Langnau Jazz Nights: Faculty 2023

Faculty Langnau Jazz Nights 2023

Thana Alexa (vocals/ faculty curator)

Surprising is the word that perhaps best describes Grammy® nominated and Downbeat cover artist, Thana Alexa, an extraordinarily creative force in music. An awe-inspiring vocalist, composer, arranger and producer – for whom the voice is both a lyrical and experimental instrument – her music pushes the boundaries of the genre into new and unexplored territory with deep seeded roots in jazz and overtones of contemporary soul and world music.

“Thana isn’t afraid to take risks. Her vocal performances are powerful, vulnerable, joyful, spiritual and genuine. Her use of rhythm, textures and intricate harmonies is unique and at times, complex. Sometimes you think you know where she is going, then she surprises you.”
— Regina Carter / violinist, recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” and Doris Duke Awards

Antonio Sanchez (drums)

Since moving to New York City in 1999, Antonio has become one of the most sought-after drummers in the international jazz scene. Following 18 years and 9 albums as one of the most revered collaborators with guitarist/composer Pat Metheny, he also has recorded and performed with many other most prominent artists like Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden and Toots Thielmans.
In 2014 Sanchez’s popularity soared when he scored Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) which ended up fetching 4 Academy awards (including best picture) and for which Antonio won a Grammy award.

“Mr. Sanchez emerged as one of the standout jazz drummers on the contemporary scene, a polyrhythmic ace attuned to the subtlest dynamic fluctuations” ”
— The New York Times

Caroline Davis (saxophon)

Mobile since her birth in Singapore, composer, saxophonist, and artivist Caroline Davis’s music covers a wide range of styles, owed to her shifting environment as a child.

Davis is active as both a side-person and a leader in a diverse set of music communities (jazz, improvised music, modern classical, R&B, folk). Davis has worked with Lee Konitz, Angelica Sanchez, The Femme Jam, Matt Mitchell, Terry Riley, Miles Okazaki, and Billy Kaye, to name a few. Her collaborations include My Tree (with Ben Hoffmann) and Persona (with Rob Clearfield).

As an educator, Caroline brings her unique knowledge of music and psychology to her teaching. She has been on the faculty at Litchfield Jazz Camp for 15 years, Stanford Jazz Institute for 6 years, and an educator at The New School, Northwestern University, Harvard University, DePaul University, Columbia College, University of Texas at Arlington, and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Keyon Harrold (trumpet)

Keyon Harrold was born and raised in Ferguson, MO, the St. Louis suburb that tore into America’s national consciousness in 2014 with the police shooting of Michael Brown and the bitter protests and riots that followed. Harrold grew up one of 16 children in a family that prioritized music and community across generations. His grandfather was a police officer who retired from the force to found a drum and bugle corps for local youth, both of his parents were pastors, and nearly all of his siblings sing and perform music today. Culture shock hit Harrold hard at 18, when he left Ferguson for New York City to enroll in The New School. In New York, he landed his first major gig with Common, an experience which he says broadened his musical horizons beyond jazz to include funk, Afrobeat, R&B, and hip hop. Soon he was performing with stars like Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Eminem, Maxwell, and Anthony Hamilton.

Nir Felder (guitar)

Nir Felder spent his youth playing in rock bands while learning about jazz at the local record store, inspired by icons from John Coltrane to Jimi Hendrix. In 2006, he moved to New York City and quickly became one of the city’s most highly sought-after sidemen, performing and recording with an eclectic group of luminaries in jazz and other genres including Diana Krall, Erykah Badu, Brad Mehldau, John Mayer, and Ben Platt (for the Netflix special Live at Radio City Music Hall), among many others. He has toured throughout six continents and at venues including Radio City Music Hall and the Village Vanguard, and appeared on national television stations NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN, and Fox in a variety of shows including Good Morning America, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the U.S. Open, among others.

Rachel Eckroth (piano)

Polymath (noun): a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning.

Music needs a term for this. What do you call one person who is a pianist, vocalist, keyboardist, composer, producer, arranger, band leader, sideman and more? Music may not have a term, but it does have a name: Rachel Eckroth.

Eckroth can lead with a bold vision or accompany with the subtle skills necessary to make another musician shine. Her combination of jazz experimentation and pop feeling form the engine behind her own work as a leader or co-leader on 20 albums, most recently The Garden on Rainy Days Records (2021). That same crossover talent is why she's been featured on voice and keyboards in the bands of Rufus Wainwright, St. Vincent, KT Tunstall, and Chris Botti.

“Pianist, singer, and composer Rachel Eckroth is more than a musical chameleon. Her shapeshifting is so astonishingly dramatic that there is no upper limit to her creative identity. ”
— Simon Rentner, WGBO

Harish Raghavan (bass)

For more than a decade, bassist-composer Harish Raghavan has helped lay the foundation for a thriving generation of artists. The Thelonious Monk Competition semifinalist garners acclaim as a sound architect for myriad original projects, from Ambrose Akinmusire’s to Eric Harland’s. Other longtime collaborators include Logan Richardson, Vijay Iyer, Gerald Clayton, Taylor Eigsti and Walter Smith III. Born in Chicago, the New York-based artist transitioned from Mridanga to bass at age 16. His appetite for mingling lineages has allowed him to craft an inclusive, deeply personal artistry. Raghavan’s debut album Calls for Action (Whirlwind Recordings) reflects his development as a composer and band leader. Fifteen original tracks serve as a cohesive narrative for the album, as well as standalone suites on either side of its vinyl release. Raghavan received his BA in Music from USC — where he studied under John Clayton and Dave Carpenter, and later with Robert Hurst — and has become a highly sought educator. Teaching credits include Stanford Jazz Workshop, The New School, Siena Jazz Workshop, Banff and Centrum Jazz Workshop. He also appears regularly on the international festival circuit.

Hans Ermel (bass)

Jazz Workshop: responsible theory (basic level)
Band Workshops

Hans Ermel was born in Eggiwil, Emmental in 1971, studied at the Jazzschule Luzern with Heiri Känzig but also took classes for classical double bass with Béla Szèdlak. He attended workshops in Switzerland and abroad with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Miroslav Vitous, Marc Johnson, Ray Anderson und Dave Liebman. Hans Ermel is involved in various projects, including ‚Die Vier Tenöre‘, Padre Padrone, 007 Only. He is also a member of different classical ensembles (Ensemble 7) and was part of musical- und theater productions (Der kleine Horrorladen, Evita, Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, West Side Story). Hans Ermel was born in Eggiwil, Emmental in 1971, studied at the Jazzschule Luzern with Heiri Känzig but also took classes for classical double bass with Béla Szèdlak. He attended workshops in Switzerland and abroad with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Miroslav Vitous, Marc Johnson, Ray Anderson und Dave Liebman. Hans Ermel is involved in various projects, including ‚Die Vier Tenöre‘, Padre Padrone, 007 Only. He is also a member of different classical ensembles (Ensemble 7) and was part of musical- und theater productions (Der kleine Horrorladen, Evita, Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, West Side Story).

Christoph Siegenthaler (piano)

Responsible Junior Jazz Workshop Orchestra
Band Workshops

Christoph studied performance and educational science with William Evans (amongst others) at the Hoschschule der Künste Bern, Swiss Jazz School. He participated in master classes with musicians such as Michael Brecker, Bruce Barth, Art Lande, Paul McCandless, Darmon Meader, Ernie Watts, Janek Gwizdala, Bill Cobham und Enrico Pieranunzi. He is very comfortable with playing Jazz, however is also at home playing Pop, Rock and Soul music. He plays at numerous festival and club tours in Switzerland and abroad.

Rolf Häsler (sax)

Responsible Junior Jazz Workshop Orchestra
Band Workshops

Rolf Häsler was born in 1962 in Interlaken and started playing the clarinet when he was 10 years old. 3 years later he added the saxophone. 1989 he graduated from the Swiss Jazz School Bern where he studied with Andy Scherrer. He participated in workshops with Dick Oatts, Jerry Bergonzi, Hannibal, Don Menza, Sal Nistico, Michael Brecker, Bob Mintzer, George Gruntz, Chris Hunter. He is teaching saxophone and clarinet at the music schools Oberland Ost and Region Thun. He is the responsible for the jazz workshop Interlaken and the jazz band of the gymnasium Interlaken. Leader of the Second Line Big Band, Big Band Musikschule Region Thun (1999-2011). He has plaid with musicians such as Joe Haider, Günther Kühlwein, Tim Hagans, Ron Mc Clure, Steve Fishwick, Steve Brown, Margie Evans, Gene Mighty Flea Connors, William Evans, Thomas Moeckel, Bruno Spoerri, Umberto Arlatti, Lars Lindvall, Mr. Blue and others.

Ivo Prato (sax)

Sax instrumental class basic level
Junior Jazz Workshop: playing theory, band workshops

Since 1988 Ivo Prato has been working as a musician and music teacher. After learning how to play the clarinet, he decided to study saxophone (ts) at the Swiss Jazz School (HKB) in Bern. He is a member of different bands and projects.  

Marianne Keel (vocals)

Responsible Junior Jazz Workshop Orchestra
Band Workshops

Marianne Keel was born in 1979 in Bern. She studied jazz singing at the Basel University of Music, Department of Jazz with Susanne Abbuehl and Lisette Spinnler. In 2007 she successfully completed with a teaching diploma. She was the winner of a scholarship from the Friedl-Wald-Foundation. In 2005 she spent half a year in Copenhagen and took singing lessons with Josefine Cronholm. She took lessons in composition and arrangement with Araxi Karnusian. Her musical spectrum ranges from jazz and pop to baroque crossover projects and makes her an exciting singer in various stylistic projects. In 2012 her debut album with her band "Marianne's Bag" was released by Meta Records. She is a vocal and choral conductor at the Oberemmental Music School.

Niculin Christen (piano)

Responsible Junior Jazz Meeting

Born in 1981 in Thun. He graduated from the Hochschule für Musik Basel where he studied piano with Hans Feigenwinter and Malcom Braff. Exchange year at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, classes with Karel Bouhle.
His sound spectrum goes from Jazz to Pop even to Klezmer. For the past few year he has started to play the Akkordon which makes him an in demand musician for many different projects. Current projects: Bait Jaffe Klezmerorchester, Matthias Siegrist, Little Pocket.

Pius Baschnagel (drums)

Drums instrumental class basic level
Band workshops

Born 1970, lives in Zurich, educated in Los Angeles CA.
Kulturförderungspreis of the City of Illnau-Effretikon 2004
Teaching rhythm and drums at the ZHdK
Performances with Joshua Redman, Barbara Dennerlein, NDR Bigband, Benny Golson, Daniel Powter, Till Brönner, Chico Freeman, Rhoda Scott, Scott Robinson, George Gruntz, Franco Ambrosetti, Benny Bailey, Swiss Army Big Band, Jimmy Woode, Nubya, Picason, Swiss Jazz Orchestra and others.
Bands: Zurich Jazz Orchestra, Herbie Kopf, Marianne Racine, Müller-Kramis-Baschnagel, Christoph Grab's Reflections
Own projects: Baschnagel Group, P. B. s Latinworld, Pius' Latinchoice
Festivals: Drumfestival Switzerland, Art on Ice, Caliente, Jazz no Jazz, Willisau, Schaffhausen
Tours abroad: Lithuania, Greece, Greece, Oman, Israel, Germany, China, Holland, Romania, the Netherlands, Ukraine