Our Music Artists in Residence program is a part of our commitment to serving and supporting the arts through providing the necessary infrastructure for the arts in St. Louis to thrive and flourish. The program identifies band leaders with original projects and provides them with the performance, rehearsal and recording opportunities that assist them with advancing and building their careers. Artists will also receive marketing support, dedicated rehearsal space, office space, and industry education and access.
The Music Artist in Residence program is in partnership with Clayton Studios.
The Sound of St. Louis: Jazz Compilation Volume 1 is the culmination of the first year of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s Music Artists in Residence program and features an original composition from each of the nine residents. Recorded and mixed at Clayton Studios by Tazu Marshall and Mike Silverman, The compilation is available as a CD (at Vintage Vinyl, Music Record Shop, and Euclid Records, as well as Kranzberg affiliated venues including Sophie’s Artist Lounge and The Dark Room), digital download or on streaming services.
Listen to the Album:
2019-2020 Music Artists in Residence
Andrew Stephen is a pianist, producer, and composer whose output comprises a variety of styles including jazz, pop, hip-hop, and futuresoul. He holds a bachelor’s degree in jazz piano performance from Webster University, and also used his time there to study at the Vienna Conservatory in Austria. His compositions have been featured on several major television networks, and he is also the owner of Eightfold Studios where he has produced records for some of St. Louis’ finest local talent. In addition, he leads his own piano trio and will release his debut nujazz/ futuresoul album “Sample Kulture” (with vocalist Chrissy Renick) this year. He hopes to use his time as a Resident Artist to elevate his profile not only as a performing artist, but also as a producer and composer.
Ben Wheeler is a bass player, teacher and father of three from University City. Hailing from a family in which his father and brother also played upright bass, he began playing jazz and orchestral music in high school and studied classical bass at Truman State and jazz bass at Webster University, eventually earning his Master’s in Jazz Bass Performance from SIUE. He currently teaches bass and music history at Webster and serves as the regular bassist for Dave Venn, the Kasimu-tet, Tango Underground, the Lustrelights and regularly performs with Dave Black, Tom Byrne, Paul DeMarinis, and many others. He plans to use his Residency as an opportunity to step out as a bandleader and composer.
Brady Lewis is a trumpet player from East Saint Louis, IL. Inspired by the prestigious lineage of trumpet players from his hometown, he has been a student of jazz and classical music since the 7th grade. He was a member of various high school and college jazz combos and big bands as well as programs such as Jazz St. Louis’ JazzU All Stars. His natural appetite for musical knowledge led him to find work with groups performing styles as disparate as blues, hip-hop, Motown-era soul, indie rock, and even bluegrass. He melds all of these lessons into his own style as a jazz artist, leading the Brady Lewis trio and Brady Lewis Sextet on top of his work as an in-demand sideman, and still finds time to collaborate with independent artists such as PRYR and Looprat. Through the Music Artist-In-Residence program, he hopes to gain a better understanding of marketing to help him promote all of his various projects.
Brianna “Be.Be” Brown
Brianna Elise Brown, who performs under the moniker “Be.Be,” is a vocalist and pianist whose repertoire spans styles from traditional jazz to neo-soul, R&B, and new jazz. Born in Queens, New York, she relocated to St. Louis in 2002, where she graduated from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, and is currently a Jazz Vocal Performance student and Psychology major at Webster University. She regularly performs with her own jazz trio, shares vocal duties as a member of event band the Lustre Lights, and presents electric original compositions- her focus as a Music Artist in Residence- with her band Be.Be and the Neo-Souls.
Alto saxophonist Scooter Brown, is a native of East St. Louis, Illinois. From an early age, he was exposed to jazz and other styles through his father’s music collection, and began his playing career in the 6th grade. He continued to develop his skills throughout high school as a member of Jazz St. Louis’ JazzU program, and later as a member of the Northern Illinois University Jazz Orchestra and Latin Jazz Band. He has since spent several years touring and performing at regional festivals with Dirty Muggs and Brian Owens and the Deacons of Soul and is currently putting the finishing touches on his debut album. An avid vinyl record shopper, he also serves as the program director for the Jazz Academy Program at Jazz St. Louis. He hopes to use his Residency as a vehicle to learn the finer points of music business as well as an opportunity to network with new musical collaborators.
A native of Gloucester, England, Janet Evra is a jazz vocalist, bassist, and composer. Since relocating to western Illinois for college, she has made a home and a base for her musical endeavors in the St. Louis area. Singing in multiple languages, she performs standards from American, French and Latin jazz, while also blending bossa nova, samba, and pop influences to create her own original sound. She released her debut original album ‘Ask Her to Dance’ in 2018 and performs throughout St. Louis several times a week, along with shows throughout the region and festivals overseas.
Kaleb Kirby is drummer, teacher, and composer residing in St. Louis. He Kaleb majored in Jazz Performance and Composition at Berklee College of Music, and attended the Marcel DeSautels Conservatory in Winnipeg, Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. Maintaining an active performance schedule locally around St. Louis with his own groups such as the Kaleb Kirby Quartet and Kleb, a one-man electronic project, he also accompanies other artists and works as a teaching artist for JazzSTL. He sees the Residency as an opportunity to showcase new jazz compositions with musicians he admires and to bring more attention to the St. Louis jazz community.
Singer, pianist, producer, and composer Katarra is a self-taught musician and classically trained vocalist. Her progressive style blends jazz, soul, R&B, hip-hop, from influences as diverse as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan to Lauryn Hill and Stevie Wonder. Katarra has performed across the country, most recently collaborating with the Owen Ragland Quintet and local electronic hip-hop collective Farfetched. Her goal as a Resident Artist is turn her focus towards her own compositions, and she plans to complete her debut solo album this year.
Mark Harris II
Bandleader, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Mark Harris II is a classically trained pianist with a background in gospel and jazz. While he is also an experienced drummer, his skill on the keyboard and as a musical director has led him to touring gigs with Chante Moore, the B.B. King All-Stars, and many others, taking him over the road not only in the United States but also throughout Canada and Australia. A true mover and shaker in the local scene, he frequently books and promotes events bringing outside artists to St. Louis, and his fresh take on smooth jazz adds a unique sound within the new group of Resident Artists.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Ryan Marquez began learning piano at only five years old. Since that time, he has evolved into a competent composer, bandleader, and producer as well. A native of St. Louis since 2005, Ryan currently leads, writes and performs regularly with his jazz trio as well as pop-funk group Fresh Heir, The People’s Key, which performs jazz takes on popular favorites, and electronica duo The Belief Cycle. Already a successful working musician and sideman, he looks at the Music Artist-In-Residence program as an opportunity to play under his own name as a solo artist, focusing not only on his original composition but also his emerging skill as a vocalist.
2018-2019 Music Artists in Residence
Anita Jackson is a native of St. Louis who returned home after living in New York City for twelve years. She is a graduate of the American Music and Dramatic Academy in New York and has performed extensively nationally and internationally in theater productions, concerts and workshops.
She has recorded and performed as a background vocalist for such artists as Bette Midler (on her Grammy Award winning song for Song of the Year in 1991, “From a Distance”, Patti Austin on “I Can Move this Mountain”, Mariah Carey on “Anytime You Need a Friend”, recording artists Chico DeBarge, Joe, Erykah Badu and most notably Cissy and Whitney Houston. She is a vocalist on Cissy Houston’s Grammy award winning “Face to Face” album, as well as her 1997 Grammy award winning “He Leadeth Me” album.
As a gospel BGV, Anita has performed with Shirley Caesar, the late Albertina Walker, Dorothy Norwood and Tramaine Hawkins. Anita was featured vocalist on the 2014 Reach Week in New York City live recording for New Hope for the World Ministries recorded in Harlem, NY with Vickie Winans and Melanie Daniels.
In St. Louis, Anita has been a featured player with the St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre under the direction of Ron Himes. She has performed in “Gospel at Colonus”, “Ain’t Misbehavin'”, “Caroline or Change” and “Blues in the Night” for which she was nominated for the St. Louis 2010 Kevin Kline Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Most recently, Anita performed as Bertha in “Hello from Bertha” at the first annual Tennessee Williams festival in St. Louis under the direction of David Kaplan. She is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama by the St. Louis Theatre Circle – 2016/2017. Anita will reprise the character of Bertha in this year’s annual Tennessee Williams festival in a cabaret at the Curtain Call this May called “Bertha’s Back!”
She has appeared as a featured vocalist with several jazz, R&B, blues and gospel organizations in and around St. Louis: from Jazz at the Bistro to BB’s Jazz and Soups to the St. Louis Ethical Society to the Heman Park Starlight Concert Series to the Sheldon Concert Hall – as a solo artist as well as a collaborative artist with many of St. Louis’ finest musicians.
Anita gives thanks to the family of Christ and praises God for HIS matchless goodness and mercy.
She dedicates her performances to her beautiful daughter Christian for helping her fulfill her purpose.
Ben is one of the top call jazz saxophonists in the St. Louis area playing with several local bands and working as a recording artist. He developed a deep appreciation for jazz at an early age, formalizing his passion by receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in jazz performance from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Ben has been a part of the St. Louis Music scene since the late 1990’s, with a deep passion for original music. He has been a woodwind instructor in both the private setting and in the public/private school sector. Ben can currently be heard performing with the Jazz St. Louis Big Band, the Phil Dunlap Quintet, the Saxquest Nonet Jazz Orchestra, The Sleepy Rubies, The Brothers Lazaroff, DJ Alexis Tucci, Kevin Bowers’ NOVA, Circus Flora as well as his own project, The Unity Quartet.
I grew up in Fort Worth, Texas in the 80s and 90s. In junior high I began studying drums and playing in the Leonard Music Institute after school program, which was a huge influence on me. There I learned about theory and sight-reading, as well as a beginning understanding of jazz music. I ‘evolved’ to the electric bass eventually and quickly grew in awe of Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller, and Stanley Clark. After a few years of studying electric bass my teacher let me borrow Ornette Coleman’s “Shape of Jazz to Come”. This album had a huge impact on me and it clicked in my head that this is what jazz IS. Charlie Haden’s playing on that album is the main reason I started playing upright bass.
While actively playing around the Dallas/Fort Worth area I moved out to Denton to study at the well-known music institution, the University of North Texas. There I had the honor of studying with Lynn Seaton and Jeff Bradetich. Eventually I decided to move to New York to study at the New School in Manhattan, at the encouragement of Frank LoCrasto…who helped me get into the program. (Thanks again Frank!) At the New School I got my butt kicked thoroughly, but was lucky enough to get to play with great musicians regularly. I was blessed to study with such amazing people as Reggie Workman, Dennis Irwin, Cameron Brown, Ben Street, Michael Moore, and Johannes Weidenmuller.
Eventually I moved to Saint Louis, MO to begin a family with my amazing wife. Here I have met so many great musicians and grown exponentially. I currently play and teach often as well as enjoy time with my beautiful daughter Sophia and amazing wife Beth.
Songwriter/pianist/vocalist Jesse Gannon and his band, The Truth, combine the improvisational elements of soul, broken-beat, and post-bop grooves with a sophisticated harmonic palette, and garnish with introspective, unforgettably lyrical melodies. jessegannontruth delivers a shockingly fresh and dynamic show brandishing a cast of fearless and exciting musicians. “If you don’t want to be put into a genre, create one…”
As a pianist, vocalist, writer, producer, and arranger, Jesse Gannon is deeply involved in the St. Louis music scene and abroad. In addition to earning his bachelor’s degree in music performance at Webster University and performing in many of the top musical venues in St. Louis, he has traveled and shared the stage with such notables as The Temptations, The O’jays, Steve Ewing of the Urge, The Four Tops, Najee, Mary Wells and the Supremes, India Arie, and others. Although well versed in many genres, Jesse’s true voice can be best heard sculpting songs in the studio or improvising live.
Along with staying busy recording and performing as a sideman, he is currently writing and recording his sophomore effort to be released on Yoruba Records. This follows the 2013 release of his debut studio full length album “Future Vintage”.
Kasimu Taylor, trumpeter from St. Louis, Missouri, has played across the U.S. with various bands and covering varied styles of music, including both local and national acts.
His latest project, The Kasimu-tet brings a unique blend of abstract and lush improvisation, infused with a fresh and intuitive ensemble interplay; their set encompasses standards and original music. Kasimu continues to branch out and offer his talents to artists of all flavors and varieties.
Maurice “Mo” Egeston is a pianist, bandleader and educator from St. Louis, Missouri. He spends his musical time leading bands and writing music while also working as a collaborative artist, accompanist and educator in both the classroom and private studio.
Mo did his graduate studies in chamber music and accompanying at Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville) with Dr. Linda Perry. He currently runs his own Mo Egeston Piano Studio and is an instructor at Teipen Performing Arts. He has taught adjunct classes in the St. Louis area since 1996 (Applied Piano, Vocal Jazz Combo, Improvisation, Music Appreciation, Music of the United States, Masterpieces of Music).
He currently leads Mo E All-Stars and Mo E Trio and was a member of Brothers Lazaroff from 2008-2014. Past band work (1996-2008) includes Vargas (Swing), Urban Jazz Naturals and mo & dawn.
Jazz. Hip Hop. Electronic music. Normally you might expect a grouping of music this eclectic to come from inside a thirty something hipster’s iPod. On any other day, you would be right, but 17-year old Owen Ragland will prove you very wrong. Blending elements of music that, like oil paints, already mix well – Ragland crafts a piece of art like a master. Ragland is a prodigy. He’s been playing piano from the age of 3 and writing music since around the age of 5. Now in his teens, Ragland is making waves in the St. Louis music scene playing Loufest last year with rapper Mvstermind as well as releasing his debut album Soul Searcher. Ragland now delves deeper into his Jazz influence becoming a 2018 Kranzberg Music Artist-in-Residence. This success has meant the creation of the Owen Ragland Quintet, a group of highly skilled young musicians playing a wide range of jazz music.
Ptah Williams has performed with Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, James Moody, and many other household names of jazz. He has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Chesterfield Wine and Jazz Festival, The Hermann Jazz Festival and many concerts and festivals throughout Europe.
Ptah is now performing concerts nationally for his new set of music entitled “The Gershwin Connection,” which is a celebration of the music of George Gershwin in a whimsical performance that shows how his ground-breaking jazz was elevated to the world of classical music.
His trio includes jazz icons Darrell Mixon on bass, and the legendary drummer Gary Sykes.
Tonina Saputo is a singer/songwriter, bassist, music journalist and poet from St. Louis, Missouri who performs her original music along with her arrangements of covers in both Spanish and English.
Tonina comes from a family of music lovers that exposed her to many music styles, from funk, soul, and jazz to classical music. She was born in San Diego, California but raised in St. Louis, Missouri from black and Sicilian backgrounds. All these components have given her an unparalleled musical scope playing many different genres yet making each her own. Her sense of rhythm, melody, and her extraordinary voice and song interpretation, make her performances a thrilling experience for all listeners.
Saputo began her musical journey when she was nine years old and was trained classically for 11 years, studying with multiple bassists from the St. Louis Symphony and attending various master classes with Grammy Award-winning bassist, John Clayton. She grew up participating in multiple music programs in the St. Louis area, eventually leading the bass sections of both the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and The Missouri All State Orchestra. Tonina performed at Carnegie Hall in 2009 and Lincoln Center in 2012 as a member of her high school Symphonic Orchestra. At the age of 17, she was admitted to Berklee College of Music and went on to study bass performance, songwriting, and Africana Studies. In 2014, she was accepted to study bass performance at the Berklee Valencia campus in Spain, where she met and signed with Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter, Javier Limon.
In October of 2016, Tonina traveled to Spain to perform at the National Auditorium of Madrid. She also performed her first showcase on March 30th, 2017 at the Ellas Crean music festival in Madrid and shortly graduated from Berklee College of Music earning two degrees. In January of 2018, Tonina opened for Grammy-Award winning artist, Lalah Hathaway in St. Louis. In April of 2018, she will perform at the Catania Jazz Festival in Sicily. She now performs solo and with her quartet at local venues in St. Louis.