Joe Cerqua, Co-Founder, Composer, Vocalist and Musician

Joe is a freelance, award-winning composer, producer, vocalist and sound designer. Joe has composed/designed sound for over 300 productions nationally and internationally. Original music and sound design: Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, American Players Theater, Milwaukee Rep, Asolo Theater, The Alliance, Mark Taper Forum, Geva Theater, Deaf West, Northlight Theatre, Skyline Opera, Cleveland Playhouse, Clarence Brown Theatre, Forward Theatre, Kansas City Rep, Indiana Rep, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Shakespeare and Co, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Repertory Theatre of St Louis, Remy Bumppo. National Tours: Sideman, American Buffalo, How I Learned to Drive, The Laramie Project, Broken Glass, Master Class. Joe is the Composer in Residence for the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre and the Creative Director and Producer for the Music Department at Columbia College. Future projects include concerts in Chicago with Cerqua Rivera, original music and sound designs for productions with the Arizona Theater Company, American Conservatory Theater, American Players, and Forward Theatre.

Stu Greenspan, Musical Director, Electric Bass, Guitar, Composer and Arranger

Stu Greenspan (Musical Director, electric bass, guitar, composer, arranger) is a founding member of CRDT. As a studio musician and engineer, he has contributed to sound designs for theater companies throughout the country.  Stu performs with many different jazz and pop music groups including Reginald R. Robinson, Los Perros Cubanos, Linda Solotaire, and Paris Swing. He is on the music faculty of Columbia College Chicago and the Francis W. Parker School.


Clarice Assad, Composer

Brazilian-American Clarice Assad (Composer) is a Grammy nominated composer, pianist & vocalist. Described by San Francisco Chronicle as "a serious triple threat”, she has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Albany Symphony, Fundação Osesp; her music performed & recorded by prominent names such as Dame Evelyn Glennie, Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberd. She's currently artist in residency in Copenhagen (Jazz Denmark), performing & collaborating with musicians including percussionist/ bandleader Marilyn Mazur.  

Pharez Whitted, Trumpet

Pharez has Music degrees from DePauw University and Indiana University.  He has taught at The Ohio State University and Chicago State University.  Currently the Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) Jazz Orchestra. He has performed with Branford Marsalis, George Duke, John Mellencamp, Nancy Wilson, Chaka Khan. Nominated for Independent Jazz Artist of the year in 2011. Has 5 CDs as a leader. Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz for 2016. Clinician for Jazz @ Lincoln Center. 

Jazz Band

Timothy Archbold, Cello

Timothy Archbold is a freelance cellist, playing many exciting projects in the Chicagoland area.He also has a large private teaching studio. A Native of Australia, he received his undergraduate music degree from University of Melbourne, and studied chamber music and cello performance in Bremen, Germany.  He then went on to receive his master’s degree in music from Wichita State University. He married an American vocalist and is a father of 3 beautiful girls, Eleanor (10), Lucy (9) and Abigail (7).

Paul Cotton, Percussion

Paul Cotton is a principal musician with Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago. He attended the American Conservatory of Music. Studio work include Hannibal Peterson & Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Otis Clay Blues singer, Tyrone Davis R&B singer, “Artistics” R&B group, Pilgrim Jubilee Gospel singers, Maggie Brown, and Don Moye’ Sun Percussion Summit. He currently works with Keith Eric & Waterhouse Reggae & Calypso Band, Picate Latin Jazz Band, Nyah Binghi Drum Choir, Bata Eca, & Eye Plus One. 

Rob Dicke, Percussion

Rob Dicke began performing in and around Chicago upon his arrival in 2006 and is now entering his seventh year as the drummer for the CRDT Orchestra.  Outside of the group, Rob can be heard performing with guitarist Fareed Haque, Radio Free Honduras, Moonrise Nation, or with own group, Calamity Flamtet.  He also teaches drums and piano in the North Shore area.  He has music degrees from Columbia College and DePaul University.

Dan Hesler, Woodwind

Dan Hesler- For someone who has worked as a musician for over 30 years, Dan has no credentials whatsoever. He received no degree from North Texas State, and his degrees from DePaul and Northeastern Illinois are not in music. He has several boxes of his book, Practicing the Jazz Vocabulary, in his basement. In his spare time, Dan practices law. Dan has been involved with CRDT for over a decade as an instrumentalist, composer and arranger. He would like to do choreography, which will not happen.

Leandro López Várady, Piano

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Graduated from the U.C.A. Majored in Composition receiving a Gold Medal & Honorable Mention. Toured Asia with the Eldeé Young Quartet. As part of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic traveled to Poland & Cuba to perform at the Poznan Jazz Festival and the Havana Jazz Festival. Received a Gold Record Award for his participation in Mietek Szcześniak’s “Nierówmi” album. Part of CRDT as pianist and composer since 2008. Currently teaches Applied Piano at Lewis University.

Felipe Tobar, Violin

In constant transition since he moved to Chicago in 2011 from Santiago de Chile, violinist and composer Felipe Tobar's style is influenced by classical, folk and jazz. His repertoire includes South and North American folk and classical music, jazz standards and his own compositions. Felipe has played in venues in Chile, Argentina, Peru, the United Kingdom and the United States. He is also a violin teacher and orchestra conductor at The People's Music School Youth Orchestra. 

Juli Wood, Woodwind and Vocalist

For the past 20 years with 4 albums as a leader, several studio projects as a side man, & countless worldwide performances, saxophonist, vocalist & composer Juli Wood has established herself as a solid, swinging, lyrical and entertaining performer on Chicago’s music scene.  Juli has played many jazz clubs and festivals nationally & internationally; Chicago Jazz Fest, Hyde Park Jazz Fest, Milwaukee’s Summerfest, Chicago’s main jazz clubs – Jazz Showcase, Green Mill, & Andy's.

Additional Collaborators

Michael Levin, Woodwinds

Mike Levin has performed and/or recorded with artists ranging from the Temptations to Sueños, from Barrett Deems to Robert Irving III. His numerous appearances at clubs and festivals include performances at Ravinia and three appearances at the Chicago Jazz Festival. He has played music for theatrical productions at The Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre, and can be heard in current dance club tracks by producers such as Jere McAllister and Vic Lavender.

Kevin O'Connell, Piano

Hailing from Grand Rapids, MI, Kevin began classical piano at age 4, venturing into rock and jazz in his teens.  He spent 11 years in New York, recording albums with Clifford Jordan and Vernel Fournier, playing with Philly Joe Jones, Billy Hart, Junior Cook, Richard Davis and many other jazz giants. In Chicago since 1993, he has played at all the jazz clubs like the Jazz Showcase and the Green Mill, with artists like Ira Sullivan, violinist Mark O’Connor, Dee Alexander and drummer Paul Wertico.

James Sanders, Violin

Composer and violinist James Sanders earned a Master’s Degree in performance from Yale University. He is a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta since 1992 and leads several critically acclaimed jazz ensembles, including Conjunto, Proyecto Libre and the Blue Violin Quartet. He has performed internationally at major jazz festivals in Brazil, France, Poland and Italy. In 2011, Conjunto headlined at Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago before an audience of 10,000 people. His group Proyecto Libre was featured at the 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival.

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