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 Family Stone, Mariah Carey, Regina Belle, Chakha Khan, and Maze.

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 Art Lande.

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 to 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 international touring.

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 Percy Sledge.

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 Club”.

In 2003 vocalist Patti Austin asked him to go to South Africa and put together a band of local musicians to perform a concert sponsored by the Mandela Family.

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 Garaj Mahal.

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 Eubanks.

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.