Patricia Thumas is a native San Franciscan, who emerged as the Bay Area's first female Salsa pianist with the highly acclaimed "Ritmo '74", opening for the international stars of New York-based Fania Records label at many of San Francisco's finest venues. She has had an extensive career as a Salsa Pianist, including working with John Santos' late seventies Cuban Charanga band "Tipica Cienfuegos," and was also a member of legendary Afro-Cuban Master Drummer Francisco Aguabella's band. She toured nationally and recorded 2 CDs with the internationally acclaimed "Blazing Redheads” on the Reference Records label. In the late seventies/eighties, she co-led "Chevere" & "Bahia," both Latin & Brazilian jazz ensembles. She was an eight-year member of the "Julio Bravo & Salsabor Orchestra," performing locally & nationally, and a twenty-five year veteran of "El Grupo Sinigual," which has a soon to be released CD, and she occasionally works as guest pianist with Adelante. Patricia was selected and served as a Judge for the 2017 SF Carnaval Parade. She is featured in Jim McCarthy's book "Voices of Latin Rock.” She is also featured along with other veteran community artists past & present on a mural at Casa Bandido, located at 25th & York Streets in San Francisco. She will soon be featured in a book about the Mission District's artistic community! Her latest project is heading up Key Elements, which will be featuring her original compositions and arrangements with a Latin & Brazilian jazz-fusion flair!
Robin Nzingah Smith has been playing music since the age of six. She studied jazz at the New Muse in Brooklyn, the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, and Billie Taylor’s Jazzmobile under the tutelage of Frank Foster, Frank Wess, and Bill Baron. Nzingah attended Rutgers University where she received a degree in flute performance. While there, she had the honor to perform with the University Big Band at the funeral of Thelonius Monk. Nzingah’s musical styles run the gamut from Jazz to Salsa, R & B, Funk, and Classical music. She frequently performs with the Oakland Civic Orchestra, the Mary Lou Williams Tribute Band, as well as with Bay Area Funk and Blues legend, Johnny Tolbert. Nzingah has been a dedicated music educator in the Bay Area of San Francisco for over two decades. She teaches band, Jazz, Improvisation, and gives private music lessons.
Sue "Suki" Kaye, originally from NYC and now living in the Bay Area has been playing congas, ngoma, kalimba, and other percussion for over 40 years. She has been deeply influenced by many amazing teachers, studying the music of the Congo, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Trinidad and more! Over the years, Suki has performed with many bands, including Azucar con Ache, Rita Lackey and Friends, Liquid Girlfriend, Montuno Groove, Omeyocan, Pura Vida, Zakiya Hooker, Bole Bantu, Azucar y Crema, Samba Ngo, and the Ngoma Players, and is now very excited about playing with this new project-Key Elements. She has had the pleasure of opening the show and sharing the stage with such well-known artists as King Sunny Ade, Sheila E, and Babatunde Olatunji (RIP). Suki has also been a dance accompanist, playing for both classes and performance groups. She presently plays with Taller Bombalele, a Puerto Rican Folkloric group. She is also an educator, teaching elementary, preschool, and after school programs as well as conducting drum workshops for adults and kids. She is on the faculty of Born to Drum, a Bay Area women's drum camp. Suki also enjoys writing and arranging music and of course playing and being creative with other musicians!
Multi-instrumentalist and Bay Area native Colin O'Leary is the long enduring bass player for local faves Pangea Futbol Club and plays many roles in the local music scene. He found his way to Key Elements while playing tres cubano in salsa bands with Patricia Thumas. After noticing his strong improvisational instincts and disregard for norms on the bass, Patricia Thumas asked him to join in with her project. Though he is self-taught on bass, his introduction with music was through classical guitar when he studied as a teenager with student prodigies of Andre Segovia. His life would bring him closer to Latin culture and he traveled throughout Spain and then the America's, learning various Latin rhythms and instruments. Along with Pangea, he composes and plays with many local projects where he can change hats between guitarist, tresero, frontman, producer, bassist, and engineer. He is also a long-time Union organizer and uses rhythm as a powerful tool in marches and protests.
A Bay Area resident since 1980, Michaelle Goerlitz has been exploring Latin and Brazilian rhythms/music ever since. She was a founder of the Blazing Redheads and Wild Mango, two long-term projects which showcased her versatile percussive skills. Among the list of performers she has played with: VNote Ensemble, Venezuelan Music Project, ‘Chelle & Friends, Wayne Wallace, Mark Levine, Tom McDermott, Tammy Hall, Paul McCandless, Holly Near, Anthony Brown, The Brazilian Jazz Project, Ojala, rhiannon, Yair Dalal, Barbara Higbie, Jami Sieber, Tuck & Patti, Jai Uttal and Samba Rio. In 2007 she was named a “rising star” in Downbeat Magazine.