Yusefzadeh, born in Iran, is releasing her new album “Migration”. A collaboration with guitarist Thomas Nordlund featuring adventurous arrangements of traditional Persian songs and new original compositions. Her musical training began in Iran and was furthered at Uof M Studying Jazz and classical vocal music, continued with renowned Jazz vocalist Roberta Davis. Through-out her life in Minnesota, she has collaborated with several local and national artists, among which, co-founded the group "Robayat" with Tim Sparks and Tim O’Keefe; co-created the music for the Katha dance group “Rubaiyat - Life in a Day” performed at The Cowles Center; “Embracing the Beloved” a cross cultural musical with Nirmala Rajasekar and David Harris, and several Plays “Love Letters from the East”, “Hebrew Lesson” and "Sohrab and Rustam". Maryam also performed in the Walker Art Center World Premiere performance of "Logic of the Birds" by Shirin Neshat.
Maryam has several jazz performances to her credit including stints as soloist with Cedar Walton Trio, founder of the vocal jazz quintet Solfege, a soloist with the MacPhail Center Jazz Ensemble, the Love Ensemble under the direction of Roberta Davis, the vocal jazz group Essentially Jazz.
Thomas Nordlund is a guitarist and composer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He studied guitar with Roger Brotherhood, Jaime Guiscafre, and Tim Sparks, and holds a B.A. in guitar performance from the University of Minnesota-Morris, a Certificate in Jazz Studies from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and completed the Sound Design Program with James Patrick at Slam Academy in Minneapolis.
In 2015, he released his debut full-length record "Divide Avenue". In addition to presenting his own music, he is an active sideman with Sarah Morris, Chris Bates, and Maryam Yusefzadeh, and has performed or recorded with Dead Man Winter, Moon and Pollution, MR DR, The Jana Nyberg Group, The Fontanelles, The Adam Meckler Orchestra, The Madison Jazz Orchestra, and Irie Sol, among many others.
Tony Axtell ― bass, Sean Turner ― keyboards, & Michael Pilhofer ― percussions
Tony Axtell, a native Minnesotan, graduated from the Musician's Institute Of Technology in Los Angeles, CA with a degree in bass studies.
A true multi-instrumentalist, he is an accomplished bassist, keyboardist, vocalist, drummer, guitarist, as well as a prolific composer, arranger, engineer and producer. Tony's skills can be heard on many genres of music he’s had the fortune of being involved in over the past 25 years.
Sean Turner’s compositions and orchestrations have been utilized by Sony, Oprah Winfrey, Lifetime Network, Discovery Channel, American Express, Target, Chicken Soup For The Soul, and he has been a featured artist for Getty Images among many others. He has authored two instructional texts and written and produced three albums — one of which received a “Parent’s Choice Award” for children’s music.
Turner began his professional music career performing as a vocal soloist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera soprano Lucy Shelton in the world premiere of twentieth century composer George Crumb’s “Ancient Voices of Children.” He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance from Arizona State University and was awarded a Jazz Study Grant from the National Endowment For The Arts to study in New York with JoAnne Brackeen.
Michael Pilhofer, a first call drummer in the Twin Cities for over 25 years, has had the pleasure to perform with some of the top local and national artists such as Joe Lovano, Marian McPartland, Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holand, Bill Holeman, Wycliffe Gordon, Gene Bertoncini, and others. A graduate of Miami School of Music, and holding a Masters in Music Education from The Eastman School of Music, his other passion is teaching, having taught high school for many years, and 7 years as an Assistant Professor at McNally Smith College of Music.
ROBAYAT, formed in 1989 by Iranian native Maryam Yusefzadeh, performs the indigenous music of Persia, Turkey and Central Asia. Popular not only within the local Persian community, Robayat has performed at numerous venues throughout the Upper Midwest, including Orchestra Hall, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Renaissance Festival, Northrup Auditorium, MacNider Museum (Iowa), University of Minnesota-Northrup Auditorium, Winona State University, the Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Public Radio's "The Morning Show", and many galleries, churches, schools, educational organizations, and private celebrations as well. As educators, Robayat treats music as the introduction to culture, history, geography and further understanding of the people. Robayat, winner of the 1992 Minnesota Music Awards as the best Middle Eastern Band, released a compact disc called "Music of the Heart" in 1998. Joining Yusefzadeh are percussionist Tim O'Keefe, violinist David Stenshoel, and David Burk on oud, choombush, saz, and guitar. A founding member who is currently not with the group is Tim Sparks - you can visit his web site at www.timsparks.com.
Yusefzadeh received her early training in Iran, at the Tehran School of Music, from such Music Masters as Mohamad Esmaili, and Esmail Tehrani. Upon immigrating to the United States as a student, she received a BFA from the University of Minnesota in Art, Music and Dance Performance. She furthered her musical studies in jazz with Roberta Davis. She has also continued her vocal technique training with Nancy Grauff since 1979.
Yusefzadeh is actively involved with Persian music as a vocalist and educator at several area institutions. In her native Iran she performed with the Tehran Zarb Orchestra. Recently co-created the music for the cultural play "Sohrab and Rustam" one of 2002's top 10 theatrical performance and recipient of Jerome Foundation Grant in 2001 with playwright Zarawar Mistry and percussionist Tim O'Keefe. Yusefzadeh is one of the co-founders of Minnesota Global Arts, Inc. aimed to link and promote MN performing artists focused on Near East music and dance forms. She also has several jazz performances to her credit including stints as soloist with Cedar Walton Trio, founder of the vocal jazz quintet Solfege, and soloist with the Love Ensemble under the direction of Roberta Davis.
O'Keefe is widely renown as one of the top percussionist in the Twin Cities ethnic music community with over 25 years of experience. He has an extensive background in hand drum and music styles and techniques including Persian, Brazilian, and Arabic among others. In addition to being a founding member of "Robayat" O'Keefe has appeared with several international performing artists, including: Sussan, Simon Shaheen, Sivan Perwar, Zeinab Shaath, Bob Dylan, Astrid Gilberto, Eddie Brickell & the New Bohemians Milton Cardona, and Mazinho. Currently O'Keefe performs Iranian, Kurdish, Turkish, Moroccan, Arabic, Greek and Latin music. O'Keefe recently created the music for the local theater production of "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" and co-created music for the play "Sohrab and Rustam", recipient of Jerome Foundation Grant in 2001.
For the past 25 years, Stenshoel has been playing violin, saxophone and mandolin in various Twin Cities ensembles ranging from the eclectic folk-angst of Boiled in Lead, to Western Swing with the Radio Rangers, to traditional Eastern European with the Ethnic Dance Theatre to the experimental jazz improvisations of Imp Ork. Stenshoel has performed extensively throughout the Midwest at venues from Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis to the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and was recipient of the Minnesota Music Awards "Best Ethnic Violin Performer" award in 1988.
Well-known in the Twin Cities as a performer of many ethnic styles, Burk frequently performs on Middle Eastern instruments such as oud and saz, as well as guitar and bass. He first began studying Middle Eastern stringed instruments in 1993 with master oud performer and luthier Benny Antoum in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar. Joining Robayat in early 1998, he has previously performed and/or recorded with various ensembles throughout North America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, including Shalita, The Georges Lamman Arabic Orchestra, Voices of Sepharad, Sattar, Shangoya, Out of Africa, and Amandla. In 2001, he was awarded a Jerome Travel and Study grant to attend the Arabic Music Retreat at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where he studied with Simon Shaheen.