The Ras Ensemble

This show is available online here (click on individual tracks at right) and on DVD directly from Downtown Music Gallery.

Ras Moshe


Ras Moshe was born Ted Burnett III in Brooklyn, NY on March 22, 1968.  He studied music in elementary school through high school.  He also studied with his father, Ted Burnett II.  His father played alto saxophone, flute, and bass clarinet.  His grandfather, Ted Burnett I, played tenor sax in the bands with Earl Bostic, Lucky Millender, Jimmy Mundy, Don Redman, and Ella Fitzgerald, along with many others after he moved to America from Jamaica. 


Ted I started to play his music only in church context and he wrote some gospel songs that became well known.  Moshe’s other grandparents did not play music, but they did listen to a lot of jazz and calypso artists in Harlem.  Ras Moshe took his name in 1987.  He learned a lot of the earlier forms of jazz, but he preferred to improvise his own music. 


He has written and recited his own poetry since his childhood.  He started playing alto in roots reggae bands when he was only 16.  He then started playing tenor because he was tired of only playing his music at home.  He paid his homage to Coltrane, Albert Ayler, John Gilmore, and some other of his favorites. 


Ras Moshe believes that his music has a positive effect on social and personal change.  He says that his music is a spiritual and social force and that it is the opposite of close mindedness.  He formed The Music Now Unit with Jackson Krall, Tor Yochai Snyder, Matt Lavelle, Kyoko Kitamura, Matt Heyner, and Todd Nicholson in 1999.  Music Now is a newer version of his first band, Liberated Zone. 


His newest band, The Ras Quartet includes Dave Ross, Shayna Dulberger, and Rashid Bakr.  They recently released “Transcendence” on kmb jazz.  Ras keeps in touch musically with Kyoko Kitamura and Dafna Naphtali, who are both into doing electronic and vocal improvisations.  Ras has also founded and organized The Music Now festivals.  The festivals are still going strong after 7 straight years.  Ras usually plays tenor, but he sometimes plays alto.  He has also been playing flute more often recently.  He would like to play soprano sax someday soon.


Dave Miller


Dave Miller is a drummer, composer and educator living in Brooklyn, NY.  Originally from Grinnell, Iowa, Miller moved to New York in the spring of 2007 after graduating cum laude from the Jazz Studies program at William Paterson University, and studies at the University of North Texas. While attending Willy P he worked closely with artists Kevin Norton, Bill Goodwin, Marcus McLaurine, Tyshawn Sorey and Mulgrew Miller and has since been very active on the music scene performing and recording with artists including John Mosca, Josh Lopes’ TELL THE AUDIENT VOID, Daniel Carter, Tom Zlabinger, Chris DiMeglio, Jonas Labhart, poet Bob Holman, the Demian Richardson Quartet, Sean T. Hanratty and the Mighty Mighty, Blaise Siwula, Ras Moshe, Daniel Johnston, Daniel Levin, Catherine Sikora and the collective known as THREE DAVES with David Moss on bass and David Schnug on reeds.  Dave can be seen performing regularly at Goodbye Blue Monday and Stain Bar (both in Brooklyn), leading his trio Word Games, running his own music education business or managing and performing at the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan. 


Tor Yochai Snyder


Snyder was raised amongst a family of artists.  He grew up in New York listening to his mother, Ruby, play guitar and sing and watching his father, Shelly, paint.  His mother put out a record in 1965 and later taught him how to play guitar, while his sister, Tova, started painting with their father. 


Tor Yochai Snyder loved Jimi Hendrix from the young age of eight years old.  He also liked blues including Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Carlos Santana.  His first jazz experiences included songs by Miles Davis, Larry Coryell, and others.  Bennington College was where he went to school and was introduced to Bill Dixon, Milford Graves, and Arthur Brooks.  Their music and their philosophy really impacted him and opened his horizons toward improvisation and expression.  He then started to collaborate with Dennis Warren. 


He later moved to Boston in 1984 to work with Warren and his brother David.  They founded the Underground Voice Band together.  It became a powerful band all the way to Montreal.  The group broke up in 1987 and Dennis formed the Full Metal Revolutionary Jazz Ensemble.  David Warren and Snyder continued to work together in his band called Dark Matter.  While living in Boston, Snyder also worked with Raquib Hassan and began to produce his own concerts and multi-media events with his friend, Guadulesa. 


He created YEOW (Youth Electric Orchestra and Workshop) after ten years of living in Boston and this band included over 30 young talents from the ages of eight to eighteen.  This band performed in Harvard Square, at the Museum of Fine Arts, and at various street festivals throughout Boston including a reception for the mayor. 


In 1994, Snyder met Sonny Sharrock who helped him promote his music and encouraged him greatly.  He moved back to New York in 1997 to perform his first concert with Marc Edwards Slip Stream Time Travel and he still performs with them today.  He has also worked in many great groups led by William Hooker, David Pleasant, Jackson Krall, Ras Moshe, and Glenn Branca. 


In 1999, he started to use “talker” technology to meld his breathing and vocalizations with the electric signal of his guitar.  This new sound can be heard on his CD, Impressionable Spirit.  This CD has gotten a lot of good feedback globally and he continues to make music that is energized, free, and spiritual.


Clif Jackson


Jackson has spent a lifetime of experience working with the arts, like music, dance, photography, and poetry.  He brings the benefits of experience and diversity to them.  He has studied the western orchestral tradition with professional philharmonic players and other styles of music with private mentors. 

He has taken master classes with Zakir Hussain, Vishnu Wood, Tyrone Brown, Christian McBride, and Ken Filiano.  Clif has performed as a sideman for Joe Ford, Jon Nelson, Al Tinney, and many others since 1995.  He has played section bass in orchestras, chamber ensembles, and also has held a principal bass seat. 


He co-created Jazzopetry in 2001 that went on for about 3 years.  He also held weekly residencies at various venues, some for more than a year.  He has also played in theatrical productions, operas, weddings, festivals, parties, and conventions.  He has taught music to people of all ages privately, in music stores, and in not-for-profit organizations.  He continues to work on new ways to serve his community and help promote the American Jazz legacy.