Featured Artists


Dave GrusinDave Grusin is one of the country’s foremost composers, arrangers,producers and pianists. He is an eleven time Academy Award Nominee and the recipient of an Oscar for Heaven Can Wait in addition to 12 Grammys. Just a few of Dave’s nominated film credits include his scores for Mike Nichols’ Oscar-winning film, The Graduate; On Golden Pond and Tootsie, a film that yielded the hit song “It Might be You,” which featured one of Howard Roberts’ most illustrative students, Mitch Holder. From 2000 through 2011, Grusin concentrated on composing classical and jazz compositions, touring, and recording with several collaborators including another of H.R.’s devotees, guitarist Lee Ritenour. Dave Grusin’s numerous studio sessions and collaborations with Howard Roberts included his contributions to H.R.’s albums Guilty, Jaunty Jolly and Equinox Express Elevator

ERNIE WATTS - Saxophone

Ernie WattsErnie Watts is a two-time Grammy Award winner and one of the most prolific saxophone players in the business. Since turning pro at age sixteen he’s been featured on more than 500 recordings contributing his exceptional talent to everyone from Cannonball Adderley to Frank Zappa. And as a member of the Tonight Show Band he was one of the most fre- quently heard instrumentalists in the world. Ernie worked with H.R. every week at Donte’s for many months in the 70’s and recalls, “Howard had such energy and my playing is all about energy. And he was so flexible; he played all kinds of styles and techniques within what he was doing. He’d be playing something and change a feel or a groove and it was so very fluid and free. And Howard’s music was always enlightening, melodic, open and such fun to play. There was joy in his tunes.” 


Jay RobertsJay Roberts has been a dedicated educator and performer since his early teen age years. He was raised in a musical family environment with parents who were both noted professionals. Jay availed himself of the opportunity to learn and grow as a player excelling on both guitar and drums. Today, his stylistic interests are widely varied. He’s adept at rock, blues, country, Latin jazz and bebop. As the founder of Roberts Music Institute, Jay has personally influenced over 50,000 students. With a highly developed background in improvising and accelerated learning techniques acquired from years of study with his father, Howard, Jay enjoys sharing the tools of the trade with his students. By producing the Howard Roberts Project, Jay thoroughly explored the history and legacy of his father, an achievement that evoked the very fond memories of hanging out with H.R. and playing guitar every night with his best friend and mentor. 


Mitch HolderMitch Holder enjoys a place in the guitar-great pantheon that comprises such artists as Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, George Van Eps, and yes, his mentor, Howard Roberts.

Mitch is one of the most respected and revered players in the music business. His endless list of film credits includes Urban Cowboy, City Slickers, Stripes, Grease, Tootsie, and many more. His TV credits include Designing Women, Dynasty, Fame, CHIPS, Moonlighting and too many more to list. He’s recorded with hundreds of artists including Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow and Nancy Wilson. Mitch’s work with the Tonight Show Band for 12 years led to his regular appearances today with Chris Walden, Robert Davi and Billy Vera. And listen for Mitch’s solo guitar for the opening scene in Clint Eastwood’s film Space Cowboys.

Mitch says, “There’s nothing you couldn’t ask Howard. If you thought it was going to be a stupid question, he’d say, ‘There are no stupid questions.’ He was open about any subject relating to the guitar, and not just jazz; he respected anyone who played a given style and did it well.”

TIM MAY - Guitar

Tim MaySynthesizers and digital technology brought an end to the Golden Era of recording sessions for even our most talented guitarists, most of whom endured relentless schedules of daily studio work. But not for Tim May, who regularly lends his amazing chops to several TV productions including The Simpsons, The Family Guy, King of the Hill and any number of record dates for today’s hottest artists. That’s Tim who played “Johnny B. Goode” for Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. Moreover, Tim is a four-time NARAS MVP award winner, an honor that can be bestowed only by one’s professional peers.

Tim says, “When Howard was declining, I’d call to ask how he was doing. He’d say, ‘Tim, I’m dying and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. But how about you, are you getting a chance to really play?' That was Howard in a nutshell, totally unselfish."

TOM SCOTT - Saxophone

Tom ScottTom Scott began his career in the 1960s. He was immediately recognized as an uncommonly brilliant talent. That recognition became a harbinger of his success as a first-call session and live performance artist. His credentials would fill pages. Tom collected three Grammy awards and thirteen Grammy nominations. His numerous film and television scoring credits include composing and conducting the score for Conquest of the Planet of the Apes in addition to musical director for The 68th Academy Awards in 1996, and numerous Emmy Awards telecasts. Tom has recorded with George Harrison, the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Joni Mitchell, Blondie, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Quincy Jones, Carole King and Frank Sinatra. That’s Tom with H.R.’s Magic Band, Live at Donte’s and The Magic Band II, and on the Spinning Wheel album. We’re thrilled Tom could join us for a reprise of “Brothers of Serendipity.”


Mike AnthonyMike Anthony spent decades as a first-call session guitarist and second-generation member of the famed Wrecking Crew who played on countless hit records. In addition to such TV credits as The Bob Newhart Show, The Brady Bunch, Dallas, Charlie’s Angels, The Flintstones, Happy Days and many more, just a few of Mike’s film credits include Funny Lady, The Eiger Sanction, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Lady Sings The Blues, The Last Detail and a long list of others. Mike’s talent was in demand for a myriad of artists including Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Nat Cole and Gil Evans. And few musicians have been called to accompany both Miles Davis and Luciano Pavarotti.

Mike says, “I once asked Howard during a lesson which way I should play something, he said ‘Mike, you've got ten fingers, six strings and a pick----leave no stone unturned.’ That was immensely powerful to me! I pass that philosophy on to my students.”


Chuck BerghoferMany pros consider Chuck Berghofer to be the jazz bassist in Hollywood. He’s worked with Bobby Troupe, Herb Ellis, Shelly Manne, Jimmy Rowles and Zoot Sims to name a few. He was a member of the Wrecking Crew and a four-time recipient of NARAS’ MVP award. In addition, Chuck played on more than 400 film soundtracks from The Graduate to Ted, and such classic TV shows as Charlie’s Angels, The Carol Burnett Show, Star Trek and numerous Oscar Award ceremonies. In the 90’s, Chuck toured worldwide with Frank Sinatra and recorded the classic Duet I and II CDs. Recently, he’s recorded with Barbra Streisand, Michael Buble, Gloria Estefan and Joni Mitchell and continues to play on Family Guy and many other TV shows.

Chuck says “ I credit Howard with helping me in my early days in the studio. His advice, attitude and support were invaluable in learning about the business and gave me more confidence as a player. Working alongside him on the albums was a great opportunity to learn, and I always had the utmost respect for him”.


Ralph HumphreyRalph Humphrey lends his exceptional talent to many of music’s most significant performers and composers on a daily basis. He’s worked with Frank Zappa, the Manhattan Transfer, Don Ellis, Al Jarreau, Wayne Shorter, Barbra Streisand, Jay Graydon, Jeff Porcaro and many more. For decades Ralph has been an industry first-call player and has performed on countless films, TV shows, records and jingles. You’ll hear Ralph’s playing on virtually all the Warner Brothers animated shows as well as The Simpsons and King of the Hill. Just a few of his live performance credits include The Grammy Awards, The People’s Choice Awards, Dancing With The Stars, American Idol and The ABC 50th Anniversary Special. Also, Ralph passes along his musical knowledge to students as a department head at the Los Angeles Music Academy. And in the 1980s, Ralph was one of the first staff instructors at H.R.’s Musicians Institute. 

BOB BAIN - Guitar

Bob BainFor seven decades, Bob Bain flexed his chops on more recording sessions than any living guitarist. He lent his brilliant talent to such artists as Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Peggy Lee, Ray Charles, Glen Campbell, Linda Ronstadt, Sam Cooke, Quincy Jones and countless others. And that’s in addition to Bob creating the “Mancini Guitar Sound.” That’s Bob playing the famous riff for the “Peter Gunn Theme,” as well as accompanying Audrey Hepburn singing “Moon River” in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And that’s Bob playing “Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission Impossible Theme” and Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven.

Bob talks fondly about Howard remembering, “Howard and I worked so many sessions together and on movie calls had any number of tacit sheets and I’d look forward to those where we didn’t have anything to play because I could pick Howard’s brain, and he was not only happy to show me, but he would say, ‘well you can go here and do this or that.’ So he was so willing to show me whatever I wanted to know.”

DAN DEAN - Bass, Percussion

Dan DeanDan Dean is a truly multitalented artist. He’s achieved national and international recognition as a bassist, producer, composer and even as a recording engineer. In addition to playing on H.R.’s 1980 album for Discovery, Turning to Spring, Dan has performed with some of the finest musicians and musical organizations of our time, including: Shelly Manne, The Great Guitars (Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessell), Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, B.B. King, Eddie Harris, Buddy DeFranco, Donny Hathaway, Tom Scott, the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Opera, Freddie Hubbard and many others. Space literally prohibits a complete list of Dan’s numerous broadcast and film awards but a few include the Cannes Golden Lion, Addy Awards, Telly Awards, Best of the West Awards, Clio Awards, IBA Awards, an IBA “Spike” Award, and the NEA Composition Award recipient in Jazz Composition. Suffice it to say, Dan Dean is an extraordinary musical talent. 

RUSSELL FERRANTE - Piano, Keyboards

Russell FerranteFounding member of the Yellowjackets, keyboardist Russell Ferrante’s career is brimming with major artists who’ve employed his talents. Russ left college to tour with Jimmy Witherspoon, went on to work and record with Robben Ford, Joni Mitchell, Tom Scott, Ernie Watts and many others. In addition, Russ has produced records for several artists including Bobby McFerrin and Al Jarreau as well as creating arrangements for Lee Ritenour, Take Six and many more. Russ recalls, “I had the opportunity to play with Howard at Donte’s a well-known jazz club right after moving to Los Angeles. I was completely green and didn’t know how lucky I was to be sharing the bandstand with Howard, Ernie Watts, John Guerin and bassist Dan Dean. Howard was so gracious and supportive. It was one of my fi rst memorable gigs in Los Angeles and made me instantly aware of the high caliber of musicians here.” 


Howard AldenHoward Alden began his career playing tenor banjo as a child, but by age 16 he was studying guitar with Jimmy Wyble. And a few years later in 1977 Howard was at GIT studying with H.R. By 1979, he was working with Red Norvo’s trio perpetuating a jazz legacy filling the guitar chair once occupied by Jimmy Wyble and Tal Farlow. Alden is widely considered one of the finest and most prolific guitarists in the jazz realm. He’s at once as modern as tomorrow while maintaining his ever-present musical roots. Howard has recorded with such other brilliant artists as George Van Eps, Jimmy Bruno, Frank Vignola, Bucky Pizzarelli and many others. Moreover, his work in film includes recording the guitar performances for Sean Penn’s character in Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown. H.R. was a tremendous influence on Howard and it’s our pleasure he’s involved with this project. 


Don GrusinDon Grusin’s musical peers and the world of the arts at large consider this comprehensive talent to be more than a composer and pianist but a real visionary. His persona comprises and embodies an artist, a performer, an educator, innovator and an advocate for social change. In addition, Don is a successful composer, producer, arranger and a world-class jazz pianist whose talent transcends time, trend and, if you will, borders. He has recorded more than twenty solo albums, hundreds more for other performers and picked up three Grammys along the way. Space prohibits his many accomplishments but suffice it to say that it’s no surprise Don Grusin and H.R. were fast friends. They often gigged together in the Northwest and once both enjoyed sideman status lending their talents to a Diane Schur’s, Deedles album in 1985. We were overjoyed that Don could join us for this project. 

ALEX ACUÑA - Percussion

Alex AcuñaAlex Acuña’s credentials are staggering. He’s one of the world’s most in demand percussions and an artist of unimpeachable talent. His professional career began at age eighteen with the Perez Prado band. In 1974, he was in Las Vegas working with Elvis Presley and Diana Ross before joining the jazz-fusion band Weather Report, appearing on Heavy Weather and Black Market. In 1978, he received regular studio and live performance calls from Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Chick Corea, Whitney Houston, Plácido Domingo, Lee Ritenour, Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, Roy Orbison, the YellowJackets, Lalo Schiffrin, Herbie Hancock, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Beck, Roberta Flack, U2, Al Jarreau, and former Weather Report bandmates Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. Obviously, space prohibits a full list of Alex’s credits but we were so pleased for Alex to lend his brilliant percussion chops to H.R.’s “Deep Fry.” 

DON MOCK - Guitar

Don MockHoward Roberts’ longtime friend and protégé Don Mock began playing guitar in the sixties. He was originally influenced by the usual guitar-hero suspects, but Don explored several music genres and excelled in them all. The result was his developing an astute musical approach and insight. Without pretense, Don Mock was on the cutting edge of music’s fusion movement and a respected and revered player among his peers. His ultimate style was simply a manifestation of a brilliantly talented guitarist investigating the music that he found rewarding. That attitude would no doubt have attracted H.R. to the young guitarist. After a performing, recording and teaching career, Don agreed to manage H.R.’s guitar seminars in the North west and eventually moved to the Guitar Institute of Technology in L.A., becoming a primary instructor and curriculum author. Don will forever be considered an integral part of Howard Roberts’ life and music career.

JILL ROBERTS - Percussion

Jill RobertsJill Roberts began playing drums as a youngster in Kansas, competing and playing in drum corps bands after availing herself of instruction from a Marine Corps drum instructor all through her school years. In 1954, at age 19, she moved to Hollywood. She taught, studied with jazz drummers and gigged in L.A. and Las Vegas. Jill met Howard in 1955 at Jazz City when he was with the Buddy DeFranco Quartet. In 1956, they married and produced three wonderful sons: Doug, Jay and Chris all raised in Hollywood. In 1971, the family moved to North Bend, Oregon where Jill continued to perform, teach drums and guitar. She is currently recording and composing and has shared her fascinating stories about Hollywood’s Golden Era, all of which can be accessed from the documentary Web site. Jill played an integral part in Howard’s life and her recollections are an important part of this documentary. 


Mark ArringtonMark Arrington has the envious gig of touring the world in Microsoft co founder Paul Allen’s band The Underthinkers. Mark began playing drums at age seven and was soon exploring jazz, rock and blues. He’s now very busy and in constant demand for recordings and live performance work. Jay and Mark met as teenagers and found they shared the same passion and drive for creating great music and played in many bands together. As a teen in Edmonds, Washington Mark got to know, hang out and jam with H.R. He says, “This was truly an honor to play on this record and pay tribute to Howard. It was an absolute blast!” 

TOM COLLIER - Vibes, Chimes

Tom CollierTom Collier’s credentials are extraordinary. His protean chops cover virtually every type of music there is. For starters, he’s the Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Washington, a noted composer, session player, symphony soloist, recording artist, jazz musician and a veteran of more than fifty years in the music business. He’s appeared on many Hollywood soundtracks under the direction of such composers as Henry Mancini, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Goldsmith and Oliver Nelson. In addition, Tom is the recipient of 15 consecutive ASCAP Popular Panel Awards for his jazz and percussion compositions - to date. Moreover, he’s performed and recorded with many of our finest musical artists including Ernie Watts, Ry Cooder, Barbra Streisand, Harry Nilsson, Don Grusin, Bud Shank, Laurindo Almeida, Natalie Cole, The Beach Boys, Peggy Lee and yes, Howard Roberts. It’s an honor to have Tom contribute his superb talent to this project. 

ALLEN VIZZUTTI - Flügelhorn, Trumpet

Allen VizzuttiAllen Vizzutti is renowned as one of the finest trumpet players in the world. In fact, he’s performed in at least 40 countries and every state in the union. His professional peers and fans include Doc Severinsen, Chick Corea, Chuck Mangione and Woody Herman to name a few. And Allen’s appearances with those artists and others such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, the Commodores, Prince, the Airmen of Note, the Army Symphony Orchestra and Japan’s NHK Orchestra and too many more to list all endorse his extraordinary musical talent. In addition, Allen has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious venues including the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, the Newport Jazz Festival the Montreaux Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center and many more. We were tremendously excited that Allen worked with us on this historic session in honor of H.R.