Vernon Ice Black Quartet
Guitarist Vernon "Ice" Black has performed and recorded with
Herbie Hancock, Narada Michael Walden, Stevie Wonder, Booker T. Jones,
Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Clarence Clemons, The
Regina Belle, Chakha Khan,
He appeared previously at Chez Hanny with Guitar Trifecta.
Frank Martin was born and raised in Oakland, California. He
began his piano studies at age seven. While still in college at Hayward
State he connected with jazz teacher
In the late 70’s he joined John Handy, and recorded for Warner
Brothers, followed by a US Tour opening for George Benson, Al Jarreau,
and The Crusaders.
Next came a call from drummer/producer Narada Michael Walden. That led
many records with him, as well as pop records with Sister
Sledge, Angela Bofill, George Benson, Dianna Ross, Whitney Houston,
Lou Rawls, and Steve Winwood, and performances with The Flamingos, The
Cadillacs, Bo Diddley, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Johnny Taylor, Sam
Moore, Betty Everett, The Chantels, and Philip Bailey.
He then had a stint as musical director for Angela Bofill with
Also during the mid 80’s 2 years were spent playing on a TV Variety
Show called “THE AFTERNOON SHOW” backing artists like Mel Torme, the
Nicholas Brothers, Cab Calloway, Albert King, B.B.King, Herbie Hancock,
and Jeffery Osborne.
Since 1997 he and Narada have been part of Sting’s “Rainforest Band”,
performing at Carnegie Hall with
James Taylor, Billy Joel, Elton John, Joe Cocker,
Ricky Martin, Chris Botti, Bobby McFerrin, Tom Jones, Stevie Wonder,
Brian Wilson, Gladys Knight, The Impressions, Bruce Springsteen, and
For over 20 years he has been part of the “Netoband”
led by guitarist Jose Neto. For 16 years the
band was invited to play at London’s legendary “Ronnie Scott’s Jazz
In 2003 vocalist Patti Austin asked him to go to South Africa and put
band of local musicians to perform a concert sponsored by the Mandela
He has also performed with John McLaughlin, Joe Farrell, Richard Bona,
Flora Purim and Airto Moriera, and Robben Ford.
He appeared previously at Chez Hanny with the Frank Martin Trio.
Kai Eckhardt began to play bass guitar in 1976 at age 15. His
first major undertaking came in 1985 when European guitar prodigy
Torsten de Winkel asked him to join his recording ensemble with Michael
Brecker and Alphonse Mouzon, and later his touring band with Ernie
Watts and Steve Smith, leading to an invitation to Eckhardt and Torsten
to join Smith’s US-based group Vital Information. The two German
musicians also appeared together in a TV production with Randy Brecker
and Simon Phillips in Swiss National Television.
Meanwhile, he had accepted a scholarship to the Berklee College of
Music and began to establish himself in the US, working with the likes
of Aydin Esen, Stanley Clarke, Tiger Okoshi and Bob Moses. In 1988 Kai
joined the John Mclaughlin Trio with percussionist Trilok Gurtu. The
trio toured extensively in the years to come and recorded a number of
albums, including Que Alegria in 1992.
Afterwards, Eckhardt moved to the San Francisco bay area and turned his
attention to composing, while performing with the Billy Cobham
International Quartet, and over 1000 shows in the US and Canada with
Drummer Billy Johnson was born in Philadelphia, PA. He was the
beneficiary of the mentoring of fine players like Gerry Brown and
Cornell Rochester on the local scene. He spent a lot of time traveling
back and forth between Philly and New York, playing at one time in a
band with guitarist Kevin Eubanks and his brother, trombonist Robin
Carlos Santana enlisted Billy on three different occasions to man the
traps for tours and albums. He did his first tour with Santana in 1990
and 1991, and then rejoined the band in the summer of 1994 for about
two-and-a-half years. Johnson performed on Santana's 'Milagro' album in
1992, and the 'Brothers' record featuring Carlos and Jorge Santana. He
plays the opening cut on Santana's smash, 'Supernatural', the spirited
romp (Da Le)Taleo.
Billy Johnson has played on four albums with Frankie Beverly and Maze.
He has also been performing with contemporary jazz guitarist Joyce
Cooling since late in '96, and has been playing with the Bay Area pop
band Pablo Cruise when time permits.