Who's Kurt Ribak?
Kurt Ribak (pronounced REE-bok, like the shoes) grew up in Berkeley, CA. He's the band's bassist, the leader of the trio and composed all the tunes on the CD. Early musical experiences included singing in the San Francisco Boys Chorus. In grade school Kurt began studying the cello. Kurt later studied with several major cellists, including Bonnie Hampton, Susie Napper, and Elisabeth LeGuin.
While a student at UC Berkeley Kurt began playing electric bass, buying his first good bass with money made working as a janitor. At Cal he continued to play classical music and studied jazz under Neal Heidler and Jeremy Cohen while playing in the UC Jazz Ensembles. Kurt also studied West African drumming with C.K. Ladzekpo and spent summers teaching at Cazadero Music Camp, where he played with trombonist Julian Priester, guitarist / composer Paul Dresher, and steel drummer Andy Narell, as well as working in the local early music scene.
Tendinitis temporarily stalled Kurt's career, but he subsequently earned a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. He graduated with top honors, studying bass with Whit Browne, Bruce Gertz, and John Repucci. Kurt spent many hours transcribing and absorbing the styles of bassists Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, and Charles Mingus, but also spent hours dissecting the compositions and arrangements of African bandleader Fela Kuti and R&B giant James Brown. He first learned of his love of composition while at Berklee College of Music. His early tunes often reflected a strong Thelonious Monk influence, while others reflect his love of the great bassists/composer/bandleader Charles Mingus, whose music he studied intensively at Berklee. Later tunes bring to mind the South African composer Abdullah Ibrahim a.k.a. Dollar Brand, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, and Cannonball Adderley.
After graduation from Berklee Kurt returned to the San Francisco Bay area. Kurt has been playing with a variety of bands in the Bay Area, including local big band legend Junius Courtney and ex-Whispers saxophonist Herbie Mims. Drummer Bryan Melvin, formerly with the great electric bassist Jaco Pastorius, said Kurt plays bass "the way it should be played." R&B legend Johnny Otis sought him out to say Kurt's playing reminded Otis of the late bassist Curtis Counce, a favorite sideman of Otis. Kurt also appeared as an actor in commercial videos and films, including Erica Jordan's "In the Wake" (released in 2001) and Rob Nilsson's upcoming release "Scheme." He also contributed music to both films.
Kurt has played with many prominent musicians. Among them are jazz/blues vocalist Faye Carol, new music composer Paul Dresher, Broadway singer Lillias Brooks, JC Hopkins (writer and former bandleader for Norah Jones), guitarist Adam Levy, sideman with Tracy Chapman and Norah Jones, and with Ralph Carney, best known for his work with Tom Waits. Kurt's also played with prominent non-jazz musicians, including Danny Carnahan of Wake the Dead and Eric and Suzy Thompson, who have received international acclaim for their performances of bluegrass and Cajun music. Kurt has had his compositions played by a variety of groups, including Section 8 Project, Make A Circus, and others. Since 2001 he has been leading his own group under his own name.
Greg Sankovich is the pianist in Kurt Ribak's group. Greg has been performing on keyboards and producing music since he was twelve years old. He began with classical studies when he was five years old. Later he studied with some of the finest jazz and Latin pianists and educators in the Bay Area. His musical inspirations included Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, and Keith Jarrett.
Greg attended University of California, Berkeley, where he was active in the UC Berkeley Jazz Ensembles, touring Japan, Northern Europe, Poland, and Scandinavia. After graduation from UC Berkeley, Greg moved to Japan with a UCB inspired jazz-fusion band, Taikun. Greg lived in Japan over ten years, performing and composing for a long line of top Japanese artists.
Greg, a Bay Area native, returned to the san Francisco area in the mid-1990s and has since contributed to an eclectic range of musical projects from jazz to house to hiphop to pop. He has worked with many talented artists including Terry Francis, Brenda Boykin, H-Foundation, Onions, and Doc Martin. He has contributed music to over 20 record labels including Warner, Columbia, Siesta, Tango, and Yoshitoshi. Greg's music can also be found in the soundtrack for "Groove," a Sony Classics film, as well as in numerous TV jingles.
Greg produces dance music and performs regularly in the SF Bay Area. Greg has produced dance music currently in Europe's Top Ten. He performs with many groups, including bassist/composer Kurt Ribak's original groups, jazz-funk band Times 4 featuring sensational saxophonist Lincoln Adler, jam band Ten Ton Chicken, R&B band Blue Sky Band, and various jazz projects.
Tim Solook is a working drummer whose talent to adapt to a variety of musical styles is always in demand. Born and raised in New Jersey, Tim studied music in Philadelphia and New York City, receiving his BM degree from the Manhattan School of Music.
While studying at MSM, Tim took private instruction from jazz drumming great Joe Morello and vibist David Friedman. Upon graduating, Tim studied vibes with Caribbean Jazz Project's Dave Samuels. Collectively these associations have molded a solid musical foundation for Tim's style.
Over the last 25 years, Tim has performed everywhere from the Newport Jazz Festival, Saratoga, NY, Continental Arena, Rutherford, NJ, and the Roxy in Los Angeles to the Jazz Keller in Frankfurt, Germany. He has recorded five nationally distributed CD's with Houston jazz pianist Joe LoCascio.
While living in Houston, Tim performed with celebrated jazz musicians Freddie Hubbard, Kirk Whalum, Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd, Emily Remler, Dave Leibman, Roseanna Vitro, Monty Alexander, Tim Hagans and Randy Brecker. From 1996 to 2002, Tim held the position of percussion instructor at Houston Community College, working with private drum students and the percussion ensemble for five years.
Currently residing in San Jose, CA, Tim continues to teach, compose, record, and perform extensively throughout the Bay Area. His first CD as a leader called "ABILITY" will be released on the Sol Time record label in June 2005.