GROUNDATION – THE NEXT GENERATION (2018)
– BIOGRAPHY –
First formed in 1998 GROUNDATION returns in 2018 after a 3 year hiatus; debuting accomplished new members, brand new music and that true to form improvisational Reggae/Jazz experience. A unique sound fans have enjoyed for two decades on the biggest stages all over the world.
Harrison Stafford, founding member, lead singer and guitarist for the group is eager to get back to creating this unique and dynamic sound which allows musical freedom, exploration and creativitiy like no other form. Having embarked on several musical projects over the years GROUNDATION remains his first love.
Harrison remarks that “GROUNDATION provides a musical vessel that allows me to create and perform the music that I hear in my head”. The sound comes in part from Harrison’s early childhood hearing Duke Ellington and Miles Davis from his grandfather and father who where both Jazz performers. He formalized his musical education at Sonoma State University (SSU) completing a degree in Jazz Performance, where he honed his skills for composing, arranging and producing. After completion Harrison went on to teach The History of Reggae Music at SSU before embarking on his own musical journey. A journey that would by and large comprise to date, of 8 studio albums and tours to over 40 countries across the globe with GROUNDATION.
Carrying on GROUNDATION’s rich history and the high standards, that were set by the musicians before; honoring what was done and pushing further still. A new generation takes the reins, you will find onstage :
Wil Blades – Organ and Clavinet – Keyboard player
Berkeley, California based organist Will Blades has been named « Rising Star » for organ in Downbeat critics poll every year since 2006. As Dr. Lonnie Smith said « He is the future to carry on the legend, the legacy of the organ, of the B3 ». Over the past fifteen years, Blades has grown to be one of the most in-demand organ players on the Bay Area scene. In addition to leading his own trio, he works regularly in duo situations with drummers Billy Martin (Medeski Martin and Wood) and Scott Amendola (Nels Cline Singers); and in trios led by guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Stanton Moore. He’s performed and recorded with a host of jazz and blues greats including Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Joe Louis Walker, Don Braden, Donald Harrison, Nicholas Payton, Karl Denson, Charlie Hunter, Jason Marsalis, Herlin Riley, and many others. He now continues his musical excellence as lead keyboardist for GROUNDATION.
Isaiah Palmer – Bass player
Jamaican born Isaiah Palmer’s musical journey began in church as the son of a pastor, he loved playing for worship services every Sunday. As a teenager working in the hotels in Montego Bay he backed the likes of Lord Laro, Ebony Sisters and AJ Brown. Joining the Royal Caribbean Cruise line, he continued to dazzle his audience with his rhythmic reggae, calypso and soca vibe. Later he joined the then new group Gumption Band which launched his journey around the world backing artistes from Beres Hammond, Freddie McGregor, John Holt, Shaggy, Sean Paul to Coco Tea and Queen Ifrica, just to name a few. Now living in California, his love affair continues with music stepping into the role as GROUNDATION bassist.
Jake Shandling – Drummer
Californian native, Jake Shandling was immersed in music, from birth by his parents who where musicians and by the time he was 10, the vibrant sounds and kinetic feeling of the drums had won him over. While exploring the landscape of 60s/70s Rock, Funk and Reggae, he soon discovered and developed a strong connection with Jazz and Improvised music. From his time at Berkeley High School, Jake found new music and inspiration with like-minded peers, and embraced the lifelong pursuit of expression, connection & expansion through music. He went on to complete studies at University of California Santa Cruz, SF State University & Cabrillo College, followed by 5 years working as a performing artist and music educator in San Francisco and Bay Area. Jake is humbled and honored to take on the role as the heartbeat for GROUNDATION.
Brady Shammar – Harmony vocalist
Currently living in California, Brady Shammar is an Afrocentric singer, songwriter and arranger from Kingston, Jamaica. She is no stranger in the business. She has graced the stage with the likes of Max Romeo, The Original Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, Luciano, Mykal Rose, just to name a few. Brady has performed all over the world. Her style is unique and demands the attention of her listeners.
Aleca Smith – Harmony vocalist
Born in Westmoreland, Jamaica, Aleca Smith moved to California where she studied at The Art Institute of San Francisco. Singing professionally since 1990, Smith with her creative and capitative soulful voice has toured and performed with The Congos, Della Grant, Richie Spice, Prezident Brown, Jr Kelly, Fantan Mojah, Lloyd Brown, Lutan Fyah, and Michael Rose among others.
Eduardo Gross – Guitarist
Currently living in California, Brazilian born Eduardo’s interest in music led him to move to the Untied States where he has recorded and played live with Luciano, Lutan Fyah, Anthony B, Julian Marley, Kymany Marley, Freddie McGregor, The Abyssinians, U Roy, Sister Carol, Marcia Griffiths, Fanton Mojah, Sister Nancy, Jah9, Ikronik, Peetah Morgan, Johnny Osborne, Admiral Tibet, Etana, Chezidek, The Tamlins, Ken Boothe, Pressure, Christos, JAhcareggae, Gyptian, Romain Virgo, Harrison Stafford, Kenyatta Hill, Cecile, The Congos, and many more.
Craig Berletti – Keyboard & Trumpet
Born in Martinez, California Berletti fell in love with playing the piano at the age of 8. He continued to explore other instruments and musical styles, by 16 he had discovered the power of Jazz, Reggae, Manouche and Conscious music. The album Emyrean Isles by Herbie Hancock featured the trumpet player Freddie Hubbard whose playing would inspire him to start playing the trumpet. Berletti, has performed and toured with Harrison Stafford and is honored to accompany him on stage again with GROUNDATION.
Roger Cox- Saxophone
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Roger Cox, began piano lessons at 5 years old and took up the saxophone just a few years later. By the time Cox transferred to San Francisco State University from Miami, he had already made his debut at the Monterey Jazz Festival and served four years in the U.S. Navy as a member of its marching, ceremonial and big bands, and jazz quartet. Cox is ready to take on his next mission as GROUNDATION’s Saxophonist.
This nine-piece band creates an altogether unique reggae sound, featuring swirling, jazz/funk inspired horns, stout Latin and African based poly-rhythmics, and soulful harmony vocals. Their concerts utilize live improvisation, in classic jazz fashion, and are renowned for their high energy, communion-type atmosphere. Fans can expect to hear classic like « Picture on the wall » and « Babylon Rule Dem » along with new never hear before songs from their upcoming album set for release in September 2018.