The Sacramento Classic Jazz Messengers

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Chet Chwalik (trumpet, director):
Chet Chwalik is both an accomplished trumpet player and pianist.

Raised in Northwest Ohio (Fostoria), Chet began playing the piano at the age of 4. While continuing to play the piano, Chet learned several brass instruments, including trumpet, valve trombone, and french horn. For the summers of 1982-1983, he marched for two years with the Toledo Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps as a lead soprano and soloist, playing throughout the Mid-West, and from Montreal, Canada to Miami, Florida. A graduate of the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio (1988), Chet majored in Jazz Performance on Trumpet (4 yrs) and Piano (1 yr), and studied with Tim Hagans, Frank Vincent, Rick Van Matre, Pat Harbison and Phil DeGreg. Shortly after finishing school, Chet went on to play with several groups in Northern Ohio including lead trumpet and piano with several big bands. Chet rounded out his gig schedule by often playing piano with the popular "Cookin'" group at Rusty's Jazz Cafe.

Chet currently lives in the Sacramento, California area (since late-2001) and worked as the Musical Director and Conductor/Arranger/Pianist at Unity of Sacramento church (formerly known as Christ Unity Church). While there, he performed on piano/keyboards, trumpet/flugelhorn, created several charts and arrangements for services and concerts, acted as band leader, and conducted multiple performances of selections from "The Messiah" (with strings, brass, vocal soloists, and choir), and taught an occasional Theory class to the choir. Most notably was Chet's dedication to the 2013 Christmas Concert, "Hallelujah, It's A Swingin' Christmas!" for which he hired a 17-piece big band, transcribed and generated all the necessary parts, directed the band, arranged a number of jazz choral numbers, etc. Additionally while at Unity of Sacramento he created an online web application for all sheet music, for all past and ongoing music. He remains available as needed, including producing charts for services and as a performer for concerts.

Since moving to Sacramento, Chet has also performed on trumpet with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and the Folsom Lake Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, Chet established his own music business, The Tuning Note Music Studio, which consists of teaching piano, trumpet and jazz improvisation to both school-aged and adult students including annual recitals, doing audio transcription/chart creation, and piano tuning. Chet also hosted one of the longest running jam sessions for jazz musicians at the former location of the Clarion Hotel. Chet is also the director and pianist for the Valerie V Big Band, which has played several dates in the greater Sacramento area, including Cache Creek Casino.

Chet formed the Sacramento Classic Jazz Messengers out of a love for the music of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (more info), particularly the music of the early to mid-1960's, when the Jazz Messengers had such personnel as Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, Reggie Workman, and of course Art Blakey on drums. Chet appreciates the drive of the music from then and wanted to honor it and share it with today's audiences.

Darius Babazadeh (saxes, flutes):
Darius Babazadeh is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and music educator who has toured Asia, Europe and the USA with Paul Anka, Johnny Mathis, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Jessica Williams, Xavier Cugat, Mumbo Gumbo, Stan Lunetta, Joe Gilman and Lynard Skynyrd.  After touring, Darius formed his own band called the dbaba Project. The dbaba Project is an aggregation of accomplished, touring and performing musicians.  Darius also teaches at Watermelon Music in Davis, California ( and also plays with the MIXX.

Al Bent (bone):
Trombonist Albert Bent started playing baritone horn in high school in the Sacramento area at the age of sixteen and shortly after, made the switch to trombone when he discovered that there was a need in the local jazz combo for an additional instrumentalist.

After playing gigs around town and developing a deep interest in all varieties of music he made the decision to pursue music as a career and enrolled in the Sacramento State College music program majoring in trombone. Before graduating, to avoid an uncertain future as an army draftee, he signed on with the U.S. Navy and served his military time as a musician.

Following his stint with the Navy, he made the move to the San Francisco area and freelanced for a many years in the bay area, playing and recording with, among others, Cal Tjader, Santana, Patti LaBelle, The Escovedo Brothers, McCoy Tyner, and Benny Carter.

Part of this period was spent as a musician in the house band at Harrah’s headliner room in Reno, but feeling compelled to stay where he felt most at home, he reestablished his roots in California. These days you will find Al living and working in Northern California, playing bass and trombone on the always active Bay Area and Sacramento music scenes.

Joe Gilman (piano):
Dr. Joe Gilman is a full-time professor of music at American River College in Sacramento, and adjunct professor of music at CSU Sacramento, and a longtime associate of the Brubeck Institute and Stanford Jazz Workshop. He has received bachelor's degrees and a performance certificate in piano and jazz studies at Indiana University, a master's degree in jazz and the contemporary media from the Eastman School of Music, and a doctoral degree in education from the University of Sarasota.

From 2006-2016, Joe was the primary pianist with jazz vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. He has also performed professionally with Eddie Harris, Woody Shaw, Marlena Shaw, Joshua Redman, Joe Locke, George Duke, Chris Botti, Eric Alexander, Anthony Wilson, Nicholas Payton, Russell Malone, David "Fathead" Newman, John Fedchock, and Slide Hampton, and has recorded with Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Frank Morgan, Jeff Watts, Robert Hurst, Tootie Heath, and Larry Grenadier.

Dr. Gilman has twice been an International Jazz Ambassador through the Kennedy Center. Other notable awards include the 1998 SMAC Emerging Artist Award, the 2000 American River College Student Association instructor of the year, the 2000 Sacramento News and Review Critical Achievement award, grand prize at the 2004 Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition, and the 2005 Brubeck Scholar award. Dr. Gilman's work with students at the Brubeck Institute and ARC has produced twenty CDs and has resulted in twenty DownBeat magazine student awards.

Brenden Lowe (piano):
Pianist Brenden Lowe began playing piano at the age of 3 due to the musical influence of his father, Malcolm Lowe, the Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Brenden started classical training at New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts. After studying with Angel Rivera, a nationally honored teacher, Brenden heard a recording of Itzak Pearlman playing with a great jazz pianist by the name of Oscar Peterson. From that point on Brenden’s focus switched from classical to jazz piano. He attended the New School University in Manhattan, New York in which he received his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Jazz Piano Performance. While at The New School, Brenden was able to study piano with such names as Eric Reed, (former pianist for Wynton Marsalis), Geri Allen, Benny Green, Aaron Goldberg, and many others. Brenden also established Jazz Piano School, whose mission is to provide creative, fresh and innovative educational content to help everyone effectively and efficiently improve at all different levels. Brenden now resides in Sacramento, California, where he both performs and teaches, and continues to improve Jazz Piano School.

Randy Sandoli (piano):
Randy Sandoli, jazz pianist and educator, has been performing and teaching in the central valley for over 10 years. In 2015, Randy released his first album, entitled "Gettin' Goin'" at the Take Five Jazz Club in Stockton, CA.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in jazz studies from Pacific's Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music Degree in jazz performance from Sacramento State University. His major teachers include Joe Gilman, Patrick Langham and Rex Cooper. During his academic tenure he has also studied with Mark Levine, Robert Glasper, Taylor Eigsti, Christian McBride and Joshua Redman.  After completing his degree from Pacific, Randy became the Jazz Studies Director at the Zion Academy of Music in Stockton, a K-12 performing arts school and in 2016 became a Visiting Lecturer in jazz studies at University of the Pacific.

Kerry Kashiwagi (bass):
Kerry Kashiwagi is an acoustic and electric bassist with 22 years of professional experience.   He has played and or recorded with the Henry Robinett Group, the Tom Peron/ Bud Spangler Interplay Quartet, Richie Cole, John Fedchock, Rio Latin Quintet and Todd Cochran.   He has participated in Master classes with Carlos Del Puerto and Gary Carr, and is currently an adjunct professor of Jazz Bass at American River College in Sacramento, California.

Mat Marucci (drums):
Mat Marucci is an active performer, author, educator, and clinician listed in Who's Who In America, International Who's Who In Music (Cambridge, England) and the Institute of Jazz Studies (Rutgers University). His performing credits include jazz greats Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, James Moody, Eddie Harris, Buddy De Franco, Les McCann, Pharoah Sanders, and John Tchicai among others.

Mat has numerous critically acclaimed recordings to his credit as a leader and others as a sideman, including those with John Tchicai and Jimmy Smith, and is also the author of several books on drumming for both Lewis Music and Mel Bay Publications. His recordings and books have garnered four and five star reviews in Jazz Times, Jazziz, Modern Drummer, Downbeat and Drum! magazines and have also received nominations for awards.

Additionally, Mat has written numerous articles on drumming for Modern Drummer and Downbeat magazines and for the Percussive Arts Society's Percussive Notes and Percussion News. He has also been an adjunct faculty member for both American River College (Sacramento, CA) and The Jazzschool (Berkeley, CA) and is an endorser for Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads, and Vic Firth drumsticks.

"Live at Jazz Central" (2014) Cimpol Records, New York
"Why Not?" (2012, Co-Leader with Doug Webb) Cadence Jazz Records, New York
"Live at the Jazz Bakery" (2010) Marco Records, Los Angeles
"Partners In Crime" (2009, Co-Leader with Doug Webb) Cadence Jazz Records, New York
"Change-Up" (2007, Co-Leader with Doug Webb) CIMP Records, New York
"No Lesser Evil" (2007, Co-leader with Doug Webb) Cadence Jazz Records, New York
"3 The Hard Way" (2006, Co-Leader with Doug Webb) CIMP Records, New York
"Genesis" (2004, Co-Leader Sacramento Musical Arts Ensemble) Cadence Jazz Records, New York
"Ulterior Motif" (1998) Jazz Inspiration Records, Canada
"Body And Soul" (1991) Timeless Records, Holland
"Avant-Bop" (1983) Tudor Records, New York
"Extensity" (1981) Marco Records, Los Angeles
"Festival" (1980) Marco Records, Los Angeles
"Lifeline" (1980) Marco Records, Los Angeles
"Who Do Voo Doo" (1979) Marco Records, Los Angeles

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