The Nash 5th Anniversary – Musicians


Born into a musical family in Baltimore, Maryland, Chestnut has earned a reputation for his skillful versatility, ability for blending sounds and unabashedly bringing gospel into the club performances. After graduating from Berklee, Chestnut worked with Jon Hendricks, Terrence Blanchard and saxophonist Donald Harrison before joining jazz legend Wynton Marsalis in 1991. Despite his sense of playful showmanship, Chestnut takes jazz very seriously and believes that jazz has great staying power. “Just as Bruce Springsteen has that ability to appeal to a mass audience, I have a vision that jazz can do the same. You can’t underestimate the power of this music,” Chestnut told the St. Petersburg Times.

Roberta Gambarini was born in Turin, Italy, where she was exposed to jazz at concerts, clubs, and festivals and at home by listening to records. Within three weeks of moving to America in 1998, Gambarini won a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music and took third place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. Gambarini was invited to sing in New York City, where she met James Moody, who became her teacher and mentor. In 2004, Gambarini started touring with the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band. From 2006–2007 she toured with her own trio, as well as the Hank Jones trio. Gambarini has two Grammy Award-nominated albums.

Born in Waco, Texas, Roy Hargrove was discovered by Wynton Marsalis during a performance at Booker T. Washington High School, and invited to sit in with his band. After spending one year at the Berklee College of Music, Hargrove settled in New York, where he attended the New School’s Jazz and Contemporary Music School and launched his career. Hargrove’s debut quintet album, Diamond in the Rough, was released in 1990, followed by four more albums before signing with Verve. In 1994, he released the critically lauded Roy Hargrove with the Tenors of Our Time, followed by Family and Parker’s Mood. Hargrove says, “Being a musician is a gift…I want to make music that lasts awhile, to make albums that people can enjoy for a lot longer than one month.”

Bassist, composer, educator and producer, John was born in Boston, Massachusetts. From 1984 through 1993, John Lee was Dizzy Gillespie’s bassist. Performing and recording in the trumpet master’s various bands including the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, and Dizzy’s Grammy Award-winning United Nation Orchestra. After Dizzy’s passing, his family asked John to create an ongoing tribute to the great man and his music—and the concept for the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars was born. John is the bassist and director of the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, and the Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience. Lee is also a noted record producer and audio engineer with more than 100 recordings to his credit, as well as playing bass in the bands of Gary Bartz, Larry Coryell, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Heath, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, and more.

Born in Yukon, Oklahoma, Sharel Cassity had a full scholarship to Juilliard School of Music Jazz program where she graduated with a Masters in 2007. With seven consecutive appearances on Downbeat’s Rising Star Alto Saxophone list, Sharel Cassity has been touring the world with her quintet and promoting her latest project Elektra. Cassity has shared the stage with legendary artists including Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove and James Moody. Cassity has released three albums as a leader, and has appeared on albums with Cyrus Chestnut, the Dizzy Gillespie Afro Cuban Experience, Jimmy Heath’s Big Band and many elite New York City based ensembles—where she has resided since 2000. With a passion for her art and an unwavering will to evolve, Cassity continues to write and perform music that is constantly pushing boundaries and surprising her listeners.

Born and raised in Phoenix, internationally-acclaimed drummer Lewis Nash is the drummer of choice for an incredible array of artists – from jazz masters to the hottest young players of today. His career spans over 30 years and includes performances on 10 Grammy Award–winning albums and an impressive discography of over 400 recordings with jazz legends such as Betty Carter, Tommy Flanagan, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter and Clark Terry, as well as such contemporary jazz artists as Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Joe Lovano and Roy Hargrove. In 2009, Modern Drummer Magazine proclaimed Nash as the most valuable player in jazz. In January of 2017 Nash was invited to join the faculty of the ASU School of Music as the Bob and Gretchen Ravenscroft Professor of Practice in Jazz.

“For a wholly original take on big band’s past, present and future, look to Darcy James Argue” — so says Newsweek’s Seth Colter Walls. The Vancouver-born, Brooklyn-based composer and bandleader has toured nationally and internationally with his 18-piece ensemble, Secret Society, garnering countless awards and nominations and reimagining what a 21st-century big band can sound like. Argue made his mark with his critically acclaimed 2009 debut Infernal Machines. 2013 saw the release of Brooklyn Babylon, which, like Infernal Machines before it, earned the group nominations for both GRAMMY and JUNO Awards. His most recent recording, Real Enemies, released in the fall of 2016, earned a third consecutive GRAMMY nomination and has been praised as “wildly discursive, twitchily allusive, a work of furious ambition… deeply in tune with our present moment” by The New York Times’ Nate Chinen.


Cory Weeds, a tenor saxophonist with an expressive sound rooted in Jazz tradition, and record label owner, may be best known as the founder and owner of Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, which he successfully ran for more than 13 years. As a saxophonist who studied at the University of North Texas and Capilano College, Weeds spent many nights on the Cellar bandstand as a leader and sideman, performing with icons like Joey DeFrancesco and Christian McBride. Weeds has also recorded eight albums as a leader, including: As of Now (with the Harold Mabern Trio), Let’s Go (with Steve Davis), the Juno-nominated Up A Step (Cory Weeds Quartet), With Benefits (with Lewis Nash and Peter Washington), Just Like That (with the Tilden Webb Trio), The Many Deeds of Cory Weeds (with Joey DeFrancesco), Everything’s Coming Up Weeds (with Jim Rotondi), and Big Weeds (with Peter Bernstein, Mike LeDonne, and Joe Farnsworth). While the Cellar is now a happy memory, the record label Weeds established in 2001, with close to 100 recordings and many more releases planned. This is Weed’s third appearance at The Nash.

Mike Kocour is a jazz pianist, organist and composer. He also serves as Director of Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Arizona State University. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the most sophisticated pianists in jazz,” Kocour has performed at venues around the world and has been a guest on Marian McPartland’s internationally syndicated NPR program “Piano Jazz.” Among the many artists and ensembles with whom he has appeared with are Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Lovano, Eddie Harris, James Moody, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson, Ira Sullivan, Carl Fontana, Dewey Redman, Lew Tabackin, and the Chicago Symphony. Kocour directs one of the two flagship Nash Legacy Ensembles. Kocour’s latest album, Spiffy (2015), is a hard-swinging B3 quartet with the same instrumentation as the Anniversary show at The Nash.

Chicago-born jazz guitarist Jeff Libman is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Arizona State University. He holds a PhD in Music Education from ASU. Libman is one of the “prime movers” of The Nash’s education programs, and is responsible for booking more than 100 shows and jam sessions at The Nash each year. Libman currently serves as Vice President of its board of directors. Libman’s most recent album, Strange Beauty (released in late 2016 on the Cellar Live label) has received extensive radio airplay and reached #26 on the JazzWeek chart.


Dom Moio has played with many jazz greats including Don Doane, Clark Terry, Herb Pomeroy, Dave McKenna, Don Menza, Red Holloway, Herb Ellis, Joe Diorio and Ahmad Jamal. He has also recorded more than 65 Jazz CD’s, which include artists like Carl Fontana, Conte Condoli, Shorty Rogers, Greg Hopkins and Buddy Childers. Now in his 20th year on Arizona State University’s Jazz Faculty, as well as at Mesa Community College, Moio keeps a very busy teaching and gigging schedule. Dom’s signature smile frequently lights up the stage at The Nash.