2019 Performer Bios


Randy Gelispie Organ Ensemble:

Randy Gelispie is instructor of jazz drums at the Michigan State University College of Music. He has been a professional jazz drummer since he started playing with a 10-piece band in the ninth grade. Gelispie has traveled on the road with Wes Montgomery, Sonny Stitt, Dinah Washington and Lou Donaldson. In the Detroit area, he has performed with Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, and most recently with Geri Allen.

Etienne Charles:

Etienne Charles is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Michigan State University. Hailed by The New York Times as "an auteur" (Ben Ratliff) and by Jazz Times as "A daring improviser who delivers with heart wrenching lyricism" (Bill Milkowski). Perhaps more than any other musician of his generation or Eastern Caribbean origin, Etienne brings a careful study of myriad rhythms from the French, Spanish, English and Dutch speaking Caribbean to the table. 

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque:

An internationally acclaimed musician, Bunnett is known for her creative integrity, improvisational daring, and courageous artistry. Her exploration of Afro-Cuban melodies expresses the universality of music, and her ability to embrace and showcase the rhythms and culture of Cuba has been ground-breaking. She has toured the world bringing her own special sound to numerous jazz festivals, displaying her versatility as a flutist, saxophone player, and pianist.

Maureen Choi:

Their captivating live performance consists of original compositions and arrangements of traditional Spanish and Latin American pieces. Maureen is one of the few violinists in the world who can blend the virtuosity of classical music, with improvisation and driving Latin rhythms.

Xavier Davis: 

Today, Xavier is one of the most accomplished jazz pianists’ worldwide. Having led master classes and clinics all over the world and coming from a family of music educators, passing on knowledge and skills to young musicians is very important to Xavier. As such, he is proud to be Associate Professor of Jazz Piano at Michigan State University.

Regina Carter:

Trying to fit Regina Carter into a neatly defined musical category is pointless. She enjoys performing many styles of music-jazz. R&B, Latin, classical, blues, country, pop, African, and on and on. In each she explores the power of music through the voice of the violin.

Rodney Whitaker w/ Terrell Stafford, Bruce Barth, Tim Warfield, Dana Hall & Rockelle Fortin: 

Internationally renowned bassist and Mack Avenue recording artist, Rodney Whitaker, currently holds the titles of Professor of Jazz Bass and Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University. Building on his Detroit roots and enormous talent, Whitaker went on to earn an international reputation as one of the world’s finest jazz double bass performers.

Straight Ahead:

Out of Detroit’s lively jazz scene, which has produced some of the best musicians in the world, comes the ground breaking all female jazz group, Straight Ahead. Widely recognized for their eclectic and soulful approach to creating music, the Straight Ahead sound ranges comfortably from mainstream jazz R&B ballads, Avant- garde to Brazilian funk. Their live performances are a dynamic celebration of power and joy.


Stanley Ruvinov Quartet:

Hailing from Washington state, Stanley studied jazz bass under Rodney Whitaker and is a recent graduate from the Jazz Studies department at Michigan State University.

Jordyn Davis:

Jordyn Davis is a jazz bassist, composer, songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist from Inkster, MI. In May 2019, Davis became the first African-American woman to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition from Michigan state University as well as the first Michigan State student to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition and Jazz Studies concurrently. Jordyn has had the fortune of studying under world renowned bassist Rodney Whitaker, as well as master composers David Bidenbender and Zhou Tian. Notable performances include being featured as a guest artist at the Michigan Jazz Festival, River-Raisin Jazz Festival, & Jazz Tuesday’s at Moriarty’s.

Tim Blackmon & Tissa Khosla:

Both received Undergraduate degrees from Florida State University, they both just finished up their Master of Jazz Studies from Michigan State University this past spring. Not only are these two musicians a part of The Modern Jazz Generation, but both have also performed alongside names such as Jason Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Terell Stafford, Marcus Roberts, and the list goes on.

Jeff Shoup Quartet:

A lifelong Michigan resident, drummer Jeff Shoup, has performed all over the state of Michigan in a wide variety of styles and settings over the last twenty-five years. The list of musicians with whom Jeff has performed continues to grow, and includes Fareed Haque, Rodney Whitaker, Randy Napoleon, Michael Dease, Betty Joplin, Sunny Wilkinson, and many others.

496 West


Based in Lansing Michigan and formed by guitarist Charlie Wilson, 496 West has continued firing up stages since their debut performance in 2008.   As a collective, they are experienced, professional and have garnered a reputation of being one of the best live bands based in mid-Michigan. With soulful vocals, a powerhouse horn section, killer keys, silky strings and indispensable percussions, 496 West offers soul, smooth jazz, R&B, a sprinkling of the blues and of course, gospel jazz styles.


: Four prior recipients of the Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan’s Sandy Izenson Scholarship unite once again to perform at the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival.

Margherita Fava Quartet

: Currently apart of the Jazz Studies program and studying piano under Professor Xavier Davis at Michigan State University, Margherita will be finishing her last year of Undergraduate studies this coming fall.  

Brandon Rose:

Bassist, Brandon Rose is currently a Jazz Studies student at Michigan State University studying under Professor Rodney Whitaker. Brandon will be finishing up his last year of Undergraduate Studies this coming fall.

The Becoming Quintet:

The ensemble features original music by all the members of the band, plus a few selections from both modern and older influences. After releasing their debut record, “One Track Mind” on Posi-Tone Records in February of 2019, the Becoming Quintet has performed at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, Cliff Bells, and the Broad Art Museum.

Max Colley lll:

Max Colley lll received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Central Michigan University. Max has studied with Tim Froncek, Ken Olson, Greg Alley, Daniel Horton, Marcus Belgrave, Rob Smith, Bobby Shew and Jon Faddis. Max has won numerous awards including outstanding soloists at the Aquinas College, Central Michigan, Sonny Stitt, and Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festivals and won the Jimmy Forrest Memorial Scholarship.


oot Doctor:

Root Doctor, born of the fertile Lansing, Michigan music community, had its humble beginnings in the open mic scene of the late 1980’s. Root Doctor plays a diverse mix of classic soul and R&B alongside traditional blues and inspired original material.