The Sean dobbins all-star tribute ensemble

Celebrating Women in Jazz

Sunday, MARCH 21st @ 4:15 PM EST

This concert is generously sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

The Sean Dobbins All-Star Tribute Ensemble was created exclusively for Kerrytown Concert House with the aim of celebrating the contributions of jazz instrumentalists and vocalists who have had a significant impact on the art form. Collaborating with a different combo of jazz “All-Stars” for each concert, drummer Sean Dobbins will feature a variety of musical combinations and themes in this series, weaving brief discussions and interviews in the program that will offer a unique experience each time!

Through performance and conversation, this month’s All-Star Ensemble honors the historical significance of women in jazz music, promoting awareness of the exceptional contributions of female jazz musicians to the idiom, exploring their social challenges and triumphs, and encouraging the development of young female musicians. Joining Sean are bassist Marion Hayden, vocalist Shahida Nurullah and pianist Sequoia Snyder.

Jazz drummer Sean Dobbins got his start as sought-after Detroit area jazz sideman at a young age, when he would regularly play with Blue Note artist Louis Smith. As Sean’s Career progressed, he found himself the recipient of many awards and accolades including the “Woody Herman Jazz Award”, an award for outstanding musicianship, as well as the Louis Armstrong Scholarship. Due to Sean’s great talent both as a player and an educator, he has been the focus of countless news articles and jazz radio programs.

Though still young by jazz standards, Dobbins has amassed an impressive list of playing companions. He has performed/toured/recorded with Johnny Basset, Benny Golson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Frank Morgan, Joey DeFrancesco, George Cables, James “Blood” Ulmer, Marcus Belgrave, Larry Willis, Rodney Whittaker, Claude Black, Johnny O’Neal, Paul Keller, Tad Weed, Kurt Krahnke, Jon Hendricks, David “Fathead” Newman, Donald Walden, Cyrus Chesnut, Barry Harris, David Baker, Randy Johnston, Marion Hayden, Mose Allison, and a host of other great musicians.

Sean’s sound can best be described as hard-driving, solid rhythm with refreshing melodic sensibility. Some of Sean’s influences include Art Blakey, Jeff Hamilton, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Ed Thigpen, Sonny Payne, and also Detroit area greats Gerald Cleaver and the one and only Elvin Jones. A product of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Sean has stayed devoted to education throughout his life. Early mentor Louis Smith, an Ann Arbor Public Schools band teacher, impressed the importance of a good education upon Sean at an early age. Sean is known in his community as a band director, drum teacher and positive influence for many.

In 1999 Sean was asked to become the director of the Ann Arbor Public Schools Summer Jazz Program. This program was designed to help educate and inspire young artist as they began their quest of learning jazz. In 1998, a year before Sean’s arrival, the program was in jeopardy of being cancelled due to low enrollment. In 2000, a year after Sean took over the reigns, the enrollment more than tripled and a year later, the group was featured on WEMU, a national jazz radio program.

As a father of three, Sean knows, understands, and accepts the challenge of continuing the art from through clinics, master classes, and concerts for up and coming musicians. Sean makes it a point of incorporating educational opportunities into all of his road trips. Sean is no stranger to local or national headlines; he frequently plays at venues such as the Firefly Club (Ann Arbor), Baker’s Keyboard Lounge (Detroit), the Music Hall Jazz Cafe (Detroit), Murphy’s Place (Toledo) and Buddy Guy’s (Chicago). His recent recordings include “Odyssey” (PKO Records), “Revealing” (Reparation Records), and “Christmas Songs for Jazz Lovers” (PKO Records), and Blue Horizons featuring Sean and his quintet, the Modern Jazz Messengers.

Marion Hayden is part of the great Detroit Jazz bass legacy. As a young protégé of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, she learned improvisation, ensemble performance, repertoire and a deep appreciation for jazz and its creators. Marion combines these influences in a unique jazz perspective, creating a swinging sound with the bass which is both authentic and fresh. Her music embodies the spirit of tradition and adventure in jazz. Marion has been involved in countless ensembles throughout her career, including Straight Ahead and the all-female group Venus, as well as performing and recording with jazz legends while releasing her own work, including her solo album Visions.

Deeply steeped in the generations of great Jazz and Blues that centers the rich musical legacy of Detroit), Shahida Nurullah is one of the motor city’s premier and most treasured jazz vocalists. Her outstanding musical intelligence is vibrantly reflected through a versatile repertoire that includes blues, jazz, samba, bossa nova, show tunes and more. Shahida has performed at the Detroit International Jazz Festival on a number of occasions including with Charlie Gabriel of the Preservation Hall Band and with clarinetist Eddie Daniels in a jazz version of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. Shahida performed in the inaugural festival with Kenn Cox and the Guerilla Jam Band. She performed an “American Songbook” concert with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and as a guest vocalist with the Preservation Hall Band at Preservation Hall New Orleans, LA. Shahida and her trio regularly play at clubs throughout southeastern Michigan, including The Dirty Dog Jazz Café and Cliff Bell’s. Shahida recorded and performed with internationally lauded pianist Geri Allen’s band “Open on All Sides,” throughout Europe. The New York Times lauded her performance with Allen at New York’s Knitting Factory and she is a recipient of the Spirit of Detroit Award.

Sequoia Snyder is a pianist, producer, and composer born and raised in Washington D.C. Currently a senior Jazz Studies major at Michigan State University, she has performed with esteemed musicians such Rodney Whitaker, Etienne Charles, Diego Rivera, and Randy Napoleon. After winning a nationwide contest in December 2018, she performed with popular R&B band The Internet on their national tour stop in Detroit. Her musical endeavors in 2019 included being selected for the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Orchestra (directed by Brian Lynch), and the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency. She was also selected to participate in the JAS Aspen Snowmass Academy (directed by Christian McBride), and DeeDee Bridgewater’s pilot program for emerging women musicians, the Woodshed Network. Under her birth name, Sequoia Snyder, she released her self-produced debut EP, “Sempervirens.” Recently adopting the moniker “REDWOOD,” her ambitions remain the same: to inspire and spread love and positivity through her music.