Ben Jammin Johnson (Drums) started playing drums at the age of three. His musical education includes Chicago's Simeon High School's marching and concert bands, and the University of Arkansas and Roosevelt University marching, concert and Jazz bands, where he completed his undergraduate work. As a professional, Ben is one of the best and busiest drummers in Chicago and beyond. He has performed and recorded with many great artists, such as Freddy Hubbard, Nelson Rangell, Phil Perry, Jean Carne, Michael Henderson, Ray Parker Jr., Williams, and the Mongolian pop group Sweetymotion. Mr. Johnson has performed with Edgar Gabriel’s StringFusion since 2010.
Kevin O'Connell (Keyboards) started piano at age 4. As a young professional jazz pianist, Kevin worked in trio and quartet formats in Ann Arbor and Detroit, including engagements in Germany. He subsequently performed in Michigan with Larry Coryell, Johnny Hartman and then moved to New York where he was asked to be in Clifford Jordan's quartet. He worked and recorded with Clifford ("Live at Ethell's" on MapleShade Records and "Royal Ballads" on Criss Cross) for 6 years and also worked and recorded with master drummer Vernel Fournier's trio for 8 years ("Vernel Fournier Trio" on TCB records). In New York, he also performed with such notables as Philly Joe Jones, Billy Hart, Junior Cook, Victor Sproles, Richard Davis, Andy Bey, Joe Lee Wilson, Walter Booker and Charles Davis, at clubs such as the Blue Note, Birdland, Condon's, the Star and Garter, and Barry Harris' Cultural Theater. Kevin did extensive engagements with Vernel's trio in Tokyo's Ginza, Switzerland and Paris. He also accompanied many New York singers, including Roseanna Vitro, Judy Niemack, ChrisCalloway, Jody Sandhaus, Melissa Hamilton.
Scott Mason (Bass) is a native Chicagoan who began his musical studies on piano, switching to double bass while in high school. After graduating from Grinnel College in 1975, he pursued his original ambition of becoming an orchestral bassist, playing with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and studying with Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal Joseph Guastefeste. However, a strong interest in improvised music led him to lessons with the great bassist Rufus Reid, and in 1979, Mason switched his focus to jazz and commercial fields. Since then he has freelanced extensively in Chicago, playing with jazz artists such as Bunky Green, Joe Daley, Guy Fricano and Marshall Vente. Mason recorded several albums with Vente’s Project Nine, appears on Fricano’s release Jazz Inside Out, and has played onnumerous radio and television spots. In the commercial field, he has backed such diverse acts as Bob Hope, Carol Lawrence, The Fifth Dimension, Mary Wells, and The Lettermen. A finalist in the jazz division of the International Society of Bassists’ Competition, Mr. Mason has been on the faculty of Roosevelt University’s Music Conservatory since 1984.
Meet the Band
StringFusion's mission is to bring
all people together with great music.
Michael Levin (Saxophone/Flute/Clarinet)is one of the finest saxophone players in Chicago. Equally adept at the clarinet and flute, Mike has the ability to play in many different styles of music and is in great demand on the Chicago music scene. He has performed and/or recorded with Barrett Deems, Jerry Goodman, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Clark Terry, Oscar Brown, Jr., Charlie Musselwhite, Jim Post, Ivan Neville, The Supremes, Hamid Drake, Bobby Vinton, David Amram, Diane Schuur, The Mills Brothers, Steve Cole, Ben Vereen, David Bromberg, Nell Carter, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Lingua Musica, Cerqua Rivera Art Experience, Doug Lofstrom and the New Quartet, The Revolution Ensemble, The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Ethos Chamber Orchestra and many others. His solos are prominently featured in recordings by producers of Chicago House Music such as Terry Hunter, Jere McAllister, Glenn Underground, and Paul Johnson. He has performances range from numerous clubs and festivals throughout the Midwest, as well as being featured in theatrical productions and commercials and industrial productions. He holds an M.A. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.
RON STETA, grew up in a musical family in Chicago and started playing guitar at the age of 6. By the time he was 12, he was working as a professional guitar teacher. He played in rock and jazz bands all through high school and college including a performance for the legendary drummer, BUDDY RICH. Ron has spent much of his time on the road touring with various classic rocks bands such as THE TURTLES, GARY LEWIS & THE PLAYBOYS, GARY PUCKETT AND THE UNION GAP, THE GRASS ROOTS, THE MONKEE'S, HERMAN'S HERMITS, THE BYRDS, MARK LINDSAY, THE VILLAGE PEOPLE, THE DRIFTERS, THE COASTERS, THE PLATTERS and more!
Ron credits his Dad, Boris, an awesome guitarist in his own right, for his early guidance and ability to master all styles of music. "Of all the different styles that I play, places that I've been and people I've played with, my favorite and most challenging playing is still with my Dad, my mentor. If it wasn't for him, I would have never picked up an instrument."
Ron is proud to have had the opportunity to entertain the troops all over the Middle East (Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, & UAE) with the 101st ROCK
From the concert hall to nightclubs, schools, festivals, weddings and special events, Edgar Gabriel's StringFusion takes its audience on a musical journey that transcends time and geography. From Bach to bebop to tunes of today, this ensemble of some of the finest musicians in Chicago takes a fresh approach to music of the past and present and future.
Classic Swing, the American Songbook, Funk, Latin, Bebop, Country, Rock, MoTown, Dance and Classical music are all styles in StringFusion’s repertoire. In addition to original music, they play classics from a wide range of artist such as: Led Zeppelin, Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Zappa, Kansas, Cirque du Soleil, Santana, Michael Jackson, Charlie Daniels, Return to Forever, Sade, Steely Dan, Dave Mathews, King Crimson, ELP, Sting and more.
StringFusion® is a registered servicemark of EdgarGabriel Inc.
Edgar Gabriel (violin) performs, teaches and composes classical, jazz and fiddle music. At a young age Edgar could improvise music in classical styles, as he grew older the outlet for this expression expanded to include fiddle, rock, jazz, funk and pop music. Edgar’s versatility has led him to perform with many great artists such as Ray Charles, Plant & Page, Smokey Robinson and Andrea Bocelli. He has worked with many renown-performing ensembles including Cirque du Soleil, Steppenwolf Theatre and Chicago Opera Theater and played on countless recording sessions including Cd’s for Cheap Trick, Rachel Barton Pine and the Plain White T’s. Recently, Edgar performed with the great jazz violinist Jean Luc Ponty. His educational String Groove® publications are used by music educators and performed worldwide. He created StringFusion in 2005 to bring great music to all people with the in the forefront of mainstream music. A classically trained violinist, his teachers include CSO violinists Joe Golan and Arnold Brostoff, NU professor Gerardo Ribero, Nationial Symphony William Hartonian, Vermeer Quartet violinist Pierre Menard, Frank Beezhold and Mary Rosen. Edgar holds a bachelor’s degree in music from NIU and a masters in jazz composition from DePaul University. Mr. Gabriel is currently on the music faculties Elmhurst College and William Rainey Harper College.
Tony Mhoon a great friend of mine since our college days at NIU passed away in August 2017 of a sudden illness. I do not know when I will be able to remove his info from the StringFusion site. He will be with me forever in thoughts and music. Tony was a great contributor to the band and can be heard and seen on many videos and the "Tidings of Groove" CD.
Antonio J. Mhoon (bass) is one of the most versatile and accomplished jazz bassists in the Chicago area. His performing credits include the Morris Ellis Jazz Orchestra, Pete Cozy Jazz Group (formerly with Miles Davis), and the Northern Illinois Jazz Band, as well as collaborations with Jazz greats James Moody, Frank Mantooth, Von Freeman, and Clark Terry. Antonio has also shared the stage with gospel artists Tramaine Hawkins, The Staple Singers, The Winans, Jessy Dixon, The P.T.L. Singers, Calvin Bridges, The Wooten Choir Group, The Prophets, The Thompson Community Singers, and The Bartlett Sisters.
Antonio attended Columbia College majoring in music composition and electric bass studies with an emphasis in R&B, classical and jazz. A highly regarded and experienced music educator, Antonio taught promotion at Central State University and bass and jazz studies at Columbia College, in addition to general music at Our Lady of Grace and Joseph Warren Elementary.
Equally in demand for studio and show work, Antonio can be heard on jingles for Kraft, Leon’s Barbeque, Nelson Brothers, Picks & Pans, Let’s Talk Flicks, and Ready Wipe, as well as the campaign music for former Mayor Harold Washington. Antonio has recorded with the Thompson Community Singers, Calvin Bridges, The Prophets, The Barrett Sisters, Northern Illinois University Jazz Band (Live at Montraux), James Cleveland, Arthur Scales, Ethel Holloway, The Staple Singers, Rod McGaha, and Mike Hayward. He has also performed for many plays, including Your Arms Too short to Box with God, Dina, The Jackie Wilson Story, and The Other Cinderella.
In addition to being the bassist for Guitarra Azul, The Steve Edwards Orchestra, and Chicago’s celebrated Black Ensemble Theatre, Antonio is the owner of MhoonUnit Midi Recording Studio.
Steve Doyle (Guitar) has been playing guitar for over 25 years, in styles ranging from Big Band Jazz to Power Trio Blues. He started on trombone in grade school and in seventh grade he switched to electric guitar, because it was the only instrument louder than a trombone. He is equally adept at electric and acoustic guitar, dobro, lap steel and mandolin. He is well-versed in multiple styles and teaches a variety of classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Currently, he plays guitar with Ulele, The Fat Guys, Lush Budget, The Hoyle Brothers and plays Dobro with the Whiskey Hollow Bluegrass Band. Steve holds a Bachelors Degree in Music Composition from Northern Illinois University.
Jazz infused with Rock, Funk, Blues, Classical, Country and World Music