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Wed, Oct 19


Merrimans' Playhouse

J.J. Wright Trio with The Merrimans - "Explorations"

Our Home Grown Jazz Performance Series presents the J.J. Wright Trio featuring J.J. Wright on piano, Stephen Merriman on drums, and Mary Merriman on bass.

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J.J. Wright Trio with The Merrimans - "Explorations"
J.J. Wright Trio with The Merrimans - "Explorations"

Time & Location

Oct 19, 2022, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

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.

Our Home Grown Jazz Performance Series presents the J.J. Wright Trio with The Merrimans featuring  J.J. Wright on piano, Mary Merriman on bass, and Stephen Merriman on drums. This program is called "Explorations". They will present two 45 minute sets of selected jazz standards to create four movements each set. Songs will include "Letter To Evan" by Bill Evans, "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart" by Duke Ellington, "Elsa" by Earl Zinders, "Monk's Dream" by Thelonius Monk, "Windows" by Chick Corea, "Beatrice" by Sam Rivers, "Skylark" by Hoagy Carmicheal, and "Wise One" by John Coltrane.

J.J. Wright’s style cannot be easily categorized. Trained as a jazz improviser at the New School for Jazz in NYC, he’s also passionate about sacred music. Palestrina and Bach vie with Monk and Cannonball Adderley as just a few of his harmonic and melodic inspirations. While with the U.S. Naval Academy Band, Wright performed for the President, as well as several other high-profile diplomatic gigs, and with the Caribbean Jazz Project: Afro Bop Alliance, recording and performing with vibraphonist Dave Samuels. The album was nominated for a GRAMMY for ‘Best Latin Jazz Album’ and won the Latin GRAMMY in the same category. In addition to Mr. Samuels, J.J. has had the privilege of performing with Billy Hart, Ike Sturm, Nate Wood, Chris Cheek, Zach Harmon, Mark Ferber, Matt Ulery, and Delfeayo Marsalis.

In November 2016, Wright’s Advent cantata with the Notre Dame Children’s Choir, O Emmanuel, debuted at the top of the Billboard Classical Charts where it remained for eight weeks. He did his graduate studies in choral conducting at the University of Notre Dame and had a fellowship in Rome, where he researched and wrote his dissertation on the early Baroque oratorio while studying at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and interning with the Sistine Chapel Choir.

Wright became the Director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir in 2017, and has released two albums with the choir: Catch the Spirit, which celebrates African and African American sacred music and They Tell Me of a Home: Celebrating 40 Years of the Folk Choir. When he’s not conducting, composing, or recording, he’s a husband and father to three beautiful children.

Stephen and Mary own and operate Merrimans' Playhouse. Together they spearhead and manage all the creative endeavors of this company. Stephen has traveled across the country, but since returning to South Bend has focused on the art of jazz in performance, and in creating a space for other professional jazz artists to perform. Mary has been playing professionally since 1982, in jazz and orchestra, from Michigan and Indiana. She now focuses on jazz bass. Together they host concerts of touring jazz artist from around the country as well as around the world.

Stephen Merriman, a native of South Bend, playing professionally since 1978, has worked in a variety of musical genres from reggae to rock to jazz, in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, New York City, San Diego, and Boulder, Colorado. Stephen has been playing the drums since he was a little kid, that's been his artistic drive. Some of his credits include the Boulder Jazz Improvisation Group, Chiaroscuro, and the piano and drum duo, The Great Leap, based in New York City. Since returning to South Bend, Stephen has focused solely on jazz, and has played with the jazz groups, Random Elements, Apogeebop, and currently The Merrimans. Stephen is also a piano technician and tuner. Together, Stephen and Mary own and operate their business, Merrimuse Enterprises, LLC (DBA Merrimans’ Complete Piano Service), which includes a piano service business. Stephen's journey to discover the music of his passion, the art of jazz, has taken him exploring all over the country, but now has focused on nurturing this art form in his home town through Merrimans' Playhouse.

Mary Merriman began playing bass in orchestra along side playing alto saxophone, during her early school years, and played electric bass in jazzband during middle school. She then discovered jazz at Central Michigan University sitting in as the bassist with an improvisational jazz studio class, Studio Twelve, directed by Dr. Robert Hays, during her high school years, and has been in love with it since. Her inspiration from Dr. Hays' jazz philosophical lectures has been an influence on her contributions to operating Merrimans' Playhouse, along with Stephen. She focused on the double bass performing and studying with orchestras and various jazz ensembles during high school, college and during her professional years in her science careers. She has worked in research in the biological sciences as well as being a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Although she pursued other degrees and careers in the sciences, the bass remained a vital part of her life. She now operates Merrimans’ Playhouse with her husband Stephen, hosting jazz performances and open sessions, while continuing to explore and perform as a jazz bassist.


  • General

    $10 Advanced or Door

    Sale ended
  • Student

    $5 Student/Discount

    Sale ended



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