Lovin’ Cup show on April 30 follows fifth year as RMHF house band


Rochester, NY – Rochester’s premiere funk/jazz/rock band Prime Time Funk (PTF) will celebrate its 20
th anniversary on Saturday, April 30 at 8:30 PM at Lovin’ Cup Bistro & Brews (300 Park Point Drive, near RIT). Cover charge is $10 for the two-set performance.

PTF’s anniversary show falls just one week after its fifth year as the official house band of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame. That 2016 Induction Ceremony will take place in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Sunday, April 24 at 7 p.m., at which the band will accompany Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley & Maceo Parker, Joe Locke, The Cowsills, Florence LaRue (Fifth Dimension), original cast members from Hair, and The Rustix.

Formed in 1996 by James Richmond and the late Ralph Ortiz, PTF is a 10-piece powerhouse of passionate musicians from Western New York: Andy Calabrese (keyboards), Joe Chiappone (guitar), David Cohen (drums, percussion, bkg. vocals), Ron D’Angelo (trumpet & flugelhorn), Mike Edwards (baritone sax, flute, EWI [electronic wind instrument] & violin), Vince Ercolamento (tenor, alto & soprano saxes, flute), Ron France (bass), Ronnie Leigh (lead & bkg. vocals), Derrick Lipp (trumpet & flugelhorn), and James Richmond (tenor & alto saxes, bkg. & lead vocals). They write, arrange and perform a world-class combination of funk, jazz, blues and R&B that’s difficult to categorize but easy to feel. In its 20 years, PTF has played multiple times at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Club in Paris as well as at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, and has shared the stage with some of the world’s most respected acts: Earth, Wind & Fire; Medeski, Martin & Wood; The Brothers Johnson; Tom Scott; Terrence Blanchard; The Temptations; Average White Band; Stanley Clarke; Lenny White; Larry Carlton; John Scofield; Sherman Roberston & Francine Reed; Felix Cavaliere & Gene Cornish; Kathy Sledge; Carmine Appice; Bat McGrath; Bob McGrath; Randy Bachman; Pat Travers; Russell Thompkins, Jr. (The Stylistics); and Reggie Torian (The Impressions).

PTF’s 2001 debut CD, Ready and Willing, was co-produced by Grammy® Award-winning producer Jeff Tyzik, Principal Pops Conductor for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Its self-produced follow-up CD, Hear and Now, was released in 2012, and is a tribute to the band’s co-founder and original bass player, the late Ralph Ortiz.

“When Ralph and I talked about starting PTF, we both wanted great musicians and guys that we could look at on stage five years down the road, smile at them and have it be sincere,” says Richmond, who writes many of the band’s original songs as well as horn and vocal arrangements. “Here it is 20 years down the road and I am still smiling across the stage with love and admiration to my band mates!”

On this milestone occasion, here’s a brief look at each of those talented “band mates”:

Besides playing keyboards with PTF, Andy Calabrese leads his own jazz trio and runs a music production company, where he composes and produces jingles, soundtracks and music tracks. He played the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and has performed with Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Vinton, Pete Barbutti, The Shirelles, Randy Brecker, Eric Marienthal, Chuck Mangione, Pepper Adams, Joe Romano, Sal Nistico, Sam Noto, Sheila Jordan, Kenny Rankin, Nancy Kelly, Dave Mancini and more. Andy studied at Shenandoah Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music, and is an in-demand jazz and classical piano teacher.

Joe Chiappone studied with jazz guitarists Dick Longale and Tom Rizzo (Maynard Ferguson/Doc Severinsen). He also majored in Jazz Guitar at the University of Miami, and studied Jazz Improvisation with Ray Ricker at Eastman School of Music. Besides owning and operating Northfield Music Studios, a popular guitar store and music school in Pittsford, NY, Joe is in demand as a studio musician and a teacher. A mentor among aspiring musicians, he’s performed and/or recorded with  the Bill Tiberio Group, Cabo Frio, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Broadway touring shows, and many others.

David Cohen studied with famed jazz drummers Vinnie Ruggiero and Ed Soph. In the 80s, he led a rock band called “Backseat Sally,” which released an album on Atlantic Records and an MTV video. Other studio credits include soundtracks for HBO, CBS, and TVKO. Dave has performed with Gap Mangione, The Mambo Kings, Bat McGrath, Barry Kiener, ‘Sax’ Gordon Beadle, Rodney Dangerfield, Russell Malone, Mark Manetta, Tino Gonzales, Nancy Kelly, Billy Bang, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s also a dedicated private drum teacher.

Ron D’Angelo has recorded numerous radio/TV jingles and has played lead trumpet for Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Gap and Chuck Mangione, The O’Jays, Bobby Vinton, Connie Francis, Martha & the Vandellas, Josh Groban, Joan Rivers, The Eastman Jazz Ensemble, and Royal Cruise Lines. He’s also performed with Natalie Cole, The Woody Herman Orchestra, and Paula Cole, and played the jazz trumpet chair on the PBS special, An Evening with Michael Civisca. Ron holds degrees from the University of Rochester and Syracuse University, and is also an audiologist for Clear Choice Hearing and Balance.

Mike Edwards has been playing and teaching music in Upstate New York since he graduated from the Crane School of Music in 1990, where he was the winner of the 1998 Concerto Competition. He has shared the stage with numerous big bands, jazz groups and party bands, and has appeared with artists such as crooner Vic Damone and Wessel Anderson, saxophonist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Michael also teaches students of all ages and levels on saxophone, flute, pennywhistle, clarinet, violin, guitar and piano.

After earning his performance degree on Saxophone and Flute from Nazareth College, Vince Ercolamento toured with Jimmy McGriff, Cornell DuPree, Bo Diddley, and others. He received a National Endowment for the Arts award, which enabled him to study with renowned jazz saxophonist George Coleman. Vince has played on national commercials, soundtracks, and album projects like Doug Flutie’s “The Flutie Gang.” He also leads his own jazz quartet, and writes many of PTF’s horn arrangements.

PTF bassist Ron France is former music director for renowned area jazz vocalist, Nancy Kelly, and toured with Doc Severinson. His long- time collaboration with vocalist Ronnie Leigh and keyboardist Larry Arlotta led to two Grammy-nominated CD’s, and he’s worked and/or recorded with such jazz luminaries as Eye Level, Jeff Tyzik, Alan Vizzuti, Three For All and Cabo Frio.

Singer Ronnie Leigh has been called “one of the finest song stylists working in jazz today”, by Syracuse Jazzfest Founder/Director Frank Malfitano. This versatile, four-time Syracuse Area Music Award-winner has fans from Seattle to the famed Q-Bar in Istanbul. Ronnie has recorded with Cabo Frio and Larry Arlotta, and shared the stage with Pat Metheny, the Yellowjackets, David Benoit, Special EFX, Spyro Gyra, David Sanborn, Tom Scott, Etta Jones, Jon Hendricks and Chuck Mangione, as well as the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Ronnie’s also toured with The Drifters, and is the director of Syracuse University’s vocal jazz ensemble, Windjammer.

Trumpet/flugelhorn player Derrick Lipp has performed with Nick Brignola, Joan Osborne, George Caldwell, The O’Jays, The Temptations, and The Four Tops. He’s shared the stage with Mark Anthony, Tito Puente, The Airmen of Note, Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, Jiggs Wigham, and Bruce Hornsby. His playing can be heard on radio and TV spots for Chevrolet and The United Way, as well as on numerous CD projects.

Saxophonist/vocalist James Richmond formed his first band, The Echomen, while still in high school, then went on to major in music at SUNY Fredonia. Sugar Hill signed his band, Mother Freedom, in the late 70s. He’s written songs with many people including Kim Stone from the Rippingtons, and performed on national commercials such as Buick.