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GMichael Merrifield - bassist - executive producer

 GMichael Born of a musical family in Denver Colorado, Gmichael first started playing guitar then switched to the bass because "it felt right."  Then, at the tender age of 8, “G” became the bassist in many high school stage bands & string ensembles.  Gmichael’s first bass was bought for him while playing in a music store in Omaha, Nebraska. His pro career began when he became a part of"Round Edge". This group consisted of Tim Renfrow, Dave Cupack and Chuck Dickey; they worked continuously in the area, opening for Johnny Winter. His professional peers included James Higgins and Mike Soccie who were working with professionally acclaimed Omaha drummer Victor Lewis (Kenny Barron, Art Farmer, J.J. Johnson, Mike Stern, John Stubblefield, Grover Washington Jr., The Manhattan Jazz Quintet, Bobby Hutcherson and Bobby Watson).   

In California (1973) “G” was involved in rehearsals with Dennis Chambers and Elvin Bishop and then later with Johnny Halstrup. Then, while serving in the Army in Germany, “G” was busy performing with Mike Naylor (Debbie Reynolds’s arranger). Members of that band included Preston Vismale and famed London composer, Janusz Podrazik.  After “G” returned to the States, he played with Peter Pogi in "Cool Breeze". Other notables that “G” performed with were Pamela Rose and the Eights, Chris Cobb (Tommy TuTone), Kevin Zuffi (Etta James Band) and Addie Clement (Joy of Cooking and Fanny). GMichael also recorded a jazz television show ( KQED) with international jazz singing sensation Nina Causey. Other jazz notables that “G” worked with were Faye Carol's band (Monterey Jazz Festival) which included Achyutan (Barbara Hunter quartet) and  Benny Green ( Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Watson, Milt Jackson, Diana Krall).

GMichael then met Paul Mousavi (Jaco Pastoruis) and Jeff Osamman who had recently formed a band named Borneo. Borneo went on to work as a opening act band in the San Francisco Bay Area for Lee Riteneour, Alan Holdsworth, Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs, Ronnie Montrose, Stanley Clarke, Alex Acuna, Jeff Berlin, Randy Jackson, Gil Scott Heron and the list goes on. Gmichael’s bass playing style is classically oriented with Jazz/funk/Latin influences. His current project is producing and rehearsing his nu-groove jazz band - Utopian Dreams.  

"Music is best when it is profound, not because of the notes, extended chords, or intricate rhythms, but when the heart is on the line and truth emotes from your soul and the intellect is transcended, artistry is when the audience feels our love of music."  GMichael

Patricia Britton - keyboard synthesizer - Co-producer

 Patricia was born in Baltimore, Maryland but at 3 months of age the entire family moved to southern California and therefore, she considers the Los Angeles beach towns her home. Her earliest memories of being turned onto performing include hanging onto the upright piano (probably around age 2) listening to her mom playing and singing everything from Porgy and Bess, Kismet and Claire de Lune. Her mom definitely noticed her interest and by age 7, Patricia was involved with an “old school” classical piano teacher. Lessons would continue for 10 years. There was the serious study of classical music theory, live stage performances and participating in classical piano competitions for this youngster that would lead to her lifelong love of being a performer.

The 1960’s would then influence Patricia’s musical direction with picking up the guitar and playing blues, rock and folk music and the beginning of sneaking into clubs underage. Around age sixteen, she “discovered” Return to Forever and she began to evolve a love for fusion and there was no return to the Beach Boys. Some memorable experiences include meeting Gabor Szabo at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach.

Patricia moved to Sonoma County, California to attend school at Sonoma State University. Patricia was involved with the local music scene, playing bass at festivals and casuals. While at SSU, Patricia became involved with the music department’s jazz courses and workshops. One memorable experience was playing at “after hours” jazz jams at Highland Dell resort on the Russian river. The “house band” was the William Hurley(The Tonight Show) trio.

In 1993, Patricia produced and managed her own contemporary quintet, “Sonoma”. She booked the popular regional quintet for 6 years ending up in the corporate, winery, and festival circuit with such local luminaries as Mark Levine and Ricardo Scales. It was during this project that Patricia met GMichael, who replaced her on bass as she moved to playing keyboard synthesizer to play those “lush strings and accents” of musical soundscapes.  Now she is working with him co-producing the “Utopian Dreams Band” and loving it. Patricia is a 2011 CoffeeTalkJazzRadio award winner for achievement in contemporary jazz.

Eddie Baccus Jr - Sax

  Eddie began touring with internationally known smooth jazz group “Pieces of a Dream,” in 1995 to the present. He has been recorded on 8 CD’s with the jazz group. “Pieces”, “Ahead To The Past”, “Acquainted With The Night”, “Soulful Embrace Vol.1& 2,” “Love’s Silhouette,” “No Assembly Required” and their latest CD “Pillow Talk.”
Eddie has performed with and alongside such well known artists as Luther Vandross, Jeffrey Osborne, War, Candy Dulfer, Rick Braun, Grover Washington, Jr., George Duke, Stevie Wonder, Greg Abate, EWF(Earth Wind and Fire), Regina Carter, India Irie, George Benson, David Sanborn, Will Downing, Phil Perry, Najee, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Bobby Lyle, Jeff Lorber, Ricky Lawson, Eric Marienthal and the list goes on. His newest CD is titled “LivingThe Dream” released in 2012. Eddie is an
Utopian Dreams alumni, core member and "family", having performed in off-the-hook encore appearances with the band and mentoring us through our first releases...GMichael says he is the perfect mix of old school sensibilities and sizzling nu-groove...Pat says he's magical...Eddie is featured on our debut release EP "From Dreams to You"...playing all saxes and EWI.

 

Tony Darren - Guitar

  Tony garnered a SESAC national performance award as well as a Grammy consideration for best new contemporary jazz artist. Regarded by his peers as among one of the top contemporary jazz guitarists, Tony's gift for capturing feeling in beautiful melodies is immediate and infectious and while he displays a casual tone, his virtuosity and technique are always evident. Tony has worked with such diverse artists as Shadowfax, Tom Scott, Narada Michael Walden, Jeff Lorber, Freddie Hubbard, Gregg Karukas, Alphonso Johnson, Joe Sample, Don Randi, Vinnie Colaiuta and many others. Now a core member of Utopian Dreams....Tony is featured with Eddie Baccus Jr. on our debut EP release: "From Dreams to You".                                                  

Craig Alston - Piano

  Craig is a multi-instrumentalist from Baltimore who plays the keyboard, saxophone and bass. Influenced by Sade, Fela Kuti, Miles Davis quintet and Art Blakey, Craig toured with Fertile Ground to the United Kingdom (UK), Japan, Belgium, France, Croatia and Austria.

Currently, as an independent artist, Craig plays under his own name with the Craig Alston Syndicate. Members include our own Utopian Dreams saxman, Eddie Baccus Jr., with our East coast tour drummer Spyda Wheatley.

Craig’s talents include leading the Eubie Blake Legacy Band for the past seven years. Under his leadership, they have performed at Artscape and the African-American Heritage Festival and others around the world.  Although Craig is a jazz musician at heart, he is able to play rhythm and blues, soul, hip-hop and gospel. Genese Music and Entertainment selected him as Senior Consultant for their label, Obia Soul. Craig’s musical influence will be heard on the upcoming Obia Soul releases.

Sam "Mombo" Hernandez - Percussion

 "Mombo" is our professional percussionist. He met and performed with vocalist, Slim Man, in the 90's, and broke into contemporary jazz. He has performed with Peter White, Steve Oliver, Lou Rawls, Roger Smith, Michael Paulo, Freddie Ravel, Marc Antoine, Greg Vail, Tony Windle, and the list goes on! Mombo is considered a core member and long time friend.

Brian "Spyda" Wheatley - Drums

"Spyda" Introduced to us by Eddie Baccus Jr. in 2015, Spyda hails from the East Coast and is an in demand drummer from the Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland triangle. His artistry is undeniable and fans constantly ask "Who's that drummer"? Spyda has the WOW factor in playing all styles. Check out the videos to see this master at work. We are blessed to have his artistry.