From Project Grand Slam

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Robert Miller

Band leader, Bassist

Robert was born and raised in New York City. He began playing piano and trumpet, and then switched to the bass. He studied bass with Jimmy Garrison, John Coltrane’s bassist.

In the 1970s Robert became a fixture in the Boston music scene, as a founding member of the jazz fusion band Sagov, playing with many terrific musicians including Sonny Stitt, Jaki Byard, and Anton Fig.

In the 1990s Robert formed The Robert Miller Group. “Child’s Play” (1994), the band’s first CD, featured several of Robert’s compositions and included guest musicians Anton Fig, Randy Brecker, Jon Lucien, Al Foster, Tim Reis and Tony “Thunder” Smith. The band’s second CD, “Prisoners of Love” (1996), contained all Robert’s compositions. The band played the Telluride Jazz Festival, the San Bernadino Jazz Festival, the NYC Downtown Jazz Festival and a number of clubs including The Blue Note and Birdland in NYC.

During this period Robert formed 32 Records, an independent jazz label, which purchased the Muse Records catalog and proceeded to reissue about 100 CDs over the next five years. 32 Records had a major hit with “Jazz For A Rainy Afternoon”, a compilation CD, which in turn spawned an entire “Jazz For…” catalogue. During one week in April 1999 32 Records had the top four records on the Billboard Jazz Chart – a feat that no other record label had ever accomplished.

In 2007 Robert formed Project Grand Slam. PGS has released two CDs – “Play” (2008) and “Spring Dance” (2012). “Play” had a radio hit with a cover of “The Captain Of Her Heart”, and the band (including five of Robert’s compositions) was featured in an episode of the hit NBC television series “Lipstick Jungle” starring Brooke Shields. The title track from “Spring Dance” was also a radio hit, and the CD featured five of Robert’s compositions.

In Spring 2014 Robert released “Twenty”, a compilation CD featuring 16 of his favorite compositions recorded over the last twenty years with Project Grand Slam and The Robert Miller Group. He also re-formed Project Grand Slam with its current lineup.

Marcello Casagrandi

Keyboards

Marcello was born in Havana, Cuba. His mother is Cuban and his father is Italian. He started music studies at age 8 at the Havana Music Conservatory, eventually moving to Rome, Italy, with his family where he continued his music studies privately. In 2004 he was awarded a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, from which he graduated in 2009. He has shared the stage and has studied and/or collaborated with many great and well-known musicians including Ray Santisi, Frank Calberg, Aruan Ortiz, Leo Blanco, John Lockwood, Joanne Brackeen, Tim Mayer, Eguie Castrillo, Carlos Averhoff Jr., Iresis Project, The Funk Junkies, Hal Crook, Antonio Hart, Joaquin Pozo, and Emilio Valdes among others, in addition to Project Grand Slam.

Nathan Cepelinski

Saxophone

Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, saxophonist and composer Nathan Cepelinski began playing music at the age of twelve, and began performing professionally at fourteen. Nathan has received a total of five awards from Downbeat Magazine for his playing and for various compositions. In 2006, the American National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts selected him as one of six young musicians, from an international pool of applicants, to play in the highly coveted Clifford Brown-Stan Getz Fellowship All-Star Band, a group representing the highest level of jazz talent yearly. As well, Musicfest Canada, the most widely attended national music competition, awarded him the coveted Yamaha Kando Scholarship, the first place award given to one of some 400,000 young musicians from across the country. In 2011, Nathan graduated from Berklee College of Music, where he pursued degrees in performance and film composing on full scholarship. In addition to his work with Project Grand Slam, Nathan has scored productions for the Lifetime and Syfy networks, and played and/or studied with people and diverse as John JR Robinson (Michael Jackson, Madonna), Jimmy Cobb (Miles Davis, John Coltrane), Joe Lovano, Hal Crook, Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, Jeff Ballard, Chase Sanborn, Miguel Zenon, George Colligan, Ralph Peterson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jim Odgren, Ed Tomassi, David Santoro, Phil Wilson, George Garzone, David Liebman, Bob Mintzer, and Barry Harris.

Ben Sher

Guitar

Ben was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and then received a Masters degree from New England Conservatory of Music. Ben has three solo recordings on BGI Records. In addition to his work with Project Grand Slam he is the leader of Brazilian Jazz group Tudo Bem, which has appeared at the Blue Note in New York and Fukuoka, and clubs in Moscow, Switzerland, and Germany. Ben has performed at the Montreaux, North Sea, Istanbul, Marsala, and Bell Atlantic jazz festivals as a sideman with Ute Lemper and Ballin’ the Jack. His recording credits include Ballin’ the Jack, Gunther Schuller, Yutaka Uchida, Oswaldo Montenegro, Deborah Latz, and the Boston Jazz Composer’s Orchestra. He is an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music.

Joel E. Mateo

Drums

Joel E. Mateo is a drummer and percussionist born in San Juan, P.R. and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He began his musical studies at an early age at the Escuela Libre de Música Juan Morell Campos in Ponce, PR. He continued his music studies completing a BA in the Interamerican University in PR and then an MA at the Aaron Copland School of Music in NYC. His musical range has lead him to play live and record with international artists such as Papo Vazquez, Miguel Zenon, Manuel Valera, Chembo Corniel, Joel Frahm, Andy Gonzalez, The Spanish Harlem, Pedro Martinez, Luigie Texidor, William Cepeda, Tego Calderon, Anthony Carrillo, The Curtis Brothers, Mitch Frohman, Elio Villafranca, John Benitez, La Mala Rodriguez, and Paoli Mejias among others.