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Fri, Feb 18


Merrimans' Playhouse

Cohen-Rutkowski Project

The Project will be a quartet performing straight-ahead jazz, featuring a number of original compositions from Chris Rutkowski.

Registration is Closed due to COVID. ALL cancelled concerts will be rescheduled.
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Cohen-Rutkowski Project
Cohen-Rutkowski Project

Time & Location

Feb 18, 2022, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST

Merrimans' Playhouse, 401 E Colfax Ave, South Bend, IN 46617, USA


About the Event

TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student.

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Philanthropic Services provided by grants from the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust, The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County's ArtsEverywhere initiative, and the Arts Project Support Grant and Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission.

Quartet based in Indianapolis! The Project will perform straight-ahead jazz, featuring a number of original compositions from Chris Rutkowski.

Chris Rutkowski - piano 

Rich Cohen - saxophone 

Jacob Smith - bass 

Cassius Goens III - drums  

The Cohen-Rutkowski Project is a dynamic and multi-stylistic ensemble whose roots in American music run deep. Built around composer and pianist Chris Rutkowski and saxophonist Rich Cohen, its basic unit adds bass and drums to form an instrumental quartet. Joining Rich and Chris at Merrimans’ Playhouse will be Jacob Smith on bass and Cassius Goens III on drums. Rich has worked with many groups and local artists on the Indianapolis scene, including the Steve Allee Big Band, Rob Dixon, Clifford Ratliff, Everett Greene, and Monika Herzig. Chris Rutkowski enjoys dual careers as a classical composer and jazz pianist, and has performed with the likes of Alan Vizzutti, Eric Alexander and Darmon Meader. The songlist of the Project is wide ranging and includes straight-ahead jazz, contemporary jazz with fusion classics from Herbie Hancock, New Orleans street grooves, reggae, and rhythm and blues. At Merrimans’ Playhouse, the Project will perform straight-ahead jazz, featuring a number of original compositions from Chris Rutkowski.

Chris Rutkowski enjoys a multi-faceted musical career, as a composer for the concert stage and visual media, as a jazz performer, and as a music technologist. As a composer, he has been performed internationally, and has received numerous awards and commissions. These include the Individual Artist Fellowship of the Indiana Arts Commission/National Endowment for the Arts, and awards from the Michigan Music Teachers Association, the Illinois State University Fine Arts Festival, ASCAP, and the Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Representative pieces include: Changes (2017) for a consortium of ten saxophone quartets, Confluence (2015), in versions for wind ensemble and cello/piano; Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble (2008), Spirals (2006) for both string quartet and string orchestra, Passages (2005) and Divertimento (2002, rev. 2006) for the Ronen Chamber Ensemble, The Waking (2000) for chorus and clarinet permiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Dervish (1999, rev. 2006) for saxophone quartet premiered in Philadelphia and NYC and broadcast by the Israel Broadcast Authority and NHK Radio Japan, and Symmetries (2000) premiered by the Indiana University Symphony Orchestra. His work has been described as "haunting" (Indianapolis Star) and another "crackling performance" was labeled "the most interesting of this season's premiers by any sponsor in any venue" (NUVO, Indianapolis). NUVO's Tom Aldridge wrote, "With Passages, Rutkowski delivers another winner-repeating his 2002 success in this series," and his arrangement of "How Long Has This Been Going On", commercially released by Centaur Records, was ranked as one reviewer's "favorite non-Gershwin Gershwin on the disc" (

Born in Hartford, Conn., Rutkowski was raised in Ohio and Michigan. He studied Philosophy at Kings College London, UK, concentrating on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein and working intensively with Rush Rhees, Wittgenstein's literary executor. Upon returning to Detroit, he began a long period of work as a professional jazz pianist, performing with legendary trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, Motown recording artists The Temptations, and at several Montreux/Detroit Jazz Festivals.

A final career turn to the world of classical composition began with graduate studies at Eastern Michigan University with Anthony Iannaccone, continuing with doctoral work at Indiana University and private study with John Corigliano. Following academic appointments at Earlham College and The College of Wooster, he served for five years as Clinical Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Technology at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), where he created the Music Technology program.

Currently, Rutkowski's creative work is focused on his production company, LUNA Media. He performs extensively throughout the midwest as a jazz pianist, where his performances have been featured in two television programs produced by WTBU (Indianapolis). Each has received numerous broadcasts, including prime-time slots on the Indianapolis PBS affiliate WFYI. Recent performances include gigs with Darmon Meader (leader, New York Voices), with singer Everett Greene at the Indianapolis Jazz Kitchen, with trumper Allen Vizzuti and with saxophonist Eric Alexander. In addition to continuing to write for the concert stage, he is increasingingly writing for visual media, including film and broadcast television.

Saxophonist Rich Cohen, originally from the east coast, relocated to the midwest for postdoctoral work in Physics at Notre Dame. Having been bitten by the jazz bug at an early age, Rich’s avocation has always been music, while his day job morphed from teaching Physics to developing help systems for software applications. Since relocating to the Indy area, Rich has continued to hone his musical craft, working with a number of established jazz artists such as Rob Dixon, Everett Greene, and Clifford Ratliff, as well as fronting the Avenue Indy Jazz Quintet with Jeff Conrad.

Cassius Goens III, Assistant Professor of Music (Jazz Drums) at Ball State University, is a highly sought-after musician, clinician, and educator in the greater Indianapolis area as well as across the Midwest. At Ball State, Goens teaches individual lessons in applied jazz drum set to undergraduate and graduate major and non-major percussion students, facilitates a Perspectives of Jazz course, and coaches jazz performing ensembles. Cassius holds degrees from Ball State University (BGS, Music Emphasis) and the University of Iowa (MA, Jazz Studies), where he studied with James Dreier. Goens is known for his dynamic grooves, tasteful solos, and rhythmic intensity as well as his diverse musical background and ability to perform accurately and artfully in many different genres.

As a performer, Goens is an active member of the Scott Routenberg Trio, which released their debut album Every End is a Beginning on Summit Records and have been featured at such notable venues as The Green Mill (Chicago), The Velvet Note (Atlanta), The Jazz Kitchen (Indianapolis) and the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Indy Jazz Fest. Goens also performs all original compositions throughout the Midwest with his jazz quintet Groove Theory, and has appeared at Andy’s Jazz Club (Chicago) and main stage at the 2012 Iowa City Jazz Fest.

Cassius has performed with various ensembles throughout the Midwest, New York, and Europe where he performed at the Montreux, Vienne, and Purugia Jazz Festivals. In 2011, he performed throughout Brazil as part of the Johnson County Landmark Jazz Ensemble. Cassius returned to Brazil in 2012 to tour with his friend and Brazilian guitarist/singer/songwriter Ricardo Coen. Cassius has played throughout Indiana and Iowa with a host of local jazz artists, as well as for indie/folk rock artist Cory Hill. Cassius has also performed with world renowned jazz artists such as Chuck Finley, Buddy Defranco, Andy Martin, Marcus Printup, Karyn Allison, Don Aliquo, Wayne Bergeron, Dennis DiBlasio, Ted Nash, Michael Davis, Matt Harris, Rodrigo Ursaia, Jimmy Greene, and Andy Milne. Cassius has also been a sub for the World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Currently, Cassius performs regularly throughout the Midwest with his jazz quintet Groove Theory, who have appeared at such notable venues such as Andy's Jazz Club and main stage at the 2012 Iowa City Jazz Fest. He also regularly works as a sideman for a number of local Indianapolis groups, including Kool's Bazaar, The Matt Wilson Band, The Marlin McKay Group and Premium Blend. In April 2011, he released his debut album "Transition" that features his original compositions as well as his quintet Groove Theory.

Note that concert end time is only an estimate.


  • General

    General Advanced or Door

    Sale ended
  • Student

    Student Discount - College students please have ID.

    Sale ended



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