“Rooted in tradition. Harkening to the future.”
— Ricky Carter
The TOaG Quartet
Under the direction of Benjamin Lee, The TOaG Quartet is dedicated to producing exciting modern jazz, supporting arts education, and paying working artists a living wage.
What we do
"As an assembly of instrumentalists - with Ricky Carter on drums, David Wright on guitar, Matt Kelly on trumpet, and Benjamin Lee on upright and electric bass - the TOaG Quartet is an Oakland based musical organization inspired by the many lineages of jazz and groove. Striving to be honest to who we are, where we have been, and where we hope to go, we pay homage to the work of our our elders - who laid the groundwork upon which we stand - while aspiring to spark the mind with truth, and move the spirit with groove. Alongside the tireless service of community music educators, TOaG also works to support arts education by curating jazz clinics for young students, creating a positive space for musical exchange between professionals and pupils."
Who We Are
Ricky Carter is a veteran percussionist originally from Baltimore, who’s fierce attention to detail and deep pocket have graced performances and recordings all over the US and Europe for the last 25 years. From his first tour in Virginia as a young teen playing drums in his cousin’s band with a note from his grandmother stating it was ok for "little Ricky on the drums” to play the clubs., Mr. Carter was on the path of a working musician. After stints in the Morgan State University and Tournament of Roses marching bands, and extended classical and jazz studies under Jennifer Judkins (UCLA director of bands), John "Terry " Tarribasso (Stan Kenton), David Rothenthal (San Francisco Ballet), and Danny Montoro (San Francisco Opera); Ricky became a sought after session player in the San Francisco bay area, and a Singer/songwriter "drummer of choice." Over the years Ricky has put together an extensive list of projects, including work with A Thin Line, electronic/noir band Under, A Beautiful Year featuring Beth Waters, jazz/folk ensemble Jack West and Curvature, Erica Lindsay's Trace Elements w/ Mike DiPirro, Percy Howard's Meridian Group, musician and composer Robert Rich, and trumpeter Doug Ellington. As sensitive of an artist as he is a person, Mr. Carter’s ears are as big as his heart - both of which can be heard in the soul he brings to every bandstand.
DV Wright is an eclectic guitarist/composer inspired by the broad spectrum of Jazz, Fusion, R&B, and Rock music. Equally comfortable playing ambient washes of sound as he is blowing changes, Dave has spent time living and playing in Vermont, Boston, Chicago, New York, and the SF bay area; where he has grooved alongside hip-hop groups, backed singer songwriters, and dug into theatrical orchestras. Well versed in the Jazz tradition, and inspired by innovation, DV draws on many influences to create his music. In addition to the T.O.a.G Quartet, David is currently a member of Orbital Quintet, Phonograph Team Project and Stanley Lighthead. You can find out more about DV at his website http://dvwright.com/
Matt Kelly is a San Francisco based trumpet player firing onto the scene of Salsa and Latin jazz in the Mission District. Born outside of Boston MA, he attended Bard College where he studied with NY mainstays such as Erica Lindsay, John Esposito, Greg Glassman, and John Charles Thomas. He cut his teeth on the New York scene eventually leading his own group the Matt Kelly Quartet. After relocating to the Bay Area, Matt has stayed busy with a number of bands including El Grupo Sinigual (led by singer/poet/percussionist Maria Medina and trombonist Jules Rowel), Pangea Futbol Club, The Fell Swoop, Clarion Alley Band, and the Mission Street Beets. You can learn more about Matt at his website http://www.mattkellytrumpet.com
Benjamin Lee is an upright and electric bassist working in Oakland, CA, and is the founder of The TOaG Quartet. Performing and recording with a multitude of groups in and around the Bay Area - including the fusion jazz group the Orbital Quintet, Rabbit Quinn's all original piano trio, the bachata sextet Felipe y Las Estrellas del Mar, soul/motown songwriter Marque, the psychedelic hip-hop Lucy Project, contemporary jazz quartet Wildlyfe, and the early jazz Apollo Trio - Ben wholeheartedly believes that music has the power to educate, entertain, and empower people in a way that few other things can. While it took two years of work to assemble the right cast of players to execute his own version of that vision, the results speak for themselves. Seamless feels, impactful stories, an unstoppable groove, and a dedication to outreach: that is what makes this group so exciting. You can learn more about Benjamin at www.OfficiaLeeProductions.com
The TOaG Quartet is proud to have partnered with Oakland High School to host year long jazz clinics for their student musicians in 2018-2019, alongside music dept. head David Byrd. If you would like to learn more about this program, you can visit the program page.