Thu, Dec 09 | Merrimans' Playhouse

Western Jazz Collective

The Western Jazz Collective is a resident faculty ensemble in the School of Music at Western Michigan University consisting of dedicated and inspiring educators who are also world-class performers.
Western Jazz Collective

Time & Location

Dec 09, 7:00 PM – 9:05 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.

The Western Jazz Collective is a resident faculty ensemble in the School of Music at Western Michigan University consisting of dedicated and inspiring educators who are also world-class performers. With an astounding list of combined recording and touring credits as leaders and sidemen, the members have moved from New York, Los Angeles and Boston to assemble in Kalamazoo. The Collective includes Greg Jasperse (vocals), Scott Cowan (trumpet), Andrew Rathbun (saxophones), Matt Landon (guitar), Matthew Fries (piano), John Hébert (bass), and Keith Hall (drums). It is an exciting time for the group as they usher in a new era of Jazz at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Scott Cowan has performed with internationally recognized jazz artists Donny McCaslin, Ingrid Jensen, Billy Hart, Fred Hersch, Richie Cole, Bob Mintzer, Slide Hampton, Alan Dawson, Jim McNeely, George Garzone, James Carter, Kenny Wheeler, Billy Ekstine, Bob McChesney, Jon Faddis, Kenny Burrell, Lou Donaldson, and others. He is a recipient of the Boston Jazz Society Outstanding Jazz Soloist Award. His most recent CD “Jack’s Place” featuring eleven original compositions for quartet, quintet, sextet and octet is found on blujazz records and has been featured on over 50 U.S. radio stations. His first CD "Premiere" also features original compositions and arrangements and is found on Sea Breeze records.

He is an Artist/Educator clinician for the Conn-Selmer instrument company and a published composer/arranger with UNC Jazz Press (http://arts.unco.edu/uncjazz/jazzpress.html). His award-winning jazz compositions and arrangements have premiered at the Jazz Education Network Conventions (JEN), Lincoln Center-New York City, International Association of Jazz Educators conferences, the Boston Globe Jazz Festival and the Detroit International Jazz Festival. He has been a clinician at the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, Finland, the International Association of Jazz Educators, The Michigan Music Conference, state and district jazz festivals in Illinois, Michigan and Massachusetts as well as many universities and colleges nationwide. His articles have been featured in the International Trumpet Guild Journal, the JAZZed Magazine and Conn-Selmer electronic periodical Keynotes. He is a Fulbright Scholar having received the Distinguished Chair Award in American Studies (research/teaching) at the University of Ulster in Derry/Londonderry, Ireland in 2013.

As a tenured professor at Western Michigan University he has been the recipient of the College of Fine Arts Dean’s Teaching Award in 2012 and the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2018. He holds a B.A. and M.M. from the New England Conservatory, Boston MA and a D.M.A. from University of Miami, Miami, FL. He is currently Professor of Jazz at Western Michigan University (WMU) and current chair of the WMU Jazz Studies Area. In 2018, Turkish Delight was released to critical acclaim featuring the WMU Jazz Orchestra and works by Cowan. He has held faculty positions at the New England Conservatory of Music, Berklee College of Music and Eastern Nazarene College. He directs the WMU Jazz Orchestra, coaches chamber ensembles and teaches jazz theory, jazz arranging, jazz improvisation, and applied jazz brass.

For more information on the recordings and music of Scott Cowan please go to cowanjazz.com

Pianist/composer, Matthew Fries, is professor of jazz piano at Western Michigan University. He is highly regarded in the jazz world as both a soloist and accompanist. The winner of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, his debut album, Song for Today (TCB Music) was named a 2001 critics pick by Jazziz Magazine, and his continuing work with his collaborative trio, TRI-FI, “takes on the Jazz Trio challenge and delivers a ‘knock out’ punch” (Jazz Review). As a sideman his work has been described as “the best jazz accompaniment I’ve seen in a cabaret in years” (The New York Times), and “the crispest rhythm section imaginable” (The London Times).

Born in the small town of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Matthew grew up in a musical home. His mother was a classical singer. His father was a professor of piano at Susquehanna University and was Matthew’s first teacher, teaching him piano and music theory. He caught “the jazz bug” after a college jazz history course awakened his interest in jazz piano. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Ithaca College and went on to earn a Master’s Degree from The University of Tennessee, where he taught undergraduate classes and studied with jazz piano great, Donald Brown.

Matthew lived in New York City for almost 25 years performing with many of the greatest jazz musicians. He maintains a busy teaching and touring schedule – touring frequently with his collaborative trio, TRI-FI, and with singer, Curtis Stigers, as a regular member of his band. He continues to perform with a diverse lineup of artists that has included Curtis Stigers, Stacey Kent, Ann Hampton Callaway, DeeDee Bridgewater, Vincent Herring, Steve Wilson, Joel Frahm, Steve LaSpina, Dave Samuels, Claudio Roditi, Terell Stafford, and many others.

A world-renowned composer, arranger, vocalist Greg Jasperse is the Director of Vocal Jazz at Western Michigan University. He is also the director of Gold Company, WMU’s award-winning vocal jazz ensemble.

No stranger to the stage or recording studio, his voice can be heard on numerous movie soundtracks including “Jurassic World”, “Epic”, “Oz, The Great and Powerful”, “The Campaign”, “Star Trek” and “Star Trek 2”, Disney’s “Sofia the First” as well as the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Monarchy of Roses” and “The 2nd Law” from Muse.

Greg is a member of Vertical Voices. He has also been honored to tour with the New York Voices as a sub. Recent appearances include Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Riviera Maya Jazz Festival and the Gran Canaria Big Band as well as the New York Voices/Bob Mintzer Big Band tour in Japan, 2014. He has performed with Adele, Imogen Heap, Jennifer Holiday, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Dianne Reeves and Bobby McFerrin among others.

His music is performed around the world by many of today’s premier vocal ensembles including Chanticleer, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Chicago Children’s Choir and the St. Olaf Choir. His conducting credits include all-state vocal jazz ensembles in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, North Dakota, New York, California, Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa as well as the British Columbia Honors Jazz Choir and Musicfest Canada’s Ellison Honour Choir. He is a graduate of University of Miami and Western Michigan University.

Saxophonist, composer, and Toronto native Andrew Rathbun has achieved a rare depth of lyricism and compositional intelligence in 20-plus years as a recording artist; Ben Ratliff of the New York Times described Rathbun as “an industrious saxophonist and imaginative composer-arranger.” Voted as a “Rising Star” in the 2018 Downbeat Critics Poll, he has documented his stirring original music with a series of 15 acclaimed recordings, on the Challenge, Fresh Sound and Steeplechase labels, and has collaborated with musicians like Kenny Wheeler, Billy Hart, Ben Monder and Luciana Souza . “Rathbun’s lines dance and glide,” writes David Whiteis of JazzTimes, “reflecting both childlike wonder and well-honed artistry.”

After hearing 2014’s Numbers & Letters the New Yorker declared Rathbun “a crafty saxophonist and composer whose ambitious work over the past decade has eluded the wider recognition it deserves.” Atwood Suites, Rathbun’s JUNO-nominated jazz-orchestra project was summarized in Jazziz Magazine; “On the basis of this CD alone, Rathbun deserves to be ranked among today’s top arranger- composers.”
His latest recordings include Impressions of Debussy, about which revered Chicago critic Howard Reich declares "the listener travels from a high-toned performance of a familiar work to a new conception that opens up its motifs, rhythms and harmonies." Northern Noir is Rathbun’s duo recording with the legendary pianist Ran Blake. In James Hale’s review, he describes the recording as “a deeply charming and compelling meeting” and that “he has released some truly moving and memorable recordings.”

Andrew has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Banff Center. He received his masters from New England Conservatory, and his D.M.A from Manhattan School of Music.

www.andrewrathbun.com

A crafty saxophonist and composer whose ambitious work over the past decade has eluded the wider recognition it deserves. – The New Yorker

Toronto native Andrew Rathbun is one of the most thoughtful and curious saxophonists to emerge in New York over the past decade. – The Chicago Reader

The Canadian saxophonist/composer is a gifted performer who writes challenging and complex pieces. – The Irish Times

Andrew Rathbun is an artist who takes chances with his recordings. You don’t hear any paint-by-the-numbers jazz discs from him. – All About Jazz

The mournful tone and slow quaver he coaxes from the tenor, with a trace of Stan Getz’s irresistible tone, are perfect for the pianist. Rathbun is mostly Ran’s straight man, minding those melodies, though he can also cut across the form with busier lines and still meet up with the pianist on the pivot points. He’s good at getting on Ran’s wavelength, shadowing his swerves. – Kevin Whitehead, NPR’s Fresh Air Jazz Critic

Matt Landon is a passionate musician and educator. Being most accomplished as a jazz guitarist, Landon has performed alongside John Patitucci, Joey DeFrancesco, Donny McCaslin, Joe Martin, Fred Hersch, Rich Perry, Jeff Hamilton, Dave Liebman, Ingrid Jensen, Sammy Figueroa, Nestor Torres, Sheila Jordan, and many more jazz masters. He recently recorded an album with the jazz/classical crossover group, All Angles Orchestra featuring master trumpeter, Alex Sipiagin, on which he was thoroughly featured as a soloist.

Remaining an in-demand sideman, Landon has also earned awards for his pursuits as a leader. In 2012, the modern jazz/rock group Desolation Row, led by Landon, won a Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award (SMA) for Best Blues/Pop/Rock Group—Landon’s work with this group on their debut album Remember to Breathe also earned him the Downbeat SMA for Best Blues/Pop/Rock soloist the same year. After earning his Bachelor’s of Music in Jazz Studies at Western Michigan University in 2012, Landon placed third in the 2013 Montreux Jazz Festival International Jazz Guitar Competition; was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Wes Montgomery International Guitar Competition; placed second in the 2017 and 2018 Wilson Center Jazz Guitar Competitions, and placed fifth in Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory Guitar Competition in 2018. Outside of the jazz realm, Landon is an avid singer-songwriter and performer of popular music from many eras and genres.

In addition to his many pursuits as a performer, Landon enjoys teaching private lessons and masterclasses, covering the topics of harmony, theory, improvisation, composition, repertoire, and general musicianship. Landon recently earned a Master’s of Music degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Northern Colorado, where he held a teaching assistantship, coaching small groups, co-directing Lab Band II, and teaching improvisation and private lessons. He is excited to currently be on the jazz faculty at his alma mater, Western Michigan University.

John Hébert, bassist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana where he first began to study double bass with Bill Huntington. John attended Loyola University of New Orleans where he received a full scholarship. After two years of performing with many of New Orleans greatest musicians and performing at various clubs including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival he moved to the New York tri-state area to attend William Paterson University where he continued his studies under bassist, Rufus Reid and received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance.

Since graduating in 1995, John has lived in the New York City area and established himself as a highly sought after bassist. He has worked along-side world famous artists such as Andrew Hill, Lee Konitz, Paul Bley, John Abercrombie, Kenny Wheeler, Paul Motian, Joe Maneri, Mary Havorson, Tomasz Stanko, David Liebman, Uri Caine, Greg Osby, Bill Stewart, Marc Copland, Fred Hersch, Toots Thielemans, Maria Schneider, and many others.

In recent years, he has taken on the role of bandleader of various projects. His group Byzantine Monkey, released their first CD in June 2009 on the Firehouse 12 label. It was reviewed in Downbeat and received 4 stars. “On his first album as a leader he displays a sonic vision that’s all his own,” says Peter Margarsak. In 2010, John Hébert Trio released Spiritual Lover on the Clean Feed label to very positive reviews. According to Stuart Broomer, “it’s a trio of genuinely equal parts and plays music of great melodic strength.” In 2011, John formed his Rambling Confessions quartet which has performed at well known clubs such as The Stone and Jazz Gallery.

He is also named in Downbeat’s 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 Critics Poll as a “Rising Star Acoustic Bassist.” Most recently in 2011, John won the poll as “Rising Star Acoustic Bassist.” From 2001 until Andrew Hill’s passing in 2007, John worked with Mr. Hill in various ensembles. John is also featured on Andrew Hill’s last Blue Note release, “Time Lines” which was awarded “Record of the Year” by Downbeat’s Jazz Critics Poll in 2006. John has also performed around the world at festivals such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Tampere Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Moers Jazz Festival, Ear Shot Jazz Festival and San Francisco Jazz Festival. He can also be heard in some of New York City’s most renowned venues such as The Village Vanguard, Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Birdland and Iridium.

In 2011 John was awarded the French American Jazz Exchange Grant from the French Cultural Institute and Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation for his work with Parisian pianist Benoit Delbecq and New York drummer Gerald Cleaver. The follow up to the trio's first recording was released in January of 2014. The album entitled Floodstage on Clean Feed records has already gained much attention since its release.

2015 saw the latest release by John on the Sunnyside record label entitled “Rambling Confessions”. It features vocalist Jen Shyu, pianist Andy Milne and drummer Billy Drummond. The record has received much praise including 4.5 stars in Downbeat.

In 2019, John was hired as Assistant Professor of Jazz Bass at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He continues to teach and tour the Globe.

Keith Hall is the professor of jazz drum set at Western Michigan University and over the years he has established himself as a joyful performer and a passionate educator. Since 2002, Keith has spent a fair amount of time with singer Curtis Stigers. He has toured throughout the U.S. and much of Europe performing in concert and appearing on numerous television and radio shows.

Keith has also performed throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan with the likes of Janis Siegel, Marcus Belgrave, Betty Carter, Sir Roland Hanna, Fred Hersch, David Kikoski, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, Michael Phillip Mossman, Mark Turner, Wycliffe Gordon, Steve Wilson, Joe Wilder, Luciana Souza and Terrell Stafford. He represented the U.S. State Department on a European tour with the NYC Latin-jazz ensemble Grupo Yanqui.

Keith lived in New York for 8 years where he gained valuable experience on the New York jazz scene, he was also a regular sub on Broadway’s ‘Lion King’, served as the Director of Music at Faith Exchange Fellowship and adjunct faculty at New York University. Keith has recorded with many artists including Curtis Stigers, Grupo Yanqui, Jeff Haas, Mind’s Eye, Steve Talaga, Vanessa Trouble, Kate Reid, and his own projects including Tri-Fi,The Groov’tet, The Keith Hall Quartet and a trio with Bennett Paster & Greg Ryan.

He teaches privately in his home studio as well as serving on the jazz faculty at Western Michigan University teaching jazz drum set, drum choir, coaching combos, jazz appreciation, non-Western music and entrepreneurship workshops. He has taught at jazz camps around the U.S., has presented drum clinics around the region and is the director of the Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive. He is also the author of Jazz Drums Now! Vol. 1, an instructional book for jazz drum set students and educators. He has brought his ‘Jazz is Our Music’ program to many public schools around the state and recently presented ‘What If You Thought Like a Jazz Musician’ to Stryker Corporation and the Catalyst 2013 leadership conference in Kalamazoo.

He studied drums with his mentor, jazz drumming great, Billy Hart at WMU and over the years studied with great drummers like Jimmy Cobb, Ed Thigpen, Vernel Fournier, Carl Allen, Bill Dowdy, Gene Jackson, Lewis Nash, Vince Cherico, and Portinho.

Born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, Keith holds a Bachelors Degree in Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University and a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from Queens College in New York. According to JazzPolice.com “He has the chops and fuel to hit the afterburner zone”, and Modern Drummer Magazine says “Hall has a nimble, grooving, and ‘melodic’ touch.” He is a proud endorser of REMO Drumheads, Vic Firth Drumsticks, Yamaha Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Prologix Percussion, Rhythm Tech and Protection Racket Drum Cases.

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