Category Archives: Musicians

John Heard

JOHN HEARD, bass, has a long, illustrious career performing throughout the world with America’s top jazz artists. He has recorded more than 150 albums with such great stars as Oscar Peterson, Freddie Hubbard, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Ahmad Jamal, Joe Pass, George Cables, and Dexter Gordon. In addition to his musical talents, John Heard is an accomplished painter and sculptor. He made his first tour with JTE in 1991.

Jerry Kalaf

JERRY KALAF, drums, joined JTE in 1984 contributing original compositions and a new sound for tap. He became Musical Director in 1990 and with JTE has toured Europe, Asia, South America, and the U.S. A graduate of Berklee College of Music where he studied with America’s great jazz artists, Kalaf toured extensively with the Pointer Sisters, and jazz artists including Eddie Harris, Gary Burton, Gary Foster, Frank Strazzeri, Bill Mays, Jimmy Cleveland, and Major Holley. He has accompanied Gregory Hines, at the Apollo Theater and in concert at Carnegie Hall. It was as a member of the JTE that Kalaf’s orchestration of Bach’s Italian Concerto was premiered in Lyon, France by the National Orchestra of France. He is the recipient of a grant for original compositions from Meet The Composer/California. Jerry is an active studio musician in L.A., on the faculty of the Colburn School, and has made several recordings of his originals and standards including Trio Music (onSeabreeze), Just Like Old Times, and his most recent, Welcome to Earth on Palm Mountain Records.Kalaf has the longest tenure with JTE as musician, composer, arranger, and is responsible for the musical education of many a tap dancer along the way.

Eric Von Essen

ERIC VON ESSEN, bass, joined JTE in 1983 for the London debut, and continued for several years as Musical Director introducing the Ensemble to a rich repertory of jazz standards, and original compositions. A founding member of Quartet Music with Jeff Gauthier, Alex & Nels Kline, Eric was an innovative arranger of jazz for tap. He toured southeast Asia (USIA), performed with Gregory Hines at Carnegie Hall, kept the spirit of jazz alive in national and international tours. RIP Eric 1997.