Kobie Watkins, drummer
Click here to view Kobie's bio
Aaron Miller, bassist
Aaron Miller is an accomplished musician whose broad experience in many styles defines his double bass playing: jazz and classical, contemporary and popular, chamber and solo. He performs with an energy and enthusiasm that is palpable. Aaron is in high demand as a soloist, performer, educator, and clinician throughout the United States of America and abroad. He has been a guest for the Gene Harris Jazz Festival for a decade and spends each summer working with students at the Red Lodge Music Festival. An advocate for new music, Miller recently commissioned and premiered four new works for the double bass that feature improvisation as an essential element. Starting in 2007, he joined the faculty of Brigham Young University-Idaho where he directs the double bass studio and the jazz combos program. Miller’s students have received regional and national recognition including the Downbeat student music award in 2008. Aaron has spent the past 3 years completing his doctoral degree from Northwestern University where he studied with Andrew Raciti. Miller has shared the stage with David Liebman, Bob Mintzer, Mark Levine, Joe Lovano, Jamey Aebersold, and Marvin Stamm. In 2004, Aaron toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Justin Nielsen, pianist
"Nielsen's piano sparkles." Dan Mclenahan, allaboutjazz.com
"Justin Nielsen has tons of chops and a great sense of how to accompany." George Colligan, the Jazz Truth
"Justin Nielsen pretty much burns the house down." John Mcneil
Justin Nielsen is a performer, composer, recording artist, and teacher residing in Boise, Idaho. Though he has lived his life in the mountain west, he has had a dynamic career that has made it possible for him to play and teach all over the world with some of the greatest names in jazz. He is featured on scores of recordings and is currently featured on 6 albums with release dates set for 2015 - 2016.
Though Justin loves performing, he is equally passionate about teaching and inspiring young people to play and to love music. He was a founder of ArtsWest/Fresco Arts Academy, a private school for young performing artists in Eagle, ID, where he worked and taught for 7 years. His students have literally won hundreds of national honors, including recognition from Downbeat magazine, the national Grammy organization, and the Monterey Next Generation competition. His students have also garnered over $5 Million in scholarship offers to the finest music schools in the country including Calarts, Manhattan School of Music, Berklee College of Music, USC, and many many others.
Justin has just released his first album as a leader, Divine Colors.
Micah Stevens, guitarist
Micah Stevens is a young guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser based in Boise, Idaho. His educational journey has brought him across the country to schools like New England Conservatory and California Institute of the Arts studying musical traditions of both Western and Eastern parentage. A recipient of a myriad of awards and achievements from festivals, competitions and workshops, Micah has been afforded the ability to spend years traveling on a domestic and international level sharing, composing and exploring music of many kinds.
Ryan Nielsen, trumpeter
Praised for the "breathtaking singing quality of his sound, tremendous instrumental skill, and outstanding creativity" by jazz icon, John McNeil, Ryan Nielsen is recognized as a musician whose lyricism is profound, whose versatility is rare, and whose artistry grows out of a love of groove, spirit, and beautiful melody. He grew up in a musical home in rural Idaho, where his Father’s love of classical music mingled with his Mother’s love of Barry Manilow ;-) He began performing professionally at 17, often alongside his brother, pianist Justin Nielsen. He has since been a guest artist at concerts and festivals throughout the Western United States, including the Gene Harris Jazz Festival, the Sun Valley Jazz Festival, and the Salt Lake City Jazz Festival.
His musical studies have taken him across the country. At Arizona State University, he studied with world- renowned classical soloist and teacher, David Hickman, and was the recipient of the Doc Severinsen award for outstanding classical and jazz trumpet. He later went on to pursue his doctoral studies at the New England Conservatory of Music. While at NEC, Mr. Nielsen studied with John McNeil and Rakalam Bob Moses. He has gone on to record with many musical luminaries, including Jon Bishop, Rakalam Bob Moses, John Lockwood, and Grammy Award Winning Bassist, Clark Sommers. He has performed professionally with such icons as Harvey Mason, the New York Voices, Eric Marienthal, Kevin Mahogany, Brian Bromberg, Byron Stripling, Wycliffe Gordon, Conrad Herwig, Delfeayo Marsalis, John McNeil, Tiger Okoshi, the Summit Brass, and has recently been named trumpeter in the Kobie Watkins Grouptet.
Nielsen's musical interests are diverse. He has performed and recorded jazz, classical, folk, bluegrass, country, americana, pop, and experimental world music, resulting in three albums over the last few years: "Weeds in the Wall", recorded with the band Sister and Brothers; "Out of Nowhere", released on Jazz Hang Records; and "Divine Colors", a project lead by his brother Justin. 2016 will see the release of Nielsen’s first solo album, a collaboration with musical visionary Rakalam Bob Moses due to be released under the title "Matzevah" by Native Pulse Records.
Nielsen's love of teaching has garnered him a reputation as a passionate and inspiring clinician throughout the west. He is as enthusiastic about the art of teaching as he is about the art of music. He is currently professor of trumpet and jazz studies at Brigham Young University-Idaho.
Jonathan Armstrong, saxophonist
Jonathan Armstrong is a fiercely creative musician, composer and educator living in Pocatello, ID where he serves as the Director of Jazz Studies at Idaho State University.
Prior to moving to Idaho, Jonathan resided in Los Angeles, where he worked as a sought after musician for gigs, recordings sessions, and tours. He also founded the critically acclaimed modern jazz quartet Slumgum and the cutting edge electronic psychedelic group Pitch Like Masses. He has performed with these projects throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan.
As a composer, Jonathan has written music for film, dance, and theatre. In addition, he composes contemporary classical music, and has recently been experimenting with expansive meditative pieces that incorporate just intonation and spectral stimulation. The Sydney Morning Herald referred to Armstrong as "a composer and arranger who dares to imagine…"
Jonathan continues to create creative and daring music, collaborating with other like‐minded artists including animators, painters, poets, dancers, and other musicians.