The Melz/Prigodich/Erskine Group (aka MPEG) features the best original jazz fusion to come out of the Pacific Northwest with some of the best players on the West Coast. Mike Prigodich on piano is joined by the blow your mind rhythm section of master drummer Reinhardt Melz, bass virtuoso Damian Erskine, along with the superb tenor sax work of John Nastos. If you enjoy the music of Chick Corea, Return To Forever, Yellowjackets, Michael Brecker, Hiromi, etc., you'll love the fusion compositions of Mike Prigodich combining Jazz, Prog Rock, Afro-Cuban, Latin, Brazilian, Flamenco, Funk, as well as world music influences from the Middle East, Africa, Ireland, etc.
About Mike Prigodich
Mike's jazz fusion compositions have begun attracting attention from many well-known national artists. Becoming a cancer patient in 2008 was the big wake-up call that got him to start writing lots of new music, form a band, start booking gigs, and pursue his dream of becoming a professional jazz musician. Mike raised over $10,000 on kickstarter.com in 2010 to fund his first studio album "A Stitch In Time" featuring Damian Erskine, Reinhardt Melz, John Nastos, Brandon Woody, Rafael Trujillo, Patrick Lamb, Tim Jensen, and Paul Mazzio, produced by Emmy award-winning David Mathew. This studio album and band is also being featured on the Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) Oregon Art Beat television show. Mike currently resides in Portland, Oregon and enjoys playing with some of the finest musicians in town who are up to the task of performing his extremely challenging but accessible compositions.
About Damian Erskine
Damian Erskine is not your ordinary bass player. While not touring, Damian hones his chops with some of the best jazz and latin musicians the West coast has to offer. Damian is known for his ability to fit into any musical situation and his extraordinary reading and improvising skills.
Damian has played in the studio or on the stage with the likes of:
Peter Erskine • The Jaco Pastorius Big Band • Teri-Lynn Carrington • Gino Vannelli • John Ellis • Shawn Pelton • Sveti w/ Marko Djordjevic • Luis Conte • Brandon Ross • Les McCann • Jeff Lorber • Vardan Ovsepian • Charmaine Neville • Jessy J • Luis Perdomo • Tony Furtado • Kate Schutt • Bobby Torres • Alan Jones • Patrick Lamb • Dan Balmer • Klezmocracy and many others as well as being featured on the GospelChops.com “Shed Sessionz Vol. 1″ DVD.
Whether playing as a sideman or with his own group, he is known for his rock solid bass work, virtuosic solos and thoughtful chordal abilities. Damian is also an adjunct professor at both Portland State University and Marylhurst University. He is also the nephew of drummer Peter Erskine.
About Reinhardt Melz
Drummer Reinhardt Melz is by far the busiest drummer in the Portland area. While working nearly every night as most people's "first call" drummer, Reinhardt also keeps a busy touring schedule with pop icon Gino Vannelli. Hailed as one of those rare guys that can play any style with authority, Reinhardt really shines in every setting. Having gigged since before he could drive, Reinhardt has worked with Gino Vannelli, Jeff Lorber, Curtis Salgado, Charmaine Neville, Buddy Guy, Lloyd Jones, Bobby Torres, Victor Little, Reggie Houston, Allen Hinds, Patrick Lamb, Ernestine Anderson, Randy Porter, Tony Furtado and many, many more. Reinhardt Melz has been on the North West professional music scene since 1987. He is a consummate musician and teacher. He is also Bobby Torres’ eldest son. Reinhardt prefers not to categorize music. Instead, he strives to play what the music calls for. He is a versatile drummer that is recognized for his talent in creating sophisticated rhythmic conversations. He is a “top-call” drummer who is in demand for work with artists of many different genres ranging from Jazz and Afro-Cuban to R&B, Rock-n Roll, Funk and Klezmer.
Reinhardt has taken lessons from Ignacio Berroa, Jimmy Branley, Alex Acuna, Bob Moses, Graham Lear, Michael Spiro and Cuban master percussionist Miguel Bernal. At a very young age, Reinhardt’s gigs with local musicians Lloyd Jones and Curtis Salgado led to opportunities to share the stage with Steve Miller, Buddy Guy, Earl King, and Delbert Mclinton. Playing with the Bobby Torres Ensemble has allowed Reinhardt to play with many top notch percussionists including Sandy Perez, Miguel Bernal and Regino Jimenez. As a member of the Bobby Torres Ensemble, Reinhardt opened for Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval and Poncho Sanchez.
Reinhardt is currently touring with Gino Vannelli. When home in Portland, Reinhardt keeps a busy schedule with freelance work (both live and studio) and private instruction. Reinhardt has performed with James Carter (world renowned jazz musician) and Ernestine Anderson (legendary jazz vocalist). Reinhardt also tours with Tony Furtado (virtuoso guitarist and banjo player).
About John Nastos
Multi-instrumentalist John Nastos was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where he found his love of music while exploring the vibrant local music scene. Before graduating from high school, John enrolled at Portland State University, where he studied with Alan Jones, Darrell Grant, and other Portland jazz luminaries. During that same year, he started performing with the Mel Brown Septet, the Gordon Lee Big Band, and other professional Portland groups. In 2004, Nastos graduated from high school and moved to New York City on a scholarship to study jazz at the acclaimed Manhattan School of Music. At MSM, John studied saxophone and composition with Dick Oatts (Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchrestra), Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets), Steve Wilson (Chick Corea), and Mike Abene (WDR Big Band). In 2007, John completed the four-year degree program in just three years. Since returning to Portland, John has performed with the who’s who of the Portland scene, including the Bobby Torres Ensemble, the Portland Soul All-Stars, the Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Darrell Grant’s On the Territory, and the Damian Erskine Project. He has recorded with Intervision, Ben Darwish’s Commotion, the Drew Shoals Collective, and others. Recently, Nastos’s composition, arranging, and compositional skills have been commissioned for performances and recordings by Damian Erskine, the Bobby Torres Ensemble, the Art Abrams Swing Machine, and Pink Martini (for performances with the San Francisco Symphony). Nastos maintains a busy performing, recording, and teaching schedule around the Portland area. He is also currently part of Diane Schuur’s touring group, playing performances around the world. John Nastos performs on: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, Bb and bass clarinets, flute, piccolo, and EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument)
"I knew this guy was up to something; what a great disc! Beautifully written and played with passion and intensity by an excellent band. This is one of those CDs that you want to hear again as soon as it's finished. Bravo Mike!" -- George Whitty (Brecker Brothers)
"Watch out for this guy! Mike is terribly brave, adventurous, playful, and adept. As his compositions and playing demonstrate, Mr. Prigodich is a rising talent following his creative muse fearlessly to wherever it takes him. Kudos Mr. P!" -- David Goldblatt (Tribal Tech)
"This is band is top shelf; they were super tight and super exciting." -- George Colligan (Jack DeJohnette, Lenny White)
"I definitely hear a Chick influence in your playing and writing. I'm flattered that you cite me as an influence." -- Andy Milne (Dapp Theory)
"Very cool Mike!! Love the bridge and the keyboard solo. You can definitely play!!" -- Steve Porcaro (Toto)
All About Jazz -- "Prigodich is an excellent keyboardist, but it's his writing that really stands out. There is a liveliness and emotional connection to much of this music that makes it immediately endearing. His band is tight and funky, with an ability to groove that puts many better-known fusion outfits to shame."
Audiophile Audition -- "What do Chick Corea and Spinal Tap have in common? That would be Portland keyboardist Mike Prigodich."
No Treble -- "The album’s intriguing melodies, odd time signatures, and ear-bending harmonies make it a stand-out album in the world of fusion."
The Virginian-Pilot -- "11 musically adventurous/challenging tracks that are, at times, mind-boggling in their intensity."
Inside MusiCast Album Of The Day on Monday, June 13, 2011 -- "A tour de force that would certainly get the respect of Prigodich’s muse Chick Corea. In the tradition of The Yellowjackets, The Brecker Brothers, Hiromi and others, the 11 tracks on A STITCH IN TIME cover a vast fusion landscape of complex proportions that’ll have you wondering how an artist like Mike Prigodich could ever consider sitting on the sidelines. The entire project is an incredibly satisfying ride."
All About Jazz -- "Prigodich speaks a musical language all his own, one born of a voice that elevates his instrument far beyond its realm into one where mystery and magic meet."
Sea Of Tranquility -- "Prigodich infuses every second of his debut album [with] style, grace, and wonderful musicality. [His] affirmation for life comes through with every note, and the album feels like a celebration of music."
The Urban Flux -- "This is what great music and musicianship is all about."
Music In Portland -- "Mike offers melodic breadth with very defined piano craft. He is an astonishing musician and a brilliant composer. His original works are studies in precision. They are demanding and they require the very best of musicians to perform them. He has gathered the best of the best and the results are scintillating."