Chris Foreman is a masterful musician and heir to the throne occupied by the soulful, bluesy jazz organ legends who were once his influence. Blind at birth, Foreman started playing piano at age five and began formal training at seven. As a teenager he was attracted to the organ sounds of Jack McDuff, Groove Holmes, JimmySmith and Jimmy McGriff. This attraction led Chris to pursue playing jazz on the organ, which he undertook through intensive study of recordings. Unlike many African- American musicians whose musical knowledge begins and is established through the church, Chris didn't start his apprenticeship as a church organist until he was almost twenty years old - well after his jazz roots were established. He has arrived at a most exciting blend of blues-gospel and jazz and has developed a stunning command and range on the instrument. The blend of his sound is evident in his professional experience, which has included work with Hank Crawford, Albert Collins, Bernard Purdie, The Mighty Blue Kings and Deep Blue Organ Trio.
Drummer Greg Rockingham began playing when he was just three years old and debuted as a professional musician at age five in his father's jazz ensemble. An alumnus of the famed Interlochen Arts Academy and Northeastern University, he has won numerous musical awards from the Notre Dame Jazz Festival. Greg has performed or recorded with a wide range of famous names, including the orchestras of Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo, vocalists Freddie Cole, Patty Page and Jerry Vale and instrumentalists Nat Adderley, Kenny Burrell, Charles Earland, Irene Reid, Ellis Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, and Deep Blue Organ Trio.
Lee Rothenberg was born in Philadelphia and started playing guitar at the age of 14 after studying classical piano for 8 years. His obsession with jazz began at age 16 after spending a summer at Interlochen Arts Camp where he devoted many hours listening to Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane in the listening library. He moved to Evanston, IL in 2000 to attend Northwestern University where he studied with jazz pianist Mike Kocour. Since his arrival in 2005, guitarist Lee Rothenberg has emerged as an in-demand sideman in the Chicago Jazz Scene. Noted for a style that is deeply rooted in the Jazz Guitar Tradition, Lee's playing exhibits the sacred elements of melody, swing, and creativity. Lee has performed as both a leader and sideman at venues such as The Green Mill, Andy's, the Jazz Showcase, Pete Millers's, and the Jazz Estate with a venerable list of chicago artists such as Chris Forman, Dennis Carroll, Greg Rockingham, George Fludas, Greg Ward, Dan Trudell, and Bobby Broom. Currently he is working on a quartet record with legendary Multi-Instrumentalist, Ira Sullivan that includes Dennis Carroll on bass, and George Fludas on drums. Stay tuned!! “Lee Rothenberg is a confident, groovin' player that pulls his own weight!!", Chris Foreman.
Greg Ward is a saxophonist and composer that was born in Peoria, IL. Currently based in the NYC-area, Ward has had the opportunity to perform and record with a varied group of artists like Prefuse 73, Lupe Fiasco, Tortoise, William Parker, Andrew D'Angelo, and Mike Reed.
In 2000, Ward began his studies at Northern Illinois University where he worked with Steve Duke, Fareed Haque, Ron Carter, and Joey Sellers. Already interested in composition, having the opportunity to compose for NIU's jazz combos deepened his understanding of the inner-workings of music. Also, working with composer and arranger, Joey Sellers, equipped Ward with some important tools to further explore this new love.
Around his sophomore year in college, Ward started spending many nights performing in the jazz clubs of Chicago. Soon, he would meet another one of his mentors, saxophonist, Fred Anderson, who would later select him to host a jam session at the Velvet Lounge for four years. During this time period, Ward experienced much growth as a performer and composer and developed a vibrant community of performers, artists, dancers, and listeners.
After graduating from NIU in 2004 with a degree in Jazz Studies/Saxophone Performance, Ward moved to Chicago and took advantage of every opportunity that was offered to him. Composing two pieces for the International Contemporary Ensemble, performing a quartet composition for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Chamber Music Series, composing Wings for the Peoria Ballet Company, and being commissioned by the Jazz Institute of Chicago for a new composition, which was performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2009, are just a few of the many experiences that shaped Ward during his years in Chicago.
In 2009, Ward decided to move to New York City. Almost immediately after he arrived in NYC, he began working with JazzReach, an NYC-based jazz education organization that shares multi-media programs throughout the US. In 2010, he would produce his first CD as a leader with his Chicago-based band, Fitted Shards. South Side Story received much critical acclaim, including "Recording of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune. Next, in 2011, Ward formed Phonic Juggernaut, which features Damion Reid on drums and Joe Sanders on bass. Together, they recorded and released a CD on Thirsty Ear Recordings that same year. Also, in 2011, Ward composed and performed a commission from the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra for a concerto for jazz quartet and string orchestra. In 2012, Ward was selected as one of the two New Music USA Van Lier Fellows. In 2014, he received a commission/residency from the Jazz Gallery and premiered Capturing Sunlight, which was an hour-long work for septet and included a short documentary by Diana Quinones Rivera. The Capturing Sunlight project was inspired by the life and work of Preston Jackson.
Recently, Ward has collaborated with another composer, sound designer, and performer, Caleb Willitz. First, they composed the film score for Beresford Bennett's film, Pinch, which was an official selection of the 2015 San Diego Black Film Festival. Second, Ward and Willitz will be releasing an electro-acoustic project, Gaps and Spaces: Synoptic Optiks.