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Fri, Mar 01


Merrimans' Playhouse

Paul Hecht & Friends

Pianist Paul Hecht returns to Merrimans’ with an expanded group featuring his Pyrography trio (with Gustavo Cortiñas on drums and Ben Dillinger on bass) as well as a remarkable horn section that includes James Davis on trumpet and Michael Hudson-Casanova on alto saxophone.

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Paul Hecht & Friends
Paul Hecht & Friends

Time & Location

Mar 01, 2024, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

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


About the Event

TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student. Concert is one long set. End time is approximate.

Paul Hecht & Friends at Merrimans’ Playhouse

Pianist Paul Hecht returns to Merrimans’ with an expanded group featuring his Pyrography trio (with Gustavo Cortiñas on drums and Ben Dillinger on bass) as well as a remarkable horn section that includes James Davis on trumpet and Michael Hudson-Casanova on alto saxophone. This performance will mark the opening of Merrimans’ new coffee house, Culture Café. So now enjoy an expanded array of refreshments with Merrimans’ array of high-quality jazz performers!

Paul Hecht - piano

Gustavo Cortiñas - drums

Ben Dillinger - bass

James Davis - trumpet

Michael Hudson-Casanova - alto saxophone

This performance will feature the five musicians in various configurations, playing a mixture of compositions by Hecht and others, celebrating their growing friendship and musical partnership. Also on March 1, Michael Hudson-Casanova releases a new live recording of his working trio, with Eric Skov on guitar and—again! —Gustavo Cortiñas on drums. And Hecht will be releasing later this year a recording featuring the rest of the musicians on tonight’s performance. So: much to celebrate.

Hecht first appeared at Merrimans’ with a fiery quartet playing the music of Mark Feldman, and has since returned in support of other musicians, and presented his original music with Dillinger and Cortiñas. Hecht performs regularly throughout the Midwest, with groups based in Chicago and Eau Claire, WI. Hecht’s background is unusual: he had a career as an English professor before moving into music full-time in 2020. Hecht’s book about English poetry at the end of the sixteenth century, What Rosalind Likes, was published in 2022 by Oxford University Press. He continues to write on various subjects, mostly musical, on his Substack, ZLR.



Instagram: @pauljhecht


Book: What Rosalind Likes

Drummer, composer, and entrepreneur Gustavo Cortiñas has become one of the most intriguing and prolific forces on the Chicago musical scene. The last year saw the release of two powerful and contrasting recordings which have garnered grants, rave reviews, and much interest in Chicago, nationally, and internationally. Born in Mexico and educated in New Orleans and Chicago, Cortiñas’s music displays his desire to pull together the threads of his history and passions: Latin American folklore, jazz and classical music, philosophy, religion, and the Latin American cry for justice—as he translates the title of his double-album, Desafío Candente, or “incandescent act of defiance,” which has also become the name of his newly-formed record label with pianist and composer Javier Red. That record, with 30 collaborators from 10 different countries, does no less than attempt a traversal of the entire history of Latin America, using as its basis the Uruguayan historian Eduardo Galeano’s famous book, The Open Veins of Latin America. His most recent release, Kind Regards/Saludos Afectuosos, is an intimate collection of 10 songs by a splendid quintet (piano/voice, bass, guitar, trumpet, and drums), five each in Spanish and English, narrating scenes of modern alienation and connection across borders.

Ben Dillinger is an upright and electric bassist, composer, and educator who has been working professionally in Chicago for the past 10 years. His formal training is in jazz performance and composition, but he has also performed in many different musical settings including classical, musical theater, rock, and popular music. As an educator he has taught at Roosevelt University, Morton College, and The Chicago High School of Performing Arts.

Michael Hudson-Casanova is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and educator originally from Sterling Heights, MI and currently residing in Chicago. He holds degrees from Western Michigan University and Temple University in jazz studies and music education, and has been working professionally in a variety of musical settings since 2010. Hudson-Casanova is a member of the American Composer’s Forum, and a recipient of several grants and scholarships for his music. He teaches for celebrated institutions like Common Time Music School and has given clinics and performances at Mott Community College and various higher leaning institutions. He has studied closely with Andrew Rathbun, Edward Simon, Dick Oatts, Ben Schachter and Norman David, and shared the stage with Fred Hersch, Billy Hart, and Miguel Zenon. Hudson-Casanova released his debut album as leader, Echoes of Thought, in 2021. He has also released interdisciplinary works involving his original music, dance, and multimedia. Michael Hudson-Casanova is a saxophonist, composer, and improviser originally from Detroit and currently growing as a member of the Chicago jazz scene. He has appeared as a leader and a sideman at venues across the country including Chris’ Jazz Cafe, South Jazz Kitchen, An Die Musik, and The Green Mill. In October, 2021 he released his debut album as a leader, Echoes of Thought, which has been praised as “…an exceptional record by a killer band” by All About Jazz. He has also released collaborative projects involving improvised music and dance with his wife, Sarah Rot. Hudson-Casanova is currently working on the release of his second recording as a leader, which is set to release in March, 2023 on Passerine Records. This album has received support from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).

James Davis, a Chicago trumpeter and music maker, is comfortable in and enjoys exploring a wide array of musical environments.  As a composer, improviser, and educator he is involved in a diverse blend of musical communities in the Chicagoland area. In addition to leading different formations of his own groups, Davis has also recently collaborated and/or recorded with Matt Ulery, Rob Clearfield, The Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Chris Dammann's Restroy, The Metropolitan Jazz Octet, The Heritage Jazz Orchestra, The New Standard Jazz Orchestra, as well as The Glenn Miller Band and Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He has performed at many of Chicago’s premier performance venues including The Chicago Jazz Festival, The Green Mill and Jazz Showcase. James’ playing has been heard at famed venues and festivals around the world including The Kennedy Center, The Montreaux Jazz Festival, The North Sea Jazz Festival, and the Montreal Jazz Festival. James has earned recognition as a finalist both in the 2004 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Improvisation Competition and the 2007 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Competition and has completed degrees at the University of Texas at Arlington, and at the University of North Texas. At UNT, James had the opportunity to tour and record with the Grammy nominated One O’clock Lab Band and the UNT Wind Symphony. James’ playing and compositions are featured on his newest album Disappearing Roads, his 2014 release Beveled, the James Davis Quintet album Angles of Refraction, the avant-rock/jazz/improv band Zing!’s, Magnetic Flux, multiple albums with Albertan drummer Karl Schwonik, among others. He is currently on faculty at Triton College, Wheaton College, and Harold Washington College. James lives in Chicago with his wife Julie and their daughter Josephine.

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; 2023-2024 seasons). 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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