Andy Axelrad – woodwinds
Andy Axelrad is a multi-woodwind instrumentalist specializing in saxophones, clarinet and flutes. He recently retired after 24 years as a member of the Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the US Air Force. Prior to his tenure with the Air Force Band, he was the lead alto and clarinetist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Originally from Chicago, Andy received his formal music training at The University of North Texas.
Mr. Axelrad has toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Japan. Performance highlights include appearances with Walt Weiskopf, Joey Defrencesco, Michael and Randy Brecker, Cyrus Chestnut, Phil Woods, Frank Wess, Vanessa Rubin, Carmen Bradford, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Louis Bellson, Eddie Daniels, Paquito D’Rivera, Herbie Hancock, Arturo Sandoval, The Four Freshman, The Temptations, Bobby Caldwell and many more jazz and pop icons. He has been recorded on numerous albums including the 2008 Latin Grammy Award winning CD Afro Bop Alliance “The Caribbean Jazz Project”. Recent notable performances were on The Kennedy Center production of Terrence Blanchard’s Kennedy Center commissioned score for “Bud, Not Buddy.”
Jessica Boykin-Settles – voice
Jessica Boykin-Settles is a native of Washington, DC. She attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts as a Vocal Music Major. Upon graduating from high school, Jessica moved to New York City and studied jazz at The New School University. Upon her return to Washington, she enrolled in the graduate program in music at Howard University, earning a M.M. degree in Jazz Studies in 2006.
Ms. Boykin-Settles first joined the Howard music faculty in 2006. She took a two-year professional break from Howard to pursue a full-time performing career, returning to teaching in the fall of 2014. She has also mentored DC youth through the Washington Jazz Arts Institute.
Vince Evans – piano
Vince was born in Washington DC. He earned his BA in Music Production and Engineering from the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. He’s performed and toured with many great artists including Pieces of a Dream, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Dianne Reeves and Lenny White.
Vince is one of those artists that is a chameleon in the industry. He’s had extensive experience in many genres of music from classical to rock, r&b, jazz, blues, gospel………you name it, he’s done it. He is currently focused on producing a catalog of music for his publishing company, Creative Music Team, Inc.He is also teaching and cultivating fresh talent from his studio in Lanham, MD. His consulting services include artist development, songwriting and production workshops.
Jennifer Krupa – trombone / brass
Chief Musician Jennifer Krupa, born in Connecticut and raised in Hemet, Calif., joined the Navy Band in 2004. She earned aBachelor of Music from the University of North Florida in 1994, an Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School in 2003 and a Master of Music from the University of Maryland in 2010, all in jazz studies. While at Juilliard, she studied trombone with Wycliffe Gordon and arranging with Ellington aficionado David Berger. In 2003, she won positions in the International Association of Jazz Educators Sisters in Jazz combo and the Henry Mancini Institute and performed throughout North America and Europe. In 2006, the 23rd Annual World Premiere Composition Series commissioned her to conduct and compose pieces for the University of Scranton Concert Band and Choir.
Krupa has performed with Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Wycliffe Gordon Quintet/Sextet, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, and Christian McBride in addition to co-leading her own small group, JLQ. She has also contributed arrangements to the last two Commodores recordings, in addition to serving as the Commodores librarian. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and training for athletic events.
Donato Soviero – guitarist and composer
Guitarist, Composer, and teacher Donato Soviero has been performing in and around the Washington DC area for thirty years. Noted for his superb artistry as a guitarist and composer, Donato’s versatility affords him equal comfort in many venues. With roots firmly planted in the tradition of mainstream jazz, his scope of musical interest is nonetheless wide. These influences can often be heard shaping his own unique voice as composer and arranger. A resident of the Washington D.C. area since 1982, Donato has appeared with top local and national artists, as well as leading many of his own groups in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.
In the early 90’s, his group ‘Decisiones’ highlighted his composing and arranging skills in a Latin-Jazz vein. At the Carter Barron Amphitheater he opened for Poncho Sanchez and Tito Puente with a program of all original music composed for the occasion. Locally he has played at the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, The One Step Down, Corcoran’s Hammer Auditorium, Andie Musik, Bethesda Jazz and Blues, Bohemian Caverns, and at the Smithsonian. He has also appeared with national artists at Wolftrap, the D.C. Convention Center, and RFK Stadium and performed at numerous Jazz festivals, including the 2015 D.C. Jazz Festival. He’s played for Presidents and at the State Department for the Thelonious Monk Institute. One of his most recent projects has been a modern jazz group called the MARS 4-Tet (mars4-tet.com) which has recorded its debut release, The Blind Watchmaker on the Summit Record label to great reviews.
Mr. Soviero has been the recipient of several awards, including a 1994 TAP Award from the D.C. Commission of the Arts and Humanities and a 1995 GIA Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Recordings include a self-titled CD, several features as sideman and CD tribute to Charlie Byrd entitled “Classical Jazz.” Tom Cole, host of WPFW’S ‘G STRINGS’ had to say about his playing: “His beautiful phrasing and impressive improvising took me aback…He’s one of those real surprises.”
Michael Bowie – bassist and composer
Michael Bowie is an internationally recognized musician, performing on both the electric and contrabass. With roots in the Washington D.C. jazz and gospel community, he was a recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Jazz Studies and trained with Betty Carter and Keter Betts. Soon after, Michael signed with Verve Records as an original member of “The Harper Brothers”. He went on to perform, record and tour with Abdulla Ibrahim, Michel Pettruciani, including the Grammy Award winning “Look What I Got” with Betty Carter. Michael has expanded his musical interests and performance to include a wide variety of musical forms from jazz to symphony to rock. As musical director he has worked with many artists worldwide including Patti Labelle, James Ingram, Jeff Majors, Abbey Lincoln, Angie Stone, Isaac Hayes, Gil Scott-Heron. He has shared his talents in the recording studio and on the stage with Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, Manhattan Transfer, Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Della Reece, and Michel Camilo and Ricky Skaggs. He has appeared on countless television shows such as BET, Austin City Limits, Charlie Rose, Radio One, as well as having performed at major venues and festivals such as Carnegie Hall, the Newport Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Montreux, and most other major festivals world-wide.
As a composer his works can be heard in television, radio and the industrial markets as well. In addition to his personal musical career, Michael is deeply involved in developing children’s music enrichment. He is a certified teacher in Washington D.C.’s Public School system at Oyster-Adams Bilingual Campus. As a lecturer and associate professor he has taught at Shenandoah Conservatory, Michigan University, University of Missouri, Fillmore Arts Center and Bowie State amongst others. In addition, he has worked with the Wolftrap Institute for Early Childhood Learning program in Virginia, The Smithsonian Masterworks Orchestra, and the Thelonius Monk Institute.