Moksha with all-star horns featuring Jennifer Hartswick, Skerik, Peter Apfelbaum

Explosive shows, filled with an arsenal of well-crafted material, have earned Moksha their reputation as Las Vegas' secret weapon. This well-oiled machine is now emerging from the glitz and glamour of Sin City and quickly garnering a solid following of loyal fans on the West Coast. With guitar, keys, bass, drums, and horns, this unique blend of musicians lives and breathes in a deep pocket of funk rock. Swirling in subtlety, their music paints a sonic landscape that unfolds in the moment and feeds on the dynamic ebb and flow of audience and band interconnection. In other words, they will melt your faces.

In 2010, Moksha joined forces with guitar legend Brian Stoltz (of Neville Brothers, Funky Meters, Bob Dylan and others) in the studio to record their first full length album "Mammal or Machine". J. Evan Wade of the Homegrown Music Network said it best "Mammal or Machine showcases lush compositions steeped in blues, rock, and elements of electronica as well. The resulting combinations are ambitious, well-executed, and result in an uncompromising "jam" album full of twists and turns." The album gathered critical acclaim when the Las Vegas Weekly described the album's sound as "can only be described as unstoppable", while Getexposedmusic.com called Mammal or Machine "a sound we can all groove on." The same year, Moksha took home the award for "Best Alternative Progressive Band" at the Vegas Rocks! Award show.

In 2011, the band entered the studio with four-time Grammy Award winning engineer/mixer James "Bonzai" Caruso to record their current album, Here to Go. "Overall, Here to Go seems to be a bit more cohesive," says Triola, adding, "being able to track together for every song was huge for us since the live dynamic is so important for the kind of music we make." 'Here to Go' is Moksha's first endeavor with new band member, Sam Lemos as lead vocalist, adding another level to Moksha's mastery of instrumental jam music. It fuses all the musical genres that influence each of the band members, into a sound that Simon Eddie of the Homegrown Music Network calls "similar to a classic rock album but with 21st century production. Their sound reminds me a lot like a cross between Rush and Pink Floyd but the music frequently shifts from reggae and world music to funk, rock and experimental jams." He then adds 'The album is slick, timeless and it only gets better with each listen"

Jennifer Hartswick

Jennifer Hartswick is one of the most exciting performers in music today. She inspires audiences all over the world with her powerful voice and commanding trumpet playing. She exudes confidence and joy and brings her own refreshing spirit to the stage every time she performs. Jennifer's music is honest, soulful and comes with a maturity far beyond her years.

Jennifer's live performances are renowned as spontaneous, joyful and contagious. Her natural charisma and sincerity shines through, and each performance is a celebration of musical collaboration; the camaraderie between Jennifer and her band mates is always visible. And whether she is wailing on the trumpet or singing an intimate vocal solo, her performance is all part of a single seamless instrument, one that is played not only with astounding technical proficiency, but also with sensitivity, conviction and heart.

Skerik (born Eric Walton) is an American saxophonist from Seattle, Washington. Performing on the tenor and baritone saxophone, often with electronics and loops, Skerik is a pioneer in a playing style that has been dubbed saxophonics. He is a founding member of Critters Buggin, Garage a Trois and Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet. He is also an original member of both Les Claypool's Fancy Band and Frog Brigade and has toured with and played with numerous others in a variety of genres.

Skerik began playing saxophone in the fifth grade in the Mercer Island public school system. His father's love of jazz was an early inspiration. He played saxophone, keyboards and drums in a rock band at Mercer Island High School. He has cited The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd as bands from that time period who brought saxophone into rock music well. In the 1980s he travelled to London, Paris and the South Pacific working day jobs and playing in a variety of bands. His friendship with Leif Totusek introduced him to South African music and Zaire soukous bands in London where he first began playing music full time.

Skerik returned to Seattle in the late 1980s where he played with Sadhappy. In the early 1990s he joined three ex-members of New Bohemians to form Critters Buggin (who have remained active through 2008). Projects since that time have included Ponga (Wayne Horvitz and Bobby Previte), Tuatara (Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Craig Flory) and solo works of Stanton Moore as well as Garage A Trois (also including Charlie Hunter). Beginning 2000 Skerik was a member of every incarnation of Les Claypool's Frog Brigade and Fancy Band. In 2001 Skerik played the Pacific Northwest portion of Roger Waters' tour, reproducing the sax lead in "Money".

In 2002 Skerik formed Syncopated Taint Septet with fellow Seattle musicians. After touring nationally, their 2006 studio release Husky received very positive reviews.

Skerik won the award of "Northwest Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year" at the 2003 Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Awards.

Skerik has expressed support of music education for young people and support for activism such as the voting project HeadCount. In interviews he has discussed creative integrity and spontaneity. He has also provided music workshops.

Skerik is a founding member of Critters Buggin, Garage a Trois (which has included Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, Mike Dillon and Marco Benevento), Crack Sabbath and The Dead Kenny G's. Skerik is an original member of Les Claypool's Fancy Band and Frog Brigade, Bobby Previte's Ponga and Coalition of the Willing and Joe Doria's McTuff. In the 1990s he was also a member of Tuatara (with Peter Buck) and Seattle-based Sadhappy.

Skerik has toured with Fred Wesley, Mike Clark and The Headhunters, Wayne Horvitz (Zony Mash), Mad Season and Roger Waters. He has performed with Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt,The Meters, Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, Johnny Vidacovich, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Ween, and many, many others.

In Seattle Skerik leads Seattle-based "punk-jazz" ensemble Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet. He is a founding member of Seattle's Crack Sabbath. He is also a member of Seattle-based McTuff.

In New Orleans he is a member of Maelstrom Trio (including long-time duomates keyboardist Brian Coogan and drummer Simon Lott). The Maelstrom Trio combines disparate elements such as free jazz, funk, metal and textural music. Skerik and percussionist Mike Dillon have toured as a trio with New Orleans bassist James Singleton as "Illuminasti".

Skerik and Dillon also perform as a trio called "The Dead Kenny G's" with alternate third members. National tours have included keyboardist Brian Haas and bassist Brad Houser. With Houser they have also toured as "Critters Buggin Trio" and in 2009 they released a debut CD entitled Bewildered Herd. As the band's name implies there is an expressed disdain for smooth jazz and commercialism. Skerik has described The Dead Kenny G's as a "free-jazz version of The Melvins."

Peter Apfelbaum

Born in Berkeley, California in 1960, Peter Apfelbaum started playing drums at the age of three, taking up piano and saxophone in elementary school and forming his first band at age 11. A product of the Berkeley Schools' pioneering Jazz Project, Apfelbaum began performing professionally while in his early teens and was a member of the award-winning Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Phil Hardymon. In 1977 - his senior year at Berkeley High - he formed the 17-piece Hieroglyphics Ensemble as a vehicle for composing and exploring non-traditional musical forms. The Ensemble was initially largely comprised of fellow BHS classmates, some of whom would later move to New York and achieve recognition in their own right. The band originally included pianist Benny Green, saxophonist Craig Handy and trumpeter Steven Bernstein and would later feature saxophonist Joshua Redman prior to his move to NY. The band released their self-produced debut album, "Pillars", in 1979 and began to attract international attention for their unique mix of elements of world music with the aesthetic of the jazz avant-garde. Around this time Apfelbaum made his first sojourn to New York, where he worked with Carla Bley, David Amram and the late Eddie Jefferson. He toured Europe for the first time in the Fall of 1979 with Karl Berger's Woodstock Workshop Orchestra, an all-star band which included Lee Konitz, Oliver Lake, Don Cherry, Leroy Jenkins and Trilok Gurtu.

In 1981 Apfelbaum returned to the Bay Area and resumed rehearsing regularly with the Hieroglyphics Ensemble. In the mid-80's he toured the U.S. with O.J. Ekemode and the Nigerian All-Stars (first on baritone saxophone, later on drums) and also worked regularly with Cuban percussionist Francisco Aguabella's band, as well as with local reggae and r&b bands. By 1988, the Hieroglyphics' performances had become more frequent, and in the Fall of that year Apfelbaum was commissioned by the San Francisco Jazz Festival to write a suite for the band. The resulting "Notes From The Rosetta Stone" was premiered at the Palace Of Fine Arts and featured the legendary trumpeter Don Cherry as guest soloist. Cherry was so impressed with the band that he took up residence in San Francisco and adopted Apfelbaum and fellow Hieroglyphs Bo Freeman (bass) and Josh Jones (drums) as his "Multikulti" group, touring extensively in North America, Europe and Japan over the next several years. Cherry also continued to appear frequently as a guest with the Hieroglyphics, and featured the band (as well as two Apfelbaum compositions) on his album "Multikulti" (A&M, 1989).

The early 1990's were a particularly fruitful time for Apfelbaum and the Hieroglyphics Ensemble. The Grateful Dead championed the band, inviting them to open several of their shows during this period, and Apfelbaum received the Dead's annual Rex Foundation Award for Creative Excellence in 1991. The band secured a record deal with Antilles/Island and released "Signs Of Life" in 1990 (which received a Grammy nomination for the composition "Candles and Stones") and "Jodoji Brightness" in 1992. The band travelled to Germany, appearing at the Leverkusen and Berlin festivals, and won the 1992 Down Beat Critics Poll award for Big Band, Talent Deserving Wider Recognition.

Apfelbaum put the 17-piece group on hold during the mid-90's, forming a sextet comprising Hieroglyphics musicians and acoustic bassist John Shifflett. The group recorded "Luminous Charms" (Gramavision/Ryko) in 1996 and became Apfelbaum's working unit for the next few years. He also toured with Jai Uttal's Pagan Love Orchestra and Ann Dyer's No Good Time Fairies during this period.

In 1998 Apfelbaum moved to Brooklyn, NY, where he soon formed a New York version of his Sextet, featuring Josh Roseman (trombone), Charles Burnham (violin), David Phelps (guitar), Patrice Blanchard (bass) and Dafnis Prieto (drums). He also began touring as a duo with electronics pioneer/inventor Don Buchla, appearing at festivals in Italy, France, Iceland and Mexico in 1998-99. In the Summer of 1999 Apfelbaum returned to the Bay Area to reconvene the Hieroglyphics to perform "Yihat", a piece written for the group by Muhal Richard Abrams, at Stanford University.

Apfelbaum toured Europe with several NY-based groups over the next few years: Joe Bowie's Defunkt Big Band (1999), Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra (2000), Kamikaze Ground Crew (2000), and the Groove Collective (2001). In the Spring of 2002 he joined Phish frontman Trey Anastasio's band, with whom he would play four sold-out U.S. tours, appearing on the David Letterman Show and the Tonight Show, among others. Apfelbaum also began appearing with Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista's Beat The Donkey (with whom he travelled to Morocco in 2004) and was hired by the legendary singer/activist Harry Belafonte to arrange and compose music for his 2003 European tour.

In February of 2003 Apfelbaum formed the 11-piece New York Hieroglyphics, adding to the personnel of his New York Sextet a second guitarist, Viva De Concini, and four original Hieroglyphics members who had moved east: Peck Allmond (trumpet, reeds), Tony Jones (tenor sax), Jessica Jones (alto and tenor sax) and Norbert Stachel (baritone and bass sax, flute). The band played two sold-out nights at NYC's Jazz Gallery, and other local gigs followed. Apfelbaum had recommitted himself to the idea of having a large group of like-minded musicians to write for and perform with, and in the Fall of 2004 the band went into the studio to record a new CD of Apfelbaum compositions. The resulting CD, "It Is Written", was released on ACT Music in August 2005. The band toured Europe in the Spring of 2006 and performed at the 2006 Monterey Jazz Festival and High Sierra Music Festival, as well as at Freight & Salvage and other prominent West Coast venues.

In addition to the New York Hieroglyphics, Apfelbaum continues to perform regularly with Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra, the Trey Anastasio Band, Dafnis Prieto's Quintet, the Josh Roseman Unit, and Kamikaze Ground Crew. His music has been performed by the Kronos Quartet, the National Swedish Radio Orchestra of Stockholm, the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, Harry Belafonte, Kamikaze Ground Crew and the Trey Anastasio Band. Apfelbaum compositions that have been recorded by other artists include "Pillars" (Dave Ellis - In The Long Run, Monarch, 1998), "When I Close My Eyes" AKA "Theater Piece" (Ann Dyer - When I Close My Eyes, Sunnyside, 2003) and "Peter's Tune" (Peck Allmond - Kalimba Collage, SoniCulture, 2004). The Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble commissioned Apfelbaum to write a new piece for the award-winning band, which was premiered in March 2006 at Yoshi’s with Apfelbaum conducting. Apfelbaum has also worked with Cecil Taylor, Nana Vasconcelos, Charlie Hunter, Joseph Jarman, Bill Laswell, Steve Kimock, the Chicago Children's Choir, the Jazz Mandolin Project, Levon Helm and the late Jim Pepper.

Apfelbaum has stated: "I feel that one thing I have in common with others in my generation, like Steven Bernstein's Sex Mob, Graham Haynes, Josh Roseman, Charlie Hunter, Will Bernard, and Medeski, Martin and Wood is that we see the dance music of our time (or "groove" music, as MMW calls it) as having potential for creative development." He also aligns himself with the "restructuralists" (Braxton's word), like Braxton himself, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas, Karl Berger, Ed Wilkerson, Tim Berne, Doug Wieselman, Carla Bley, Warren Smith, Julius Hemphill, Leo Smith, Arvo Paart, Sam Rivers, Ron Miles, Oliver Lake, Gina Leishman, Pierre Dorge, Bob Moses, John Zorn, Anthony Davis and others who, in the aftermath of the explosion of musical structure in the sixties, are putting the pieces back together in different ways.

Apfelbaum says, "At no point in the process of composing have I made a conscious decision to incorporate African elements or, for that matter, any other cultural or stylistic elements. I just write and build and adjust the shape of it all. My vocabulary reflects the fact that I started life as a drummer and was trained as a sub-teenager in jazz theory, blues, gospel music. As a teenager I was inundated with jazz, African and Latin music, was involved in group improvisation on a regular basis, listened to a lot of 20th century classical music, worked in R&B, reggae, blues, Latin, African, Jazz, Funk, Middle Eastern and Indian bands, and for as long as I can remember, have been fascinated by how sounds fit together."

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Moksha with all-star horns featuring Jennifer Hartswick, Skerik, Peter Apfelbaum

Thursday, May 30 · 8:00 PM at Sweetwater Music Hall