Justin Gray is an Acoustic and Electric Bass Player, Composer and Band Leader in the International music scene. His main influences include Jazz, North Indian Classical and Contemporary Music.
Justin has played with and worked with a number of internationally renowned artists including; Dave Liebman, Dave Douglas, Kurt Elling, Mike Stern, Curtis Fuller, Ingrid Jensen, Seamus Blake, Dan Weiss, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Greg Osby, Shantanu Bhattacharrya, Subankar Banerjee, Bikram Ghosh, Tejendra Mejendar, Henry Hey, John Riley, Quinsin Nachoff, Ravi Naimpally, George Koller and Chitraveena Ravikiran.
Justin has traveled to India since 2005 to study with his Guru and work with musicians in a traditional classical setting. He is learning vocally and instrumentally from his Guru, Shantanu Bhattacharyya, and is the first artist to perform traditional North Indian Classical music on the electric bass and acoustic bass. In 2010, Justin designed the Bass Veena, which is a fretless bass made specifically for Raga music. Justin is currently performing Raga music on the Bass Veena and the NS NXT 4 String Upright Bass.
Justin graduated from Humber College in 2008 with an Honours Bachelor Degree in Jazz Performance, for which he received a national scholarship from The Garfield Weston Merit Scholarship Fund. Justin is also very grateful to have received awards for composition and studies in North Indian Classical Music from the Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts and The Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute.
Justin is currently the bandleader for two well-established groups in the international music scene. Monsoon is a group co-led by Jonathan Kay, Andrew Kay and Justin Gray. Monsoon is a contemporary Indo-Jazz ensemble that features original compositions that blend aspects of North Indian Classical Music with Contemporary Jazz. Justin also composes and performs with his own group, The Justin Gray project, where the repertoire is influenced by modern groove and contemporary jazz music. Both of these groups feature Justin’s original compositions and have been featured in many Jazz Festivals and feature concerts across Canada and India.
Justin is a proud endorser of Markbass, La Bella Strings, Radial Engineering, NS Design, Godfrey Guitars and Lava Cables.
At 23 years-old, Derek Gray has established himself as a sought after drummer/percussionist on the Canadian music scene. In the spring of 2011, Derek completed a Bachelor of Contemporary Music Degree at Humber College where he studied with Mark Kelso. In addition, Derek played drums in the school’s flagship ensemble, the Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble, directed by Denny Christianson. As a member of this ensemble, Derek performed with legendary bassist Dave Holland in March 2011. In Toronto, Derek works extensively as a bandleader, composer, and sideman performing regularly with a variety of projects, including Tesseract, Gray Matter (a quintet that he co-leads with his brother, bass player Justin Gray), and Monsoon (an Indo-Jazz ensemble).
In 2008, Derek founded the Hand Drumming in the Schools program in which he voluntarily travels to schools in the greater Toronto area and facilitates hand-drumming workshops for students of all ages. He also works as a drum circle facilitator with Soul Drums. In the summer of 2009, Derek travelled to Ghana to study traditional West African hand drumming, and over the course of two months, completed an Ethnomusicology course at University of Ghana. He also studied West African percussion with master drummers Kwasi Dunyo and Ledzi Agudzemegah in Dagbamete, a village in the Volta Region.
Over the past few years, Derek has received a number of awards, including Humber College's President's Medal for leadership, the Garfield Weston National Level Scholarship for leadership, the SABIAN Cymbals Award + Scholarship, the George McCrae Award for musical excellence, and the Principal’s Award for Student Leadership. In the spring of 2011, Derek was selected to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency in Washington, DC. Working alongside talented young musicians/composers from around the world, this two-week long program culminated in performances on the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Centre. Derek has studied privately with Steve Mancuso, Doug Sole, Dan Weiss, Jonathan Blake, Nate Smith and Larnell Lewis. He has had the opportunity to play in ensembles lead by Dave Douglas, Luis Perdomo, Rich Brown, Okkyung Lee, Brian Dickenson, Waleed Abdulhamid, Luis Mario Ochoa and Pat Labarbera.
Born in Vancouver and raised in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Ingrid Jensen has been hailed as one of the most gifted trumpeters of her generation. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1989, she went on to record three highly acclaimed CDs for the ENJA record label, soon becoming one of the most in-demand players on the global jazz scene. After playing and teaching in Europe, in the early 90s Ingrid settled in New York City where she joined the Grammy-nominated bands of Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue, as well as leading her own quintet, quartet, and organ trio. Jensen is a dedicated jazz educator, teaching at the University of Michigan and appearing as a guest artist with prestigious University and professional big bands around the world. She has performed and recorded with such renowned artists as Clark Terry, Bob Berg, Lionel Hampton, George Garzone, Geoffrey Keezer, Corrine Bailey Rae, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Gary Thomas and more.
At age 24, award-winning tenor saxophonist, composer, and Rico Reeds Artist Eli Bennett, is emerging as one of the top new talents on the Canadian jazz scene. Based in Toronto & Vancouver, Bennett recently graduated in 2011 from Humber College in Toronto with a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Performance, and has become the most awarded and distinguished young saxophonist in Canada. In 2005, at the age of 15, Bennett won the Rico Reed Award for best high school saxophonist in Canada at Musicfest, and continued throughout high school and college to win over thirty prestigious domestic and international awards. Selected awards include: the 2007 Yamaha Kando Award for best young musician in Canada, the 2008 Dr. Oscar Peterson/Verve Canada Award, the 2009 Jazz.FM91/Mary Elizabeth Stuart Award from the Toronto International Jazz Festival, the 2009 Oscar Peterson Prize, the 2010 Rising Star Award from the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival, as well as being a two-time recipient of the CBC/Galaxie Rising Star Award from the National Jazz Awards in Toronto and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. Bennett has also performed with over two-dozen jazz luminaries, including Oscar Peterson, Dave Holland, Hank Jones, James Moody, Terence Blanchard, Chris Potter, and Barry Harris.
Todd Pentney started his classical piano studies at a young age. While in high school, he began performing regularly in his home town, Thunder Bay, with locally established musicians. Todd moved to Toronto to attend the Jazz program at Humber College. Here he studied with great Canadian Jazz masters such as Brian Dickinson, David Virelles, Bernie Senensky and Dave Restivo.
Since relocating to Toronto, he has had the opportunity to perform with musicians like Ingrid Jensen, Dave Douglas, Mike Murley, Matt Dusk, and Jeff Coffin. Todd currently works full time as a performing musician playing extensively in a diversity of genres and formats, such as Jazz, Big Band, Fusion, Funk, Hip-Hop and R&B. He can be seen performing regularly with many different groups including Monsoon, Allison Au Quartet (2013 Juno Nominated), Alex Brown Quintet, The Code, and Christian Overton's Composers Collective.
Winner of the Grand Prix de Jazz General Motors at the Montreal Jazz Festival and Galaxie Rising Star at the Halifax Jazz Festival, Grammy-nominated and Juno Award Wining artist, Luis Gonzalez Deniz was born in Camaguey, Cuba on April 21st, 1983. In 1993, Luis started his musical studies at the Escuela Vocacional de Arte Luis Casas Romero in his hometown of Camaguey, where he subsequently continued at the Escuela Profesional de Musica Jose White. Luis later moved to the Cuban capital, where he graduated at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Musica (ENA), the alma mater of several of Cuba's most prominent musicians. After graduating with high honours, he was awarded 1st place on the international jazz competition JOJAZZ, held in Havana (2003) and also kept a busy schedule, both teaching saxophone at the National School of Music and playing locally and touring internationally as well. Luis has performed and given workshops all over Cuba, Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, Bermuda, Mexico, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, England, Ireland, Scotland, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Since his arrival in Toronto in 2004, Deniz has performed/ recorded with some of the most outstanding musicians from Toronto and around the world, including MarkTurner, Tony Allen (Fela Kuti's Drummer), Hilario Duran, Luis Mario Ochoa, Paquito D Rivera, Horacio El Negro Hernandez, Reg Schwager, Dafnis Prieto, Francisco Mela, Barry Romberg, Rich Brown's Rinsethealgorithm, NOJO, Roberto Occhipinti, Canadian Idol Jazz Orchestra, The Art of Jazz Orchestra, Jane Bunnett, among others.