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.
Bryan Nichols is a Minneapolis-based pianist and composer, working primarily in jazz and improvised music. He returned to the Twin Cities in 2005 after four busy years in Chicago where he played with jazz heavyweights like Nicole Mitchell, Ernest Dawkins, Von Freeman and Hamid Drake. Since returning to Minneapolis, he leads and composes for his own trio, his quintet and his large group, We Are Many. He also plays regularly with Gang Font, Kelly Rossum Quartet, James Buckley Trio, and Zacc Harris Quartet, in addition to being an in-demand freelancer. He teaches jazz piano at MacPhail Center for Music and University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and he was also recently named artistic director of Jazz is NOW!, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit supporting regional music and composers.
Bryan was awarded a 2010-11 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, a prestigious and competitive award given to Minnesota musicians. He was also awarded a 2004 residency by Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center, given to outstanding, emerging jazz performer/composers. His work as a composer earned him a subito grant from the American Composers Forum. He has performed at most music venues in the Twin Cities and Chicago, in addition to international festivals including Sons d’Hiver (Paris, France) and Kerava Jazz Festival (Kerava, Finland) as well as local and regional festivals including the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Minnesota Sur Seine Festival. Bryan appears on recent recordings by James Buckley, Gang Font, Chris Morrissey, Gordon Johnson, Kelly Rossum, Todd Clouser, Gayngs and many more. In May 2011 Bryan released his debut recording as a leader, Bright Places, containing nine original compositions for his quintet.