What's A MoFone? What's A MoFone?

With its surprising and highly combustible line-up of two saxmen and one drummer, the Bay Area-based group Mo’Fone has thrilled audiences with some of the funkiest jazz—and jazziest funk—being played today. Powering its way through inventive high-energy original compositions, Mo’Fone explores the sonic landscape of its unique instrumentation with a relentless adventurousness, creating a huge sound that belies its compact size.

Combining serious musicianship with an infectious sense of fun onstage, Mo’Fone also manages to groove with abandon while keeping miraculously in balance, as each member of the band pushes his instrument well beyond its role in a more traditional trio. What’s more, Mo’Fone delivers adventurous riffs and grooves, while achieving a sound that’s not only accessible, but instantly addictive. Their groovy improvisations and original concept have earned them the award for Best Jazz Group in the 2008 & 2012 East Bay Express Readers’ Polls, and secured them repeated slots at the Monterey, San Francisco and Sonoma Jazz Festivals, in addition to gigs at the Bay Area’s premier live music venues.

“I was hooked from the first track,” wrote the Contra Costa Times of the band’s debut disc, Surf’s Up (Evander Music, 2003). “Mo’Fone proves it’s the biggest little band on the scene. On each piece, the trio finds ingenious ways of creating a full, multitextured, hard swinging sound.”

A healthy portion of that swinging sound comes from the mighty baritone sax of Jim Peterson, alternating seamlessly between walking bass lines and powerful melodic riffs. A stalwart of the Bay Area scene for more than 20 years, Jim is a veteran of leading bands like Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88s, Indigo Swing, and Motordude Zydeco. Soaring overhead on alto sax, clarinet and flute is Larry De La Cruz, whose own impressive résumé includes stints with Phil Woods, Bobby Hutcherson, the Temptations, Boca do Rio, and Doc Severinsen. Completing the Mo’Fone magic is drummer Jeremy Steinkoler, “a master of second line syncopation” (SF Bay Guardian) whose orchestral approach to the traps drives the trio’s turn-on-a-dime dynamics and gives Mo’Fone its third ceaselessly inventive solo voice.

As AllAboutJazz.com summed up the group’s exhilarating and cohesive sound: “This jazz trio is a powerhouse to be reckoned with.... If Mo'Fone doesn't blow your socks off, you're not paying attention.”

JEREMY STEINKOLER, “A very swinging drummer who’s mastered the art of coordinated independence,” (East Bay Express) has been playing drums professionally for over 25 years. He has crafted a fresh and unmistakable style from an expansive range of influences, from classic New Orleans second-line street beats to Elvin Jones' 'circle of sound,' and is a powerful force driving Mo'Fone with an exciting and unpredictable approach to the drums. His credits as a sideman include performances and recordings with members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dave Ellis, Kirk Joseph, Jenna & the Charmers, Chelle & Friends, Clarence Bucaro, Guru Garage, Rachel Efron, Valerie Orth, Paula Harris, Christie McCarthy, Mamdou Sidibe, Jennifer Jolly & Friends, Stephen Kent, Kevin Beadles Band, Eda Maxym, Hot Links, Phatlip, and dozens of top musicians around the Bay Area. He leads and composes for his own group Mo’Fone, the award-winning saxes-and-drums trio featured at the Monterey, San Francisco and Sonoma Jazz Festivals, and has received radio play across the country and in Europe. Jeremy has been teaching private drum lessons since 1991, and is the Co-Founder of BandWorks, a school of rock for musicians of all ages and levels based in the Bay Area, serving over 1,500 students each year. He is also the Founder and Director of the East Bay Drum School. He has taught workshops and master classes in Dublin, Ireland; Ann Arbor, MI; and in Northern California for the past 20 years. Jeremy proudly endorses Brooks Drums, Protection Racket cases, Sabian Cymbals, Aquarian Drumheads, Vic Firth Drum Sticks, Prologix Practice Pads and Snarewieght Dampeners. Additioanlly, Jeremy has published a book of essays on drumming and music called Finding the Groove, available at Hudson Music and on Amazon. "Steinkoler's orchestral approach to the trap set is thrilling. He's a whirlwind of activity, filling up empty spaces without sounding busy." (Contra Costa Times)

JIM PETERSON has been playing the saxophone in the Bay Area for over 40 years. An incredibly diverse reedman, Jim has played tenor, alto, soprano, and baritone saxophones with such well-known Bay Area bands as Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88's, Red Archibald and the Internationals, Steve Lucky and the Rumba Bums, Rhythm Town Jive, Hot Links, and many others. Feeling just at home playing modern jazz as he does rhythm and blues, Jim leads his own trio, and was a founding member of the groups Mumbo Gumbo and Giant Trio. His walking baritone lines often combine bass and melody together, weaving in and out of the harmonic intricacies of each tune, filling up so much space that the ear doesn’t miss a note. Jim plays with a fire and drive that ignite both the audience and the band to groove with terrific intensity.

LARRY DE LA CRUZ has played saxophone with such musical legends as Doc Severenson (the Tonight Show Band), Kenny Werner, Phil Woods, Bobby Hutcherson, Lou Rawls, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and the San Diego Symphony. A partial list of CDs that have been graced by his horn are Carlos Angeles’ “Something Real,” Colors’ “Bureacrazy,” Flight 7’s “Sky High,” Allan Phillips’ “Spanglish,” Aldoush Alpanian’s “This Life,” Rob Thorsen’s “First Impression,” and Mike Vax’s “Alternate Route.” Larry’s rich experience as a performer and highly honed skills as a saxophonist and composer have made him one of the pre-eminent horn players on the San Francisco scene. Larry's dynamic soloing can range from Coltrane-esque runs on up-tempo tunes to soulful wails on slower ballads. Whatever the genre, Larry's energetic style and musical sensitivity are immediately recognizable, and always memorable. Equally comfortable on the flute, clarinet, and a wide range of percussion instruments, Larry adds many zesty ingredients of sound to the unique gumbo that is Mo'Fone. [More info:www.larrydelacruz.com]