“Martha”, by the Roy McGrath Quartet, is a series of eight compositions that encompass a homage to family, friends, and the human connection. Three arrangements and five originals pieces that reflect all ambits of relationships: healing, love, loss, dishonor, spirituality, gratitude, and others. Through these eight compositions, Roy attempts to portray in sound the last four years of his life. The album is dedicated to his grandmother, Martha Albelo, whom was an amazing influence on his character and person.
Jonathon Wenzel is a native Chicagoan who came up through the Chicago Public Schools. He began his musical journey singing with the Chicago Children’s Choir in 2nd grade, eventually becoming their accompanist playing drum set and percussion. Upon graduating high school, he continued as their primary percussionist and drummer until 2013. Working with the Choir gave him numerous opportunities to perform with high profile musicians and in prestigious venues, touring internationally in Europe, Asia, and South America. Throughout high school at Lane Tech College Prep, he played the trumpet and French horn in ensembles, but decided to pursue percussion at the University of Illinois-Chicago as his field of study. Under the instruction of Ernie Adams, an accomplished Afro-Cuban drummer, he graduated from UIC with a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies-Performance in May 2014. He currently is the director of music at The Church in West Ridge on the north side of Chicago, and he performs regularly with local jazz artists.
Kitt Lyles is an upright and electric bassist, bandleader, composer, arranger, and educator from Greenville, SC currently residing in Chicago, IL. A graduate of Northwestern University (BM Jazz Studies, June 2013) he is well versed in a multitude of different music traditions and genres including Jazz, Blues, Latin, Rock, Funk, Bluegrass, Folk, and Classical. He has performed nationally and internationally with many dedicated and talented musicians and recorded on several diverse studio projects.
Kitt Lyles began his music career in South Carolina at the age of 13 when he bought a bass in order to perform Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” in the talent show at his middle school. He hasn’t looked back since, discovering jazz at the Greenville Fine Arts Center in the 10th grade where he studied with former LA studio musician Steve Watson and not long after began his study of upright bass with Greenville Symphony Principal Bassist Ian Bracchitta. His passion for music led him to continue his studies with Ian Bracchitta at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. At UNCA he also had the opportunity to study big band arranging and composition with David Wilken, eventually having a composition of his performed by the Asheville Jazz Orchestra. He got his first classical performance experience while in Asheville as a member of the UNCA Chamber Orchestra, and in a performance with the Blue Ridge Symphony Orchestra at the Diana Wortham Theatre.
After a year in Asheville, Kitt’s desire to delve deeper into the jazz tradition led him to Chicago to finish his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University where he studied with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis Septet members Victor Goines and Carlos Henriquez, as well as Chicago saxophonist, composer, and arranger Chris Madsen. Under the guidance of these inspirational teachers Kitt further honed his skills as a performer, composer, arranger, bandleader, and sideman. He also strengthened his artistic vision and understanding of jazz’s relevance and influence in the world.
While at Northwestern, Kitt met some of the amazing musicians he continues to work with regularly including Gustavo Cortiñas, Roy McGrath, and Justin Copeland. He performed on Cortiñas’ All About Jazz reviewed debut album “Snapshot” featuring Victor Goines and Mike Allemana, and toured with Cortiñas group in Mexico including performances at Zinco Jazz Club in Mexico City, and The Spontaneous Jazz Festival in San Cristobal, Mexico. After graduating from Northwestern Kitt stayed in Chicago to begin his professional music career where he performs with Cortiñas’ group, the Roy McGrath Jazz Trio, The Christian Larumbe Trio, Yuri Hevia, Funky Hot Grits, and others. Venues in Chicago he has performed at include The Jazz Showcase, Fitzgerald’s, The Chicago Jazz Festival, The M-Lounge, The Music Institute of Chicago’s Billy Strayhorn Festival, and Mayne Stage. In addition to performing, Kitt teaches privately and with Judy Lei Strings and Music Scholars Inc.
A graduate from Loyola University New Orleans (BM Jazz 2009), where he studied with Tony Dagradi (saxophonist for Ellis Marsalis, Astral Project) and Northwestern University (MM Jazz, 2014), where he had the opportunity of studying under Victor Goines (saxophonist for Jazz at Lincoln Center and Wynton Marsalis), Roy McGrath is a tenor saxophonist, composer, bandleader and sideman currently residing in Chicago, IL. With a career in music spanning over ten years, Roy McGrath has been around the world and back playing music, appearing at some of the world’s most prestigious music venues, amongst them the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Festival de Jazz Espontáneo 2013, Tipitina’s (New Orleans, LA), Carli’s Fine Bistro and Piano (San Juan, PR), Andy’s Jazz Club (Chicago, IL), Zinco Jazz Club (Mexico City, MX), and many more. McGrath, is a “magician of the wind instruments on the tenor sax, which he literally makes laugh, cry, play and vibrate with pain and impotence whilst he executes each composition” (Victor Vieyra Santa María, Mirada Sur); his playing is characterized by a “gently caressing yearning tenor… darkly hued vibrato-filled saxophone sound” (Hrayr Attarian, Chicago Jazz Magazine), as well as “his bluesy feel and amiable sax sound that at sometimes reminds us of Joe Henderson or Rick Margitza” (Ragui Vega, Nuevo Dia). McGrath “gives life to clear solos that are prudently polished” (Roberto Pavigianiti, JazzItalia). His critically acclaimed debut album “Long Shot” (2010), features some of his great original compositions, as well as his familiarity and understanding of the jazz idiom and standard repertoire, alongside bassist Trey Boudreaux and drummer Gustavo Cortiñas. He is currently working on new material for his second production “Martha”. McGrath placed third in the Union League Civic Arts Foundation Jazz Improvisation Competition in 2013 (Chicago, IL).
Born and raised in San Juan, PR, Roy was first introduced to music performance through singing in school choirs before picking up the saxophone at age 16. After attending the Berklee College of Music Summer Workshop, he earned a full scholarship to attend Berklee School of Music’s Five Week Summer Performance Program. In Puerto Rico, he honed his improvisational skills by performing with world-class jazz pianist and Beach Boys’ alumni Carli Muñoz.
In 2006, Roy moved to New Orleans to pursue his studies at Loyola University under the tutelage of Tony Dagradi (saxophonist for Astral Project) and composer/arranger John Mahoney. He graduated in 2009 with BM in Jazz Performance. During his time in New Orleans, Roy performed with a variety of musicians including: Gustavo Cortiñas, Trey Boudreaux, Chris Guccione, Joshua Gouzy, Marlena Dzis, Fredy Omar, John Marcey, Café Con Leche and Easy Company. McGrath became “a veternan of the hottests clubs in New Orleans, like Tipitinas,” (Ragui Vega, Nuevo Dia), Maison Frenchmen, Vaso, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and the New Orleans French Quarter Fest.
After his undergraduate studies, McGrath continued putting all he learned at school to practice. In 2009 he joined the Camp-of-the-Woods wind ensemble playing Broadway, big band, contemporary jazz, classical, and worship music in Speculator, NY. He performed with this ensemble for four years, including serving as the Director of Jazz Small Ensembles and Big Band for two years. He also travelled the world working for Suman Entertainment as a tenor saxophonist and doubler on alto/clarinet/flute on cruise ships, and worked intermittently as a professional saxophonist in New Orleans and Puerto Rico.
In 2012, McGrath moved to Chicago to pursue his Master of Music studies at Northwestern University, graduating in 2014. At Northwestern he had the honor of studying under saxophonist and clarinetist extraordinaire Victor Goines (Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra). Since his moving to Chicago, McGrath has established himself as one of the most on demand saxophonists in the Chicago music scene, leading his own groups, and performing with ensembles like legendary drummer Ted Sirota’s Heavyweight Dub, Four Star Brass Band, Aaaron Schapiro’s Every-People Big Band, the Gustavo Cortiñas Snapshot. He has performed in some of the city’s most renowned venues, such Andy’s Jazz Club, Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, the Drake Hotel, The Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Next Generation Jazz Series, the Chicago Jazz festival and many more. He also transcribes, arranges, and composes music for a variety of situations, and currently works as the Woodwind/Brasswind instructor at Flatt’s and Shape Musical Academy in Chicago. He has taught masterclasses on improvisation in Mexico and at the Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico;
Roy has played on numerous recordings, both as sideman and bandleader. He recorded on Easy Company’s self-titled album in 2009, produced by five-time Grammy winner John Snyder and five-time Grammy winning recording engineer David Farrell. In 2010, he recorded an album as leader entitled Long Shot. In 2013 he played on Gustavo Cortinas’ album Snapshot, in which he “is featured on a diverse array of music, from the mellow ("When I Leave You") to the stitched together ("Skepticism") to the comfortably swinging ("Hanaki")” (Dan Bilawski, All About Jazz). On Gustavo’s “When I Leave You”, “McGrath offers an unabashedly romantic solo” (Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz).
Commencing his life long adventure in the world of music at the age of 3, Joaquin Garcia would build the foundation to which now solidly holds a plethora of styles and range in his music that he executes with undeniable precision and an unparalled touch of a passionate artist.
His beginnings as a drummer laid the musical foundation for his formal training as a pianist that began at the age of 9. Joaquin trained with contemorary instruction for 2 years and classical instruction for 7 years before making the switch to jazz piano in college.
Joaquin has also been trained in classical voice and has had extensive arranging instruction in big band, jazz, latin, and contemporary styles.
Apart from extensive musical training, Joaquin has been working professionally since he was 14 and has been a sideman, arranger, frontman, composer, and bandleader in various projects ranging from jazz trios to big band ensembles to solo performances. Supplementing his professional body of work are his top honors in classical piano competitions city and state wide along with his unmatched work ethic.
Giving private lessons, being a recent graduate from Columbia College’s BA program for music, and his profressional work in various projects, Joaquin is completely dedicated to his craft and continues to impress and satisfy along the way.