Steve Edwards – Leader, guitar

Vocalists:

Jeffery Williams
Precious Taylor
Julia Huff

Rhythm Section:

Ian Frydrych – drums
Tony Mhoon – bass guitar
Chris Cameron – keyboard

Horn Section:

James Perkins – saxophone
Todd Gustafson – trumpet
Steve Berry – trombone
Scott Lies – saxophone, flute

Violins:

Edith Yokley
Zara Zaharieva


Colin Williams – sound engineers



Steve Edwards

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

Brilliant guitarist and composer Steve Edwards is the dynamic powerhouse behind the exceptional Steve Edwards Orchestra. Born into a musical family from Nashville, Tennessee and a former child prodigy, Mr. Edwards’ exquisite technique, breathtaking musicality, and charismatic stage presence have established his reputation as one of the foremost guitarists of his generation—continually captivating audiences with his electrifying energy and superb musicianship.

Mr. Edwards began playing piano at the age of five and began studying guitar at age eleven after hearing a classical guitar recital at his church on Easter Sunday. Since then, Edwards has concertized throughout the United States and Europe as a recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist—as well as half of the renowned Edwards-Simmons Guitar Duo. After receiving his bachelor’s degree on a scholarship to DePaul University, where he studied with legendary guitarist Leon Borkowski, Mr. Edwards pursued his Master’s degree at DePaul under the instruction of Mark Maxwell. Mr. Edwards has studied and worked with such world-famous guitarists as Pepé Romero, Christopher Parkening, Denis Azabagic, Douglas Niedt, and Robert Guthrie. An exceptionally talented classical guitarist, Mr. Edwards received the distinguished honor of runner up in the Society of American Musicians Guitar Competition.

A versatile chamber musician, Mr. Edwards’s preeminent performance career has included collaborations with many notable artists, including flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya, legendary jazz pianist George Shearing, and violin virtuoso Gidon Kremer. Mr. Edwards’ extensive theatre credits include The Goodman Theatre’s production of Fecerico García-Lorca’s “Yerma” and Light Opera Works’ production of “Man of La Mancha.” Recordings of Mr. Edwards have been featured on national broadcasts by Chicago’s fine arts radio station, 98.7WFMT as well as on Radio France.

Having played in bands since the age of eleven, Mr. Edwards formed the Steve Edwards Orchestra in 1994. He has devoted a lifetime of experience to performing and has appeared in concert with Dave Mason, Buddy Guy, and George Shearing.

Mr. Edwards is a prolific composer and arranger for film and live theatre. His compositions on Guitarra Azul’s debut CD Mariposa have received great acclaim as well as enthusiastic reception from audiences nationwide.

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Jeffery Williams

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

Affectionately known as “The Man with the Golden Voice,” Jeffrey Williams is one of the most talented and charismatic live performers in the Chicago area. A gifted vocal talent, Jeffrey is a musical prodigy who has never taken a lesson in his life and developed his genius for singing as a young child solely by imitating what he heard on the family radio.

While many singers claim to interpret a variety of songs, Mr. Williams’ live shows with The Steve Edwards Orchestra feature performances that are virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings—a feat all the more phenomenal when considering the vast range of artists whose music Mr. Williams performs.

To describe Mr. Williams’ voice as versatile is to vastly understate the talents of one of the music world’s best-kept secrets. Renown for his elegant renditions of the Great American Songbook as well as standards by Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra, Mr. Williams brings his incredible range and infectious energy to magnetic performances of soulful rhythm and blues, electrifying classic rock, as well as spot-on renditions of songs by Michael Jackson, Tom Jones, Barry White, the Bee Jees, and The Temptations.

Born and raised in Chicago, Mr. Williams has performed on local and domestic-market commercial recordings as well as voice-over work. Mr. Williams was the frontman for the popular group “The Images of Life”—during his tenure the band was enthusiastically received and recorded numerous regional hits. Mr. Williams has also recorded on the CD “Too Cool,” a recent release of The Steve Edwards Orchestra, with which he has performed exclusively since 1994.

In addition to his wide vocal range, purity of tone and intonation, faultless phrasing and musicianship, Mr. Williams is a consummate entertainer who interacts and engages with his audience and lights up the room with his captivating personality and irrepressible smile. Mr. Williams’ compelling showmanship makes him one of the most recognizable talents of The Steve Edwards Orchestra. He has performed at some of the most elegant and prestigious corporate and gala events throughout the United States and has dedicated himself to delighting guests at private parties and weddings with The Steve Edwards Orchestra for nearly fifteen years.

Mr. Williams makes his home in Chicago where he resides with his wife and three children.

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Precious Taylor

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

The incomparable Precious Taylor is an accomplished singer, actress, and dancer. Born in Chicago, she began performing at the tender age of eight and was developing her incredible five-octave vocal range doing studio recordings and shows by age eleven. Ms. Taylor began performing with The Steve Edwards Orchestra in 1995.

Ms. Taylor has appeared onstage with Carl Carlton (Everlasting Love, Bad Mama Jama) The Temptations, Norman Conners, Michael Henderson, Phil Perry, George Duke, Jr. Walker & the All Stars, Howard Hewitt, The Contours, Dennis Brown, and her aunt—the legendary Koko Taylor. She has graced the stages of The Chicago Jazz Festival, Kingston Mines, The Wild Hare, The Green Mill, Brother Jimmy’s, The Cotton Club, The Chicago Blues Festival, The Chicago Theatre, Reggae Sunsplash, The Park West, and The House of Blues.

Her international engagements have comprised of several tours of Europe and Asia—including a private gospel performance for the Pope in the Vatican City—and many USO tours for troops stationed around the world. Ms. Taylor’s studio work encompasses numerous infomercials as well as commercials for BET Comic View.

Ms. Taylor recently landed the principal role of Sister Callie in Dan Akroyd and Victor Pisano’s The Blues Brothers Revival at Chicago’s Center for the Performing Arts. Her extensive theatrical experience includes Forgotten Pearls at The Oasis Theatre, The Dinah Washington Story at Drury Lane Theatre, and performances with Tommy Gun’s Garage Dinner Theater. She has also performed in The Wiz, A Taste of Honey, and West Side Story.

Ms. Taylor majored in opera and minored in theatre at The Chicago Conservatory of Music.

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Julia Huff

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

In addition to being one of the most brilliant independent jazz and blues vocalists in Chicago, the lovely and talented Julia Huff has been performing with The Steve Edwards Orchestra to great acclaim since 2000. Julia’s artistry as a jazz singer, fashion model, actress, and rhythm & blues singer has been featured throughout the United States.

Her precocious musical talent evident at an early age, Julia was a member of Chicago’s prestigious “Gospel Soul Children” youth choir. After graduating from Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, Julia attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism. Julia’s first professional foray into the world of media and entertainment occurred as an on-air news reporter for an NBC affiliate in Champaign. She later interviewed many prestigious government officials including the late Ron Brown (former United States Secretary of Commerce), First Lady Hillary Clinton, and former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson as a reporter for the City News Bureau in Chicago.

Ultimately, Julia was called back to the stage and, in a very short time, has accumulated an impressive list of entertainment accomplishments. Julia’s performance at the Jazz’n Fan Club was reviewed as “Julia doing Julia in her own unique way! Her trio of musicians accompanied her masterfully and her stage presence and delivery was enchanting. Her selection of songs, phrasing and voice character displayed her versatility and, all in all, her performance was simply magical!”

Among Julia’s myriad performing credits are appearances at the country’s most noted jazz clubs including Katerina’s (Chicago, IL), Lenox Lounge (New York, NY), Eve’s Jazz Club (Riverdale, IL), St. Nick’s Pub (New York, NY), Baker’s Keyboard Lounge (Detroit, MI), Andy’s Jazz Club (Chicago, IL), Motor City Casino’s Overdrive Lounge (Detroit, MI), Greektown Casino’s Apollo Stage (Detroit, MI), and the Oasis Theatre (Blue Island, IL).

Julia’s outstanding talent and exuberant personality have been displayed at numerous festivals including the Taste of Chicago, Jazzin’ in July, Cascade of Jazz, the Buffalo Jazz Festival (Buffalo, NY) as well as engagements as the featured vocalist for Dahle Scott-McDuff’s JAMMIN Foundation Awards Ceremony and WBEE 1570AM’s Big Band Bash. Julia was a semifinalist on Dick Clark Productions’ “Your Big Break” and has collaborated with the Patience Higgins Quartet, Jerald Daemyon, Red Holt Unlimited and was the featured opener for Howard Hewitt.

Julia’s voice has been compared to such luminaries as Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae and Shirley Horn.

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James Perkins

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

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Todd Gustafson

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

Having grown up in east Africa to missionary parents, Todd turned his attention to being a musician after returning to the United States.  He toured through London, Amsterdam, Paris, and France playing trumpet with Sergio Mendez and Brazil ’77 by the end of his senior year in high school. 
 
After graduating from Augustana College, Todd performed with Jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Ed Shaugnessy and Louie Bellson throughout the ‘80s.  He went on to tour with consummate R+B artists including Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and The Temptations.  Well-versed in traditional trumpet idioms, Todd earned a Masters Degree in Classical Trumpet Performance from DePaul University and played with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, International Trumpet Guild Ensemble, and Members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. After getting married and starting a family, Todd returned to DePaul University where he taught applied trumpet and embarked on a freelance trumpet career in Chicago.

Todd’s background in big band jazz and R+B is a perfect match for The Steve Edwards Orchestra, which he has enjoyed playing in for the last ten years while also pursuing his passion of international wildlife photography. Todd can be heard on recordings of The Big Band Machine, Phil Wilson Live at the Jazz Showcase, Tab Robinson Your Love is Real, Ed Shaunessey Steady Eddy, The Steve Edwards Orchestra Too Cool and as solo trumpet for Shells on Charles Argersinger’s The Three Fates.

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Steve Berry

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

Stephen E. Berry has brought vast experience as a studio musician and a distinguished performance resume to his role as trombonist in The Steve Edwards Orchestra since 1996.

Born and raised in Chicago, Stephen received a bachelor’s degree in music from the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. He has performed and recorded with some of the most well-known names in the music industry, including Tony Bennett, Lou Rawls, Frank Sinatra, The Dells, The O’Jays, Nancy Wilson, and Lena Horne.

Stephen has toured with and can be heard on recordings of Malachi Thompson’s Africa Brass, Malachi Thompson’s Freebop Band, New Horizons Ensemble, and Edward Wilkerson’s Shadow Vignettes. Past collaborations also include Mike Mason’s Exploratory Ensemble, Marshall Vente’s Project 9 and performances at Ravinia with Princess Magogo. He has performed in classical settings ranging from the Lyric Opera Orchestra to the Grant Park Symphony and is currently a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Ensemble Stop-Time, Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and the New Black Repertory Ensemble. Stephen is featured on several releases from the Chicago-based Delmark record label.

In addition to performing, Stephen is a highly regarded music educator and has taught trombone and music theory at the AACM School of Music. He also served as concert consultant for Jazz Express and Classical Express; a collaborative music education initiative between Chicago Public Radio station WBEZ and the Chicago Public Schools. Stephen also has extensive experience in both typesetting and graphic design.

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Scott Lies

photo by Joanna Kozek

Scott Lies has played with The Steve Edwards Orchestra since its inception in 1994 as an integral part of the horn section. A gifted musician of uncommon range, Mr. Lies is one of the most diverse musicians in The Steve Edwards Orchestra. Mr. Lies has performed on alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone; B-flat and bass clarinet; C-flute, alto flute, piccolo; acoustic guitar and electric bass since the ‘70s in various groups—ranging from duos to big bands and large ensembles.

Mr. Lies began playing the guitar at the age of twelve and attended Waubonsee Junior College in Illinois, where he studied saxophone with Duane Wickeiser, as well as flute and clarinet. Mr. Lies went on to study saxophone performance at Western Illinois University and continued his education at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

Mr. Lies’ television appearances include the most famous and beloved names in the entertainment industry and include the Bob Hope, Jerry Van Dyke, and Phyllis Diller shows. Mr. Lies has toured and performed with some of the most famous and highly regarded musicians and entertainers, including The Platters and Jim Nabors. In addition, Mr. Lies has been performed as a member of the show band for many cruise ships and has been featured in the pit bands and orchestras for numerous musical productions and shows throughout the Chicago area on clarinet, flute, and saxophone as well as guitar and bass.

In addition to being a skilled performer and entertainer, Mr. Lies is an accomplished and devoted music educator, and has taught lessons on various instruments since 1975 and continues to instruct on sax, clarinet and flute.

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Ian Frydrych

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

Midwestern drumming sensation Ian Frydrych has worked with a veritable “Who’s Who” of players on the jazz and fusion music scene. Collaborators include Grammy award-winning jazz fusion saxophonist Eric Marienthal; Australian fusion guitarist Frank Gambale; jazz guitar great Gene Bertoncini; all-time favorite tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath; master arranger and trombone player Slide Hampton; and five-time Grammy nominee Ira Sullivan. Mr. Frydrych’s impressive musical lineage is evident in his soulful and enchanting sound.

Equally at home playing silky smooth brushwork in a classic jazz piano trio and popping an in-the-pocket beat for an energetic dance set, Mr. Frydrych’s inventive and compelling musicianship forms the core around which the sound of The Steve Edwards Orchestra revolves. An endlessly energetic and enthusiastic musician, Mr. Frydrych is in-demand for studio work and can be heard on numerous recordings, including the recent release of The Steve Edwards Orchestra Too Cool.

Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Mr. Frydrych lives in Schaumburg, Illinois where he maintains a studio of private students. He attended Western Michigan University and has been performing with The Steve Edwards Orchestra since 2000.

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Tony Mhoon

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

Antonio J. Mhoon is one of the most versatile and accomplished jazz bassists in the Chicago area. His performing credits include the Morris Ellis Jazz Orchestra, Pete Cozy Jazz Group (formerly with Miles Davis), and the Northern Illinois Jazz Band, as well as collaborations with Jazz greats James Moody, Frank Mantooth, Von Freeman, and Clark Terry. Antonio has also shared the stage with gospel artists Tramaine Hawkins, The Staple Singers, The Winans, Jessy Dixon, The P.T.L. Singers, Calvin Bridges, The Wooten Choir Group, The Prophets, The Thompson Community Singers, and The Bartlett Sisters.

Antonio attended Columbia College majoring in music composition and electric bass studies with an emphasis in R&B, classical and jazz. A highly regarded and experienced music educator, Antonio taught promotion at Central State University and bass and jazz studies at Columbia College, in addition to general music at Our Lady of Grace and Joseph Warren Elementary.

Equally in demand for studio and show work, Antonio can be heard on jingles for Kraft, Leon’s Barbeque, Nelson Brothers, Picks & Pans, Let’s Talk Flicks, and Ready Wipe, as well as the campaign music for former Mayor Harold Washington. Antonio has recorded with the Thompson Community Singers, Calvin Bridges, The Prophets, The Barrett Sisters, Northern Illinois University Jazz Band (Live at Montraux), James Cleveland, Arthur Scales, Ethel Holloway, The Staple Singers, Rod McGaha, and Mike Hayward. He has also performed for many plays, including Your Arms Too short to Box with God, Dina, The Jackie Wilson Story, and The Other Cinderella.

In addition to being the bassist for Guitarra Azul, The Steve Edwards Orchestra, and Chicago’s celebrated Black Ensemble Theatre, Antonio is the owner of MhoonUnit Midi Recording Studio.

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Chris "Hambone" Cameron

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

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Edith Yokley

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

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Zara Zaharieva

photo by Pixie Vision Productions

 

coming soon






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Colin Williams

Colin Williams is The Steve Edwards Orchestra's professional sound engineer and behind the scenes technical support. The Steve Edwards Orchestra depends on the highest quality audio equipment and the expertise of the engineers to ensure that the “mix” coming from the public address system combined with the live sound of the band onstage strikes the perfect balance for the occasion, event timeline, and acoustical tendencies of the venue.

Steve Edwards’ direction and the technical skill of the orchestra’s professional audio engineers guarantees that the sound of The Steve Edwards Orchestra is beautiful and tasteful—never obtrusive—during dinner music and throughout the evening. Your guests will be out on the dance floor having the time of their lives while still being able to carry on a conversation. Requests for volume adjustments will always be gladly accommodated!

The Steve Edwards Orchestra and the set-up technicians coordinate with the venue and event planning staff to ensure that all stage preparation and sound checks are completed hours ahead of time so that the room looks finished and photo-ready prior to the arrival of your guests. The Steve Edwards Orchestra’s audio equipment always includes wireless microphones, which are available to the client and guests and ensure that announcements or toasts can be made from any location in the room.

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