A very diverse group of artists lends their formidable talents to the X Ensemble, allowing for extraordinary flexibility based on the performance material. Please note: Participants vary from concert to concert.
Neil Alexander – Piano/Synthesizer/Electronics/Loops – Founder, composer
Fung Chern Wei – Violin
Daniel Frankhuizen – Cello/Electronics
Brad Hubbard – Baritone Sax/Flute/Bass Clarinet/Electronics
Steven Frieder – Tenor Sax/Alto Sax/Clarinet/EWI
Peter Brendler – Bass Viol/Electric Bass
Todd Isler – Drums/Hand Percussion
Angel Michael Lau – Percussion
Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Fung Chern Hwei absorbed a large amount of musical information since young in his diverse surroundings: Chinese pop and classical music, Indian Bollywood tunes, Malay dance music, and western classical music. He insisted on learning the violin at around 4 years old, but couldn’t find a teacher until he was 8. Since then Chern Hwei thrust himself into the world of violin and has never looked back.
Shortly after starting violin lessons, Chern Hwei found himself imitating electric guitar and saxophone sounds on his violin. In his high school years, he broke the school’s ban on rock music and electric instruments by sneaking a heavy metal band on stage during a charity night. Seeds were being sown for a musical path far from that of the typical classical violinist.
Upon finishing graduate school in New York, Chern Hwei chose to stay on as a freelance musician, playing different genres of music, absorbing even more musical languages and means of expression. Styles that he plays frequently include western classical, jazz, middle-eastern belly dance music, historically-informed baroque, rock, and hip hop. He recently self-released his debut album, “From The Heart”.
Artists that he has been fortunate enough to work with include Uri Caine, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Stanley Clarke, Tony Bennett, Bobby McFerrin, Steve Wilson, Elliot Sharp, Antonio Sanchez, and composer Mikael Karlsson, among others.
Cellist Daniel Frankhuizen has performed throughout the United States and abroad as a soloist, chamber musician, and in several pop groups. He has performed in a variety of venues from Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and Storm King Art Center. He has served as principal cellist for the Empire Chamber Orchestra and Opera in the Ozarks Festival Orchestra. Daniel has performed in masterclasses for the Guarneri String Quartet, New Zealand String Quartet, Peter Wiley, Zuill Bailey, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He is equally comfortable performing classical, jazz, and popular music. In 2008 his cello playing was recorded with John Brown’s Body on their album “Amplify”, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Reggae Chart. Daniel has worked alongside and opened for genre-bending groups Rubblebucket, Miracles of Modern Science, Dreamt, and Ben Sollee. In his own compositions and film scoring, Daniel’s work has been shown at South by Southwest and Toronto Film Festival. Daniel is also an active member of the jazz groups Neil Alexander’s X Ensemble and the Alexis Cole Double Quartet.
Brad Hubbard – Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute
Brad Hubbard has performed throughout the world in many diverse settings. In addition to performing as a solo recitalist and with the X Ensemble, Brad is a member of 3rd Bell, a quartet that combines jazz, world, and electronic music filtered through a singer/songwriter mentality. He is also a member of David Sanford’s Pittsburgh Collective an innovative 20 piece big band. He commissioned and premiered Benjamin Boone’s “Concerto for Baritone Saxophone and Orchestra” as well as pieces from Sherwood Shaffer, Monica Ashton, Mark Taylor and Michael Bellar. He is also involved as a composer and performer with Composers Concordance in New York City. As a sideman Brad has appeared with a broad range of artist including Corey Glover of Living Colour, Nancy Wilson, Pinetop Perkins, Lew Tabackin, Lenny Pickett, Boots Randolph, Roy Clark, and The Monica Ashton Jazz Band.
Brad was a member of the New Century Saxophone Quartet from 1988-2004. During his tenure with the quartet, the ensemble was the first of its kind to win the prestigious Concert Artist Guild competition in New York City in 1992. The quartet toured throughout the United States and the World performing in major concert venues including Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Atlanta’s Spivey Concert Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, New York’s Merkin Concert Hall and the Kosciuszko Foundation Townhouse, Washington, D.C’s Strathmore Hall, Alaska’s Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival, the Villla Schönberg in Zurich, Switzerland, the Conservatoire de Musique in Esch Luxembourg, the Macau International Music Festival and the Academy for the Performing Arts in Hong Kong, China. New Century was also the first saxophone quartet to perform at La Huaca del Complejo Atlapa in Panama City, Panama. NCSQ has also appeared in unique concert settings including two command performances for President Clinton in the White House to a concerto performance with the United States Navy Band. Brad appears on the first 6 New Century recordings on the Channel Classics label.
Brad is currently the Woodwind Instructor at The Beacon Music Factory in Beacon NY, where he lives with his family.
Originally from Croton On Hudson, NY, Steven Frieder has established himself in the professional music scene as an exceptional, versatile saxophonist. Fluent in the styles of Jazz, Funk, Latin, Rock and free improvisation, his robust, old school sound speaks far beyond his 24 years, while his compositional and melodic approach to improvisation push toward new discoveries. Steven is an alumnus of the The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and also studied at the Manhattan School of Music. He was awarded the honor of Valedictorian of the New School for Jazz and C.M., class of 2013. He was also selected to represent the New School at the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland in April ‘13, performing for a week before the headliner, McCoy Tyner and the Latin Jazz All-Stars. He Recently teleased his first album as a leader, After Time, that features Bob Meyer on Drums, Luke Franco on Guitar, and Peter Brendler on Bass, produced by Jake Hertzog.
Steven has had years of performing, recording and teaching experience in the NYC/Hudson Valley areas. This far in his young career, he has recorded with the likes of Jon Burr, Bob Meyer, Alvester Garnett, John Hart, Neil Alexander and other jazz artists. He is also a member of a number of NYC funk/R&B bands including Massive Brass, Roof Access, and Pete Ayres Band. He has also performed with the likes of Joe Lovano, Cameron Brown, Sol Yaged, Harvie S., Jake Hertzog, Jay Azzolina, Dave Gibson, Shunzo Ohno and many others.He is currently a member of the Bob Meyer Project, along with guitarist Luke Franco. Steven is also a member of NYC funk band Milo Z.
Bassist Peter Brendler grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He began his musical studies on electric bass, but soon gravitated towards the upright bass. In addition to playing upright and electric bass, Peter also plays guitar and piano. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in 2001 from Berklee College of Music where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. While at Berklee, Peter was selected by the bass faculty to receive the John Neves Scholarship: a merit based scholarship awarded to an upright bassist who shows outstanding promise and commitment. During his time at Berklee, Peter performed extensively throughout the Boston area, and studied with such greats as Hal Crook, John Lockwood, and Bruno Raberg. After completing his studies in Boston, Peter relocated to New York.
Peter returned to school from 2002-2004 and earned his Masters in Music from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. While at the Manhattan School of Music, Peter studied with famed bassist, Jay Anderson, as well as other musical luminaries such as Dave Liebman, Garry Dial, and Phil Markowitz. Peter balanced his academic work with an increasingly demanding performing and recording schedule. In the fifteen years that Peter has been in New York, he has made numerous sideman appearances on various recordings of all styles. He has also performed at several world famous venues in New York, and throughout the country including The Blue Note, Birdland, Smalls Jazz Club, The Jazz Standard, Sweet Rhythm, The Kennedy Center and the 55 Bar. Peter has also performed throughout Europe and in Russia. He has performed and/or recorded with artists such as John Abercrombie, Rich Perry, Victor Lewis, Barry Altschul, Darren Barrett, Jeff Hirshfield, Frank Kimbrough and Jon Irabagon. Peter also maintains an active career performing and recording on electric bass. In addition to his sideman credits, Peter has also recorded three albums as a leader/co-leader: “The Angle Below” (Steeplechase), “Outside the Line” (Posi-Tone), and this most recent release “Message in Motion” (Posi-Tone).
Drummer, teacher and author Todd Isler is based in New York City, where he has been active in the jazz and world music scenes for over 20 years. He currently co-leads International Orange, who released their debut album in ‘2013. He has two recordings under his own name, Two Step: Duets and Beyond, and his current Soul Drums, as well as his book You Can Ta Ka Di Mi This, which utilizes the South Indian Rhythm System to help musicians ground and expand their sense of rhythm. Todd, along with the band Savane, won the Disc Makers Unsigned Band Contest. He was also a winner of the JAZZIZ Magazine Percussion On Fire contest. Todd has toured Africa under the Goethe Institute, and studied the South Indian Mrdangham with Ramnod V. Raghavan and Karaikudi R. Mani in India. Todd has also studied with Brazilian greats Portinho and Vanderlei as well performing and teaching extensively in Brazil.
In addition to his own releases Todd has played on hundreds of genre-crossing recordings and performed and/or recorded with a wide rang of artists including Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Sting, Steve Turre, Melvin Sparks, Cisao Machado, Mike Gordon, Bakithi Kumalo, Ivan Neville, Betty Buckley, Badal Roy, Francis Mbappe, Jack McDuff, David Krakauer, Al Kooper, Charlie Burnham, and many others. He has performed with several dance companies throughout the United States, many of whose performances featured his original compositions. Todd endorses Sonor Drums and Bosphorus cymbals.
Angel Michael Lau – Percussion
Carlo Nicolau – Violin
Cynthia Ligenza – Violin/Viola
Rachel Evans – Violin/Viola
Peter Furlan – Saxophones
Premik Russel Tubbs – Saxophones/Flute/EWI
Mark Frankel – Percussion/Vibraphone/Marimba
Nadav Snir-Zelniker – Drums
Tom Reese – Flute/Pennywhistle