LUCKY THOMPSON is a South Philly percussionist that has been playing drums since the age of 8, when he played at churches and special engagements. In the 1970s, Lucky began traveling and making TV appearances with his group, The Current Survivors, and has toured in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean, as well as worked with Patti LaBelle, Billy Paul, Nina Simone, Sonny Stitt, Val-Ray and Big Mamma Thornton. Since 1997, Lucky has served as the Musical Director of Natalie's Lounge, at 40th & Market, where the likes of jazz greats Hank Mobley, Mickey Roker, Shirley Scott, Sam Reed, Grover Washington, Jr., Tony Williams, and even a young John Coltrane have performed. During the jam sessions at Natalie's, you can see so many new young heads, including musicians from University of Penn, Temple, and even West Chester University." This appreciation for young, aspiring musicians is a significant part of Lucky's musical program.
Aside from playing in clubs, and performing at festivals and concerts, Lucky is equally comfortable in the classrooms at University of Pennsylvania, where he is a visiting resident, teaching jazz, percussions, and improvisations. Aside from being the bandleader on PTME's new release, Everybody Oughta Have One, this dynamic drummer can be heard on CDs with Umar Raheem, the Arpeggio Ensemble, Denise King, and Val-Ray.
UMAR RAHEEM, native of Philadelphia, began studying music theory and harmony at West Philadelphia High School and learned invaluable music lessons later while performing with bands in the US Air Force. Afterwards Umar toured in the US, Canada, Nova Scotia, and the Bahamas with various groups. He continued his studies at the Community College of Philadelphia, where he played in the first Jazz Lab. Umar attributes the music of the great Philadelphia bassist, Jymie Merritt, as instrumental in forming his approach to improvisation. Among others who influenced Umar's music are saxophonists Gene Ammons, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, and John Coltrane.
Umar's band, The Renaissance Quintet, has been the opening act for Archie Shepp, the late Philly Joe Jones, Sun Ra, and Alice Coltrane. Also, Umar has performed as a soloist in the Lex Humphries Sextet, The Jymie Merritt Forerunners, Sonny Murray Experience, and many others. A prolific composer and arranger, Umar strives to keep his music inspirational, innovative, and in the best classical jazz tradition.
JEFF KNOETTNER is a product of the Berklee College of Music. This pianist-composer-teacher has performed in numerous jazz and blues festivals on the east coast. Jeff's musical proficiency extends to playing the trumpet and organ, composing and arranging, as well as conducting. He has performed and recorded with many groups, some being the Renaissance Quintet, Arpeggio Jazz & Music Ensemble, the Val-Ray Experience, and the Tino Gonzales Band, which has opened for blues legends B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Charlie Musselwhite. In addition to performing, recording, and composing, this inspiring musician teaches piano to people of all ages and levels. Jeff's imaginative compositions and inventive playing can be found in four of the tracks on this CD.
LEE SMITH began playing the bass as a hobby while at Philly's Overbrook High School. His primary instrument then was the trumpet. However, the bass won him over and before he graduated from Overbrook, Lee was playing gigs on the weekend. After his first year at West Chester University, Lee toured and recorded with Philly's Delphonics, Blue Magic, and Billy Paul. Then he moved to New York in 1977 to work with the great Latino percussionist, Mongo Santamaria, which included touring in the US, Europe and South America, and recording 5 albums, one being the Grammy award-winning album Amanecer. While living in New York, this exceptional bassist worked with such legends as Cedar Walton, Slide Hampton, and Leon Thomas, as well as recorded with Roberta Flack. Atlantic City casino circuit also claimed Lee for several years before his returning to Philly. Many of the Philadelphia artists this bassist has played with include Shirley Scott, Mickey Roker, Bootsie Barnes, Trudy Pitts and Mr. "C."
ANTHONY 'TONY' SMITH, Assistant Principal of Brandywine High School in Wilmington, plays it all - jazz, classical, and R&B, but jazz is his favorite. "Jazz allows me to express myself, and it's more challenging because you never play a tune the same way twice." Tony started playing trumpet in the 7th grade, and his musical talents later secured him a full scholarship to then-Delaware State College. In addition to giving private trumpet lessons, Tony founded the first students' band at Christina Cultural Arts Center in Delaware. He taught in their music department for more than 10 years, and, during that period, his student bands performed for many, including diplomats from 17 African and Caribbean countries. For his dedication to the arts and young people in Delaware, Tony received the Christi award in 2002. In 1996, Tony released his first CD, The Tony Smith Quintet - Slammin at Christina, and this year has joined Lucky Thompson's DNA on their first PTME CD.