Biographical Information and Tour Schedules

Questions and Answers



Washington, D.C. — The United States Information Agency (USIA) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts have collaborated again in an overseas tour of American musicians. Seven duos of jazz musicians and vocalists will tour a total of 33 countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, plus Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. The tours kicked off during the week of September 13-19, 1998, with one duo performing each night on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Following the Kennedy Center performance, each duo began its overseas tour. (See attached list of performers and tour schedules.)

The duos were selected to participate in the program from a national competitive audition, which required that they not only be excellent musicians but also be conversant with broader aspects of contemporary American culture.

The Jazz Ambassadors program marks the second time the USIA and the Kennedy Center have united to present some of America's most talented musicians. In 1997, the collaboration showcased an Artistic Ambassadors program of classical musicians.

Dr. Joseph Duffey, Director of the United States Information Agency, in announcing the tour said, "Programs such as the Jazz Ambassadors continue to demonstrate how effective partnerships between the private sector and USIA can aid in furthering goodwill between the U.S. and other countries. We are proud to be able to offer Jazz Ambassadors as part of USIA's cultural programs for our embassies."

Kennedy Center President Lawrence J. Wilker commented, "Worldwide, jazz is considered one of America's greatest exports. Our relationship with USIA, through the Jazz Ambassadors program, provides broad opportunities for outstanding American artists to be heard abroad. The Kennedy Center is pleased to present these outstanding musicians in the nation's capital on the eve of their international tours."

USIA will provide the overseas traveling expenses and a modest honorarium for each Jazz Ambassador duo. The tours, which usually last four to six weeks, are designated for countries that are not often visited by American musicians. In addition to public concerts, the visiting Jazz Ambassadors will conduct master classes and lecture-recitals for local musicians.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a Presidential Memorial, is the nation's performing arts center offering programs which reflect its commitment to the recognition and celebration of the rich heritage of the American people. Kennedy Center President Lawrence J. Wilker, and Chairman James A. Johnson are dedicated to presenting the finest and most diverse performing arts within the United States and throughout the world. In line with this commitment, the Center's Education Department, which is administering the Center's participation in the Jazz Ambassadors program holds as its mission the provision of opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about and to experience the performing arts. For more information about the Kennedy Center and its programs, please visit its web site:

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The United States Information Agency, headed by Dr. Joseph Duffey, is an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch that explains and supports U.S. foreign policy and national security interests abroad through a wide range of information programs. The Agency promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through a series of educational and cultural exchange activities.

USIA's programs include the Voice of America, Radio and TV Martí, the WORLDNET satellite television system, the daily Washington File newswire, the Fulbright scholarship program, the International Visitor Program, the Speakers and Specialists Program, three Foreign Press Centers in the United States, and a network of overseas resource and cultural centers. The Agency has 190 posts in 141 countries.

The USIA domestic server can be accessed through or through most search engines on the Internet.



Kennedy Center-USIA Jazz Ambassadors on the Millennium Stage

_________________________________________________________________________ SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13

Melba Joyce, Texas-born jazz and blues vocalist and songwriter now living in New York, has been a part of the international music scene since she began her professional career with David Newman at the age of 17 and performed with Louis Armstrong at 19. Since then she has appeared with such greats as Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton, Gerald Wilson, and recorded with John Carter, Ellis Marsalis, and Dizzy Gillespie, to name a few.

Geary Moore, sensational Pittsburgh-born guitarist now living and working in the New York metropolitan area, recently appeared in a benefit concert with Jon Faddis, Jackie McLean, Phil Woods, Slide Hampton, Mulgrew Miller, Billy Drummond, T.S. Monk, Don Braden, John Lee, and Ronnell Bey.

September 17-22 Namibia
September 22-27 Angola
September 27 - October 2 Cameroon
October 2-14 Nigeria

_________________________________________________________________________ MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

Lenora Zenzalai Helm, vocalist from New York, was born in Chicago. She has appeared throughout the United States in concert and clubs-New York's Village Vanguard and Sweet Basil, Chicago's The Jazz Showcase-in various venues and on recordings with such artists as Junior Mance, Stanley Cowell, Branford Marsalis, Dave Liebman, Antonio Hart and others. The internationally syndicated radio program "Jazz from the City, selected her as the Best New Jazz Artist of 1994.

Brandon W. McCune, a 23-year-old pianist from Newark, New Jersey, a Jackie Robinson scholarship major in jazz studies at Rutgers University, received his Bachelor of Music degree in June 1998. He was playing jazz professionally by the age of 15 and has performed in Chicago at the Civic Opera House and the Ravinia Jazz Festival. He has studied piano with Kenny Barron. In New York, Mr. McCune has performed at clubs including the Blue Note and the Iridium. In addition to performances with Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead, he has played with Terence Blanchard, Von Freeman, Slide Hampton, and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. He has also recorded with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble.

September 25 - October 3 Malawi
October 5-9 Madagascar
October 9-17 Uganda

_________________________________________________________________________ TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

Steve Homan, a native of Akron, Ohio, was raised in Northern California where he began to teach himself to play guitar at the age of 12. Influenced by recordings of such guitarists as Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, and others, he performed with dance bands at resorts and clubs in the Midwest and Northwest. Now based in Sacramento, he has performed steadily with local groups and visiting notables including Howard Alden, Joey Calderazo, Herb Ellis, Pete Jolly, Abe Most, Anita O'Day, Dianne Schuur, Jimmy Smith, Ed Thigpen, Joe Williams, and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.

Joe Gilman, pianist and arranger, is music director of the Capital Jazz Project, which preserves and performs jazz masterworks in the Sacramento, California region. As a performer he performed at the Detroit and Montreaux Jazz Festivals with the Tom Peron / Bud Spangler Quartet, and has played or recorded with such artists as with Henry Robinett, David Baker, Slide Hampton, Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, Joan Rivers, Henry Mancini, Diahann Carroll, Jerry Vale, and others.

September 17-22 Côte d'Ivoire
September 22-26 Benin
September 26-29 Togo
September 29 - October 5 Ghana
October 5-9 Liberia
October 9-1 Guinea

_________________________________________________________________________ WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

Rick Condit, a saxophonist based in Lake Charles, Louisiana, is a native of Oakland, California. Discovered by Stan Kenton as a member of the first all-star high school band at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Mr. Condit became his tenor sax soloist and for a year toured with Kenton's band. He has played with such artists as Louis Belson, Clark Terry, Oliver Nelson, Ray Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bob Hope. Mr. Condit toured and recorded with "Truth," and other bands. A freelance musician and bandleader since 1981, he is also a teacher, clinician, and administrator.

Tom Wolfe, guitarist born in Cincinnati, is the director of jazz studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. As a performer he has appeared with Bob Hope, Chita Rivera, Englebert Humperdink, and others. He performed with the Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk orchestras and has played for theatrical productions, in regional jazz clubs, and in concerts at numerous colleges and festivals.

September 18-23 Senegal
September 23-28 Mali
September 28 - October 2 Burkina Faso
October 2-7 Niger
October 7-14 Morocco

_________________________________________________________________________ THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

Angela Hagenbach, a native of Kansas City, Missouri and a former fashion model, has carried on a flourishing career as a jazz singer/songwriter in her hometown since 1990. Leader of her own quartet and quintet, she is also co-leader of the Kansas City-based Musa Nova Latin Jazz Ensemble, and president of Amazon Records, her own label. She also participates in jazz clinics at the University of Nebraska, and area public schools.

Joseph Cartwight, pianist and co-leader (with Angela Hagenbach) of Musa Nova Latin Jazz Ensemble in Kansas City, has been a professional musician for nearly 25 years. Currently musical director at Trumpets Restaurant and Jazz Club, he has been house pianist and musical director for several other Kansas City establishments. Mr. Cartwright has performed with such notables as Max Roach, Eddie Harris, Clark Terry, David Samuels, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Richie Cole, Jimmy Witherspoon, Sheila Jordan, and Mel Torme. A jazz clinician, he is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

September 22-27 Mozambique
September 27 - October 1 Swaziland
October 1-11 South Africa
October 11-16 Botswana
October 16-21 Zimbabwe
October 21-27 Mauritius

_________________________________________________________________________ FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

Makanda Ken McIntyre, improvisational musician on flute and reed instruments living in New York, has been performing and teaching for more than 40 years. This acclaimed performer/composer and teacher in African inspired American and Caribbean music styles has participated in several recordings on various labels with artists including Nat Adderly, Carla Bley, Jaki Byard, Bill Dixon, Charlie Haden, Beaver Harris, Craig Harris, Michael Mantler, and Cecil Taylor. He continues to appear in various New York clubs and has been heard in concert and at festivals throughout the world.

Steven J. Smith, guitarist living in Flushing, New York, appears in various New York clubs as leader of his About Time duo and trio, and with the Makanda Ken McIntyre Orchestra. He performed weekly at the Lickety Split in Harlem during 1997, and has appeared in the past in his home town of San Diego with various groups, and throughout the East Coast with the jazz fusion group, Messiah.

September 19-24 Turkey
September 24-29 Greece
September 29 - October 4 Cyprus
October 4-8 Kuwait
October 8-16 Yemen
October 16-20 Jordan
October 20-22 Jerusalem

_________________________________________________________________________ SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

Matthew Lewis, trumpet & vocals, is a 1997 graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. He performs with as lead vocalist and jazz trumpeter in the retro jazz band Swing Shift, and sings lead vocals with the Georgia Frances Orchestra in Chicago. He has been a member of back-up orchestras for Steve Allen, Diahann Carroll, Vic Damone, Theresa Brewer, and the McGuire Sisters, and has performed with noted artists Bob Mintzer, Byron Stripling, the New York Voices, Marlena Shaw, and Nancy Wilson.

Dan Zemelman, a jazz pianist/composer raised in Evanston, Illinois, currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin. A jazz musician and teacher known throughout the state via a live, call-in weekly radio program broadcast by Wisconsin Public Radio, he has appeared in person in cities including Madison, Milwaukee, and the Chicago area.

September 22-26    Calcutta, India
September 26-30    New Delhi, India
September 30 - October 13    Mumbai, India
October 13-18    Colombo, Sri Lanka


September 25, 1998    Release No. 047-98
CONTACT: Jimmye C. Walker     PHONE: (202) 619-4372    E-MAIL:


Photo Gallery

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Melba Joyce

Melba Joyce
Geary Moore

Lenora Zenzalai Helm

Lenora Zenzalai Helm
Brandon W. McCune

Angela Hagenbach

Angela Hagenbach
Joseph Cartwight

Matthew Lewis

Matthew Lewis
Dan Zemelman