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Thu, Nov 09


Merrimans' Playhouse

Emily Kuhn Quintet

With her sophomore album, “Ghosts of Us,” Emily brings her trumpet lyricism to her quintet featuring some of Chicago’s most creative and dynamic improvisers

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Emily Kuhn Quintet
Emily Kuhn Quintet

Time & Location

Nov 09, 2023, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Merrimans' Playhouse, 401 E Colfax Ave, Suite 135, South Bend, IN 46617, USA


About the Event

TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student.

Chicago-based trumpet player Emily Kuhn has made a name for herself as a composer and trumpeter with a distinctively lyrical voice. With her sophomore album, “Ghosts of Us,” she brings this lyricism to her quintet featuring some of Chicago’s most creative and dynamic improvisers: Erik Skov on guitar, Meghan Stagl on piano, Kitt Lyles on bass, and Gustavo Cortiñas on drums. The group relies on their strong foundation of musical trust to deftly navigate influences from jazz, rock, chamber music, and Americana.

Emily Kuhn - trumpet

Erik Skov - guitar

Meghan Stagl - piano

Kitt Lyles - bass 

Gustavo Cortiñas - drums 

Written during the Covid-19 pandemic and described by trumpeter Erol Tamerman as “sonorous and beautiful, unfurling in surprising ways, with full, delicious harmony,” the six songs on “Ghosts of Us” meditate on themes of stillness, connection, grief, and hope. The title track is eerie and expectant, born out of an early pandemic walk through deserted city streets. The album continues with a series of intimate, emotionally honest compositions: the cinematic ballad “When the World Is Young” is inspired by post-apocalyptic imagery and the writings of N.K. Jemisin and Octavia Butler, while “In Lieu of Certainty, Movement” reflects on the feeling of treading water and the discomfort of moving forward despite not knowing what’s coming next. These brooding tracks are balanced by the slow and thick, jazz-meets-shoegaze “Respire,” the fiery hard bop number “When It Rains,” and the album’s triumphant closer, “Home.” The compositions create space for the band to collectively shape the music and for textural elements to take center stage, creating an evocative collection that invites listeners to briefly be still and breathe.

Emily Kuhn is a jazz trumpet player based in Chicago, IL, described by the Chicago Jazz Magazine as having “a charismatic style and a sophistication that belies her youth.” Originally from Charlottesville, VA, Emily has made a name for herself as an active bandleader, sidewoman, composer, and educator. She released two albums via BACE Records, Sky Stories (2020) and Ghosts of Us (2023), to numerous accolades. She was named a Luminarts Fellow in Jazz in 2020.

Emily leads two bands: a jazz quintet and a nine-piece chamber jazz ensemble, Helios. Outside of these projects, Emily plays regularly with a wide variety of ensembles across the jazz and Latin scenes in Chicago, including Latin fusion band Son Monarcas, Kitt Lyles’ Real Talk Collective, Gustavo Cortiñas’ Kind Regards, Sam Pilnick’s Nonet Project, Erik Skov’s Liminality, John Dorhauer’s Heisenberg Uncertainty Players, and Christy Bennett's Fumée. She has brought her original music to festivals including Hey Nonny’s Women’s Jazz Festival, the Festival of New Trumpet Music, the MCA's Tuesdays on the Terrace, and the Chicago Park District's Night Out in the Parks series, and she has performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival and Stanford Jazz Festival among others. Emily is currently the Jazz Combo Director and Improv Instructor at Hersey High School and a combo instructor at Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, and she has taught throughout Chicago and nationwide through MUSIC Inc., Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, and Stanford Jazz Workshop.    

Emily has a BM and BA in Jazz Trumpet Performance and Environmental Studies from Oberlin. She studied with renowned trumpet players Eddie Henderson, Sean Jones, John D’earth, and John Henes.

Raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Meghan Stagl has been pursuing music nonstop since her first piano lesson at the age of 6. After much music participation in high school, she went on to Hope College knowing she wanted to study music, but unsure of much else. It was here that she discovered her love for jazz and began to grow more and more interested in the genre. After graduating with a Bachelors in Music and Spanish and receiving various school awards and accolades, Meghan attended Western Michigan University where she  received a Master’s degree in Jazz Performance.

Since moving to Chicago, Meghan has played and recorded vocals and piano with various projects and artists. She can be found on Gustavo Cortiñas’ Kind Regards (2022), The Sam Pilnick Project’s Adler Suite (2021), and Emily Kuhn’s Ghosts of Us (2023). Recently, she made her Chicago Jazz Fest debut singing with Gustavo Cortiñas’ critically acclaimed Desafio Candente. Meghan has played Chicago venues like Fulton Street Collective, the Jazz Showcase, the Hungry Brain, the Whistler, and the Green Mill, but her music has taken her all over to places including Yellowstone National Park. In 2020, she received the Luminarts Fellowship for Jazz Voice. In addition to performing, Meghan also teaches Music Theory at SAE Institute, located in downtown Chicago, along with private lessons in voice and piano.  She has been fortunate enough to study with jazz pedagogues and masters such as Tammy McCann, Jeremy Siskind, Sunny Wilkinson, Brian Coyle, Steve Talaga, and Edye Evans Hyde.

Kitt Lyles is one of Chicago’s most distinctive bassists and composers. Born and raised in South Carolina, Lyles has cultivated an aesthetic that synthesizes his love for Southern roots music with imaginative contemporary jazz. Unafraid to channel romance and grit alike and unwilling to sacrifice the centrality of melody, Lyles draws out the bass’ most vocal personality. Through his lyrical compositional style, inspired by the musical lineage of Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington, he seeks to highlight his musicians’ unique voices as well.

A graduate of Northwestern University (BM Jazz Studies, 2013), Kitt Lyles is an active performer, composer, and educator in the Chicago jazz community. He has been featured on 36 studio recordings and toured and taught masterclasses across the US, Latin America, and Asia, including festivals and venues such as The Chicago Jazz Festival, The Charlotte Jazz Festival, The Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Festival Espontáneo in Chiapas, MX, The Chicago Latin Jazz Festival, The Blue Note in Beijing, Blu Jazz Singapore, Zinco Jazz Club in Mexico City, Snug Harbor in New Orleans, ShapeShifter Lab in NYC, The Green Mill, The Jazz Showcase, The Old Town School of Folk Music, and The Logan Center at UChicago.   In 2015, Lyles released his debut album, Real Talk, which peaked at #84 in Jazzweek radio charts. Regarding Real Talk, Hobart Taylor of KUCI radio wrote “Composer/bassist Lyles is a sterling example of why Chicago is, in my view, the capital city of modern working jazz musicians...Chicago jazz musicians of every color and gender, whether native or drawn there by its vibrant scene, seem to make a living being true to themselves while expanding the genre via thoughtful composition and playing that celebrates artistry without hooking onto trends.” Lyles recently released Wake Before Dawn, the follow up to Real Talk. Wake Before Dawn continues Lyles’ penchant for blending nostalgic southern roots music, contemporary and straight-ahead jazz, and latin folkloric music. The album features Lyles’ core septet as well as guest vocalists and musicians from Chicago’s jazz, classical, and latin music scenes, and from his hometown Greenville, South Carolina.   In addition to leading his band “Real Talk,” Kitt has performed with prominent ensembles and individuals of the music scenes in Chicago and beyond such as Grammy Award winning Chuchito Valdes (Cuba), Grammy Award winning Donato Poveda (Cuba), Vladimir Cetkar (Macedonia),  Roy McGrath’s Menjunje, Gustavo Cortiñas’ Desafio Candente, Erik Skov Liminality, Mike Allemana, Amos Hoffman, Ana Everling and Taraf de Chicago, Tony do Rosario, Yuri Hevia, Son Monarcas, and Damian Rivero.

Guitarist, educator, and composer Erik Skov has been performing in Chicago for over a decade. A graduate of North Central College in Jazz and Anthropology and a Masters in Jazz from Northwestern University, Skov has established himself as an up-and-coming new jazz guitar voice in a city with an abundantly rich jazz & blues heritage. An experienced performer on guitar, as well as banjo, Skov has been able to work professionally with top musicians and composers in the jazz and classical worlds including Victor Goines, Jonathan Newman, Derek Bremel, Mallory Thompson, Ben Bolter, Frank Caruso, Charleen Brooks, Chris Madsen, and several others. Skov can be seen performing in several Chicago based ensembles including Gustavo Cortinas Kind Regards, Kitt Lyles Real Talk, Emily Kuhn Quintet, Alvin Cobb Jr. Trio, MCH Trio, Matt Peterson Sextet, Roy McGrath Chi-Town Sounds, Victor Bastidas DePasie Project, and the Paul Windsor Orchestra. He has performed as a leader or sideman at the Green Mill, Andy’s Jazz Club, The Jazz Showcase, Room 43, Millennium Park, Skokie Theater, Hemingway’s Bistro and in festivals such as the Chicago Jazz Fest, Oak Park Jazz Thaw, and Hey Nonny’s Women’s Jazz Fest.

Skov’s most recent project, Liminality, is a six-piece jazz ensemble that features saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, trumpeter Emily Kuhn, trombonist Euan Edmonds, bassist Kitt Lyles, and drummer Gustavo Cortinas. The ensemble’s name, Liminality, comes from the anthropological term relating to the middle stages of a ritual or rite. In this stage, the participants have left their previous state and have begun a transformative process that will lead to the desired rewards. Skov’s upcoming album aims to celebrate music as the state of liminality, a lifelong musical process aimed at connecting and communicating with others. Skov currently teaches at Lewis University, Morton College, and College of DuPage.

Embracing a multicultural language, while investing in a variety of disciplines within the music itself, Mexican born, and Chicago based composer, bandleader, drummer, and lyricist Gustavo Cortiñas continues to surpass himself in the breadth of his work. “Cortiñas' music is uplifting, robust, melodic, and gets your body moving; it's an exciting blend of the artist's musical influences from jazz and Latin America, including his native Mexico" (DOWNBEAT). This can be heard on his four records as a leader, "Snapshot" (2013), "ESSE" (2017) “Desafío Candente” (2021), and “Kind Regards / Saludos Afectuosos”. Cortiñas gives life to music that attempts to build bridges and understanding in times of borders and ignorance; words that focus on our feet and the dust on which they walk, instead of the stars under which they dream. Through his participation in more than 30 discographic productions, “Cortiñas’s deft touch reaffirms his status as one of the great drummers in the City’s new guard.” (ChicagoReader).

A graduate of Loyola University New Orleans (BM Jazz, Minor in Philosophy), and Northwestern University (MM Jazz), Gustavo Cortiñas has developed a successful career in the US for over a decade, leading and accompanying ensembles in renowned stages and festivals in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe. During his time in Chicago, Gustavo has become one of the most sought out drummers, performing and recording with Javier Red’s Imagery Converter, Matt Peterson, Kitt Lyles, Erik Skov, Emily Kuhn, Michael Hudson-Casanova, Chuchito Valdés Trio, Roy McGrath, Kyle Madsen, and the Carla Campopiano Trio, among other ensembles. Cortiñas is a member of the Chicago Jazz Composer's Collective, performing regularly for their monthly residency at Chicago's very own Green Mill. Gustavo Cortiñas is a proud endorser of Canopus Drums & Bosphorus Cymbals and has been recipient of grants from the Mexican National Endowment of the Arts (FONCA), the Illinois Arts Council (IACA), the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and Pathways To Jazz. His album Desafío Candente, a sprawling meditation on Latin American life and struggles, earned a well-deserved spot in Jazziz Magazine’s list of the 2021’s Best Releases, and was listed among the Jazz Journalist’s Association Top Latin Jazz Albums of 2021, among other critical praise.

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services Private Trust Foundations, which include grants from the Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community Trust Foundation (2020-2021; 2022-2023 seasons), the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation (2021-2022; 2022-2023 seasons), and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust (2021-2022; 2022-2023 season). Special concert event support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season). Activities are made possible in part by the Arts Organization Support (AOS), Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency (2023-2024 season).

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation (2020-2023 seasons).

The Student and Home Grown Series concerts made possible, in part, with support from the ArtsEverywhere Grant from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and the Arts Project Support Grant and the Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission.


  • General

    $10 Advanced or Door

    Sale ended
  • Student

    $5 Student/Discount

    Sale ended



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