Growing up in an atmosphere where everyone was expected to sing or learn an instrument for family gatherings, Mark O'Leary took up the guitar at the age of eleven. Encouraged by his uncle, who had been a showband player, he found that he had a natural affinity with the instrument. Soon he was confidently playing Led Zeppelin and Rory Gallagher riffs. O'Leary's music has been influenced by European music, or ECM as it is often called, after its main recording label. "It has a strong jazz influence but also draws on the work of classical composers like Bartok, Debussy and Stravinsky," says O'Leary. In 1987, when still a teenager, O'Leary spent a year studying guitar at the Musician's Institute in Los Angeles. The opportunities to perform ECM were limited in his native city of Cork, Ireland, but a concert with Dutch bassist Hein van de Geyn gave him the encouragement he needed. Through the Cork Jazz Festival, he played with major jazz figures like guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Ed Schuller and piano player Kenny Werner.
Drummer Joey Baron is largely self-taught by means of watching others play and listening to recordings, radio and television. Besides being a member of the Bill Frisell Band for ten years until 1995, he has performed and recorded with an impressive list of musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, David Bowie, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, and The Lounge Lizards.
He has lead and recorded three albums with his own trio, Barondown. He also co-lead the group Miniature and was a member of Naked City.
Michael Formanek's singular approach to the acoustic bass has led to an impressive range of musical associations. During his 26-year career, he has played and/or recorded with artists such as Tim Berne, Stan Getz, Marty Ehrlich, Baikida Carroll, and many others. Composition also plays a significant role in Formanek's overall musical profile, and four albums of his original music have been released to critical acclaim on the Enja label. Formanek is a consistent presence on the touring circuit in the US and abroad, and collaborates often with a wide variety of musicians and ensembles.