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Thu, Sep 01


Merrimans' Playhouse

James Austin Jr. Trio

"Songs in the Key of Wonder ", James’ debut album, showcases his tasteful instrumental arrangements of a selection of classic compositions from the songbook of the great Stevie Wonder.

Registration is Closed due to COVID. ALL cancelled concerts will be rescheduled.
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James Austin Jr. Trio
James Austin Jr. Trio

Time & Location

Sep 01, 2022, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT

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


About the Event

TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student. Concert end time is only an estimate.

The James Austin Jr. Trio is pleased to be joined by Clark Sommers (bass) and Cliff Wallace (drums). They will perform “Songs in the Key of Wonder and More!". Songs in the Key of Wonder is a project of James' jazz arrangements of a collection of Stevie Wonder tunes. They'll mix in some other tunes (including jazz standards) during the performance.

James Austin Jr. - piano

Clark Sommers - bass

Clif Wallace - drums


EPK - Songs in the Key of Wonder

Songs in the Key of Wonder


James Austin Jr. is an accomplished jazz pianist and bandleader who hails from Chicago, IL. He has honed his craft under the tutelage of several legendary jazz musicians including extensive study with Barry Harris, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz educators of all time. James’ musical achievements include being honored as a featured performer and semifinalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. In recent years, James has performed alongside an illustrious list of singers and musicians in diverse settings throughout the world. He recently served as pianist and arranger for several star-studded concerts at Carnegie Hall under the baton of esteemed musical director, Ray Chew. James is regularly featured in the New York City area as a pianist and bandleader for various live concerts, theatrical performances, and civic and charitable events. He has curated and led the NJPAC Jazz Jam Session series since its inception. Songs in the Key of Wonder, James’ debut album, showcases his tasteful instrumental arrangements of a selection of classic compositions from the songbook of the great Stevie Wonder.

Bassist, Composer and Educator, Clark Sommers has toured and performed extensively throughout the world. He has had the privilege of performing with Cedar Walton, Darrell Grant, Brian Blade, Ernie Watts, Bennie Maupin, Von Freeman, Ira Sullivan, Frank Wess, Charles McPherson, Peter Bernstein, Lin Haliday, Dana Hall, Jodie Christian, Bobby Broom, Jeff Parker, Ron Perrillo, Geof Bradfield, Michael Weiss, George Fludas, Kevin Mahogany, Eden Atwood, Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls, The Mighty Blue Kings and The Chicago Jazz Orchestra among others.

Clark completed his undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies and World Music at California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with bass masters Charlie Haden and Darek Oles. While living in Los Angeles, Clark performed with Leo Smith, Vinny Golia, The Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra, Joe La Barbara and Larry Koonse. He continues to seek expansion of his craft by pursuing his musical studies with masters such as David Grossman of the New York Philharmonic, Mike Longo and Stefon Harris. He recently completed two residencies at the Brubeck Institute in Stockton California.

Clark is proud to be at home in the bass chair with vocalist Kurt Elling, with whom he tours the globe bringing jazz to everyone from Istanbul to the Canary Islands. Thus far he has been privileged to play on two GRAMMY nominated recordings with the band, one of which won the GRAMMY for best vocal jazz album in 2009.

When not on the road with Kurt Elling, Clark enjoys leading his own group “Ba(SH).” The group includes long time friends Dana Hall and Geof Bradfield. The groups first CD was released in August 2013 and has received critical acclaim. It was acknowledged on the “notable and not to be missed” list by All About Jazz in 2013.

Clark can also be heard performing with Portland’s Darrell Grant in his “Territory” ensemble which includes Brian Blade, Joe Locke and Steve Wilson. Other groups that Clark performs regularly with include Dana Hall’s “Spring” and “Black Fire,” Geof Bradfield’s “African Flowers Ensemble” and “Melba,” Chicago Yestet, Dan Cray Trio, Spin Quartet and many other musicians.

“Wallace, carving his own beat in the jazz world”. – South Bend Tribune

Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Clif Wallace began serious studies in Jazz at North Carolina Central University where he received both a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance. In College, Clif gained broad experience in playing in many different musical settings playing with any one from blues guitarist Roy Roberts to Jazz Great Branford Marsalis. Ultimately earning the drum seat in the African American Jazz Caucus’s Historically Black College and University (HBCU) All-Star Big Band for three years. With the HBCU Band, he had the opportunity to perform with Jimmy Heath, Joe Chambers, Gerald Wilson, and Jimmy Cobb.

Just after college, He Joined the judging panel for the 2008 Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival along the likes of Marvin Stamm, Gene Bertoncini, Jim McNeely, Larry Ridley, and Jamey Aabersold.

In 2008, Clif played drums on John Brown’s “Merry Christmas, Baby”, that broke top 40 in the Billboard charts in 2008. Having since recorded with many other up and coming artists of many music genres. He has also recently recorded and toured with Polish tenor saxophonist Marcin Zupanski, as well as Origin Label artists, Aaron Wright and Dudley Owens.

In 2009, Clif Wallace took the opportunity to participate in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead artist Residency Program in Washington, DC, as well as the Ravinia/Steans Institute Artist Residency Program led by Dr. David Baker, James Moody, Dr. Nathan Davis, and Rufus Reid in Chicago, Illinois. He was also chosen to be the drummer for the Chicago Jazz Institute’s annual Young Lions performance in 2010.

Currently, Clif Wallace can be seen and heard with his Quartet and Trio, funk fused rock band Cousin Affect, as well as a sideman with other great musicians in Chicago, Illinois, and other surrounding cities in the mid-west as well as venues around the country.

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services Private Trusts and Foundations, through grants provided by the Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community Trust Foundation (2020-2021 season), the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation (2021-2022 season), and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust (2021-2022 season).

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation (2020-2021 and 2021-2022 season). 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

    General Advanced or Door

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  • Student

    Student Discount - College students please have ID.

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