeff Kier – Keyboards

Jeff and his quartet have been a star attraction at every major jazz venue in Chicago, as he has lead one of the area’s longest running and most original jazz groups.

 In addition to performing on acoustic piano, organ,  and various electric keyboards/synthesizers, Jeff is a prolific composer. His compositions which currently number over 100 to date, have been inspired by such jazz greats as McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, and Chick Corea utilizing the idioms of mainstream jazz, blues, and rock.

The versatility of Jeff’s musical talent captures a far reaching number of jazz enthusiasts.

 

Brian Sandstrom Bass

Brian Sandstrom - "One of the busiest bass players working in the Chicago area." Chicago Tribune.

Brian, sideman on more than 25 CDs, has toured Europe with free jazz pioneer Hal Russell. He has also recorded and played locally & nationally  with such notables as Doug Blake, Frank Portolese, Willie Pickens, Ken Vandermark, Kent Kessler, Rusty Jones, Robert Shy, Mars Williams, Ed Pertersen, Von Freeman, Ira Sullivan,  and Frank Catalano.

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Dave Gross Trombone

Dave is well-known in the area for his excellent big-band work. His chartreading and soloing are among the best in business.  Among the top names he has worked for or along side of, include the following:

Louis Bellson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Conte Candoli, Clart Terry

Diane Schuur, Pete Christlieb, Barrett Deems, Art Farmer, Terry Gibbs, Bunky Green, Steve Houghton, Pat LaBarbera, Kevin Mahogany, Frank Mantooth, Rob McConnell,  Bobby Shew, Ed Soph, Bobby Watson, and Jiggs Whigham.

Sasha Brusin – Guitar

Sasha Brusin is famed for his incredible technique and his scorching guitar solos. He has been playing guitar and bass for 30 years and has been teaching for the past 20. His education includes private studies in Europe and in Chicago at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University Jazz Studies Program, majoring in Jazz Performance - guitar.

Sasha’s credits include international jazz festivals, network and local TV performances in Europe and the U.S.A. Sasha is currently working with a variety of Chicago based ensembles whose recordings have been featured on WXRT, WBEZ, and WNUA.

Sasha is also an associate engineer at our Orchestra Hall Recording Studio.

 

Bob Lovecchio – Bass

Bob has performed with such greats as the Escovedo Brothers, drummer Duffy Jackson, and saxophonist Hal Melia. Since relocating to the Chicago area in 1999, along with freelancing with many jazz and fusion groups in the city - Bob has opened for Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty at Chicago's "House of Blues."

 

 

Eddie Mason – Percussion

Eddie’s famed career goes back to the 1960’s when he was an on-call session musician during the height of the Chicago recording scene. Eddie lent his “fat groove” to many records, demo’s, and jingles.

He was a favorite of producers since his versatile musical talent spanned R&B, Be-bop, Modern Jazz, Rock, Latin, Disco, and Dance music.

Eddie also toured with such groups as:  Tooth & Nail, Circle of Capricorn, backed up the Mo Ming  Dance Group, the Columbia Dance Troup, and  he was with Don Stroud’s “Rockestra” for 10 years. Eddie also played with every member of the Miles Davis Band during the late ‘80’s, either as a group or on separate projects.

For the last 15 years, Eddie has been devoted to his work as a Music  Therapist in nursing and rehab centers. He now owns his own music therapy company, Mason’s Music Workshop, LLC. Eddie loves healing and making others happy with his music. His philosophy is “Music is an expression of freedom for me.”

 

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