The Dennis Luxion / Michael Raynor Quartet (Chicago, Illinois) plays original, hard-swinging jazz. The group came together to create music that encompasses a wide range of styles based on the jazz tradition. The legacy of the legendary Chicago-based tenor saxophonist, Von Freeman, is especially influential on the ensemble’s expressive style of improvisation. From introspective solo explorations to a powerful group dynamic, The Dennis Luxion / Michael Raynor Quartet’s performances encompass the breadth of human expression. Sharing music with a broad range of audiences and collaborating with local musicians during travels fosters the group’s sense of inspiration.
DENNIS LUXION (PIANO) is a jazz pianist, composer and educator. He currently serves on the faculty of Columbia College Chicago and is an active member of the Chicago jazz scene. He performs as a band leader with his own trio and quintet and as a sideman with numerous other projects. While living and studying in Europe, Luxion collaborated with the legendary Chet Baker and was featured on many recordings, in television appearances and on tours. Since returning to Chicago in 1985, he has worked with some of Chicago’s greatest jazz musicians, such as Von Freeman, and international artists such as Bill Frisell and Lee Konitz. He also continues to compose and arrange music for various ensembles and mediums.
MICHAEL RAYNOR (DRUMS) has been immersed in the Chicago jazz scene since 1988, working with, among others, Von Freeman, Ryan Cohen, and Steve Coleman. Raynor’s collaboration with Kurt Elling earned two GRAMMY® nominations for Elling’s recordings on the Blue Note Label. In his work with the graduate jazz program at Roosevelt University and his own private studio, he has displayed dedication to teaching and supporting young jazz talents. In addition, Raynor spent three years working with children in Chicago area schools through the city’s Urban Gateways program. In 2004, he toured Southeast Asia as a Jazz Ambassador with the Chicago Jazz Quartet. Raynor and pianist Dennis Luxion are currently collaborating on a new recording project.
JEFF PEDRAZ (BASS) is a Philadelphia native and a bassist, composer, and educator. He is an accomplished musician who possesses virtuosity and versatility on both the double bass and electric bass and has worked in an array of musical genres ranging from traditional orchestral to modern genres. Pedraz received much of his training as a jazz musician in the mid 1990’s at Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus in Philadelphia where he had a chance to play with and learn from some of the best musicians of the time. In 2003, Pedraz joined the legendary Pat Martino’s quintet and toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has performed in venues such as Birdland and The Blue Note, and has appeared in many jazz festivals throughout North America. Pedraz holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Temple University, and a master’s degree in Jazz Studies from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
GREG WARD (SAXOPHONE) is a Chicago saxophonist and composer now based in New York City. His diverse musical interests have led him to explore the world of classical and crossover music both as a composer and performer. In addition to leading his two bands, Fitted Shards and The Greg Ward Sextet, Ward recently recorded with popular artist Lupe Fiasco, received a commission from the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, and curates the Wednesday night jam sessions at The Velvet Lounge. In 2010 Ward recorded and released his debut CD, South Side Story, which focuses on an exploration of contrasting genres and sounds.