Franklin Trio to perform in new Pierce Street Jazz venue
Sept. 24, 2013
By Darla Martin Tucker
Pierce Street Jazz, La Sierra University’s popular, professional jazz concert series is moving to a new, upscale home.
Beginning with its next concert on Wed., Oct. 2, Pierce Street Jazz will be held in the Troesh Conference Center in La Sierra’s new, $16 million Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business. The jazz series was previously staged at the La Sierra University Alumni Center on Pierce Street.
The university officially opened the Zapara School of Business facility in time for fall classes. The building’s Troesh Conference Center includes a 385-seat auditorium with Wi-Fi Internet access, concert quality enhanced sound system, broadcast quality video systems, a 1,362-square-foot raised platform and green room for guest artists and speakers.
The Franklin Trio will serve as the first Pierce Street Jazz performers to grace the new stage. The trio consists of Henry Franklin on bass, Theo Saunders on piano, and Ramon Banda on drums. The group will perform at 7 p.m. Admission is free. The Zapara School of Business is located off Yaeger Way, which is the main campus entrance off of Riverwalk Parkway. The university’s address is 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside. For further information call 951-785-2148. Driving directions are available at this link, at the bottom of the page: http://lasierra.edu/academics/schools/business/.
Franklin has organized the Pierce Street Jazz concerts at La Sierra University since their inception as a summer jazz series in 2009. Franklin’s recent performances include participation in the 2013 Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines festival in August and the Detroit Jazz Festival in September. He is currently working with the Azar Lawrence Quartet at a jazz venue in Venice.
The Los Angeles native’s storied background includes recordings on more than 150 albums and compact discs including gold releases, many of which he produced. He has performed with many headline artists including Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, and Count Basie, and was part of the legendary Hugh Masekela’s band during the late 1960s when the group performed the No. 1 hit, “Grazing in the Grass.” He has toured various parts of the United States and around the world, and for 13 years performed with his group at The Historic Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif.
Franklin released his latest album, “June Night” earlier this year on his label, Skipper Productions. He is currently featured in the October issue of Bass Player magazine in which he discusses how he “fell in love” with the upright bass at age 17 while playing the instrument during a high school jam session.
Pianist Saunders is also working with the Lawrence quartet and appears frequently at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill Jazz in Bel Air. He has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals and concert halls with distinguished artists including Freddie Hubbard, Carla Bley, David “Fathead” Newman, Barbara Morrison, Bobby Rodriguez, Gladys Knight, Pharoah Sanders, and many others.
He has also directed music for opera productions and international musical theatre. As a composer, Saunders has numerous compositions to his credit as well as original scores for theatre, radio and multimedia production. Saunders, a native New Yorker, has lived in California since 1985. He has performed on more then 40 albums.
Drummer Banda performed 24 years with the Grammy award-winning Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. He is a current band member with famed jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco. Over the past two decades, Banda has performed on more than 22 recordings and recorded and played with such music greats as Dizzie Gillespie, Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Arturo Sandoval, Diana Reeves and others.
Banda grew up in Norwalk, Calif., part of a large musical family. He started out on the guitar but switched to drums in 1967. Banda and his electric bass-playing brother, Tony Banda, performed weekend gigs during their school years with several bands including with Poncho Sanchez. In 1996 he and Tony formed their own ensemble, The Banda Bros. Group, with Tony on upright bass. The duo has performed on numerous worldwide tours and with many famous acts.