BEN BILELLO, DRUMS, CHRIS DeANGELIS, BASS,
Of The Jen Allen Big Band,
Getting Ready For May 31 Blast @ Twain House
Originally from Narragansett, Rhode Island, Ben Bilello began playing the snare drum in the fifth grade school band. As time passed, Ben became interested in learning the drum set. It was not until age fourteen that he received his first drum set. After graduating from Narragansett High School in 1995, Ben moved to West Hartford, Connecticut to begin college.
In the autumn of 1995, Ben entered The Hartt School of Music as an eager freshman, majoring in jazz studies. The jazz students were under the watchful eye of master saxophonist Jackie McLean. Hartt afforded Ben numerous opportunities in the areas of performance and study. While at Hartt, Ben studied drums and percussion with Ben Toth, Tony Leone, and Michael Carvin. He also studied frame drum and riq with master drummer Glen Velez. During his time at Hartt, Ben was frequently called upon to perform with students, faculty members, and guest artists. In 1997, Ben won the Hartt Award of Excellence in Jazz Studies, presented by Professor McLean. Ben graduated cum laude from Hartt in the spring of 1999 with a BM in Jazz Studies.
Since graduation, Ben has forged a career as a noted performer and as a much sought after private instructor. He has performed and recorded with many of the biggest names in the field of jazz; Mulgrew Miller, Eddie Henderson, Joe Wilder, Branford Marsalis, Anthony Braxton, Charles Flores, Steve Davis, Eddie Bert, Nat Reeves, Doug Wamble, Aaron Goldberg, Greg Tardy, Phil Bowler, Jimmy Greene, Shelton "Fatman" Laster, and Wayne Escoffery, among many others. In addition to performing with noted jazz musicians, Ben has toured with the South American folk groups Viva Quetzal and Markamusic.
Since his senior year of college, Ben has maintained a full roster of private students. From 1998 to 2000, Ben was on faculty at the Artists Collective, a non-profit arts school in Hartford's north end. From 1999 to early 2004, Ben was on staff at Riccardo's Music Center, teaching in both their East and West Hartford, Connecticut locations. Currently residing in Durham, Connecticut, Ben is a self-employed private instructor and clinician. He maintains a schedule of twenty to twenty-five students that study with him on a weekly basis. Ben has taught classes and workshops at many local public and private schools as well as at many local colleges and universities. As of July 2004, Ben is a member of the percussion/jazz faculty at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Connecticut's top performing arts magnet high school.
As one of the most in demand freelance jazz drummers in New England, Ben can be seen at numerous clubs, concert halls and festivals with a wide variety of artists. At this time, Ben can be seen performing with his own trio, Dezron Douglas and New Jazz Workshop, the Kris Allen Quartet, country artist Vince Thompson, the Rich Goldstein Quintet, as well as many others.
In addition to his gigs with The Jen Allen Big Band, Chris DeAngelis plays bass with The Breakfast and many other groups in the CT and NY areas.
Here's his MySpace page:
And here's a video of Chris from a New Haven club, BAR:
Geoff Brookes is in his third year as a music teacher at Litchfield High School. Before starting his teaching career, Geoff studied at the University of Connecticut, where he studied trumpet with James Ackley, and performed in ensembles under Dr. Jeffrey Renshaw, Earl MacDonald, and even Peter McEachern! While at UConn, Geoff also worked with Fred Fennell, the American Brass Quintet, Jim McNeely, Kenny Davis, and trumpeter Tom Harrell.
Kris Allen performs regularly on saxophone and other woodwinds and likes to write and arrange music whenever he gets the chance. He is a faculty member of Trinity College and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, and is also involved as a teaching artist with the many programs of Litchfield Performing Arts.
Jennifer Allen, pianist, a graduate of the Hartt School of Music, has performed for audiences throughout America, Europe and Asia. She has taught at many institutions, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Trinity College, and Saint Joseph's College. Jen presently is the leader of her own trio in addition to maintaining a busy private teaching studio.
Guitarist Keith Gibson is 1997 graduate of the Hartt School of Music with a degree in Jazz Studies.
He studied under jazz legend Jackie McLean in an intensive conservatory program.
Keith has been teaching privately since graduation. He has extensive performance experience in a variety of styles.
For more information, see Keith's MySpace page.
AND A LITTLE BIT
Musical Finale, 11th Annual Dinner,
Young Writers Competition, June 2008