Dark Chocolate
Clay Henry has had a vision for years: assemble some of the finest musicians from different backgrounds in his creative, Big Sur environment and capture the spontaneous, kinetic sparks that ensue. Sophisticated but not overly refined; deep, familiar themes but with a freedom to venture outside the boundaries; unique, at times exotic flavors that bring joy; yes, like Dark Chocolate.
The initial lineup of Dark Chocolate captured on their debut Island Gypsy includes Kim Stone on electric and fretless bass and 12-string bajo sexto; Joseph Lucido on guitar and guitar synth; Aaron Stone on drums, percussion, marimba, and piano; Alan Steinberger on piano; Ronnie Ray Padilla on flute, piano, guitar, and percussion; Nico Georis on piano; and Clay Henry on percussion. Special guests included Jayson Fann on steel drum, congas, and percussion; Brock Bradford on dumbeki and talking drum; Nura Stone on cello; and, vocalist Jaqui Hope.
For their second album, Unwrapped, Dark Chocolate features Kim Stone on electric and fretless bass and 12-string bajo sexto; Clay Henry on percussion; Brock Bradford on percussion; Nico Georis on piano; Webber Iago on keyboards; Joseph Lucido on guitar and guitar synth; Xocoyotzin Moraza on veracruz harp; John Nava on percussion; Mike Shannon on traps; and Aaron Stone on drums and percussion. Alicia Sheek (hip belt) is featured on Hip Talk and Jane Blikert (vocalist) is featured on Your Skin Is Where I Begin.
Kim Stone is a bass master. Following a four year stint with East Coast-based Spyro Gyra, he headed West in 1990 to join the world-renowned Rippingtons of which he has now been a member for 18 years. Their latest release entered the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts as number one. His extensive performing experience includes multiple appearances at the prestigious Montreux, North Sea, Newport, Kool, JVC, and Playboy Jazz Festivals, as well as numerous nationwide tours in the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia. In addition, Kim has received five Grammy nominations for four records with Spyro Gyra and one with Rare Silk.
Joseph Lucido is a full-time guitarist, living to play music. He feels that, throughout his career, he has been fortunate enough to have played with great musicians at many wonderful venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Monterey Jazz Festival (among other jazz festivals elsewhere). Often hired to play solos and rhythms on recordings, he makes his living both live on stage and tanning in sound studios.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Aaron Stone's interest in percussion performance started early by playing the kitchen pots and pans. Formal training at The Conservatory of Music at Kansas City, majoring in percussion and minoring in piano, brought discipline to his passion for music and drumming. Show business and the performing arts have always been Aaron's hallmark. Early in his career, he worked for Metro Media Ice Capades as an international touring drummer/percussionist and for Disneyland's Space Mountain Band in Anaheim, California. These positions guided him to become a seasoned performer, eventually playing with such greats as Pat Metheny, Paul Horn, Charles Lloyd, David Darling, Clarke Terry, John Denver, Mose Allison, Peter Kater, and Carlos Nakai. Aaron lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife Nura and continues to work as an independent composer, arranger, performer, producer, and engineer. In 2004, he won the New Mexico Music Industry Awards World Beat category - Best Composer, Best Producer, Best Engineer with his composition titled Crystal Moon. Currently, Aaron composes and produces music for film and video, along with regular public and private home concerts.
Growing up on the East Coast, Nura Stone started playing classical piano and studying music theory at age 4. Many piano recitals later, at age 10, she declared that cello was her next instrument. As a cellist, she received numerous awards and moved to the West Coast where she participated in prestigious orchestras including a Scandinavian tour with USC's Isomata Orchestra. Classical studies at UC Santa Barbara cultivated her interest in avant garde music with the California Time Machine, which toured widely. She has continued classical studies at the Taos School of Music and branched out into other music styles: Pop, Rock, Fusion, and Jazz, composing and performing as keyboardist and cellist.
Alan Steinberger is a first-call pianist and composer in the film, television, and recording industries. He was credited and featured throughout the Academy Award-winning film March of the Penguins as ell as the HBO films Mrs. Harris and Bernard and Doris. He has orchestrated and performed on the scores for the hit TV show King of the Hill, the cult sensation Firefly, and the ground-breaking video game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. He frequently composes music for commercials, including a multiple award-winning spot for Honda (people who look like their cars). Alan has recently accompanied artists including Andrea Bocelli, Michael Crawford, Bernadette Peters, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Tierney Sutton, regularly performs with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Pasadena, Long Beach, and New West Symphonies, has performed and recorded several albums with Grammy-nominated Chris Walden Big Band as well as several other Los Angeles jazz ensembles, and serves as surrogate for the legendary pianist/composer/arranger Clare Fischer with the Fischer Big Band.
Ronnie Ray Padilla is a San Francisco Bay Area musician having played a rich blend of positive original varieties of pop, funk, Afro, and several global styles. He is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and vocalist with the world-jazz band Raydience, where he plays guitars, flutes, keyboards, and oud. Born in Oakland, California, Ronnie Ray began working as a sideman guitarist-flutist in 1970. He performed with ensembles throughout the United States and the San Francisco Bay Area for rock, blues, Latin, funk, gospel, folk, West African, reggae, and avant garde performing groups and as a solo performer. He studied improv with Joe Henderson, Bill Conners (formerly of Return to Forever), and Dave Creamer (formerly of Miles Davis). He received his BA at San José State University in Jazz Studies. Ronnie Ray's many influences include (compositionally) Mozart, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Airto, Stevie Wonder, Samuel Barber, John McLaughlin, Debussy, and many others. His guitar inspirations are Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pat Metheny, George Benson, and Jeff Beck. Instrumentally, he's been influenced by Joe Henderson, Hubert Laws, Paul Horn, Bill Evans, Kenneth Nash, and Maurice White. Ronnie Ray's other interests include his 15 years as a Chi Kung practitioner, healthy cooking, hiking, and video production.
Nico Georis started playing keyboards at the age of six. He has lived mostly between Big Sur, Brooklyn, and Paris, taking part in a wide variety of musical traditions. Although he's studied classical, jazz, and other styles at L'Ecole Atla in Paris and the New School University, Nico's richness as a musician stems mostly from his life experiences.
Barklie ("Clay") Henry played stand-up bass through high school and college, mostly jazz but also swing band and classical. When he moved to Big Sur in the '70's, he joined the existing drum culture, specializing in bass percussion. In the '80's, he formed Pulsation, a drum/flute group which played extensively around Central California. In the '90's, he created the world music band Barefoot, co-producing with master violinist Steve Kindler. Barefoot released three albums which sold upwards of 50,000 copies to date. Dark Chocolate is Clay's current project and, as an improvisational jazz-for-dancers group, only plays where dancing is possible, often with a dancer on stage.

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Last updated February 25, 2013.
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