Bringing together a powerfully talented cohort of regional musicians, the Sixth Street All Stars pay homage to Fania All Stars, the seminal musical collective that pioneered a modern Afro-Caribbean / Jazz hybrid for the mainstream. The group’s name also marks the corner of Sixth and Allston in Berkeley, California, where the album took shape.
From this little corner, a world of influences inspire 11 original compositions that command a rich palette of harmonic hues, strong melodic lines, and deeply textured rhythms. With Everybody, the Sixth Street All Stars create a sonic street mural; a new landmark in the musical landscape.
Molly Skuse graduated from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music where she studied Vocal Jazz Performance and was recognized for her vocal prowess by Down Beat magazine’s student music awards. At the New School, Molly drew inspiration from many Jazz luminaries; She has studied with Sheila Jordan, Reggie Workman, Kenny Werner, Cecil Bridgewater and the late Junior Mance, Chico Hamilton, and Jon Hendricks, to name a few.
While living in New York City, in the ‘90s, Molly paid her dues gigging 3 – 5 nights a week in downtown clubs including the Village Gate, Angry Squire, Kavehaz, Ludlow Bar, The Knitting Factory, Small’s, and Nuyorican Poets Café. Molly has given concerts of her own compositions throughout the Northeast and Mid-:Atlantic regions with grant support from Meet the Composer and Brooklyn Arts council.
A faculty member at Church Street School for Music and Art Molly also worked as an artist-in-residence in elementary schools throughout NYC. It was this work in arts education that Molly expanded upon once she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2003.
For the past 20 years Molly has been dedicated to working with children and families. Her work has focused on building community through shared arts experiences, integrating the arts as a mode for learning within curriculums, and providing direct instruction in music, creative writing, theater, and studio arts. (Molly has always expressed her creativity in many mediums. It’s Molly’s collage that serves as the album art for Everybody.)
“At it’s best, art expresses a scope of feeling that is fundamental to the human experience. After coming through the Covid 19 pandemic, and with the ways our use of techknowledge keeps us socially distant, we hope that Everybody can help people feel more human and be more connected – in real life.”
While her work as educator and facilitator has occupied most of Molly’s recent efforts, She has continued to develop her musical skills through years of private lessons studying composition, and orchestration with Bay Area Composers Clark Suprynowicz and Ian Carey. Her voice is featured on Everybody. However, Molly’s primary roles with the Sixth Street All Stars are; Composer, Arranger, Musical Director and Producer.
A Los Angeles native, Dana Hinchliffe grew up listening to Led Zepplin and Jimmy Hendrix. She also sites Eric Dolphi and Charles Mingus as major influences. However, It was first hearing Eddie Palmieri’s “Adoracion” that let loose the salsera within. Dana took to the music from both sides of the bandstand; dancing to her teacher’s tumbao and sitting in with their bands. After 3 years of private lessons with Edgardo Cambon and Carlos Caro, Dana filled the conga chair with the Franco Brothers Orquesta, a long standing Bay Area salsa group that plays all the hits.
Having burnishing her Salsa credentials with the Franco Brothers, Dana next joined Dulce Mambo. Among her proudest moments was playing with Dulce Mambo when they opened for Oscar De Leon. When Dulce Mambo disbanded Dana took up the mantle of raising the profile of female salseras when she created Cha Cha Boom. It was Dana’s desire that Cha Cha Boom feature original music that prompted the collaboration with Molly Skuse that culminates in this record.
Retired from her drumming days, Dana Serves as songwriter, producer and executive producer of the Sixth Street All Stars’ recording Everybody. Says Dana, “Music is a direct link to the nervous system. To be a part of a writing team that creates frequencies that allow people to feel is an amazing life dream. I funded this project so that our music can live and breathe as a piece of art in the world.”
Gloria E. Amaral was born and raised in the East Bay and comes from a musical family. Her grandfather and father played mandolin and guitar respectively. In fact her parents met in a choir and later got married in the very same church in which they sang. She followed in her parents footsteps as a member of Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir where she performed at venues such as Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, and the Concord Pavillion. Orquesta Radiante and later formed her own group Dulcemambo, a 12-piece Salsa band that highlighted women musicians. In the mid 2000’s Gloria performed with World Jazz ensemble Wild Mango, performing at KCSM and San Jose Jazz Festivals as well as the Barbados International Jazz Festival where Wild Mango opened for Marcus Miller and CeCe Winans.
Edgardo Cambón arrived on the San-Francisco salsa scene in 1986. To this day his Salsa band Candela is a Bay Area stronghold. Edgardo leads a more intimate group, LaTiDo, as well. Edgardo has performed and/or recorded with a host of luminaries such as Chucho Valdés (with Irakere, 1994), Keith Terry & Cross Pulse, Joan Baez, Claudia Gomez, Omar Sosa, Mark Levine, Jeff Narell, Andy Narell, Sovosó, Mike Spiro, Rebeca Mauleón, Jackie Rago, Richard Olsen Big Band, Los Compas, Sol y Luna Band, Eddie Montalvo, Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez, Armando Perazza and many others.
As a child Liza Jimenez remembers falling asleep to the sound of her mother and father singing with friends. Her father sang Boleros and Rancheras professionally, and it’s this music of her youth that is Liza Jimenez’s true passion. When she is not emoting through the cultural songs that inspired her love of music, she shares her talents in Salsa, jazz and R&B settings. Liza has performed and/or recorded in the Bay Area with Orquesta D’Soul, Dulce Mambo, Rolando Morales, Cha Cha Boom, Rico Pabon, Camilo Landau, and Gred Landau. Born and raised in Southern California, Liza honed her craft in the Bay Area and recently relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she is making new musical connections. Of note is he appearance at the New Mexico Jazz Festival with renowned saxophonist Doug Lawrence.
As a young woman, Arwen Lawrence toured with Grammy-winning L.A. mariachi heavyweights, Los Camperos de Nati Cano, an apprenticeship that honed her skills and deepened her love for Mexico’s musical language. With them, she recorded and performed in venues such as the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara and Lincoln Center of New York. Nati always nudged her towards what she already did naturally: to sing with heart. Arwen is a founding member of Cascada de Flores and is featured on their four albums.Cascada de Flores performs regularly and has given concerts throughout the United States and Mexico.
Juan Luis “Ele” Perez was born and raised in Richmond, CA where he was inspired by and adds to a rich and diverse musical culture that highlights Gospel, R&B, Soul, HipHop, Afro Cuban, and Regional Mexican styles. Juan was first introduced to music through his father and by way of his family’s participation in church music. He went on to study at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and focused on vocal technique and composition under his mentor Dr. Silvester Henderson. Today, Juan writes and produces his own music which is a reflection of his community and it’s wealth of musical influences. He has collaborated and performed with San Francisco State Gospel choir, Karl Perazzo (Santana), John Santos, Dead Prez, Los Mocosos, members of Tower of Power, Dave Shul, and Mike Blankenship as well as Aztlan and Hipspanic Records. Regional performances have included appearances at SF Carnaval, Yoshi’s, SF Jazz, Stanford Jazz, San Jose Jazz Festival, and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Audiences, critics and fellow musicians agree: “Juan Luis is a channel and rare talent. You just feel good when you hear him sing.” – Benny Torez, SF Chronicle.
Mike Olmos is one the most sought-after jazz musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area. He performs with the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, Lavay Smith and her red Hot Skillet Lickers, Pete Escovedo, Wil Blades, Eddie Roberts, Jubu and Legally Blynd. Mike also frequently joins national and international tours and has had the privilege of performing with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Michael Buble and many other great talents. He can be heard on late legendary Blues/R&B singer Etta James’ Grammy nominated final album “The Dreamer”.
Marina Garza began her musical studies on tuba but traded it in for the more portable trumpet when the walk to school became too hard to bear. With a bachelor’s degree in music education from Baylor University, Marina went on to earn her masters in music from University of North Texas. Marina is a member of the Mont Claire Woman’s Big Band, the Shake it Booty Band and Jean Fienberg’s Jazzphoria among others. On the business side of music, Marina owns and operates Tag Team Analysis, which provides accurate, human-listening-based music search metadata to leaders in the production music industry.
Mara Fox is an established freelance trombonist and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more than 25 years she has shared her talents in many settings including Jazz, R&B, Latin and Classical genres. Mara recorded and toured internationally with Conjunto Cespedes, and with the Klezmorim. In the Bay Area, she plays with a wide variety of well-known groups including the 2013 Grammy Award Winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra, the Montclair Women’s Big Band, and The Purple Ones. Mara has a private trombone studio, and also teaches at Head Royce School in Oakland. She has been a faculty member at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, and SFJazz Center.
Julio De la Cruz was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. At the age of 12, he first began his musical training, specializing in percussion instruments and studying music theory and composition. As a young man Julio emigrated to Mexico where he recorded and played with José Feliciano, Celio Sanchez and Celia Cruz among others. In 2009 Julio settled in the SF Bay Area as a multi-instrumentalist with a strong rhythmic foundation. Julio contributes to many Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz bands as both a piano player and bassist. In 2013 he received a grammy for his bass work with the Pacific Mambo Orchestra.
In his homeland of Cuba, Carlitos Medrano trained with one of the most celebrated and inspirational congueros of all time, Jose Luis “Changuito” Quintana. While in Cuba, Carlitos played extensively with some of Havana’s best known Latin Jazz and Salsa groups, and since coming to the US he continues to be an in-demand side-man. Carlitos is also a band leader. His group Sabor de mi Cuba features his original compositions and arrangements. Their debut recording was well received by Timba.com magazine “[Sabor de mi Cuba] is a beautiful, swinging recording which should establish Carlitos as a composer, percussionist and band leader to be reckoned with. “ – Tom Erlich
Colin Douglas was born into a musical family in New York City. As a child he experimented with many different instruments before settling on drums and percussion. Colin studied Classical Percussion and Jazz Drum Set at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music. After college Colin became interested in Latin Percussion and studied both in Cuba as well as with many master percussionists in the San Francisco bay area, where he has lived and played professionally for 16 years. Colin has performed and recorded with a diverse group of musicians including Latin acts such as Jesus Diaz y Su QBA, Ray Obiedo, and the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet as well as R&B and Rock acts such as Donna Summer and Aerosmith.
Bob Crawford is a former member of the Bammie Award- winning group Los Angelitos, and has also played with Michael Franti’s Spearhead joining on multiple national and international tours. Today Bob performs and records with a variety of bay area bands including Fito Reinoso y su Ritmo y Armonia, Mazacote, and Boca De Rio. He has shared the bandstand with many notable musicians including Greg Errico (Sly and the Family Stone), Ray Obeido, Pete Escovedo, Lee Oskar (War), Lenny Williams and Mic Gillette (Tower of Power), Pedrito Calvo (Los Van Van) Richard Bean (Malo), The New York Gypsy Allstars, as well as members of El Chicano, Santana, Tierra, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and many more.
Everybody, as the album title implies, captures a spirit of collaboration that begins with Skuse and Hinchliffe, encompasses the talented group of SF Bay Area musicians, and extends to include listeners as well. Reminding us that, while we each have our own little place in the world, we are all inevitably a part of the beautiful, variegated human community. This record creates a shared musical experience where “Everybody” is the ultimate collective, made up of individuals just like us.