As one of the most versatile trombonists in the Twin Cities, Dave Graf has worked in a wide range of musical settings. His jazz resume includes performances with Slide Hampton, Herbie Lewis, Jack McDuff, Charli Persip and Superband, the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Orchestra, and the Woody Herman Orchestra. As a member of local show bands, he has backed stars like Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Connick Jr., Julie Andrews, and Rosemary Clooney.
In addition to JazzMN, Dave is currently active in the groups Mulligan Stew, The Twin Cities 7, and Salsa del Soul. His debut recording as leader, Just Like That (Artegra), was released in 2005 and boasts a stellar lineup of Twin Cities jazz and latin artists. He also teaches, writes, arranges, and works as a graphic designer.
Javi Santiago is a powerful young artist with a strong vision. Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, he grew up surrounded by strong artistic support. He was given a strong musical background by his jazz musician parents, as well as stalwarts of the local jazz community. Javi started playing piano at the age of 5, and was classically trained until he discovered his love of jazz music at the age of 11. In high school, he was a prominent player in the Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene. It was around this time that he started composing and working on his music production skills. While still in high school, he organized his own quintet and produced two albums. He also won the Schubert Club Jazz Piano Competition two years in a row.
In 2007, Javi was selected by the great Dave Brubeck and a panel of judges to be a part of the Brubeck Institute Fellowship program at the University of the Pacific in California. It was there that Javi was able to learn from some of the greatest musicians in the world; Christian McBride, Robert Glasper, Eric Harland, Joe Gilman, Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman, Geoffrey Keezer and Jeff Ballard to name a few. While at the Brubeck Institute, Javi was fortunate enough to play at venues all
across the nation such as the Detroit Jazz Festival, The Kennedy Center and Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., IAJE, and Yoshi’s in Oakland. The Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet (’08-’09) was awarded Best College Group Of the Year in DownBeat Magazine two years in a row (2009 and 2010).
In 2011, Javi was selected to participate in the 14th Annual Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program. The intensive residency program took place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It was there that Javi studied with Curtis Fuller, George Cables, Winard Harper, Dr. Nathan Davis, and other jazz heavyweights.
Javi received his Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Piano Performance in late 2011 at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC. Since then, he has been playing gigs regularly in NYC at venues such as Smalls Jazz Club, 55 Bar, The Iridium, and several others. Javi is not limited to just playing the piano. He is also a prolific composer. His work is an eclectic blend of Jazz, R&B, Rock, Hip Hop and everything in between. Javi is also a teacher, arranger, and producer.