The Settles Quintet presents programs of original compositions, unique arrangements of jazz standards and popular tunes and straight-ahead jazz. Their repertoire also includes music that addresses societal issues such as racism and social injustice while encouraging healing through music, unity and understanding.
Saxophonist and composer Brian Settles has established himself as a rising force with a long-term artistic vision, blending the outwardly engaging with the deeply personal, reconciling his intimate command of the jazz lineage with a commitment to his own experimental voice. Settles’ two albums as a leader feature entirely original music, highlighting his buoyant, pithy compositions: Secret Handshake (Engine, 2011) featured the five-piece Central Union, and was named the best jazz record of the year by both the Washington City Paper and CapitalBop.com. Settles followed up with Folk (Engine, 2013), a trio album acclaimed by Something Else Reviews and the NYC Jazz Record. In 2015 he was listed as a rising star on tenor saxophone in Downbeat magazine’s critics poll, and he earned an artist fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. All the while he’s worked with young musicians as a teacher and mentor at the Washington Jazz Arts Institute (WJAI), where he has served since 2002.
Jazz vocalist, composer, arranger and educator Jessica Boykin-Settles began her musical journey at Washington DC’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts under the tutelage of Davey Y. Yarborough. She went on to pursue an undergraduate degree in Jazz Performance at The New School in New York City where she had the opportunity to study with jazz legends such as Reggie Workman, Junior Mance, Cecil McBee, Arnie Lawrence, Buster Williams, Sheila Jordan, Janet Lawson and Teri Thornton. Jessica continued her education at Howard University where she earned a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies. While there, she was a member of Howard’s premier vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue, under the direction of Connaitre Miller. She is currently a full-time member of the music faculty at Howard University where she teaches private lessons in jazz voice, jazz vocal improvisation, jazz theory, arranging for solo jazz voice and vocal ensemble, and directs the female vocal ensemble SAASY. She is also currently instructing and mentoring youth with the Washington Jazz Arts Institute under the direction of Davey Yarborough, conducting workshops and lectures on jazz singing, teaching private lessons in jazz voice, giving multi-media presentations on topics in jazz and black history and performing at various venues in the Washington, DC area.
Brian and Jessica met as students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts where they began performing together in the school’s jazz orchestra in 1991. Over the years, they have formed unique voices as individual jazz artists while also being frequent collaborators.