Darren Johnston Sextet

Since settling in San Francisco in 1997, Canada-born trumpeter/composer Darren Johnston has collaborated and recorded with an extremely diverse cross-section of artists, performing all styles of jazz, experimental, and purely improvised music, as well as traditional music of the Balkans, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, and the Arab world.

He has performed and/or recorded with luminaries such as ROVA Sax Quartet, Marcus Shelby, Fred Frith, Meklit, Hamid Drake, Myra Melford, Ben Goldberg, Allison Miller, Brass Menazeri, Matt Wilson, Mark Dresser, Marshall Allen, and Electric Squeezebox Orchestra.

Some of his groups as a leader include The Pipes, Broken Shadows, The United Brassworkers Front, The Nice Guy Trio, the Darren Johnston Quintet, and Reasons For Moving.

He appeared here previously with the Evan Francis / Darren Johnston Quartet, the Nice Guy Trio, the Sheldon Brown Quintet, the Sheldon Brown Group, and the Evan Francis Group.


Clarinetist Ben Goldberg received his undergraduate music degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Arts in Composition from Mills College. He was a pupil of the eminent clarinetist Rosario Mazzeo, and studied with Steve Lacy and Joe Lovano.

Benís first important group "New Klezmer Trio" recorded three cds. Other recordings include two by "Junk Genius", with John Schott, Trevor Dunn, and Kenny Wollesen, "Light at the Crossroads", co-led with Marty Ehrlich,  "the door, the hat, the chair, the fact", dedicated to Steve Lacy, "Speech Communication" with Greg Cohen and Kenny Wollesen, "Baal: The Book of Angels Vol. 15", featuring the music of John Zorn, "Unfold Ordinary Mind" with Ellery Eskelin, Rob Sudduth, Nels Cline, and Ches Smith, and "Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues" with Joshua Redman and Ron Miles.

Ben currently performs with "Tin Hat", and appears on three of their recordings. He has worked with Andrew Hill, Bobby Bradford, John Zorn, Cecil Taylor, Roswell Rudd, Myra Melford, and Nels Cline, among many others.

Ben appeared here previously with "Clarinet Thing", "Plays Monk", Myra Melford, and Scott Amendola.


Composer and woodwind multi-instrumentalist Sheldon Brown has been involved in the San Francisco Bay Area creative music scene for over 20 years. In June of 2014 he premiered his extended composition "Blood of the Air" at the 32nd Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival.

Since 1994 he has led Sheldon Brown Group, which performs his own compositions, and he recently formed Sheldon Brown Quintet, which performs the music of Herbie Nichols, and Distant Intervals, based on poetic speech melodies.

The Sheldon Brown Group has performed several times at Yoshiʼs, and as part of the San Francisco Jazz Festivalʼs Summer in the City series.

Brown has performed with Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, recorded on 5 of Sosaʼs albums, and played with him at many famous venues, such as The North Sea Jazz Festival in Den Haag, New Morning in Paris, and Tribute to the Love Generation in Tokyo.

Brown performs with many groups in the Bay Area, including: Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, Clarinet Thing, Darren Johnston Quintet, Goldberg/Brown/Anderson, Ian Carey Quintet + 1, Club Foot Orchestra, Laurie Antonioli, Azesu (featuring Orestes Vilato), Mike Pattonʼs Mondo Cane, Admiral Ted Brinkley's Large Group, and the Aaron Germain Quartet.

As a composer, Brown has written music for his own groups and many of the other groups he performs with. For Club Foot Orchestra he composed music for the silent films "Metropolis", "Sherlock Jr.", "Pandoraʼs Box", and "The Hands of Orlac", as well as the cartoon series "The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat", which aired on CBS.

Sheldon appeared here previously with Hemispheres, Mandala, Clarinet Thing, Ratzo Harris, Michael Wilcox, Ian Carey, the Sheldon Brown Quintet, and the Sheldon Brown Group.


Kasey Knudsen is a San Francisco based saxophonist, composer & educator. She earned her BA in Jazz Composition from Berklee College of Music in 2001. Since relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area, Knudsen has been commissioned by the Jazzschool's Emerging Artist Series, Intersection For The Arts, and the De Young Museum.

She leads her own trio and sextet, and co-leads The Schimscheimer Family Trio with Jon Arkin and Michael Coleman, as well as The Holly Martins with Lorin Benedict and Eric Vogler.

Knudsen can be heard with Evan Francis, Ben Goldberg, Fred Frith, Eric Garland, Henry Hung, The Montclair Women's Big Band, Graham Connah, Adam Shulman, Nathan Clevenger, Aaron Novik, Michael Coleman, the Bay Area Composer's Collective Orchestra, Jarrett Cherner, Q Morrow, Rob Ewing, Marcus Shelby, Realistic Orchestra, Scott Amendola, and Rova Saxophone Quartet.

She appeared here previously with Ian Carey, Evan Francis, and Erik Jekabson.


One of the most in demand bassists in the Bay Area, John Wiitala has played with Jessica Williams, James Moody, Benny Golson, Pete Jolly, Joe Henderson, Akira Tana, Vince Lateano, Scott Hamilton, Bruce Forman, Rebecca Parris, Wesla Whitfield, Madeline Eastman, and Jackie Ryan, among many others.

John was heard previously at Chez Hanny with Faith Winthrop, Michele Rosewoman, Patrick Wolff, Mark Levine, Peck Allmond, Scott Barnhill, Harvey Wainapel, Erik Jekabson, Tim Armacost/David Berkman, and John Klopotowski.

Drummer Hamir Atwal has worked with notable jazz artists including saxophonist Greg Osby, saxophonist Joe Lovano, pianist Myra Melford, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, and bassist Michael Formanek.

He is also the percussionist for Invisible Guy Trio, featuring Ben Goldberg and pianist Michael Coleman. The trio released their first album, Knuckle Sandwich (BAG Production) in 2016.

Atwal is an active educator and has given clinics/classes at notable music schools including the California Institute of the Arts, Peabody Conservatory, Music Academy International, the Stanford Jazz Workshop, and Jazz Camp West. He is a faculty member at the California Summer School of the Arts, where he teaches annually in Valencia, CA.

He appeared previously at Chez Hanny with Patrick Wolff, and Matt Renzi.