Mario Abney
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Mario Abney

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF
Band Jazz Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Summer Street Music Series: Chicago"

Say "street music" in Chicago, and much of the year, that means the screech of the city's elevated train as it makes its way around downtown. But when the weather gets warm, musicians set up under the El train tracks to make the cacophony more melodic.

In the final installment of All Things Considered's summer series on street musicians, NPR's Cheryl Corley stops to listen to a young trumpeter on Wabash Street.

On the day of Corley's visit, 25-year-old Mario Abney is playing with the Caravan of Unity, a collection of hornplayers, drummers and a bassist who hook up from time to time.

Caravan of Unity is songwriter and percussionist Jun Cameron's band. "We enjoy playing on the streets here and there," says Cameron. "You never know, you might get a break on the streets. You never know who might discover you. Plus, we can see how people feel about our music."

The other members — Abney, Ogina Allen, Gregory Hartinson, Garrette Horne, Rhythm Burage, Dylan Schwartz and Kaliq Woods — have their own bands, but join the Caravan when they can, performing on the streets about three or four times during the week.

They're an eclectic bunch and Mario, with his blue head rag and basketball jersey, could fit right in the rap scene, but his muse is decidedly different. A jazz studies student at Ohio's Central State University, he started out playing trumpet at Thornton Township High school in south suburban Chicago.

Abney says the streets are a training ground for music. "This is the way we can educate people about music," he says. "Everybody has to come out on the streets at sometime or another. For the people who don't go to jazz clubs, and have business downtown, they're going to hear us."

Steve Hawkins, also a trumpet player, has blown his horn on the streets for more than 20 years. He has praise for Abney: "He's fine, he's great, I've been trying to learn from him, he's one of my teachers."

Hearing this, Abney just laughs, picks up horn, looks up at the El and blows. - CHERYL CORLEY

"Emerging New Orleans & Chicago Trumpeter Mario Abney Gets Recording Deal With Hyena Records!"

PRLog (Press Release) – Jun 10, 2010 – “After I heard eight bars, I said, ‘Oh Yeah!’” --Bill Dern, Hyena Records

“Trumpeter Mario Abney is on the verge of breaking into the national and international jazz scene.”
--Danny Melnick, Absolutely Live Entertainment, LLC

“Something very special is happening with Mario Abney.” --Sue Auclair, Sue Auclair Promotions

“He’s the best new artist I’ve heard in 20 years.” --Dick LaPalm, Dick LaPalm Co.

Saratoga Springs, NY (Tuesday, June 8, 2010) – Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival and Hyena Records are excited to announce that young New Orleans & Chicago-based trumpet player Mario Abney has just been signed to Hyena Records for the release of his recording Spiritual Perception.

Abney is being showcased at Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival on Saturday, June 26 by Artistic Director and Co-Producer Danny Melnick who “discovered” Abney at the New Orleans JazzFest in 2009. “Trumpeter Mario Abney is on the verge of breaking into the national and international jazz scene. I am honored to introduce him at the Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival on June 26 and to have played a role in his signing with Hyena Records. Look out world!" states Danny Melnick.

Veteran music publicist Sue Auclair, who handles press for the festival, was also smitten with the young musician’s skilled playing and composition. In the process of promoting his appearance at the festival to the press and music industry, she was able to strike up a deal with Bill Dern of Hyena Records.

“I was on the phone discussing another artist with publicist Sue Auclair from Boston and mentioned our endless quest for new artists for Hyena,” states Bill Dern. “Sue said she had the most incredible new artist that she’d just heard. Having heard this before, I said, ‘well let me hear something’ and literally after I’d heard eight bars, I said, ‘Oh Yeah!’ My mind was made up immediately. Mario has a warmth and a tone that’s really classic. After listening to the first song on the CD, I knew that we had something very special so I called our long-time promotion man Dick LaPalm. I simply said to him, ‘I found one, and it’s in the mail.’ Dick called me two days later and said, ‘you’re right, he’s the best new artist I’ve heard in 20 years!’”

“I am delighted to see this come together for Mario. If Mario’s talent and creativity can combine with the enthusiasm of industry veterans like Bill Dern, Danny Melnick, Dick LePalm, Wynton Marsalis, photographer Reed Hoffman and myself--and we can all come together like this for such an outstanding musician--it must mean that something very special is happening,” said Sue Auclair.

Hyena will print up a limited edition of Mario’s new CD, Spiritual Perception, with a wider release coming in August 2010, and the limited editions will exclusively be available for purchase at the Borders booth at Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival.

Of Mario’s sets in New Orleans, Melnick stated, “They just destroyed the audience! Mario’s band opened the Jazz Tent at 11:00 AM and everyone went nuts for their set. After the show, I went straight to Mario and said, ‘I’m booking you NOW for a festival I produce in New York next year.’” And so, Abney is set to perform on both the Main and Gazebo stages on Saturday, June 26.

Many who hear Abney subsequently try to help him along with his career. Wynton Marsalis donated some money toward Mario purchasing his first professional trumpet in 2005. Later, Abney was playing at a hotel where a conference of professional photographers was taking place. Photographer/educator Reed Hoffman heard him and gave him a free professional photo shoot. The shots are stunning.
Thirty-two year old Mario Abney is currently living in New Orleans. “This is home for so MUCH amazing music,” he says. Abney grew up in a Chicago suburb, Harvey, Illinois. “I grew up with the heavy, heavy church vibe, you know what I mean? From the time I was 7, I remember going to the South Suburban Missionary Baptist Church with my Mom and later we transferred to Victory Christian Assembly.”
Abney was immersed in music but he wasn’t really serious about it until he reached high school, despite piano lessons as a little kid and learning about drumming from sitting next to the drummer in the front row of church. His grandmother was into the blues and exposed him to B.B. King and other artists while his mom, a violinist, turned him onto jazz. His uncle, who was more like a father to him, played piano, trumpet and saxophone.

During high school, Abney was “blown away” by the excitement of the jazz and concert bands at the school, and began to really work on his piano playing and later, French horn and trumpet. After high school he went on to college at Central State University in Ohio, where his music and trumpet playing truly flourished.

Abney married while in Ohio and had two beautiful children [now aged 2 and 6] but the marriage fell apart, “due to the struggle of being an artist in a society that doesn’t value music as a way to make a living.” Mario’s main goal of following his spiritual and musical paths didn’t always jive with practicality. Music was, after all, his first love.

“The music was spiritual for me and my mother had always been behind me, encouraging me to follow this path. But there is so much opposition to the pursuit of a musical career! It’s not taken seriously by the outside world. My mother raised me to be a ‘good man’ and to follow my path and preserve my spiritual thread through my music. Just two days before she died unexpectedly on Easter Sunday in 2009, she told me ‘You have a gift . . . don’t let anything block you from expressing it.’”

Abney now leads THREE different bands [The Avante Garde, The Abney Effect and The The band performing at SPAC, The Mario Abney Quintet [PLUS ONE--and so technically a sextet] will feature some of his best friends and top flight players from his travels: Kaliq Woods on clarinet; Josh Atkin, alto saxophone; Jessy Morrow on bass; Jason Butler on piano and keyboards and Julian Addison on drums. -

"One to Watch: Mario Abney"

Mario Abney has become a typical New Orleans musician, hustling for gigs and playing in several bands. He came to New Orleans from Chicago to study jazz music, but has easily fit into the local music scene as one of our own.

“I moved to New Orleans because I wanted to come to the source,” said a very young-looking Mario Abney. “New Orleans, for me, is a vast land of knowledge and opportunity. To me, what makes the music scene special is that musicians are always playing, and not because they have to, but because they love to. It is definitely easier to learn from musicians and get into the music scene here. That is one of my favorite things about this beautiful city. The musicians here show love and respect to other players. Here, greats like Ellis Marsalis, Bill Summers, George Porter, Jr., and Charmaine Neville embrace new musicians with open arms and that really makes the difference in terms of the positive energy of the scene. Musicians here give each other a chance to share and learn. People also support the arts here. The music here is a real part of the community and the history alone gives the music and musicians a certain type of pride for the culture.”

Mario Abney now has three bands in New Orleans: The Mario Abney Quintet, The Avant Garde, and the Abney Effect. Each band has a different sound and a different approach to the music. Both the Abney Effect and The Avante Garde are more experimental jazz groups that are fairly new projects. Currently, Abney is working on writing music for the Abney Effect and his Quintet.

“The Abney Effect is a combination of acoustic and electric approaches of jazz, neo-soul, house, and hip-hop. In this band, we try to structure our musical presentation on the aspect of the groove. This band is an outlet for me to explore the music I listened to before I got into jazz. A lot of gospel and contemporary jazz has had an effect on the direction of this ensemble,” said Abney.

Abney believes that the sound of this ensemble is still developing, and hopes for the band to develop into a group that plays the R&B, house, and soul standards from a jazz perspective with a groove influence. The Abney Effect consists of Jason Butler on keys, Julian Addison on drums, Zuri Appleby on bass, Danny Able on guitar, Carlos Rodregez on percussion, DJ Inform on turntables, Kris Royal on sax, keys, and EWI (electronic wind instrument), and Mario Abney on trumpet.

The Avante Garde is a new project for Abney, and can be considered as a highly improvisational quartet. In this ensemble almost all of the music is improvised.

“With this group, we strive to create music that connects the freedom of free jazz with the aggressive and melodic sound of Chicago style avant garde,” said Abney. “When I think about the sound of this band I think about the Velvet Lounge and my roots in Chicago. In this band, we have Rajah Cornish on saxes and flutes, Matthew Shilling on flutes and saxes, Jessie Morrow on bass, and I am playing drums. This band is highly creative and we all really get a chance to venture out and push the limits of our creativity while striving to make music that speaks to the listener.”

The Mario Abney Quintet is a more traditional jazz group that has been influenced by quintets like Miles Davis, Roy Hargrove, and Nicholas Payton. Mario hopes that with his quintet, he can develop a musical ensemble that brings jazz music back to the youth by exploring original compositions and performing music that touches the other genres of music as well. The Mario Abney Quintet consists of Jason Butler on keys, Jessie Morrow on bass, Kris Royal on saxophone, Julian Addison on drums, and Mario Abney on trumpet.

“In describing the sound of my band, I would call it Gospel Soul Jazz,” said Abney referring to his Quintet. “What makes my band special is the musician’s concept of groove and melody. In all of the music we play the most important aspect of the music is the groove and my cats understand that. Although we all have our individual talents, we collectively agree to play music together and we use the groove as a medium to exchange our musical thoughts and ideas. The music we play is spiritual and a gift from the Creator, so to me, it’s Gospel. It’s soul because the musicians groove and it is jazz because of the heavy improvisation and mastery of thought. The combinations of these ingredients make the band special. This is my first time playing Jazz Fest, so I can’t really say I know just what to expect, but whatever happens, I know it will be special, and I know all the food is off the chain—it’s New Orleans!”

Mario Abney describes himself as a musician trying to play everywhere he can, regularly dropping press packs around to the local clubs. He said that whenever he gets the chance to play, he always tries to make the most of it by talking with a lot of people and letting them know what he’s doing around town. He definitely believes that the Internet is a great business tool for musicians, and has helped him make a lot of valuable connections. Abney dreams that one year from now, his musical career will be flourishing and touching the lives of many people on an international level, and with his sound and young ambition, it’s likely this musician’s dreams will easily come true. - Kevin McKee


Spiritual Perception - 2010



With roots reaching back to April of 2000, the Mario Abney Quintet (nicknamed "MAQ5") was started just outside Dayton in a small town called Wilberforce, Ohio. Dubbed by Cin Weekly as jazz workhorse, Abney has managed to perform as a sideman and leader with everyone from Erykah Badu to Wynton Marsalis. However, it is with his group's original compositions coupled with tastefully chosen covers that he feels comfortable to truly play from the depths of his spirit.

Mario is constantly propelled to the summit of his trumpet coterie by his band - The Mario Abney Quintet : Saxophonist Clarence Slaughter, keyboardist Rashon Murph, bassist Ian J. Baggette, and drummer Julian Addison.

Since its inception the group has seen some ups and downs with lineup changes but in early 2007 things began to quickly elevate. Inchoately hitting the ground running since then, the MAQ5 has managed to not only hold down weekly and monthly gigs at local historic jazz venues such as Jazz Central in Dayton, and The Greenwich in Cincinnati, but also play events spanning across major Eastern and Midwestern cities including Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Indianapolis, Virginia Beach, and New Orleans.

The wunderkind group has the versatility and draw to have been asked to perform at everything from late night clubs and hot spots like Kanye West's after party, to high society galas such as the National Society of Black Law Students association's (BLSA) national convention, or the Sigma Phi Epsilon Centennial Celebration - all while not compromising an iota of artistic integrity, and showing their desire to bridge any racial barriers with their music.

With a high standard set by Abney, the band maintains the image of dressing sharp and always playing just past their perceived peaks.

There have been very few groups who play their own blend of soul and progressive groove jazz with the passion and integrity of the Mario Abney Quintet. Each time they grace the band stand whether it is the concert hall or the street corner, it is certain that they are destined to become stalwarts in the next driving force of instrumental music.