Bio

Photos via KcJazzLark

Sam Wisman (drums)

Son of a merchant and classical violinist, drummer/percussionist Sam Wisman is a versatile fixture in Kansas City’s thriving creative music scene.  Originally from Topeka Kansas, he graduated Cum Laude from the UMKC Conservatory of Music in 2005 with a degree in percussion performance.  In addition to founding Crosscurrent, Sam is a member of Marimba Sol de Chiapas, the Westport Art Ensemble, the Owen/Cox Dance Group, the People’s Liberation Big Band, the Shay Estes Quartet, HoraceScope, the Kerry Strayer Septet & Big Band, the Kevin Cerovich Quartet and the Roger Wilder Quartet.  Sam has performed with the Kansas City Symphony, the Topeka Symphony, the St. Joseph Symphony, the Northland Symphony, Kansas City Puccini Fest, Krystle  Warren, Bobby Watson, Terrell Stafford, Rob Scheps, the Brad Cox Ensemble, the New Jazz Order, and the Boulevard Big Band.  He has worked as a percussionist in musical theater throughout the Midwest including the Kansas City Repertory Theater, Musical Theater Heritage, the Coterie Theater, Topeka Civic Theater, and Colombian Theater.  Sam has been involved in premieres by Harry Connick Jr., Stephen Schwartz, Henry Krieger & Bill Russell, and Ahrens & Flaherty.  Sam also teaches drums and percussion at the University of Missouri – Kansas City Community Music and Dance Academy and is Instructor of Drumset at Missouri Southern State University.

Matt Otto (Tenor Saxophone)

Matt Otto studied music performance and composition at Indiana University, Berklee School of Music, The New School for Social Research (BFA) and California Institute of the Art (MFA). Having lived in Japan for 5 years, New York City for 7 years and Los Angeles for 6 years, he has performed with a variety of artists including Anthony Wilson, Larry Koonse, Rashid Bakr, Ben Monder, Wada Leo Smith, Willie Jones III, Alan Ferber, Mark Ferber, Tom Harrell, Albert“Tootie”Heath, Gregory Hutchinson, Charlie Haden , Joe La Barbera, Junior Mance, Leroy Vinegar, Jimmy Smith, Ari Honig, Ben Street, Mike Moreno, Danny Weiss, Steve Cardenas, Larry Goldings, Eric Harland, Sheryl Bailey, Darek Oles, Erik McPherson, and many others.

While in Los Angeles, Matt co-founded of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective, an artist driven composers collective and record label dedicated to promoting and recording original creative improvised music and collaborating with other arts and music organizations.

He currently performs his original compositions with his Kansas City based quartet with members Gerald Dunn on alto saxophone, Jeff Harshbarger on acoustic and electric bass, and Mike Warren on percussion and drum set. Matt has recorded with the Anthony Wilson Nonet (“The Power of Nine” Groove Note 1035, 2006), Joeless Shoe ( Joeless Shoe, jcr, 2007), and 3-ish (Baobab, jcr 2009) and has several Cds recorded as a leader; 53 West 19th – Noir Records 1996, Red–Origin Records 2000, Q trio vol.1 (Jazz Collective records 2008) , and has appeared on over 15 CD projects as a side man.

T.J. Martley (Piano)

Twenty-five year old pianist T.J. Martley is quickly becoming one of the top call pianists in Kansas City.  Since graduating from William Jewell College in 2007, he has shared the stage with national icons of jazz Bobby Watson, Sean Jones, Javon Jackson, Wycliffe Gordan, Elliot Mason, and Brad Mason.  Known for his eclectic be-bop style, the pianist’s improvisations are reminiscent of Lennie Tristano, Bud Powell, and Keith Jarrett.  The pianist can be seen regularly at local jazz hot spots with Kansas City jazz artists such as The GoombahlesCrosscurrent, Megan Birdsall, Steve Lambert Quartet, Rich Wheeler Quartet, Shay Estes, Bryan Hicks Quartet, Stan Kessler and Stephanie Laws.

Ben Leifer (Bass)

Ben Leifer was born in Topeka, Kansas on December 28th, 1985.  His mother is a clarinet player in the Topeka Symphony, his father is a local jazz trumpeter, and his brother plays drums and percussion in the Kansas City area. Coming from a family with such a great musical background, it’s no surprise he has grown a love for music. Ben has studied with internationally renown composers such as Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Bobby Watson and James Mobberley. He is a working bassist in Kansas City and has played with great musicians such as Nicholas Payton, Howard Johnson, Michael Carvin, Robin Eubanks, Bobby Watson, Claire Daly, Harold O’Neal, Bill Saxton, Kevin Mahogany, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Ahmad Aladeen, Paul Mckee, and David Gibson. Ben has also shared the stage with notable musicians such as Richie Cole, Stacy Dillard, Javon Jackson and more. He has studied music with Bobby Watson for 5 years and has also been able to study with musicians like John Clayton, Michael Carvin, Curtis Lundy, and Jay Leonhart. He has extensive experience in all types of music such as, but not limited to: rock, funk, blues, jazz, latin jazz, and salsa.

Steve Lambert (Woodwinds)

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