Just another WordPress weblog
Since the inception of the group, Diverse’s musical intent has always been to connect with all types of audiences. Diverse plays a brand of jazz that is heavily influenced by other modern day genres yet keeps a firm grasp on the tradition. The core members of this Kansas City based group are Hermon Mehari (trumpet), Ryan Lee (drums), and Ben Leifer (bass). In 2009, Diverse released their self-titled debut album on Origin Records as a result of winning the 2008 Gene Harris Jazz Competition in Boise, Idaho. This album of twelve original compositions reached the Top 50 of the JazzWeek charts and stayed in the Top 120 for more than six months.
Diverse has also taken initiatives to collaborate with many artists and play in a variety of musical settings. The group has performed with jazz greats Bobby Watson, Jaleel Shaw and Logan Richardson in a series of concerts designed to promote these respective artists’ music to a new audience. Diverse has also collaborated with many Kansas City based artists of other genres to perform shows in tribute to Michael Jackson, Common’s “Like Water For Chocolate” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Low End Theory”. The Diverse Trio, consisting of Mehari, Leifer and Lee, has conducted both stateside and European tours in the past two years.
Hermon Mehari has been playing the trumpet since he was in the seventh grade. Originally from Jefferson City, Missouri, he developed an affinity for the instrument and jazz music while in high school. It was at this time that he started performing professionally on weekends in a variety of musical settings. He later received a BM in Jazz Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City on a full ride scholarship. Hermon recently won the jazz division of the 2008 National Trumpet Competition and took 2nd Place in the 2010 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition in Sydney, Australia. He has performed overseas with Bobby Watson at the Blues to Bop Festival in Lugano, Switzerland. Hermon has studied with Terrell Stafford, Paul McKee, Dave Scott, Clay Jenkins, Jaleel Shaw, Michael Carvin and Bobby Watson.
Ben Leifer was born in Topeka, Kansas on December 28th, 1985. His mother is a clarinet player in the Topeka Symphony, his father is a local jazz trumpeter, and his brother plays drums and percussion in the Kansas City area. Coming from a family with such a great musical background, it’s no surprise he has grown a love for music. Ben has studied with internationally renown composers such as Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Bobby Watson and James Mobberley. He is a working bassist in Kansas City and has played with great musicians such as Nicholas Payton, Howard Johnson, Michael Carvin, Robin Eubanks, Bobby Watson, Claire Daly, Harold O’Neal, Bill Saxton, Kevin Mahogany, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Ahmad Aladeen, Paul Mckee, and David Gibson. Ben has also shared the stage with notable musicians such as Richie Cole, Stacy Dillard, Javon Jackson and more. He has studied music with Bobby Watson for 5 years and has also been able to study with musicians like John Clayton, Michael Carvin, Curtis Lundy, and Jay Leonhart. He has extensive experience in all types of music such as, but not limited to: rock, funk, blues, jazz, latin jazz, and salsa.
Few words describe the talent of Ryan J. Lee. He’s young, vibrant, positive and one of the most versatile drummers living in Kansas City Missouri today. From jazz to gospel, drums to piano, drum instructor to drum manufacturer, Ryan has made an impact on the music scene locally, nationally and internationally. Only in his early 20’s, he is continuously performing with numerous well-known jazz and gospel artist today. Ryan attended the University of Missouri Kansas City where he studied jazz performance under the direction of Robert “Bobby” Watson. There he attained his proficiency in jazz, classical and Brazilian music. Ryan is well known for his affiliations with the young and talented jazz group Diverse. In 2008 Diverse won the Gene Harris Jazz Competition and was awarded a record deal with Origin Records. Since then Diverse has traveled world wide sharing their music and gaining much in return from those experiences and opportunities. Ryan is known for his attributes to jazz in Kansas City but plays many other styles as well. In 2011 he was District Champion and competed at regionals in the Guitar Center Drum Off. Ryan is not only a great drummer, but also a composer with a great spirit. He takes pride and joy in helping others understand what it means to be a musician. It’s more than just his playing; it’s his character. Ryan stands firmly on that principle and is devoted to making that message sing through his music.