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Thu, Mar 16


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

Mar 16, 2023, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM EDT

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, Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community 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. Concert support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season).

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 

Darrel Tidaback - bass 

Chelsea Hughey - 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 Darrel Tidaback on bass and Chelsea Hughey 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.

Darrel Tidaback is a South Bend bassist with a history of directing the IUSB Jazz Ensemble and Twin Cities Jazz Orchestra. He began his college teaching career at St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas in 1990. Darrel may be heard with jazz and orchestral groups throughout the region. He has performed on more than twenty recordings including his own Time ines. Darrel holds an undergraduate degree in music from Saint Mary’s University and a Master of Music degree in string bass performance from the University of Texas, San Antonio.

Based in Indianapolis, Chelsea Hughey is a jazz drummer and percussionist. She holds a BA in Music from Butler University, a MM in Jazz Performance from New Jersey City University, and will finish her MBA in Music Business this summer. Of her many influences, Tim Horner, Mark Sherman, Walt Weiskopf, Allen Farnham, and Bill Kirchner were incredible resources, guides, and mentors as she worked toward her MM in Jazz. From 2013 to 2020, Chelsea worked as a freelance drummer in northern New Jersey, New York City, and the surrounding areas. Since returning to Indianapolis in 2021, Chelsea has continued her freelance work as a member of the house band for a weekly jam session on the southside of Indy and performing at the local Indy club The Chatterbox. In addition to this, she has also continued working as a musical theater drummer playing for area high school productions as well as the long-standing Beef and Boards Dinner Theater.


  • General

    General Advanced or Door

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  • Student

    Student Discount - College students please have ID.

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