Names and Faces.jpg (2945 bytes)

A little more about the musicians of COMPLEXBLUE   (in aphabetical order)

harry2.jpg (1707 bytes)     Harry Appelman has toured the US and Canada with the Woody Herman Orchestra and the Artie Shaw Orchestra. He was a finalist in both the 1987 and 1988 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competitions (finishing second in 1988) and one of only three prizewinners in the 1989 Great American Jazz Piano Competition. Audiences in Boston and New York City have enjoyed Harry’s performances with trumpeter Scott Wendholt's quartet and vocalist Dakota Staton's trio. Harry currently performs in the Washington D.C. area at popular jazz venues including Blues Alley and the Corcoran Museum concert series, the Willard Hotel, and Twins. Recently, he has appeared with Gary Thomas, Buck Hill, Paul Bollenback, Terrell Stafford and Tony Martucci, among others.
    A native of the Chicago area, Appelman began his classical music training in the first grade, later turning to the fusion and rock idioms, and ultimately to jazz. After completing a degree in economics at the University of Illinois, he went on to earn a Masters of Music degree from the New England Conservatory. His post-graduate music studies include work with Jim McNeely, Fred Hersch, Stanley Cowell, and others
    Prior to making the COMPLEXBLUE CD, Harry recorded as a sideman on “First Time” with Tom Williams, and then as the leader on “Balancing” along with Ben Street and Kenny Wollesen. Fred Hersch, in commenting on the album, said "It's a rare pleasure to hear such an outstanding debut recording ...full of first-class ideas, quiet virtuosity and subtle surprises. Bravo!"
chris2.jpg (2520 bytes)    Saxophonist Chris Bacas began his career at age fifteen as a sideman with a club band in his hometown of York, PA. Following his college music education at North Texas State, he began touring with well known bands, first the Glen Miller Band, then the Tommy Dorsey band. In 1986 he joined legendary drummer Buddy Rich and remained with him until Rich's passing in 1987. Chris then played in the Artie Shaw Band.
    Chris has performed in concerts, clubs, and jazz festivals all across the US, as well as Canada, Europe, and Russia. A few of the notable venues where he has appeared include Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, the Hollywood Bowl, LA's Comedy Store, New York's Blue Note and Birdland, Chicago's Jazz Showcase, and Washington DC's Blues Alley and One Step Down.   
    Chris was a member of the 1994 Smithsonian's Jazz Masterworks Orchestra under conductors David Baker and Gunther Schuller. The orchestra's concert series was broadcast on NPR, and a CD sampler was released in 1996. In 1999 Chris was soloist on both flute and saxophone in the Mary Lou Williams' "Mass" which was performed and recorded in the National Cathedral. Since 1989, Chris has appeared on twenty-three recordings, including three as leader: “Two Choices”, “Leave a Message”, and “Exits”.
    Jazz pianist Dr. Billy Taylor described Chris, “He is a sensitive, lyrical saxophonist and flutist who plays with stunning authority…”

    Chris now makes his home in New York City.

aaron2.jpg (1838 bytes)     Aaron Clay was a music major at West Virginia Wesleyan College where he studied the bass with Richard Manspeaker. Since then his professional career has embraced many styles of music, though his classical and jazz endeavors have kept him the busiest. Jazz audiences have enjoyed him in all of DC’s well known nightspots where he’s appeared with groups led by Frank Russo, Peter Fraize, and Kenny Rittenhouse, among others. In 1997 Aaron was a regular member of a trio led by drummer Ralph Peterson, performing weekly at HR57 and at other venues including the Kennedy Center. Aaron has led his own groups in concert at the Corcoran Gallery; notable among them, a violin/bass duo called “Bridging the Gap”. (Watch for this group’s CD release in 2001.) Aaron has also performed with the Annapolis Chorale and is a regular member of the Fairfax Symphony.
    Aaron’s current steady job might just be the best gig in town, even though the public rarely gets to hear him. He’s a regular at the White House! As a select member of “The President’s Own” US Marine Band, Aaron’s primary duty is playing combo jazz and popular music at social functions for the First Family, visiting dignitaries, and other Washington elite. 

rob2.jpg (1857 bytes)   Rob Holmes has been playing the saxophone professionally for over eleven years and is currently based in the Washington, DC area. For the past six years, Rob has been in great demand as a freelance performer, composer/arranger, and private teacher. Rob has recorded two of his own CDs for the Resurgent Music Label in Los Angeles, California. “The Looking Glass” released in 1994 features six original compositions and two standards performed by his quintet. “The Write Time” released in 1998 features four original compositions and five original arrangements performed by groups ranging from trio to octet. In addition to the work he has done with his own groups, Rob can be heard performing regularly with pianist Dan Reynolds and his trio and quintet, pianist Dan LaMaestra and his quartet, Doug Richards and The Great American Music Ensemble, The Doug Segree Band, The Peter Fraize Quintet, The Eric Felton Jazz Orchestra, and The Tom Cunningham Jazz Orchestra. Rob has recently had the honor of appearing onstage with the Jon Dearth group featuring Mulgrew Miller, and with famed bassist Christian McBride. Rob is now the baritone saxophonist for The United States Navy Commodores Jazz Ensemble.

lex2.jpg (2544 bytes)    Drummer/percussionist Lex O’Brien began playing professionally at age seventeen in his hometown of Corning, NY, and has since played nearly every style of music: from country to free jazz to symphony to circus band. He studied percussion at Ithaca College with William Youhass, and was in the college orchestra under the baton of Kousevitzky Prize winning conductor Thomas Mihalak. Lex was solo timpanist for the orchestra’s acclaimed performance at New York’s Lincoln Center. Following school, Lex was a founding member of the jazz fusion group Xyphus, and appeared on stages in upstate New York with jazz notables such as George Benson, Michael Urbaniak, Joe Farrell, and Victor Lewis, and rock legends Fleetwood Mac.
    From the late 70s through most of the 80s, Lex played rock and roll. He was an original member of The Magnetics, a Washington DC based club band that traveled extensively and was familiar to audiences from Cape Cod to Key West. Ultimately, the rigors of the college/beach/bar room circuit took their toll and the music stopped. Lex took up “normal life” and entered a long period of artistic hibernation. His recent involvement in the formation of COMPLEXBLUE marks a return to his first loves of jazz and composition, and a welcome re-entry to the world of music.