Better Together presents The Jazz Soul of Al Jarreau
April 14, 2023
7:30 p.m. - $25
Better Together is a diverse group of top-level musical souls on a journey to unite people around amazing music and good vibes. Featuring vocalist Bruce A. Henry (“bell-pure voice”— Miami Herald), guitarist Henry Johnson (“impressive”—L.A. Times), pianist Jo Ann Daugherty (“★★★★”—Downbeat), acoustic bassist Joshua Ramos, and drummer Ryan Bennett, the band taps into the universal power of music to bring people together during these times when we need a common bridge. More than a tribute — this show explores the jazz soul of the legendary Al Jarreau with an approach that treats these tunes as living, breathing pieces of music. https://www.facebook.com/bettertogetherpresents/
This performance is sponsored by J. Murray & Associates
Meet the Band - Better Together
Bruce A. Henry
Bruce A. Henry is a vocalist, performer, and educator extraordinaire. Henry's eclectic vocal style has been influenced by legends such as John Coltrane, Leon Thomas, Gil Scott Heron, Al Jarreau, Nina Simone, and Marvin Gaye.
Bruce possesses a three-octave range, a pure voice with versatility few can match. Bruce's music has taken him to five continents and he has recorded for Disney, HBO, and numerous national ad campaigns. In addition, he has performed with and opened for the likes of Doc Severinson, Roberta Flack, Chris Botti, Ramsey Lewis, Stephane Grapelli, Jimmy Jam, and The Sounds of Blackness.
The Chicago-born guitarist began playing at age twelve. While spending some formative time in Memphis, he started playing gospel music at age thirteen. By age fourteen, Johnson was playing in R&B groups. Although Johnson’s parents brought him up hearing the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Williams, and other artists of that era, it was not until 1967 that Johnson was formally introduced to jazz by hearing guitarist Wes Montgomery. In 1969, Johnson and his family then moved back to Chicago where he developed a reputation on the south side as a good local jazz guitarist. In 1976, he went on the road with jazz organist Jack McDuff and was called to work with vocalist, Donny Hathaway in 1977.
In 1979, Johnson began playing with jazz pianist, Ramsey Lewis. And in 1985, jazz legend, Joe Williams added Johnson to his regular group. Johnson’s musical roots run deep into gospel, blues, and jazz. His strongest and earliest influences were Kenny Burrell, George Benson, and most significantly, Wes Montgomery. While influenced by these great guitarists, Johnson also cites the music of Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, big bands, and jazz orchestras as integral forces which shaped his sound and style.
Jo Ann Daugherty
Pianist Jo Ann Daugherty’s most recent album Bring Joy earned a 4-star review from Downbeat Magazine (January 2017) and was listed as one of their “Best Albums of 2017.” She has performed in jazz festivals and clubs throughout the U.S. and abroad (Chicago Jazz Fest, Satchmo Fest in New Orleans, Jazz at Lincoln Center-Shanghai, Dizzy’s NYC, Snug Harbor, the Jazz Showcase, Green Mill, Winters Jazz Club, Andy’s and many more), as well as in premier Chicago productions as West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyric Opera.
As a music director, she played throughout the US as conductor of the Jersey Boys national touring company and holds the honor of being the first woman in Motown history to conduct the orchestra (touring with the show Motown: The Musical). In addition, she has produced the music for two live PBS concert specials with the vocal group Under the Streetlamp and most recently played piano and music-supervised for To the Ends of the Earth, a PBS wildlife documentary featuring narration by Jane Goodall. Her trio maintains an active schedule in Chicago, including a steady Monday night engagement at Bandera restaurant on Michigan Ave in Chicago. Read more at joanndaugherty.com.
Joshua Ramos was born in 1982 in Chicago to a musical family. His parents Jose and Gladys Ramos were both gifted singers and Jose also played viola. Gladys Ramos had a vocal trio with her two sisters Marilu and Rosita and this all had an impact on Joshua. He first picked up the bass in the seventh grade under the instruction of Bass Player, Margaro Torres (cousin of famed Salsa Pianist/Arranger Edwin Sanchez) who played at his church. Margaro Torres taught and influenced Joshua to play and really kindled his interest in music.
Joshua makes a busy career out of teaching music at various locations and performing. He has been on television numerous times in the United States Europe and Central America. He has opened for Stevie Wonder, Spyro Gyra, and Vernon Reid with Liquid Soul. With the Occidental Brothers band he ha performed at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center the Montreal, and Toronto Jazz Festivals he has shared the bill with Cindy Blackman, Lonnie Plaxico, Ben Allison, Vijay Ayer, Jason Moran, Andrew Byrd, and many others.
As a drummer, percussionist, and teacher in the Chicago area, Ryan is an in-demand performer in many styles of music. He played drums in the hit Broadway show Jersey Boys, both the Chicago production and national touring company. Other performances of note include shows with pop songstress Tori Amos, trumpeter Randy Brecker, and guitarist John Abercrombie. Ryan has performed at clubs and festival venues at home and abroad and has toured extensively throughout the US. He has appeared on three PBS specials playing drumset and percussion.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.