The Ari Roland Jazz Quartet
Ari Roland Jazz Quartet (New York, New York), is inspired by jazz music from the 1930’s through 1950’s, also known as the “Golden Age of Jazz.” The ensemble’s repertoire includes pieces by jazz legends such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billie Holiday as well as their own critically acclaimed original compositions. In addition to their performances in New York the quartet has a busy touring schedule. They also direct international programs bringing young musicians from different communities together to play jazz.
ARI ROLAND (BASS) started playing jazz professionally at the age of 16 and also received classical training at The Juilliard School. He has worked with many significant figures in jazz, including Barry Harris, Betty Carter, Lou Donaldson, Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, and Harry Connick, Jr. Roland’s three albums as a bandleader have received critical acclaim in the international jazz press. Through The Rhythm Road and other touring programs, he has traveled to 26 different countries in the past three years. Roland currently co-directs the Bi-Communal Jazz Futures program for the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus.
KEITH BALLA (PERCUSSION) was born in Austin, Texas and moved to New York City in 2004. A student of master drummer and teacher Kenny Washington, Balla began working professionally in New York at the age of 17. In addition to national tours, he performs regularly in New York with many of the city’s dynamic young jazz artists. Recognized for his musical maturity, he is also sought after by renowned musicians for his supportive and interactive accompaniment style. He has presented jazz drum clinics to musicians of all levels in the U.S. and internationally, tours frequently for the U.S. State Department in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and continues to record in New York.
CHRIS BYARS (TENOR SAXOPHONE) is equally recognized as an outstanding composer and arranger, who received prestigious awards, grants, and commissions from many organizations, including The Tanne Foundation and Chamber Music America. Byars has been on the faculty of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy and in 2009 was awarded a major grant for an 18 part series bringing jazz and the music of Gigi Gryce/Basheer Qusim into New York City Public Schools. He has traveled extensively for the U.S. Department of State and co-directs, with Ari Roland, the Bi-Communal Jazz Futures program for the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus.
ZAID NASSER (ALTO SAXOPHONE) was born and raised in New York, and is the son of jazz and bluesmaster, Jamil Nasser. From an early age, he learned directly from the legends of jazz. At 19, he moved to Memphis, the birthplace of the blues, where he spent two years working with many greats of the art form. Upon his return to New York, he became a featured soloist with Panama Frances’ Savoy Sultans, and worked with the pioneering organist Bill Doggett. His albums have been included on many “top ten” lists of music critics, and he performs regularly in New York. He currently devotes a large portion of his schedule to international touring.