Bios: Meet the Characters
Hailing from the north woods of Minnesota, Marty first held a fishing rod at age two and caught his first bass at two and a half in the family ice shack on Sugar Lake. Fishing and music had a close connection early on when young Marty grew obsessed with making beats with the clicks from the fishing reel when reeling in fish. This annoyed his father because Marty would rather get into a beat then catch the fish that he was reeling in so his father bought him his first drum set at age five.
Drumming became an obsession with Marty, always banging his pencils on school desks, playing plates with spoons at lunch and breath-beating at all times. He joined the Grand Rapids VFW band when he was 13 where he played his first drum feature on “Sing Sing Sing.” His parents couldn’t wait until his was of driving age because they where carting him around to other towns to play in their school and community bands.
Marty's life changed in 1992 in his senior year of high school when he discovered the Swedish metal band "Meshuggah" and only listened to them throughout his college time at Itasca Community College. Marty spent his graduation money to fly to Sweden to meet Meshuggah and ended up being a roadie for 6 months on a European tour. He came back to Minnesota as a fired up drummer of passion and had to move out of Grand Rapids to Minneapolis to get more in the city.
It wasn’t before long that he was playing in the acclaimed St. Paul metal band “Thirst on the Blood of Babies” and toured the U.S. for the next 5 years. Marty married the road manager and divorced shortly after he quit the band due to the marital toil. Marty remained in the twin cities broadening his musical talent with joining the wedding band “The Smooth Operators” that covered everything from Sinatra to Van Halen. Marty had to learn to play all styles, which proved to be a momentous task but he practiced and listened hard to keep up with the seasoned pros.
In 2009, Marty moved back to Grand Rapids to help his mother out around the house after his father ran off with a woman from the casino. He also has become active in the Grand Rapids Players (community theater) and feels that he's not a bad actor. His day job is a barista at the Brewed Awakenings coffee shop, where he has been known to bring in material from the theater to practice on the customers behind the counter. As he would say, it's a helluva deal!
follow Marty on twitter: https://twitter.com/MartyDoty
From across the pond Cecil Witherspoon was raised by his mother along with two older brothers in Whitechapel, in the East End of London . Cecil found his soul in bass lines at a Jaco Pastorius concert at the age of 11. After moving quickly from electric bass to bass on the keytar, Cecil knew his was destined to be a performer when he played the bass line of Madonna’s Borderline at his eighth grade talent show and the audience asked for seven encores.
Cecil became very busy playing gigs at night while attending high school and decided to drop out to pursue music full time. For the next 12 years he made it as a full time musician, most notably representing the Queen on a six month tour of all the 55 Commonwealth realms and republics with the band “Royal Rocks.” By the early 2000s, many of the big money gigs dried up so Cecil got a part time job as a bouncer at one of clubs he frequently performed in.
Cecil has worked as a door supervisor and valet river since 2008 in addition to local gigs, as well as frequent flights to the states for ‘All of Us’ performances.
follow Cecil on twitter: https://twitter.com/Cecilkeytarist
From the woods an hour north of New York City, Kelly Roberge always had a vivid imagination, mostly to entertain himself as an only child. On a vacation at his grandparents house he created a radio show using a mini tape recorder starring many imaginary characters providing commentary on the adventures in Salem, NH: “Live Free or DIE!!!” It’s been 20 years since Kelly has dared to return to this project, but with two music degrees and years of performing experience the radio show has taken a new form: 'All of Us' solo quartet. He is now struggling with what he thought his musical path would be to the realization of where it’s going now and the long road it will take.
In 1989, Kelly’s mother Jill brought home a Benny Goodman tape to her son and he was subsequently hooked on jazz music, trying to cop Goodman’s solos off the tape on his clarinet (not bad for a 5th grader!). Since the girls made fun of Kelly for playing a “girls instrument” he switched to tenor sax, which has been his primary instrument of choice since.
Kelly excelled in music all through high school and in 1997 won the election for Masuk High School Band President. He was awarded the VIP pass to hang out whenever he wanted to in the Masuk Band Room, one of the hippest joints in Monroe, CT. Back in the 90’s MHS had 3 doctorates and the jazziest band director (Mr. Ceccolini) who really fueled Kelly’s desire to study music further in college and brave the road of a professional.
Moving to Ohio to study at Oberlin Conservatory was an intense and mind blowing experience where angst and passion against tradition was studied along with tradition. Learning how music has evolved brought up the big problem that Kelly still grapples with: where is music going now? Kelly and his best friend and pianist Ez Weiss moved to Portland, OR after graduating Oberlin to try out the Portland scene. It was an exciting time, playing 4-5 nights a week at gigs and many jams sessions with welcoming and supportive Portland musicians.
After a year Kelly moved back to the east coast to attend New England Conservatory with the intention of getting a masters and eventually a doctorate to teach music at the collegiate level. Enjoying two years of inspiring instruction (Steve Lacy, Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Brookmeyer and George Garzone!) deepened his love for jazz along with the question of how to connect the genre to a larger audience.
This very question was answered with the creation of “Quartet of Happiness,” a theatrical jazz quartet that was formed at NEC with Rick Stone. They both felt strongly about performing jazz that would engage a broader audience. Why not add a programmatic and interactive element to the music, instead of just playing it? Especially for kids, QoH’s goal is to bring jazz back, in a relevant way to the times that is fun and exciting.
Another fun and exciting band that Kelly formed was “Ronald Reagan, Boston’s Premier 80s Pop Saxophone Duo” that performed 80s hits with just two saxes, vocals and dancing. RR went over big in comedy clubs, where he found his love of comedy. Performing all over the Boston and NYC comedy scene, Kelly has made many funny friends, learning how to also be funny at times
In 2010, Kelly formed ‘All of Us solo quartet’ where he has taken his comedy, acting and music experiences and combined them. In 2011 he started singing in AoU and has been studying vocal technique (with Mali Sastri) with the goal of eventually singing at weddings and gigs, instead of just playing horn lines. Kelly has also been taking acting lessons from the great Tommy Derrah to work on the ‘All of Us’ members. Unexpectedly, both the acting and vocal instruction has improved his saxophone playing, through studying communication techniques with the audience, along with having increased breath control and timbal flexibility.
follow Kelly on twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyRoberge
Born and raised in the Real little Italy of New York City, Phil Bianchi was the youngest of 6 boys, learning to play piano at an early age in his family rock band. All throughout his childhood, Phil was often teased and beat up by some of his older brothers and over coddled by his mother. He hated playing in the band so much that he quit piano on the day he left the house at age 17 to work for the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).
During those piano-less years, Phil took up rapping with a local band from Flatbush, “The E$steemed,” which greatly helped to diminish a speech impediment and build his confidence. The band released a few albums in the late nineties and played around the northeast until they broke up in 2007, when Phil started playing the piano again after a ten year hiatus. He really got into jazz music and started playing around at some jam sessions where he networked with some musicians and singer-songwriters and picked up various jazz, folk and pop gigs.
Being a fulltime sanitation worker, Phil also became involved in waste conservation and started writing raps to raise awareness. It wasn’t until he joined ‘All of Us solo quartet’ that he was able to perform these raps. He is excited to be finally working with a band that he can both rap and play piano in.
follow Phil on twitter: https://twitter.com/philonkeys