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Sat, Apr 01


Merrimans' Playhouse

The Bill Cessna Trio

Piano trio with a mission to create and present musical experiences that preserve and celebrate Black American Music and the genius of jazz music and improvisation.

Registration is Closed due to COVID. ALL cancelled concerts will be rescheduled.
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 The Bill Cessna Trio
 The Bill Cessna Trio

Time & Location

Apr 01, 2023, 7:30 PM – 9:30 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, Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community 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. Concert support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season).

The Bill Cessna trio is a jazz piano trio with a mission to create and present musical experiences that preserve and celebrate Black American Music and the genius of jazz music and improvisation.

Bill Cessna  - piano

Ethan Bouwsma  - drums  

Michael Benning - bass 




Bill Cessna is a jazz pianist/multi-instrumentalist who began his studies for jazz piano on scholarship at Columbia College Chicago in 2009. During his undergraduate time he had the opportunities to study under Peter Saxe, Dennis Luxion, Donald Neale, and Sebastian Huydts. He also had the opportunity to perform alongside acclaimed musicians such as Christian McBride, Benny Golson, Wycliffe Gordon, Jeremy Pelt, Dave Douglas and more. After graduating in 2013, Bill quickly became an in-demand sideman in Chicago’s vibrant music scene. He has performed regularly with various salsa bands, jazz ensembles, and his own Trio at venues such as The Jazz Showcase, The Green Mill, Andy’s Jazz Club, Pianoforte, Winter’s Jazz Club, Merriman’s Playhouse, Cliff Bells, The Jazz Estate. He has also performed in festivals including The Chicago Jazz Fest, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, South Shore Jazz Fest, New Trier Jazz Fest, and Elmhurst Jazz Fest.

Bill has toured internationally, performing and teaching with the Roy McGrath Quintet. In both 2017 and 2019 they completed month long tours throughout Asia teaching clinics on jazz history and improvisation for Harrow International and Dulwich International schools. There they were also able to perform at many venues and festivals, including The Blue Note Beijing, JC Jazz Club, Dusk Dawn Club, DDC, B52 Singapore, and more.

Bill graduated from Western Michigan University in 2022 with a masters degree in jazz piano. He maintains a busy performance schedule both in the Chicago and Detroit areas, as well as continuing to teach and grow his private piano studio with students of all ages and skill levels. He is also currently performing, composing and leading his own group, the Bill Cessna Trio, who released their first album “Background Music” in 2022. The mission of the group is to pay homage to the musicians who inspire them, as well as incorporate original music to present meaningful musical experiences to all audiences. Currently the group is preparing to record their second trio album “Billy Boy!” featuring all original compositions.  To be released in 2024.

“The best compliment I can receive is when people tell me they do not listen to jazz, but enjoyed hearing or watching us play”.

Chicago drummer, composer, and educator Ethan Bouwsma has established himself as a versatile musician, playing with artists of varying genres all over the city and surrounding region. In addition to being involved with numerous jazz ensembles as a sideman, he also leads his own original-music jazz project, and is a member of Fake Baseball, an eclectic art-pop band based in Kalamazoo, MI. As a drummer, Ethan has been influenced by the sensibilities of musicians like Elvin Jones, Brian Blade, and Billy Hart.

Ethan began his career in 2015, while earning his Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University, where he studied with Keith Hall, Andrew Rathbun, Jeremy Siskind, Matthew Fries, Scott Cowan, and Judy Moonert. During his time at WMU, he had the opportunity to compete at the Next Generation Jazz Festival and perform at the 2018 Monterey Jazz Festival, as well as tour through Colombia with a quartet for 2 weeks in 2019, performing concerts and teaching masterclasses.

As an educator, Ethan has experience teaching students of all different ages and playing levels. He is currently the Drumset and Percussion instructor at FAME Center, and has taught at various jazz summer camps, including the Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive in Kalamazoo and Jazz Camp 2019 presented by Colombo Americano in Medellín and Pereira, Colombia.

Michael Benning is a Chicago-based composer, arranger, educator, and professional bassist. He is highly proficient at jazz and classical music but also works with funk, pop, rock and dance bands on electric bass as well. A graduate of The Ohio State University (B.M. Jazz Studies 2012). Michael studied with Paul Robinson and Andy Woodson (classical and jazz respectively). It was there he began the serious career of professional music with such groups as the Classic Jazz Quartet, the Newark-Grandville Symphony as well as being a sideman for various other projects, symphonies, wind ensembles and musical theater productions.


  • General

    $10 Advanced or Door

    Sale ended
  • Student

    $5 Student/Discount

    Sale ended



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