Born in Austin, Texas and raised in Altadena, California, Carmen Bradford grew up with music in her home and in her heart. It was only natural that Carmen would follow in the footsteps of her great family legacy, being the daughter of legendary trumpeter/ composer Bobby Bradford and world renowned vocalist/composer Melba Joyce. Her grandfather Melvin Moore sang with Lucky Millender and Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band in the 1940’s, and sang with the Ink Spots, making Carmen the third generation of incredible musicians. She has carved out a place in music history for herself and is playing an integral role in this uniquely American art form called jazz. Carmen Bradford is Jazz Royalty.
Outside of the jazz realm he has worked on stage or in the recording studio with such R&B icons as Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John and Aretha Franklin, alternative pop artists David Byrne and Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), and country stars including Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, and Willie Nelson. His orchestral arrangements for major artists such as these have been performed by symphonies across the U.S. and abroad.
John has composed extensively for both professional and university jazz ensembles, including a number of works published by Walrus Music. He was awarded First Prize at the 2008 ArtEZ International Jazz Composition Contest in the Netherlands for If Memory Serves, and in 2009 he collaborated with UT Professor Jeff Hellmer to score the first full orchestration of Duke Ellington’s unfinished folk-opera, Queenie Pie.
Cadence Magazine calls John Fremgen “…an adroit craftsman on the strings slapping and popping away on electric or plucking resonant tones on acoustic.” He can be seen performing in Austin with various artists including Tony Campise, Paul Glasse, Doug Hall, Mitch Watkins, Abra Moore, Gerry Gibbs, and Jeff Hellmer. He has performed with many jazz luminaries including Jamie Findlay, Shelly Berg, Rick Margitza, Gary Foster, Leni Stern, Ernie Watts and Larry Koonse. He is an assistant professor at The University of Texas where he teaches jazz improvisation, jazz theory, jazz history, jazz bass and directs the AIME ensemble. He has performed, taught and conducted across the US as well as Switzerland, Russia, and Holland.
Jeff Hellmer, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Texas, brings a wealth of experience as an educator and performer to the UT jazz program. He maintains an extremely active performing and teaching profile, appearing frequently on the central Texas scene as well as throughout the United States at venues ranging from the Litchfield Jazz Festival to the Idyllwild Arts Academy. Twice named a finalist in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, he has performed, taught and adjudicated jazz throughout the United States as well as in Russia and Taiwan. His recording, Peak Moments, was declared an “exciting addition to the modern jazz piano catalog” by the All Music Guide. He has been a soloist and guest conductor with the Dallas Wind Symphony twelve times, and has recorded with classical saxophonists Dan Goble and Harvey Pittel.
Wayne Salzmann II is an incredibly versatile and active drummer with over 20 years of experience. He is best known for his work touring and recording with Grammy winning guitar virtuoso, Eric Johnson. He is one of the most in demand session and live drummers in Austin, Texas, where he plays as many as 250 gigs per year. Although he is primarily a performer, Salzmann has an incredible passion for teaching. He has been teaching privately for over 15 years, has given master classes at drum shops, Universities, and Music Conservatories worldwide, and is currently the drum set instructor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Trumpeter, vocalist and percussionist Pete Rodríguez carries the bloodline of Nuyorican salsa as he takes the tradition of Afro-Cuban jazz to new places. The son of renowned salsero Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez and godson of Fania Records bandleader Johnny Pacheco, the younger Rodríguez cut his teeth backing up some of the greatest names in Latin music. He became his father’s musical director at the age of 19.
Coached by pianist Oscar Hernandez, the former director for "El Conde" and Ruben Blades, Rodríguez was playing trumpet, singing coro, playing maracas and giving cues to the band. As a vocalist, he sang on Tito Puente's Grammy-award winningMambo Birdland. As an instrumentalist, he's appeared with legends including Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Chico O'Farrill and Bebo Valdez. Now, as a bandleader, Rodríguez is drawing on these experiences to take his brand of Afro-Cuban jazz in exciting new directions.
Saxophonist and South Texas native Tomás Ramírez has been a prominent member of the Austin jazz scene for several decades. After having studied music at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi and then coming to The University of Texas, Tomás joined the Jerry Jeff Walker band in 1973. He recorded four albums with Jerry Jeff in the ‘70s, performed with his own band, “Jazzmanian Devil” during the ‘80s, and has also recorded with various national artists, including Carole King and Christopher Cross. Tomás has toured throughout the US, Europe, Canada and Mexico.