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Red Hill Quartet: Bio

Harvey Lane - Tenor, Soprano, and Flute

Along with musical partner Ricky Luther, Harvey has led jazz groups in Los Angeles for many years. He has a big, open sound and plays with a great deal of passion. Album credits include releases on Atlantic/Atco, Varese Sarabande, and Aim Records.

Harvey’s love of music started at age 8 when his father, a Benny Goodman fan, gave him a clarinet for his birthday. By the time he was in high school, he was playing with local jazz and blues bands, using an altered ID to perform at clubs he was too young to legally enter. While attending UCLA, he met vibes player Ricky Luther and developed a musical bond that has lasted throughout their careers in music.

After college, Harvey started an experimental eleven piece free jazz ensemble called The New World Jazz Company which featured extended interplay between different subsets of the band. The band created a great deal of interest and they played every Sunday at the legendary Topanga Corral for almost 2 years. Harvey was also an original member of the band Fusion, one of the first groups to incorporate influences from multiple musical genres. The band released one album, Border Town, for Atlantic/Atco.

In the late 1970s, Harvey and Ricky, along with guitarist Joe Gaeta, started a band called Luther Lane. The band was notable for featuring originals that morphed into other originals, giving the effect of extended compositions which would go off in multiple directions. The band released one album for the Varese Sarabande label titled Other Places. The album approached each side (this was an LP) as a continuous piece and did quite well. There are currently 3 sealed copies available on Ebay and the album is still referenced in a number of jazz blogs.

In the 90s, Harvey, along with Ricky, drummer Frank Bennett, bassist Bill Torma, and Frank’s son Anand, a teenage prodigy on violin and mandacello, formed a band called Red Hill. The band called upon the varied musical backgrounds of its members to create a unique musical synthesis. One album, entitled Mixed Messages was released on Aim Records. When Bill unexpectedly passed away and Frank’s film composition commitments became too demanding, the band reformed with its current rhythm section.

Harvey’s goal has always been to become the best person and saxophone player he can be and to create exciting, emotional music that speaks to the listener.

Ricky Luther - Vibes, Keyboards

The most prolific composer in the band, Ricky's unconventional compositions provide much of the canvas the band uses for its musical images. His driving solos and unique approach to harmony add a great deal of texture to the sound.

"Music is therapy for the soul." Ricky's favorite quote, especially after the third drink.

His entire life, even before he was born, Ricky was exposed to swinging music from his dad who played trumpet and rehearsed with his Navy band Salty Seven in their living room and his mother who was a jazz singer.

Ricky started playing piano at Southern California coffee houses in the early sixties. This led to jamming with lots of blues musicians from Texas to New Orleans including playing in the oldest bar in the country, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon St.

"Art happens when a concrete form transcends into an abstraction or metaphor." Ricky's favorite quote after the fourth drink.

Ricky is best known for writing music filled with melody and interesting chord changes that become formats for the group’s musical exploration. He’s also known to spout off about his love of the twelve tone scale and that the sensation of tone represents a profound sense of continuity to the sub-conscious, but don't get him started unless you’re ready for a long conversation. However, no matter how abstract he gets, Ricky's songs end up being kind of pretty and engaging.

Mark London Sims - Bass

Mark London Sims’ passion is creating music. Inspired by his grandmother, a gospel pianist, Mark has filled his life with joyous musical opportunities. A native of Southern California, he grew up on soul music from the 60s and 70s. While his parents were at work, he’d spin Motown records on his grandmother’s record player. At 11, his big chance came to play guitar when his uncle needed money to go to Grambling College in Louisiana. He sold Mark an electric guitar for eleven dollars. Unable to afford lessons, Mark bought a couple of guitar books and taught himself music.

From that point until now, Mark’s relationship with music has been ever-growing stronger and unbroken. While an undergraduate at the University California of Santa Barbara, Mark started a couple of jazz groups for which he composed music. At the same time he started playing bass because he couldn't find a bass player for his groups. It was then while practicing in his dorm room that he fell in love with the bass.

After graduating at the top of his class with a Master’s degree in Jazz Composition from California Institute of the Arts, Mark based himself in Los Angeles where he enjoys playing with a multitude of awe-inspiring musicians. From Brazilian to Americana, rock to African music, blues to gospel and jazz to reggae, Mark has continuously worked as a bassist and composer for nearly two decades.

With an unyielding commitment to live music, Mark has played shows throughout Europe, North America and Asia. Last summer his schedule included the Montreux Jazz and Afro Pfingsten world music festivals in Switzerland, the Summerjam Reggae Festival in Germany and a performance in Greenland. He has worked with Don Cherry (Ornette Coleman), Joe Higgs (Bob Marley), Stevie Wonder, Albert "Tootie" Heath (Heath Brothers, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock), Charles Neville (Neville Bros), Percy Sledge, Ralph McDonald, Robert Greenidge (Jimmy Buffet), The Watts Prophets, Badialy Cissoko, The Mighty Sparrow, Floyd Domino (Asleep at the Wheel), Calypso Rose, Ken "Professor" Philmore, Aziz Faye, Sonja Marie. The Eels, Nels Cline (Wilco), Dave Wakeling (English Beat), Ben Harper, Mark Nauseef (Thin Lizzy), L. Shankar, Rocky Dawuni and The Untouchables.

Mark also appears on over 50 recordings. He has written, recorded and produced two albums under his name, Strange Groove Picnic and Limited Expression. Several others bear his original compositions. One such record, Dark was honored as one of Billboard Magazine's the top 30 Classic Progressive Music recordings of the 20th Century.

Leonice Shinneman - Drums, Tabla, percussion

"Watching the waves from a ship to and from Japan and looking out of the car window on multiple trips across the USA, in my childhood gave me the space to study time itself, and the complexity and harmonics of rhythm order and chaos. Subdividing and predicting the instant objects would pass, or their relationship to others in time consumed the hours of my youth. It all comes down to time. That is why I went into drumming, Jazz, Indian classical and African. All the great rhythm traditions. When I drum, I sing the melody of the arrow of time." ...Leonice Shinneman

Leonice is recognized as the foremost American disciple of the legendary North Indian tabla and pakhawaj master Pandit Taranath Rao. Broadening his expertise in the Farukkhabad style of tabla performance, Leonice continued his studies with Pandit Ravi Bellare. Leonice's original research on calculations within the tala system has shed new light on the art of improvising rhythmic resolutions in real-time. Lessons with renowned South Indian Ghatam master T.H. Subash Chandran have led to his mastery of Karnatic percussion. Ustad Alla Rakha, T.R. Harihara Sarma, Swapan Chaudhuri and T.R. Rajamani were also his teachers.

Leonice has given tabla and pakhawaj solos in Europe, India, Mexico and the U.S.A. and has performed Indian classical music in concert with Amiya Dasgupta, L. Shankar, Ganasaraswathy, Zakir Hussain and Rajeev Taranath. Numerous concerts with Ghanaian master drummers Alfred and Kobla Ladzekpo have given Leonice extensive knowledge of African Ewe style. He has recorded and worked with Frank Zappa, Howard Levi, Gino Vannelli, Kiss, Kula Shaker and is heard on the SWR 4cd set New Jazz Meeting 2000, Leonice composed and performed music for the theatrical premiere of Naga Mandala, and has played on several prominent film scores including Drugstore Cowboy and Aliens 3. His jazz playing is characterized by quickness, sensitivity, and the ability to provide whatever feel is necessary to enhance the compositions.

He was co-founder of the world music group Dark whose recordings Dark and Tamna Voda were produced by CMP records. Combining East Indian and West African Rhythms, Leonice performs utilizing an innovative drum kit of his own design. He holds several U.S. patents for original percussion equipment and received his BFA and MFA from California Institute of the Arts, where he also served on the faculty.