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Fri, Jul 28


Merrimans' Playhouse

Shawn Maxwell Group

The Shawn Maxwell band is a quartet consisting of shawn on saxophones & flute, joined by piano, bass & drums. They perform all original material in a jazz style mixed together with a little bit of other popular music styles.

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Shawn Maxwell Group
Shawn Maxwell Group

Time & Location

Jul 28, 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. End time is estimate.

“Nobody writes like this.” – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

“…a composer who’s confident in his artistic vision, and comfortable with the wide array of colors on his instrumental palette.” – Bobby Reed, Downbeat Magazine

Shawn Maxwell - saxophone

Mark Nelson – piano

Michael Barton – bass

Darren Scorza – drums


As a composer, recording artist and performer, saxophonist Shawn Maxwell has endeavored to express his own unique voice. From his latest album Millstream (Jazzline, 2020) to his debut Originals (self-released, 2005), he has released nine albums of original compositions. The traditions of jazz form the foundation for Shawn’s music; he builds on that with material from the music he grew up with – rock, funk, hip hop, R&B, classical.  The result, as Hrayr Attarian wrote in Chicago Jazz Magazine,  “is refreshingly distinct yet recognizably Maxwellian”. He’s not intent on following any rules – or on breaking them – but on continually expanding what his music encompasses. Shawn’s eleventh album, “Story At 11,” will be released in September 2022.

Shawn’s style began to form in the school music programs of Joliet, Illinois. A celebrated performer in the Joliet Central High School band program, he went on to earn a B.A. in Music from Millikin University. As a Vandoren and Conn-Selmer artist, Shawn is a favorite of students from college age through elementary school, combining his pedagogical skills with a performer’s sensibility in Master Classes and guest appearances.

For the past four years, Shawn has been touring the U.S. with his quintet Shawn Maxwell’s New Tomorrow. Their first album, Shawn Maxwell’s New Tomorrow (OA2/Origin, 2016), was named one of Downbeat Magazine’s “Best Albums of 2017. The follow-up, Music in My Mind (OA2/Origin, 2018), was highly praised by critics and enthusiastically received by radio stations. It was chosen as a Downbeat Magazine Editor’s Pick in June 2018.

“…jaunty, angular melodies, deceptive time signatures, and metronomic rhythm arrangements – sound as if inhabited by the ghost of Zappa…” – Neil Tesser

Shawn Maxwell’s Alliance (Chicago Sessions, 2014) was the eponymous album from another of his projects. A ten-piece ensemble including voice, two French horns, two upright basses and vibraphone, they were praised by jazz critics (another Downbeat Editor’s Pick) and named on several “best of the year” lists. So unusual was the music that publications as diverse as Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange picked it up; “Not exactly the sort of band you're likely to hear in anyone's notion of the mainstream and thus highly attractive to progressive ears”.

Alliance followed up with an E.P. later that year, Bridge (Chicago Sessions, 2014), which expanded on the sound of the group. “…a brief album full of rich musical ideas, colorful passages, and unique musical constructs.” said Dan Bilawky (

“These days, Shawn Maxwell sounds like Shawn Maxwell, and that’s a great thing...” – Paul Abella, Chicago Jazz Magazine

Shawn’s groups also include a quartet, featured on his earliest recordings, Urban Vigilante, Maxwell’s House (Chicago Sessions 2011, 2009), Originals II and Originals (self-released, 2008, 2005).

“…an exciting figure on the Chicago jazz landscape” – Michael Barris, Downbeat Magazine

“This is bold music. Maxwell isn’t afraid to try out new ideas and take chances.” – Frank Alkyer, Downbeat Magazine

Millstream (Jazzline/Delta, 2020) and Expectation & Experience(Jazzline/Delta, 2021) are the ninth & tenth albums released by Shawn featuring all original compositions.

Mark Nelson is a Chicago-based pianist and keyboardist, synth programmer and audio engineer. His work with Johnny Blas, Joshua Jern, and others can be heard on the radio.  He is drawn to exploring a wide variety of music; he plays jazz, musicals, Afro-Cuban styles, original rock projects, classical, and gospel music. He regularly performs or has recorded with his jazz trio, the Latin jazz-fusion ensemble: Contrabanda, the No Reservations Orchestra, Johnny Blas’s Afro Libre, The Joshua Jern Orchestra, The Vern Spevak Big Band, Somewhere Sunny, the Nine Worlds Ensemble, Shawn Maxwell, the Chicago Groove Collective, CariJazz and as a freelancer, “wherever the phone rings.” He has previously been a guest artist for the Interstate Eight Swing/Jazz Clinic, Seneca Jazz Festival, the IMEA All State Music Convention, the Bolingbrook: Jazz Under The Stars festival, the Elkhart and Chicago Jazz Festivals, and the Chicago Latin Jazz Festival. He earned a degree in Jazz Studies: Piano from North Central College.

 Michael Barton is a musician and visual artist working around the Chicago area. While earning a bachelor and master of music degree from the University of North Texas Barton was the recipient of four Downbeat awards with the UNT Jazz singers, the Two O'clock Lab Band and the NJPT Quintet. After graduating, Barton worked in Dallas steadily as a studio musician and performer in some of Texas' top venues and recorded for Radio Disney, ESPN, EDS, Genevox and Lifeway Music. Since returning to Chicago, Barton has performed at the Jazz Showcase, House of Blues and many other top venues in the city.

Darren Scorza is a Chicago area drummer, percussionist, producer, recording engineer and educator. He holds a bachelor’s in Music Performance degree from Eastern Illinois University. Darren’s performance experience covers a wide range of styles. He’s performed with jazz legends such as Bobby Enriquez and Eddie Harris, spent time in Chicago theater shows, rock bands such as Cast Iron Skillet, and worship music at Ebenezer Lutheran Church. He is an active musician in the Chicago jazz scene often joining artists performing at renown jazz venues such as the Jazz Showcase, Winter’s Jazz Club, Pete Miller’s, Andy’s Jazz Club & the Chicago Jazz Festival. He also has many recording credits as both a drummer, recording/mixing engineer and producer. His drumming has been featured on recent recordings by Michele Thomas, Jeannie Tanner, Jeff Hedberg’s C11, Swing Forward, Hard Art Groop, John Bany, the Waystation, and the Metropolitan Jazz Octet. He also serves as drummer and music director for jazz vocalist (and wife) Michele Thomas.

Darren’s teaching approach is to combine academic proficiency and practical experience in a manner gauged towards the strengths of each student. He has taught percussion at Maine South High School, Harper College & Notre Dame College Prep. He also served as Jazz Band Director at Notre Dame College Prep for ten years. Darren teaches Jazz Percussion & directs the Jazz Lab Band at Harper College, is the drumset instructor & teaches percussion methods at North Park University, and currently authors online drumset courses for Vandercook College of Music.

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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