"The Band of Percussionists"
(Artistic Director/Founder; Afro-Western Style drums)
Artist/Percussionist Marcus L. Miller has worked with many talented artists and musicians. Miller s musical journey began playing drums in his mother's Pentecostal church in Virginia. He recorded three albums with various choirs between 1983-87. After his college years in Virginia, he moved to the San Francisco Bay area in 1993 and immersed himself in the local music scene. There he continued to hone his chops by playing and recording a plethora of alternative rock fusion music. He continued his pursuit of jazz by playing with various Bay area groups until he connected with L.A. based percussionists Angel Figueroa & Leon Mobley.
Miller states, "They convinced me to leave the Bay for L.A. I hated to leave, but I knew it was time to go! These two guys helped to open the doors of the industry for me. They got me my first professional gigs; globe hopping tours with Ben Harper and a Disney cast member gig as a drummer in the Lion King parade at Disneyland."
Between 1994 and 1996 he performed and toured with Ben Harper & the innocent criminals. After this stint he moved to Los Angeles and embarked on his professional career as a drummer and artist. There he met his teacher legendary jazz drummer Clarence Johnston and sat often with the late great master drummer Billy Higgins. It was at this time that he began his journey into the world of West African, Afro-Cuban, & Brazilian styles of percussion.
Marcus has performed with artists the likes of Sheila E., Ashanti, Brenda Russell, Darius Rucker, Trevor Hall, Tony Furtado, Tim Reynolds, Giovanni Hildago, Ozomatli,The Watts Prophets, Michelle Shocked, Vinx, Steve Coleman, Bennie Maupin, Leon Mobley, & Bobby Bryant. A versatile drummer, Marcus' range includes recording sessions in reggae, West African traditional drumming, jazz, spoken word, hip hop, rock, blues, gospel, and alternative rock music genres styles.
As an Artist, Marcus is afforded many opportunities to connect with young people. He performs in schools & universities with his jazz ensemble as a roster artist for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. His workshops, MarcusMillerDrums, have been a regular fixture in Southern California libraries & schools. Since 1998 he has worked with various museums in Los Angeles county including the California African-American Museum, Kid and Space Museum, Skirball Cultural Center, & L.A. County Museum of Art. Miller also serves as the director of a youth performance ensemble called the Young Drummers of Los Angeles. Marcus is the percussion instructor and music director for the William Grant Still art center and works regularly with St. Elmo Village, Global Arts to Go, and the Percussion Artists Workshop. He maintains a regular roster of private drum lessons for students ages 6-18.
Since 2000, Miller has focused most of his creative efforts and energies into his writing and development as a composer and proficient jazz drummer. With his jazz based ensemble Freedom Jazz Movement, he has recorded eleven albums for his label Universe Soul Records and composed well over 100 songs. Miller composes music for TV, film, and video as writer and head of Jazz and Percussion for Heavy Harmony music publishing.
Marcus is the Music Director and principle accompanist for the Lula Washington Dance Theatre. Together they have toured throughout the United States, Mexico, Russia, China, & Brazil. Marcus’ compositions have been used by various choreographers for a variety of Modern dance works. He has composed music for choreographers Lula Washington, Tamica Washington-Miller, Winifred Harris, & Jordi Caballero. He has worked with Debbie Allen, Cleo Parker-Robinson, Jasmine Guy, Theresa Howard, and various dancers from The Alvin Ailey American Dance company and The Dance Theatre of Harlem.
(Western Style drums)
Multi-hyphenate Los Angeles-native Dexter Story is a composer, songwriter, musician, music producer, sound designer and freelance marketer. Named after the jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon by his audiophile father, Story grew up studying music theory, guitar and piano which led to him fronting and touring in local bands by age 14. While earning his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and Bordeaux National Conservatory in France, Story performed with a diverse array of masters including Wynton Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Eric Reed, Jeff Narell, Lord Crazy, Ernie Watts, John Stubblefield and Slide Hampton. Alongside a successful on-stage music career, Story worked in every facet of the music industry business (from Marketing Director at Priority, Def Jam and Bad Boy Records to Talent Buyer at the legendary Temple Bar) enjoying 15 years at the epicenter of popular music culture. His latest and most notable endeavors however are focused on his first love and passion for composing music-to-picture and music production having recently scored writer/producer Anthony Bertram short film "Brother's Prayer," provided original music for the award-winning documentary "City Lax" and music supervised the feature film "Hurricane Season" starring Academy Award winner Forrest Whitaker. Story also recently music-directed the highly acclaimed Peace Go With You, Gil tribute concert at Grand Performances in the Summer of 2012. Story collaborates regularly with producer/DJ Carlos Nino as co-founder of the breakthrough experimental group The Life Force Trio as well as with acclaimed jazz/soul vocalist Dwight Trible and is currently releasing his debut album Seasons due in November 2012.
Jah Amen MOBLEY
(West African percussion)
At the age of nine, Clarence Jah-Amen Mobley, opened the door to the world of African drumming and percussion and was blessed to study with various master drummers over time.Babatunde Olatunji of Nigeria; former National Dance Company of Senegal drummer, Ibrahim Camara; Bamadele Osumarea, former musical director of Art of Black Dance and Music; Malik Sow, master drummer from Senegal West Africa; and Karamba Diabate, master drummer from Guinea West Africa. Jah-Amen is quite knowledgeable of several percussive instruments including; djembe, sabar, conga, quote.
Over the years, he has inspired many children and adults to pursue their passions for African dance and music. He spent many years working as a lecture / demonstration artist for, ‘Young Audience’ programs in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California. In 1995, he joined the cast of Disney’s ‘Lion King Parade’ and maintained a successful run for two years. In 1997, Jah-Amen’s obvious talents and powerful presence, made it possible for him to land a role as a featured extra in the film, ‘The Amistad’. This experience lead him to also appear in the films, ‘Wild Things’, released in 1998 and ‘Dirty’ in 2005.
Currently, he is teaching a whole new generation of children at the Laguna School of Music in Laguna Beach California and for the YMCA of Anaheim. Once a week, he teaches a community drum class in Montclair California and in Costa Mesa California, for The Music Factory. As always, Jah-Amen continues to inspire his students to achieve clarity and understanding of the oral tradition of African drumming.
(Caribbean Steel Pans)
Alan Mark Lightner generates excitement through his energetic, charismatic, and highly skilled approach to playing and teaching music. His unique style, vast knowledge, and kind hearted spirit have wooed audiences and classrooms around the world. During his studies in the music program at the University of California at Berkeley, Lightner also pursued private instruction from masters in his fields of interest. Those fields were Afro-Caribbean music including the art of steel pans and the vast world of Afro-Cuban rhythms and instruments, Afro-Brazilian percussion, West African music, European classical percussion and the Afro-American art form of jazz. After receiving his B.A. in music in 1991, Lightner became a master faculty member at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts where he served as the director of the steel pans and drum set departments. Within his eight years as director/arranger for the advanced steel pan performing ensemble, he and the band received numerous accolades including the honor of being requested to perform for then Vice President Al Gore during one of his visits to the Bay Area. Lightner has been a featured guest on ‘The Osgood File", Charles Osgood’s nationally syndicated radio news program, to discuss Lightner’s success with teaching inner-city students. He has been the subject of numerous magazine articles and was included in the sixth edition of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, 2000. Alan Lightner has been equally successful as a performer. He has performed and/or recorded with Will Smith, Mos Def, Ashanti, Barrington Levy, David Rudder, "Boogsie" Sharpe, De La Soul, Ghostface, Rakim, Roy Ayers, Andy Narell, the Braxton Brothers, Richie Cole and Lenny Williams to name a few. He has appeared in and contributed to the soundtracks of numerous films and television shows such as Ally McBeal, the Drew Carey show, Eli Stone and Desperate Housewives . Lightner compositions can be heard on various commercial jingles and numerous steel band c.d.’s including his own group Pan Ramajay’s three releases. Los Angeles based band, Pan Dulce features Lightner penned tunes exclusively on their self titled release. Alan Lightner now juggles most of his time between composing, arranging and traveling internationally as a performer and clinician.
Winsor Pilates- “Maximum Burn Basics & Fat Burning” With Lucy Lawless- “Come to Mama”, Lucy Lawless in Concert Books- “It’s About Time”, by Fred Dinkins, accompanying audio CD. “Monkology”, by Gary Phillips, accompanying audio CD, Stage- “Bigger than Bubblegum”, “Country Colored Girl”Endorser of Audix, Gibraltor,Levy’s Leathers LTD, Remo, Rhythm Tech, Sabian,Toca,Vater Percussion, Beaded Sol.
Video/DVD- with Ben Harper- “Please Bleed”, “Steal My Kisses”, “Burn To Shine”, “At the Fillmore in Denver”, “Live at Royal Albert Hall ”With Dianne Reeves- Chan’s Song With Rhian Benson- “Say How I Feel”
Percussionist Danny Alfaro is a talented drummer and educator of youth and beginners in the creative arts of music, acting and writing. A musician and an artist, he is a composer of music for film, an actor and writer, a producer of dance music, and a creative performer and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with Jazz legends Kenny Burrell, Gerald Wilson, Benny Maupin, Charles Owens, Roberto Miranda, Marcus L. Miller, Angel Figueroa and his Jazz posse, FLACO, Vinx, Hugo Moraga, Funky C, Los Tetas, Lorenzo Jansson Kilman, Kim Fields, Chris James, Walter Aziz, Afro-Cuban masters Lazaro Gallaraga and Francisco Aguabella, and tabla virtuoso Abhiman Kaushal. Danny Alfaro produces and performs eclectic percussion music and vocal art in and around Los Angeles where he moved in 2007 to pursue higher education, and the San Francisco Bay Area where he was born and raised. He received his BA in Linguistics from UCLA in 2008 and his MA in Education from Pepperdine in 2010. He teaches at Just Flow Music, which he founded in 2004 in his hometown of San Mateo and which has blossomed in Mid City where he opened a space adjacent to Paws Music and Taino Studios, working closely with Angel Luis Figueroa since 2009 to create programs and products that give new musicians a strong foundation in culture, entertainment and education. Just Flow Music is a workshop environment for learners to delve into their own creative forces and develop a personalized program to prepare themselves to be performers and productive and happy human beings in the field of music and art. Danny works closely with many creative artists throughout California to make high quality independent films and dance tunes. Since moving to LA, he has established ensembles and creative niches at Environmental Charter Schools, William Grant Still Community Art Center, Paws Arts and Paws Music, and Just Flow Music. He has acted in and scored over 15 short films since starting a very fertile creative partnership with New Collective LA and Tall Star Productions in 2010. He has appeared in feature films such as “The Perfect Family”, staring Kathleen Turner and “We the Party”, staring Mario Van Peebles. He produces music from his studio in Mid City hoping to spark a new type of musical language for the 21st Century using guitars and strings, keys, voice, electronic and found sounds, and, of course bass, drums and percussion.