Baby Soda is a large family of talented musicians. Most of us play with other groups in the New York area and tour internationally as well. Any show on the Baby Soda calendar may have a different line up for the ensemble based on who is in town and seniority. This keeps the ensemble fresh, with different combinations of musicians playing the repertiore a little differently, keeping us all on our toes. It also gives each individual musician the freedom to work with other ensembles without adversely impacting the schedule or quality of Baby Soda performances.
Here is a little of the history of how the Baby Soda was formed and how we all found each other.
In 2006 and 2007 a few of us were performing with a group called The Loose Marbles in Washington Square Park on a semi regular basis. By the end of 2007 The Loose Marbles were moving to New Orleans year round and the musicians who wanted to stay in New York formed Baby Soda as a way of keeping the music going.
The original lineup was Patrick Harrison on Accordion and vocals, David Langlois on Washboard, Ben Polcer on Trumpet, Adrian Cunningham on Clarinet and Tenor Sax, Jared Engel on Banjo and Peter Ford on the one string Box Bass. Patrick was the driving force in this lineup. The name was his idea. He also designed the original website, before this one.
In 2008 it became clear that Ben was going to be in New Orleans with The Loose Marbles and we needed a trumpet player. Patrick moved back to his native Minniapolis. Jared and Peter stepped in to take up bookings and scheduling, developing the roster and repertiore.
Adrian Cunningham found us in 2008 shortly after moving to NYC from Australia. He was lookng for a sublet and met Patrick Harrison. They started talking about Jazz and the next thing he knew he was scowling like a wet cat busking with Baby Soda on 14th St in March weather without proper winter clothes.
Kevin Louis found us through Oran Etkin in 2008 when both were playing with Baby Soda in Washington Square Park and the subway. This became a turning point, with Kevins spirit and musicality shaping the bands sound, and a healing thing in Kevins life, coming back to the music of his native New Orleans.
Ed Polcer started playing on the street with us all in The Loose Marbles, sitting in with his son Ben and subing for him on occasion. As Baby Soda formed, Ed has been a mentor as well as great cornet player; not only playing gigs and busking in the park and subways but helping us connect to the tradition of this music and how to run an ensemble. We are fortunate to have him as a part of the line up whenever he's in town. He now spends half of the year in New Orleans.
Emily Asher found Baby Soda through another musician in New Orleans. She was on the verge of giving up on New York when we asked her to ride down to DC with us to play for the crowds on the Mall for President Obamas' inaguration in 2009. It was so cold that the condensation in Adrians' sax froze and warped the pads, making the horn unplayable. Emily was hooked and plays with us every chance she gets.
There are many other stories but these are a few. Here are profiles a few of our musicians, as well as links to their websites if you want to find out what else they're up to.
Here is a roster of Baby Soda musicians who are not profiled.
Simon Wettenhall - trumpet/Flugel horn. Thomas Abbott - Clarinet/saxophone. Jared Engel - plectrum banjo and resophonic guitar. Matt Koza - clarinet/saxophone. Peter Anderson - clarinet/saxophone. Jim Fryer - trombone/euphonium. Joe McDonough - trombone. Jake Handelman - trombone. Charlie Caranikas - trumpet. John Gill- guitar/banjo. Vinny Raniolo - banjo. Tim Clement - guitar. Kevin Dorn - drums. Rob Garcia - drums. Rich Levinson - drums. Jay Lepley - drums. Kevin Congelton - drums. Russ Meisner - drums. Michael Davis - trumpet. Tamar Korn - vocalist.
Peter Ford - Box Bass
I started playing the Wash Tub Bass with The Mad Jazz Hatters in 2004. Wanting to improve on the sound of the metal tub, I built my first Box Bass in 2005. I started playing with the Loose Marbles in 2006, The Second Fiddles, Suffrin Suckotash, and occasionally with Bill Carneys' Jug Additcts. I do not play traditional upright bass. Through playing with The Loose Marbles I met the other founding members of Baby Soda and since 2008, have grown into the role of co-leader and singer for the band. Learning to play Jazz on the one string bass has been an adventure that has transformed my life. I am indebted to and grateful for the beautiful, generous, spirited musicians I have met and friends I have made along the way.
For inquiries about buying or building your own bass, music lessons or recording sessions, you can reach me at
Ed Polcer - Cornet http://www.edpolcer.com/
Ed Polcer has appeared in hundreds of concerts, festivals and jazz parties throughout the United States, Canada, Asia and
Europe. He joined Benny Goodman's Sextet in 1973, and from 1975 to 1985, was the co-owner, manager and cornetist
at Eddie Condon’s Jazz Club in New York City. President Clinton invited Ed to play for the 1994 Congressional Ball in the
White House, and in 2001, he performed in Bangkok with the King of Thailand. Ed was especially honored to play for the
official opening of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in 2004. He has made several Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center
appearances, and performed at the wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly in Monaco. Recently, Ed established a
second residence in New Orleans, where he feels reinvigorated, playing in a variety of venues with musicians of all ages.
He has especially enjoyed playing with a young generation of jazz musicians. Ed’s recent concert presentations include
“The Magic of Swing Street”,“When Broadway Meets SwingStreet”, and “Lionel, Red and Bunny”, a centennial
celebration of legendary jazz musicians Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo and Bunny Berigan.
William Reardon Anderson - Clarinet http://www.andersontwinsjazz.com/home.html
A native of Bethesda, MD, Will Anderson has been playing clarinet and saxophone since the age of 9. At the age of 14,
he toured the United Kingdom as a featured reed soloist with the Capital Focus Jazz Band playing the music of Louis
Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, and others. While earning his Bachelor's and Master's Degree at the Juilliard
School’s Jazz Studies program, he studied saxophone privately Joe Temperley and Ron Blake, clarinet with Alan Kay and
Victor Goines, and flute with Mark Vinci and Barli Nugent. During his time at Juilliard, Will was awarded the Concert and
Instrumental Music Teaching Fellowships as well as the Gluck Community Service Fellowship for four consecutive years.
The Juilliard Jazz Orchestra housed Mr. Anderson as its lead alto saxophonist, performing several of his original
compositions and arrangements. With the JJO, Will traveled to Japan, Costa Rica, Qatar, and all over the U.S. performing
for mass audiences, as well as facilitating jazz clinics to inspire young and underprivileged musicians. From 2009-11, Will
served on the faculty of Juilliard's "Music Advancement Program," teaching private music lessons, ensembles, and theory
classes to aspiring students.
In May 2010, Will co-led a two-week long tribute to Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman at the famous 59e59 Theaters in
Manhattan. The successful run received several rave reviews. The New York Times called Mr. Anderson a "virtuoso on
both clarinet and saxophone". Blogspot.com proclaimed, "You will not hear anything better musically on a New York
stage this month." Recently in 2009, Will was selected for the "Betty Carter Jazz Ahead" and the "Young Artists Ravinia"
jazz residencies, which culminated with multiple performances of his original compositions at the Kennedy Center and
the Ravinia Jazz Festival. In 2006, Will won second place in the Fish-Middleton Jazz Scholarship Competition at the East
Coast Jazz Festival, and received an outstanding jazz soloist award from Downbeat magazine. Will co-leads the
"Anderson Twins Quintet" with his brother Peter, performing at many venues including Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, the
Iridium, Smalls, and D.C.'s Blues Alley. Will has recently appeared with the the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Village
Vanguard Orchestra, David Berger's "Sultan's of Swing," the Jimmy Heath Big Band, Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, the
Teddy Charles Tentet, the Chris Byars Octet, and lead alto with The Loren Schoenberg Big Band. In the classical field,
Will has performed with the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Park Avenue Chamber
Symphony, and performed clarinet solo works by Debussy, Mozart, Weber, Brahms, Copeland, C.P.E. Bach, and Joseph
Gordon Au - trumpet -www.gordonaumusic.com
As a graduate of the Monk Institute, widely renowned as the highest-level jazz education program in the world, Gordon is
at the forefront of creating the next generation of jazz music. His unique creative voice is the product of a continuing
evolution beginning with learning traditional jazz, playing in big bands, studying trumpet and composition at Berklee
College of Music, experimenting with electronic music and fusion, re-envisioning traditional jazz in New Orleans, and
studying and playing under the tutelage of some of greatest living masters of jazz at the Monk Institute.
As an undergraduate, Gordon studied jazz composition and performance at Berklee College of Music, where he recorded
with Danilo Perez, co-arranged and recorded with Tiger Okoshi, and performed with Max Weinberg, Jimmy Heath, Makoto
Ozone, Bob Mintzer, George Garzone, and Ralph Peterson. While at school, Gordon studied with Joe Lovano,
George Garzone, Joanne Brackeen, Hal Crook, Tiger Okoshi, Phil Wilson, Ed Tomassi, and Dave Santoro, among others.
Gordon graduated in 2007 with a full scholarship and top departmental awards in both jazz composition and
Following Berklee, Gordon was selected as one of just seven fellows at the inaugural New Orleans class of the Thelonious
Monk Institute for Jazz Performance, where, under the artistic direction of Terence Blanchard, he and his colleagues
honed their skills at performing, composing, and teaching. They gave concerts, clinics, and private lessons in Louisiana as
well as around the globe, including New Delhi, Mumbai, the Panama Jazz Festival, and Hollywood. Through the Institute,
Gordon studied and performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chaka Khan, Zakir Hussain, George Benson, Ravi
Shankar, Shankar Mahadevan, Brian Blade, George Duke, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Danilo Perez, Lewis Nash, Ellis
Marsalis, Buster Williams, Nicholas Payton, John Scofield, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jimmy Heath, Kenny Barron, Dee Dee
Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Steve Coleman, Barry Harris, Kurt Elling, Nnenna Freelon, James Genus, Kendrick
Scott, Brice Winston, and artistic director Terence Blanchard.
Since graduating, Gordon has been making waves in both traditional and modern jazz circles. He co-founded the New
Orleans Moonshiners, a group described in the press as "a trad jazz band with new souls" that has "taken the area by
storm, gaining a huge fan base and lots of critical acclaim," and had their east coast debut at Lincoln Center in 2010.
Their second album, including four of Gordon's originals, was nominated for traditional jazz album of the year by New
Orlean's Offbeat magazine. In New York, Gordon leads the Grand St. Stompers, a traditional jazz band that performs all
around the east coast and recently released its debut album. On the west coast, he leads the Au Brothers Jazz Band, a
sister group which will debut at major jazz festivals in the fall of 2011.
Gordon has written big band arrangements for Terence Blanchard, jazz arrangements of flamenco songs for Carmen
París, co-arranged and recorded with Tiger Okoshi, transcribed for Chaka Khan, and recorded with the Danilo Perez Big
Band and Brian Blade. He has served as guest lecturer at Loyola University of New Orleans, taught a course at UC
Berkeley, served as Visiting Artist at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, taught at countless music camps, and
given clinics in Japan, Finland, Panama, and the US. His musical tours have taken him to India, Japan, Australia,
England, France, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, and Panama.
Currently, Gordon resides in Brooklyn, NY, where he continues to write, teach, and perform in both traditional and
modern musical veins. He can be seen performing regularly with bands such as Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks, David
Ostwald's Louis Armstrong Centennial Band at Birdland, the Grand St. Stompers, the Melissa Aldana Quartet, the
Cangelosi Cards, Baby Soda Jazz Band, the Gregorio Uribe Big Band, and many others.
Dan Levinson - clarinet - www.danlevinson.com.
Equally at home as both leader and sideman, Dan’s roster of musical associates includes such names as Mel Tormé,
Wynton Marsalis, and Dick Hyman, but he asserts that his 15-year association with reed legend “Rosy” McHargue taught
him most of what he knows about music and life. Originally from Los Angeles, Dan is based in New York, although his
busy schedule often takes him around the world. He has performed in Brazil with filmmaker Woody Allen’s band, as well
as in Japan, Iceland, and eighteen European countries. From 1990 to 2002 Dan toured with singer/guitarist
Since 1993 he has been a member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, New York’s preeminent 1920s orchestra, with whom
he has appeared at Carnegie Hall, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion
radio program. Dan’s successful Benny Goodman tributes have been presented both on the East Coast with Stan Rubin’s
orchestra and throughout Germany with Andrej Hermlin’s Swing Dance Orchestra. He has recorded over sixty CDs,
including seven under his own name. His most recent CD, Dan Levinson and his Canary Cottage Dance Orchestra:
Steppin’ Around, was released earlier this year on the Stomp Off label. Dan can be heard on the soundtracks to the films
The Cat’s Meow, Ghost World and The Aviator, as well as the current HBO television series Boardwalk Empire.
Adrian Cunningham - Clarinet & Tenor Sax http://www.adriancunningham.com/fr_biography.cfm
Adrian Cunningham has already established himself as one of this Australia's finest jazz musicians and multi-instrumentalists, with countless club and festival appearances plus a number of highly acclaimed albums. Having been been based in NYC since 2008, Adrian has been playing regularly in the Big Apple, throughout USA and Europe. In 3 short years he has appeared some of NYC's finest clubs- Smalls, Birdland, 55 Bar, Fat Cat, and even a private event at the hallowed Village Vanguard; with such luminaries as Lew Soloff, Wycliffe Gordon, George Coleman Jr and Bucky Pizzarelli.
Originally starting his musical career on piano at the age of 16, Adrian is better know for his ability to swap seamlessly between alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet and flute. As well as playing all over the country with his own band (The Adrian Cunningham Quartet), Adrian has also risen to be one of the most in demand freelance musicians in the country having played with numerous ensembles and celebrity artists from across the musical spectrum.
Adrian’s obvious musical talent is also prominent in his song writing. His ability to paint a picture or capture the energy of a moment with his melody writing is one that isn’t found very often. As well as playing standards, Adrian is featuring increasingly more of his own beautifully crafted original works and is gaining well deserved recognition. His songs have twice been featured on the In Flight program on Qantas domestic and international flights as well as gaining significant air play on radio stations around the country.
Adrian's commercial work involves extensive television appearances including the house band for Australian Idol (ch10), The Big Night In with John Foreman(ch10), The Sideshow (ABC), Adrian's roaring tenor sax can be heard weekly on Good News Week(ch10). Adrian's clairinet was also featured with Swing City on Mornings with Kerry Anne. TheVideo pageon this website has links to the above performances.
Adrian has toured extensively with his own quartet. The Adrian Cunningham Quartet has released two studio albums and a live album and DVD. Overseas Adrian has appeared twice at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and toured Europe as well as Asia. In fact, Adrian has preformed on every continent on Earth (aside from Antarcitca!)
In 2005 Adrian was nominated for two MO awards: Jazz Instrumentalist of the year and Best Jazz Group. He has also been a member of two prominent jazz groups: the famous Galapagos Duck and the Sydney All Star Big Band.
The start of 2008 saw the launch of a CD, teaming up with fellow Sydney woodwind specialist Graham Jesse for an album of contemporary jazz duets with jazz trio.
A couple of months later and Adrian was packing his bags for his next adventure – the big apple. His farewell concert went down in spectacular fashion with a sold out concert at the Basement in Sydney.
Bria Skonberg - Trumpet www.briaskonberg.com
Originally from Chilliwack, BC, New York based trumpeter and vocalist Bria Skonberg has been performing for over 20
years. She has represented Canada as a bandleader and guest artist all over North America, Europe, China and Japan.
Best known for her knowledge of classic jazz and pursuit of world-wide fun, she is creating a style all her own rooted in
swampy New Orleans and blues with swing, pop and world music influences.
In July of 2009 she was one of four performers selected for an International Young Artists’ Showcase at the Jazz a Juan
Festival in Antibes, France. She has been the recipient of the CBC Jazz Award of Merit (2006), and the Kobe Jazz Street
Friendship Award given at the Breda Jazz Festival in Holland in 2007. Early in 2008 Bria was a guest on Riverwalk Jazz
with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band representing the “Next Generation of Jazz”. Bria was a featured performer in the opening
ceremonies of the 2010 Paralympic Olympic Games alongside Michael Kaeshammer and Canadian Icon Dal Richards.
Since moving to New York she has began studying with renowned trumpeter Warren Vache and performed with the likes
of Bucky Pizzarelli, Nicholas Payton, Vince Giordano, Wycliffe Gordon and Scott Robinson.
She is an active advocate for young musicians, working as a teacher/alumni at the Sacramento Jazz Camp and Camp
Heebie Jeebies in Port Angeles, as well as programming, narrating and performing educational school shows for students
ranging from Kingergarten to College. In February of 2011 Bria was the featured adjudicator and performer at the
annual Sacramento Youth Band Festival. Intent on giving back, she was also active on the Board of Directors for the
annual Chilliwack Jazz Festival from 2008 to 2010.
Bria will soon be releasing her second solo album “So Is The Day” that highlights original songs, ideas and
arrangements drawing from her experiences to date.
Emily Asher - Trombone http://www.emilyasher.com/
Trombonist and vocalist Emily Asher is a rising musical personality in the New York City area, playing regularly with the
Brooklyn based Baby Soda Jazz Band, Gordon Au’s Grand Street Stompers and with her own groups The Emily Asher
Quartet and Garden Party. She has toured around North America with the ground-breaking Mighty Aphrodite Jazz Band
and Europe with Tuba Skinny from New Orleans. Her bold and expressive ensemble playing has found her sharing the
stage with Wycliffe Gordon, Nicholas Payton, Branford Marsalis, Frank Wess, Ed Polcer, Cynthia Sayer, John Allred, Bria
Skonberg and Dan Levinson. Most recently Emily has had the honor of recording with Wycliffe Gordon on his upcoming
tribute album to Louis Armstrong as well as being a member of Nicholas Payton’s Television Studio Orchestra.
Originally from Seattle, Emily received three Bachelors degrees from the University of Washington. Upon graduating in
2004 she was hired as the Director of Bands at Ballou Junior High School in Puyallup, Washington where she taught
grades seven through nine for three years. In May of 2009 she received her Masters degree in music performance from
CUNY Queens College.
Patrick Harrison - accordion http://patrickharison.blogspot.com/
Born to a goldsmithing accordion player and a ballet teacher, Patrick Harison grew up in a home full of art, music and dance. He took piano lessons at an early age, as well as flute lessons from his step-mother who is an accomplished musician and suzuki instructor. His father encouraged him to pick up the accordion at age 13. Patrick learned how to turn the bulky and boisterous machine into a sensitive instrument by listening to and imitating the masters from every corner of the world. His only formal study was with midwestern accordion hero Larry Malmberg. By 14, Patrick's professional career had begun. For extra income in high school, he formed a zydeco band which performed regularly at regional festivals, gaming establishments and backyard barbecues. As a young musician, he also had the opportunity to perform regularly with many notable Minnesota artists including; the Parisota Hot Club, Connie Evingson, The Mandragora Tango Orchestra, Clearwater Hot Club and many others in the worlds of jazz, folk and classical music.
In 2006, Patrick was awarded the McKnight Fellowshipfor performing musicians, the first accordion player to ever win the grant and one of the youngest recipients on record in any discipline. With his new found resources, he followed his musical passions around the globe. He spent a good deal of time in New Orleans, soaking up the diverse cultural influences of the region. During his time in Louisiana, He was a member of thePanorama Jazz Bandand The Loose Marbles with whom he was able to tour internationally and perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Veracruz Jazz Festival and notable venues domestic and abroad. 2008 brought Patrick to New York City to study eastern european folk music. While in New York he founded the Baby Soda Jazz Band, an international collective of musicians dedicated to bringing New Orleans Traditional Jazz to everyone, everywhere. The ensemble continues to perform in perpetuity bringing together old and young generations of musicians and listeners.
Patrick currently resides in Minneapolis, MN performing in a diverse array of projects including Patty and The Buttons, The Patrick Harison Trio, Eisner's Klezmorim, Jack Klatt and The Cat Swingers, Zations and Minor Kingdom In 2009, Patrick played the US Premiere of Pinocchio with The Minnesota Opera. He is also an active composer, session musician, educator and arranger.
Kevin Louis - Cornet http://www.jazzcapital.net/artists/kevin-louis.php
, a native New Orleanian, is known for his beautiful tone, swinging feel, and soulful improvisations. He has toured at least thirty countries as a performer, clinician and private instructor. This includes five tours through regions such as Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America as a U.S. Department of State/ John F. Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador.Kevin Louis
Anyone who has met Kevin will agree that he is that rare talent who has the ability to walk into any room and make people smile. He does it through his personality, and he does it through his music. A testament to his professionalism, clients who have hired Kevin through Jazz Capital Events always call again. Whether for.corporate event entertainment, wedding entertainment, or any other kind of private function, Kevin and his band always make the party.
Like any humble artist, he is quick to note those educators who've guided him to this point, and the list is impressive, including such jazz education luminaries as Clyde Kerr Jr., Kenneth Davis, Donald Walden, Stacy Cole, Wendell Logan, Gregory Bandy, Neal Creque, Sir Roland Hanna and Michael Phillip Mossman.
Mr. Louis has also has been schooled in classical trumpet technique under the instruction of William Lucas, Byron Pearson, Ronald Benko and Charles Couch.
As a performer, Kevin has shared the stage and/or recorded with another impressive list:
Bobby Watson, Victor Lewis, Kermit Ruffins, Jimmy Heath, Roland Guerin, Victor Atkins, Carmen Lundy, Curtis Lundy, Nicholas Payton, Gary Bartz, Henry Butler, Jesse Davis, Will Calhoun, Mos Def, The Real Live Show, Peter Martin, Fred Sanders, Shelly Carrol, Donald Edwards, Jon Benitez, Oran Evans, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Aaron Thurston Trio, The Howard Fishman Quartet, Kevin Jones & the 10th World, Winard Harper, Ronnie Mathews, Mike Phillips, Onaje Allen Gumbs and many more.
Kevin is a 1995 graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at Oberlin Conservatory of Music (’99), and he holds a Masters of Arts from the Aaron Copeland’s School of Music at Queens College(’01).
He currently leads his own group, the Kevin Louis Quartet throughout the New York area, and co-leads the jazz collective The Cultures of Rhythm.
- Paul Mercer Ellington."Rarely does talent come along and ring as true as in the case of Kevin Louis. He is truly a great trumpet player and complete musician. I have become a big fan of this very intelligent and soulful musician."
Oran Etkin - clarinet http://www.oranetkin.com/index.htm