Matt Young: Drums
Matt Young, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is a drummer/educator/composer currently living in the DFW Metroplex in Texas. He found music first at the piano and clarinet until switching to drum set upon entering high school. After high school, where he was the GMEA All-State Jazz Ensemble’s drummer from his sophomore year until graduation, Matt was accepted with a jazz scholarship to the University of North Texas to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies with an emphasis on performance.
Matt has studied under Justin Varnes at Georgia State University and Edward Soph at the University of North Texas. His experience at UNT has ranged from performing in the Grammy-Nominated University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band (Lab 2013), Downbeat-Award winning UNT Latin Jazz Lab Band, Downbeat-Award winning UNT Jazz Singers, with Arthur Barrow and Tommy Mars (alumni of Frank Zappa’s band) performing the music of Frank Zappa, and as a freelance musician/teacher. In 2010, Matt was the first place winner in the “Jazz” category of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) International Drum Set Competition adjudicated by Jeff Hamilton, Matt Wilson, and Stanton Moore.
Upon arriving at UNT, Matt was asked to join Grammy winning artist Bob Belden’s, Animation, with Tim Hagans. In 2012, Animation released Transparent Heart on the UK label RareNoise Records, which was reviewed in many publications including New York Music Daily:
“If there’s any star of this album, it’s Young, with his sledgehammer attack on the kick drum: even when the music reaches a lull, he never lets the intensity diminish, and fuels the many crescendos here with a mighty force that somehow manages to be more matter-of-fact than dramatic.” – New York Music Daily
Animation’s 2015 release, Machine Language, is now available on RareNoise Records on CD and double vinyl (ft. Kurt Elling and Bill Laswell).
While at UNT, Matt met Addison Frei and Perrin Grace, who are now two of his most frequent collaborators. In 2012, AMP Trio (as the group came to be called) recorded their debut record, Flow, on Armored Records. AMP Trio has toured extensively throughout the US and Canada.
In the Summer of 2014, Matt was invited to be a part of the Ravinia Steans Music Institute for Jazz in Chicago where he studied composition (with Rufus Reid, Curtis Fuller, David Baker, and Nathan Davis) and performed original music with a handful of his peers from around the world. In the Spring of 2015, Matt was a participant of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead 2015 residency program. The two-week-long residency was held at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where he worked with Program Director Jason Moran, and faculty members: Eric Harland, Carmen Lundy, Andre Hayward, Cyrus Chestnut, Eric Revis, and J.D. Allen.
Matt has performed internationally including recent performances at the 30th Annual Fajr Int’l Music Festival in Tehran, Iran, the Voll-Damm Jazz Festival in Barcelona and XXIII Festival Internacional de Jazz Ciudad de Almeria in Almeria, Spain, venues in London, England, Canada, Mexico, and all around the US. He has performed with a wide variety of artists such as Jean-Michel Pilc, Mike Stern, Tim Green, Christian McBride, and Tim Hagans to name a few.
Brian Ward: Bass
If a busy schedule represents a successful bass player, Brian Ward is enjoying a highly successful career. A strong and versatile bassist on both electric and upright, Brian has been described by his professors as player who will “do what is needed to make an ensemble feel good.” A recent graduate of the University of North Texas jazz program, Brian has had the privilege to perform with several of the university’s premier ensembles – most notably the One O’clock Lab Band under the direction of Steve Wiest, and the Two O’clock Lab Band under the direction of Jay Saunders.
While performing is a large part of Brian’s career, recording is also a real passion as a bassist, producer, and engineer. Brian currently runs his own studio out of his home in Los Angeles; notable clients Brian has had the pleasure of working with include the Maniacal 4 trombone quartet and his own Downbeat Award winning group the Refrigerators. As a session musician, Brian has recorded bass on many albums including “Lab 2012” with the One O’clock Lab Band, “Carry On” with Maniacal 4, and “A Portrait of LadyMay” with Tatiana Mayfield. He has also recorded on many Downbeat award-winning submissions from fellow UNT peers and was selected in 2013 as the winner of the Jazz Bass Soloist category.
Shango Dely: Percussion
Born into a family of musicians, a child prodigy at the age of 6. At 8 awarded in divers folkloric national festivals in his native Colombia. At 10 becomes sensation of the year at the FolkCuba International Percussion Workshop in Havana (1989). At 12 started his work as a teacher at his father’s ethnic drums school.
Studied classical music at the Pedro Biava conservatory in Barranquilla, Colombia and later specialized in classical percussion at the Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia.
He has recorded and worked with Grammy award winners Carlos Santana, Emilio Estefan, Carlos Vives, DMX, KC Porter, John Barnes, JB Eckl, Andy Vargas and Brian Culbertson, among others.
Has also won 3 Latin Grammy awards with Carlos Vives and La Province for the album “Déjame Entrar”, in 2002, and was number one on the Bilboard List for 28 weeks with the song “Fruta Fresca” in 2001.
KC Porter, Producer of the Year for his work on Supernatural by Carlos Santana said of him: “I am deeply convinced that he is not only the most overwhelming innate percussionist I’ve ever met, but is establishing himself as one of the foremost percussionists in the world. ”
Besides virtuosity, precision, strength and exquisite sound, Shangó Dely offers an ample repertoire of an unusual range of rhythmic cultures: Afro-Colombian, Cuban, Haitian, Garifuna, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Venezuelan, Surinamese, Brazilian, Mandinga, Akan and Yoruba African-INCIDENTAL, Flamenco, Rock, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Funk World, Tribalglobal.
Noel Johnston: Guitar
“Aggressive but never forced” describes the music of Noel Johnston to a T. His is a veritable wall of sound across which is graffittied a diagram of fire, sweat, and professionalism. The Dallas area-based guitarist grew up in Southern California, where he began his musical training on violin from an early age before switching to cello at 7. In spite of his keen abilities with a bow, his fingers yearned for a pick. Hip to the fact that his passions as a performer lay elsewhere, Johnston laddered through the garage band toolkit from the bottom up, as it were: starting with drums, moving on to bass, and at last settling on guitar. A life-changing encounter with those six amplified strings came through the iconic work of Eddie Van Halen—so much so that when he plugged in an electric and played a power chord through a distortion pedal for the first time, he knew his fate had been sealed.
Johnston’s talents are as broad as his travels. At age 10, his family uprooted from the Golden State and replanted Down Under. After spending his teens in Australia, he attended college at USC, where teachers encouraged the budding guitarist to get some hardcore jazz under his belt. As an aspiring studio musician, they told him, one had to be a musical chameleon. Johnston took to the challenge like a squirrel to a feeder. An open mind and an insatiable desire to evolve got him into the renowned jazz program at the University of North Texas. Idols Johnston had long admired had passed through its hallowed halls, and it was only natural that he should follow in their finger taps. Of his influences the list is equally varied: everyone from Kenny Wheeler and Dann Huff to Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, Tribal Tech and King’s X to Metallica and Whitesnake—each left a pin of conquest on the map of his development.
Although accustomed to a life on the move, Johnston found a home in the Dallas-Fort Worth scene, where he soon became a vital fixture. He has since been featured on over 40 albums—three as a leader, two as a co-leader. He has performed and/or recorded with local and international musicians alike, among them Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Monica Mancini, Adam Nussbaum, Gary Willis, Lucky Peterson, Fred Hammond, and Kenny Wheeler, to name but an illustrious few. Of late, he can be seen alongside local jazz icon John Adams and on the Daystar (Christian television network) daily live program The Marcus & Joni Show.
These and other developments—a regular teaching job at UNT, marriage, home, and a family—have secured him in the Lone Star State for good. With so many blessings poised like a whammy bar, Johnston has been fortunate to bend the pitch of his career to whatever tune suits him. His most recent studio effort, Salted Coffee, is the result of much refinement. With so many commitments warranting his attention, Johnston has taken full advantage of precious downtime to compress original melodies into diamonds he can be proud of: his songs, his sounds, his passions immortalized on disc, activated by lasers as precise as the music they read.