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The Lee Shaw Scholarship Fund
At our next concert (January 14, 2018):
JAZZ VIBES is an ensemble featuring Michael on vibraphone, David Gleason on piano, Mike Lawrence on bass and Pete Sweeney on drums. The repertoire of the group includes straight ahead jazz standards, Latin-American songs and original material. Jazz Vibes has been the leading vibraphone group in New York's Capital Region for over a decade.
Michael Benedict studied percussion with Jim Petercsak at the Crane School of Music at the State University College of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam and graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. He later attended the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University under the tutelage of Keith Copeland and graduated in 1990 with a master’s degree in jazz studies. Michael served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant to Dan Morgenstern at the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies. He has performed and/or recorded with jazz luminaries Gary Smulyan, Harry Allen, Dick Oatts, Steve Nelson, Sharel Cassity, Bruce Barth, Joe Locke, Rene Flemming, Gene Bertoncini, Marian McPartland, J.R. Monterose and Nick Brignola. He was a member of the Spike Jones Orchestra and the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra. He has toured the United States extensively, performing at numerous concert halls, colleges, clubs and festivals and has performed in Europe. In 2012, Michael went on a US State Department tour of Tunisia, Africa, where he taught and performed with the Planet Arts Trio. Michael is currently the leader of three ensembles, Jazz Vibes, BOPITUDE and The Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble.
He has released five recordings to date. Downbeat magazine picked BOPITUDE “Five and One” as one of the best albums of 2013. His most recent release, "Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland," was an Editor’s Pick in Downbeat and listed as one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2015 by National Public Radio and critics Ted Gioia and Scott Yanow. After teaching high school band and jazz ensemble in the northern Catskill region of New York State, Michael retired in 2015 after a twenty-five year tenure. He has served as the past president of the Albany Musicians Union and the Greene County Music Educators Association. He is currently a member of the National Association for Music Education and the New York State Band Directors Association. Michael is an Artist Endorser for Grover Pro Percussion Soultone Cymbals and Regal Tip Drumsticks.
David Gleason is a pianist, composer, music educator and ethnomusicologist. He received an M.A. in music from Tufts University, where he studied ethnomusicology and composition. As an ethnomusicologist he researched Caribbean folk and popular music in Puerto Rico and Cuba. His fieldwork culminated in a thesis entitled "La Parranda Puertorriquena: The Music, Symbolism and Cultural Nationalism of Puerto Rico's Christmas Serenading Tradition."
As a jazz and Latin pianist he has performed with ensembles such as RumbaNaMa, The Boston Latin Band, The Either/Orchestra, Altiplano, Mojive and the Kinewe African Drum Ensemble, as well as with renowned musicians like Laurel Massé, Fred Wesley, Danilo Perez and John Fedchock. He currently leads the acclaimed Latin jazz ensemble Sensemaya.
He studied music education and jazz studies at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam. He also studied jazz piano with the Capital Region’s Lee Shaw. He has taught music theory, I.B. music, and jazz ensemble at the Sayles School of Fine Arts and World Music at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Mike Lawrence has been playing the upright bass since age 10 and the electric bass for over 15 years. He has freelanced in a variety of settings - everything that requires a bassist from jazz duos to 20-piece big bands, blues, rock and funk groups to singer/songwriters. His primary focus is now playing with various jazz musicians as time allows. He has performed with his fair share of artists in and around the Capital District. Recent gigs include Keith Pray’s Soul Jazz Revival, Dave Gleason/Pete Sweeney/Sensemaya, The Yuko Kishimoto Trio, Joe Finn, Mark Capon, Mike Benedict’s Jazz Vibes, Charlie Smith Blues Band and Tas Cru Blues Band.
Teaching has occupied many of his daytime hours for the past 7 years both at public school and with private bass students; he holds a master’s degree in music education from Boston University, bachelor’s degree in music education from the College of Saint Rose and certificates from the multiple summer programs he attended at Berklee College of Music when he was a teenager.
Pete Sweeney is a drummer, author and educator living in the Capital Region. He studied with Dave Calarco and Joe Morello. He has performed, toured, and recorded with many great musicians such as Pat Metheny, Larry Coryell, Lee Ritenour, John Abercrombie, Robben Ford, Andy Summers (The Police), Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Ed Mann (Frank Zappa), Frank Gambale, Lorne Lofsky, “Dangerous” Dan Toler, Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, Mick Goodrick and Steve Bailey.
He has written 20 instructional books for the Alfred Publishing Company, including the “30 Day Drum Workout,” “The Versatile Drummer” and the “Drum Atlas” books on Cuba, Jamaica, Salsa, and Brazil. He teaches or has taught at the Berkshire Music School, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, the Troy Music Academy, Union College and the Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation. He is a member of the Latin jazz group Sensemaya, as well as the leader of his own groups. He is an endorser of Mapex drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, and Aquarian drum heads.