Forte Jazz Band Group Photo

  "What's the deal, what's the fuss?
    Where the heck did that sound come from that just hit us?"

Welcome to the official Forte Jazz Band website. We appreciate your visit and entrust that your stay here with us will be as pleasant, informative, and jazzy as the Forte sound.

Whether you're a current fan, newcomer, or really just want to see what all the "fuss" is about, we want you to sit back and share in the magical musical experience of one of Virginia's hottest bands…Forte!

Forte Jazz Band is an eight-piece ensemble hailing from Smithfield, VA. Formed in 1995, the group has performed extensively for events ranging from hometown backyard barbecues to television appearances to performing at the Hampton Jazz Festival in Hampton, VA in 2009 and 2013. Forte has also shared the stage with nationally recognized artists such as The Rippingtons, Eric Marienthal, Kim Waters, and CeCe Winans to name a few. Also in 2009, the group had the opportunity to record an album entitled "Left Behind - At the Train Station" and another in 2013 entitled "Chase the Rhythm." Forte members have also produced solo projects to include bassist Daniel Quackenbush's 2008 release "Singlehanded" and saxophonist Brian Pinner's 2009 release "Just Being Me." Forte's success as a musical force stems from the group's passion for creating quality musical performances that invite the listener to share in Forte's love of the art, with innovative and energetic performances as the trademark of the Forte experience. Performing a wide variety of popular jazz music and original compositions, and remaining a group of true friends, it is no wonder that the group has been together making great music (with the original members) for almost 20 years.

Forte is a very versatile group. Whatever your live musical needs, they can handle it. "We can play anything, but we're primarily a jazz band, so if you want to have a four-hour knock-down-drag-out Top 40 dance, we're not the group for you," says saxophonist Brian Pinner. "But we've been in many situations where functions have shifted gears midstream and turned into a more "lively" situation. That's when we break out our "funkmaster" hats and do what we have to do to keep the patrons happy." You name it - solo saxophone, sax and keys, trio with sax, keys, and drums, or full eight-piece band with vocals, Forte can configure to fit your needs.

During the years that the group has been together, Forte has performed for just about every type of function imaginable. They’ve been involved with television, radio, star-studded events, major corporate affairs, and also events where they themselves were the celebrities. In 2001, they shared top billing at a concert featuring vibraphonist Roy Ayers and that same year, released their first single on Arrow Records titled “5 For 3 To 1 (We Three Kings).” This first release received moderate airplay. Also in 2002, they were chosen as the opening act for crooner Will Downing. Pretty cool for a group of homeboys from small-town Smithfield.

Speaking of small towns, we would be remiss to omit mention of the award winning high school band and music programs at Smithfield and Surry High Schools which produced five members of the Forte family. There have been several directors at both schools over the years, but both programs came into their own and flourished in the late ‘70s and into the ‘80s under the leadership of Mr. James E. Carver Jr. (Smithfield) and Mr. George Fauntleroy (Surry), both Norfolk State University graduates. Through their leadership, students from all walks of life learned about music and many valuable life concepts such as discipline, responsibility, integrity, leadership, winning, AND losing. Forte would like to thank everyone who contributed to and participated in these organizations because we realize that the concepts and valuable lessons learned in school contributed greatly to the way Forte plays, works, sounds, and treats our fellow man.

Although this early training has a lot to do with what Forte is all about, there’s another factor that is a large contributor to the aura surrounding the group. A substantial faith base and spirituality can be found throughout the Forte family. This faith-based upbringing is evident in all of Forte’s endeavors. As with any business, the music industry has its share of questionable dealings. Forte is proud to say that it conducts its business in an honest and straightforward manner. “It has been said that we’re too good to be true,” says Manager Brian Pinner, “because we come at you straight and we’re always willing to help.” This upbringing can also be heard in Forte’s music where at anytime during a performance, the group might break out into a rendition of “Amazing Grace” or “Goin’ Up Yonder”. Also, look into several area churches on any given Sunday and you'll find group members in the ranks of the musicians. You’ll also find the name Forte on church programs throughout Hampton Roads. “We’re very proud of our spiritual background and use the name Forte regardless of where we’re playing,” says Jaymes. “We’ve been the “house” band for several gospel plays and a lot of people like our gospel music just as much as our jazz. That’s probably because we grew up in the Church and gospel music is a part of our lives and everything we do. It comes out in our playing.”

The success and longevity of Forte come as no surprise because the group is comprised of good musicians and great friends with most everyone knowing at least one other member even before the group was formed. Lets see, Pinner, Bradby, and Ford attended Smithfield High. Rawlings and Newby attended Surry High. Bradby, Rawlings, and Pinner attended Norfolk State. Bradby, Quackenbush, and Pinner work together. Funny, but no one is quite sure where auxiliary percussionist Mike Warren came from. He just showed up at rehearsal one day after hearing about the group and he’s been a permanent fixture ever since. “We’re just glad he showed up,” says drummer, Rawlings. One interesting point to note is that Pinner and Jaymes’ fathers also attended high school together back in the ‘50s and sang bass together in an award-winning vocal ensemble during that time. Now, that’s history that goes way back!

After experiencing a Forte performance, it would be difficult to deny the passion, depth, and musicality of this group. Their training and dedication won’t allow anything else. Still striving for excellence, Forte is looking to move to new heights. Look out world, Forte is on a roll and won’t stop until we get to the next destination…THE TOP!

Brian Binner - Saxophone  
Pete Jaymes - Piano
Jeffrey Bradby - Guitar
Daniel Quackenbush - Bass
Darryl Rawlings - Percussion
Michael Warren - Congas
Shevonne Newby - Vocals
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Listen to Forte Jazz!