Tag: Jazz

Jazz Legend Pat Metheny Plays Lawrence Memorial Chapel March 15

Nearly 30 years after his first appearance at Lawrence University, legendary jazz guitarist Pat Metheny returns to campus — with his touring band Unity Group — Saturday, March 15 for an 8 p.m. Lawrence Jazz Series concert in the Memorial Chapel.

Tickets for Pat Metheny Unity Group, at $30 adults, $15 students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749 or online.

Chris Potter, saxophone; Giulio Carmassi, multi-instrumentalist; Ben Williams, bassist; Antonio Sanchez, percussion; Pat Metheny, guitar.

Metheny first performed at Lawrence in the fall of 1984, two years after he won the first of his 20 Grammy Awards. His most recent Grammy was awarded in 2013 for best jazz instrumental album with Unity Band. During a four-decade career, Metheny has enjoyed near unparalleled success. His impressive resume includes:

35 Grammy award nominations in 12 different categories.

• 20 Grammy Awards, with wins in an amazing 10 different categories, the only musician ever to earn a Grammy in that many categories. He also won an unprecedented seven Grammys in a row for seven consecutive Pat Metheny Group recordings. Founded in 1977, the Pat Metheny Group has won a total of 10 Grammy Awards.

3 Gold Records — “Secret Story,” 1992;  “Letter From Home,” 1989; and “Still Life (Talking)” 1987.

42 recordings totaling with 20 million records sold worldwide.

Three-time “Guitarist of the Year” Award winner (2009, ’10 and ’11) in DownBeat Magazine’s Readers Poll.

Inducted into the DownBeat Hall of Fame in November, 2013.

2014 Goya Award — Spain’s equivalent of the Academy Awards — for Best Soundtrack for the film “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”

“One of the greatest musicians on the planet”

“I have always loved the music of Pat Metheny, which has always simultaneously surprised me and left me with a feeling of familiarity,” said Steve Peplin, adjunct professor of jazz guitar in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music. “Pat has taught us that the true medium of the musician/composer isn’t just sound, but the human spirit. Aside from being the heavyweight champ of jazz guitar, he has changed the sound of the guitar several times as a sound innovator.

“Pat is a great composer who always manages to create the thing we really want: the feeling. I have never once heard Pat without being moved,” Peplin added. “To hear Pat with the masters in the Unity band is…should be…illegal.”

The Unity Band, which will join Metheny on the Chapel stage, features its own line-up of stellar musicians:  saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams; percussionist Antonio Sanchez, and multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi, who plays everything from piano and keyboards to woodwinds and brass, guitar, bass and drums.

Pat Metheny

Metheny has called his collaborations with Unity Band “life changing.”

“With Guilio added to the core four of us,” said Metheny, “with Chris Potter, in addition to being one of the most exciting soloists in jazz on any instrument and one of the most versatile woodwind players in history, he also happens to be a killer piano player and very good guitarist, with Ben Williams being equally great on both acoustic and electric basses, and with Antonio Sanchez, one of the greatest drummers in the world right now, just about anything will be possible.”

Internationally renowned musician and composer John Zorn calls Metheny “a living legend—one of those rare lights in the universe. His incredible facility and dedication, indefatigable energy and focus, imagination, and never-ending curiosity have distinguished him as truly one of the greatest musicians on the planet.”

In 2013, Metheny collaborated with Zorn on “Tap: The Book of Angels, Volume 20,” for Zorn’s ambitious project “Masada Book Two.” The album, a tour de force showcase of Metheny’s versatility, features him playing guitars, bass, bandoneón, electronics, flugelhorn, keyboards, orchestrionics, percussion, sitar, tiples and others.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Jazz Celebration Weekend Welcomes Kurt Elling Quartet, Maria Schneider Orchestra

It’s encore time for two multi-award winning artists making return appearances at Lawrence University for the college’s 32nd annual Jazz Celebration Weekend.

The Grammy Award-winning Kurt Elling Quartet opens the two-concert weekend Friday, Nov.  2 with the world-renowned Maria Schneider Orchestra closing the weekend Saturday, Nov. 3. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets, at $22-20 for adults, $19-17 for seniors and $17-15 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 920-832-6749.

13-Time Male Vocalist of the Year Winner

Kurt Elling

No less an authority than the New York Times has hailed Elling as “the standout male vocalist of our time.” He will combine his vocal virtuosity with the talents of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. In addition to a 2009 Grammy Award for his “Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane And Hartman” CD, Elling has won the DownBeat Critics Poll “Male Vocalist of the Year” Award an unprecedented 13 years in a row (2000-2012). He holds the distinction of having each of his first nine albums earn a Grammy Award nomination.

This will be Elling’s second Jazz Celebration Weekend appearance, having first performed here in 2003.

“I’m thrilled that one of my vocal jazz heroes will be making another visit to Lawrence,” said Phillip Swan, associate professor of music and co-director of choral studies at Lawrence. “Kurt’s improvisational skill and musical creativity continues to draw me to his recordings and live performances. I’m really looking forward to hearing him collaborate with the LU Jazz Ensemble.  The combination of those two forces will create a memorable musical experience.”

Elling’s latest release, 2012’s “1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project,” pays tribute to the New York workplace where dozens of composers and lyricists generated some of America’s most popular music over the course of four decades.

His prolific career includes collaborations with diverse artists ranging from Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy, seven-time Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Al Jarreau and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. He has written multi-disciplinary works for The Steppenwolf Theatre and the City of Chicago and was the featured performer at the Obama administration’s first state dinner.

Maria Schneider

Composer and conductor Maria Schneider’s ascent to international jazz acclaim began shortly after forming her 17-member orchestra in 1993. A weekly performer at Visiones in Greenwich Village early on, the orchestra has since become a staple at concert venues around the world, earning 2005’s “Large Jazz Ensemble of the Year” award from the Jazz Journalists Association.

The 21st Century’s Premier Composer for Large Jazz Ensemble

Schneider, who closed out Lawrence’s 2006-07 Jazz Series with a June concert, scored an awards trifecta in 2005 for “Concert in the Garden,” earning  composer of the year, arranger of the year and best jazz recording honors from the DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalist Association.

An unabashed fan, Fred Sturm, Lawrence’s own award-winning composer and conductor who collaborated with Schneider in the creation of “Maria Schneider: Evanescence,” a 1995 Universal Edition text featuring her original scores, calls Schneider, “the premier composer of music for the large jazz ensemble in the 21st century, and her Jazz Orchestra is among the finest big bands in the world today.”

“Maria’s original works contain the most artistic renderings of melody, harmony, orchestration, and structure created by composers in all jazz-related genres over the past decade,” said Sturm, director of jazz studies and improvisation music at Lawrence and founder of Jazz Celebration Weekend. “Her scores and recordings have dramatically impacted the evolution of the jazz composition art form worldwide.”

Schneider’s extensive list of compositions includes commissions by the Danish Radio Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, Stuttgart Jazz Orchestra, Orchestre National de Jazz, Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, Monterey Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.

In addition to the two headline concerts, Lawrence will host more than 30 university, high school and middle school ensembles on Saturday that will participate in daytime performances, educational clinics and master classes with some of the finest jazz educators from across the country. All Saturday daytime events are free and open to the public.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,450 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Jazz Series Concert Features Saxophonist Donny McCaslin

Critically acclaimed saxophonist and composer Donny McCaslin showcases his “roof-raising” talents Friday, February 25 at 8 p.m. at the Lawrence Memorial Chapel as part of the 2010-11 Lawrence University Jazz Series. McCaslin will be joined by the Lawrence Brass.

Tickets, at $22-20 for adults, $19-17 for seniors, and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton or by calling 920-832-6749.

Donny McCaslin

“Donny McCaslin definitely belongs in any discussion of top jazz saxophonists like Chris Potter and others,” said tubist Marty Erickson, a member of the Lawrence Brass. “He is very comfortable playing hard funk and a kind of high-energy post-bebop, but he also can render a ballad with the best of them.”

One of the pieces The Lawrence Brass will perform with McCaslin will be from his 2009 CD “Declarations,” which was ranked 12th on a list of favorite jazz CDs of 2009 by the website The Jazz Spectrum.

Described by Jazz Times as a “versatile” musician who plays with a “fluidity and grace,” McCaslin first picked up the tenor saxophone at the age of 12 and
participated in the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival’s California All-Star band while still in high school. After attending the Berklee College of Music, McCaslin toured with The Gary Burton Quintet for four years.

Based in New York since 1991, McCaslin has turned heads with his solo work in ensembles such as the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Ken Schaphorst Big Band. He earned a 2004 Grammy Award nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for his work on the album “Concert in the Garden.”

McCaslin’s Feb. 25 concert will mark a return to Appleton. He previously performed as principal soloist on former Lawrence jazz studies director Ken Schaphorst’s composition “Uprising,” a big-band work that has its world premiere performed in the spring of 1996 by the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. The piece was later released on Schaphorst’s CD “Purple,” with McCaslin’s work winning rave reviews from the jazz media.

His discography features eight recordings as a leader, including the horn-infused “Declarations,” as well as many important sideman credits with the likes of fellow saxophonist David Binney, drummers Johnathan Blake and Antonio Sanchez and bassist Scott Colley.

Singer Luciana Souza, Trombonist Conrad Herwig Bring Latin Twist to Lawrence University Jazz Celebration Weekend

Expect things to be a little spicier for this year’s Lawrence University Jazz Celebration Weekend. For the first time in the concert’s 30-year history, Jazz Celebration Weekend goes all Latin.

Brazil’s Grammy-winning singer Luciana Souza and her trio open the weekend Friday, Nov. 5. Trombonist Conrad Herwig, who has recorded Latin-styled tributes to Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, takes the stage Saturday, Nov. 6.

Souza will be joined by the Lawrence Hybrid Ensemble, while the Lawrence Jazz Faculty Quartet, Jazz Ensemble and Trombone Ensemble perform with Herwig.

Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 510 E. College Ave., Appleton. Tickets are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

“American jazz intersected with rhythms and forms from Brazil, Cuba, and Puerto Rico more than 60 years ago,” said Fred Sturm, director of jazz studies at Lawrence and JCW organizer. “Visionaries like Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Mario Bauza, Chano Pozo and Stan Kenton started fusing the diverse elements and saxophonist Stan Getz scored a global hit in the mid 1960s with his jazzy bossa nova “The Girl from Ipanema.” Jazz musicians today are as beholden to Latin music influences as they are to swing concepts. Souza’s Brazilian heritage and Herwig’s amazing Latin-styled CDs make them the ideal headliners for a Latin-themed jazz festival.”

Raised in a family of bossa nova innovators, Souza has emerged as one of jazz’s leading singers and interpreters, creating music that transcends traditional boundaries. She has performed and recorded with Herbie Hancock — winning a Grammy Award in 2008 for her work on “River – The Joni Letters” — as well as Paul Simon, Bobby McFerrin, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Her discography includes eight releases as a leader and more than 50 recordings as a side singer.

“Luciana is the personification of a musical ‘cross-over’ artist, equally comfortable singing Latin bossa novas, American popular standards, jazz, or classical chamber music,” said Sturm. “She’s a composer, a poet and a teacher who performs music about life and love. Her audiences get that immediately.”

The New York-based, 2005 Grammy Award-winning Herwig has created a highly identifiable niche in contemporary jazz with his series of “Latin Side” CDs honoring Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. His “Latin Side of Wayne Shorter” earned
Herwig a 2008 Grammy nomination and was cited on Downbeat Magazine’s “Best of 2008” list. He is a member of the jazz faculty at Rutgers University and also is a visiting professor of jazz studies at the Juilliard School of Music.

Professor of Music Nick Keelan, who teaches trombone at Lawrence, calls Herwig “a master” of the instrument.

“In his hands, the trombone has no limitations technically or musically. He plays the instrument so effortlessly. I place him in the top five of my favorite trombonists, alive and not, because of his creativity, musicianship, and great technical ability. Conrad’s music communicates with the listener because his pieces are interesting and engaging.”

In addition to the two visiting artist concerts, more than 1,000 university, high school and middle school instrumental and vocal jazz students will participate in daytime performances, educational clinics, and master classes on Saturday. All Saturday performances are free and open to the public.

“Jazz Weekend provides a jump start for school jazz programs across the Midwest,” said Sturm. “There’s no competition, no ratings, no awards. A team of the nation’s finest jazz educators offers joyful, inspired teaching, listening and learning.”

Since the inaugural Jazz Celebration Weekend in 1981, more than 20,000 students have participated in the event, directly impacting the quality of jazz education in Wisconsin and surrounding states.

Grammy-Winning Bassist Christian McBride Closes Lawrence Jazz Series May 14

Two-time Grammy Award-winner Christian McBride and his acoustic jazz quintet Inside Straight performs Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel in the final concert of Lawrence University’s 2009-2010 Jazz Series.

Tickets, at $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Christian McBride

Hailed as “perhaps the most exciting jazz bass player since Ray Brown” by All About Jazz, McBride has appeared on more than 250 albums, including five of his own releases. Playing both acoustic and electric bass, McBride has accompanied scores of jazz luminaries, among them Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Diana Krall.

Over the past two decades, McBride has been one of the most requested sidemen in the music business, touring with such renowned jazz musicians and their bands as Roy Hargrove and Pat Metheney.

Assistant Professor of Music Mark Urness, who teaches bass in the Lawrence conservatory of music, said McBride has been at the forefront of jazz bass playing for nearly two decades.

“His stunning virtuosity is combined with an intense rhythmic feel and a rare melodic gift,” said Urness. “He epitomizes the modern jazz artist by combining tradition with innovation.”

Named “Hot Jazz Artist” of 1992 by Rolling Stone magazine, McBride won Grammy Awards in 2009 and 2006 in the best jazz instrumental album, individual or group category. He was named co-director of The Jazz Museum in Harlem in 2005 and recently finished a four-year appointment as creative chair for jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  As a composer, McBride created “Bluesin’ in Alphabet City,” a commissioned work performed by Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Inside Straight, McBride’s new quintet, recently released its debut album “Kind of Brown,” a collection of hard swing-to-bluesy groove tunes. The international cultural criticism magazine Pop Matters praised Inside Straight for creating “delicious music” and described the album as “hot. It puts a little jump in your step.”

“Inside Straight is a traditional acoustic jazz ensemble with innovative compositions and improvisations,” said Urness. “The band draws influence not only from classic jazz, but also from modern funk and hip-hop artists.”

Inside Straight features Eric Scott Reed on piano, Steve Wilson on saxophone, Warren Wolf, Jr. on vibraphone and Carl Allen on drums.

Season Subscriptions on Sale for 2010-2011 Artist and Jazz Performing Arts Series

The critically acclaimed Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under the baton of musical director Edo de Waart and the first-ever all-Latin Jazz Celebration Weekend highlight Lawrence University’s eight-concert 2010-2011 Artist and Jazz Series.

Season subscriptions are currently on sale, with discounts available to senior citizens and students. Reserve tickets can be ordered for the Artist, Jazz or a “Favorite 4” series that allows subscribers to select any combination of four concerts from either series. Single-concert tickets go on sale Sept. 16. For additional ticket information, contact the Lawrence Box Office at 920-832-6749.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Recognized as a pioneer in the world of new music among American orchestras, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s 88 full-time professional musicians take the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage Friday, April 1, 2011. Founded in 1959, the MSO conducts nearly 150 concerts a year and has performed on tour in Europe, Japan and Cuba, as well as Carnegie Hall and other venues throughout the United States.

Joining the MSO on the Artist Series schedule are the six-member Rhythm and Brass, which opens the series Saturday, Sept. 25; soprano Measha Brueggergosman performs Wednesday Feb. 9, 2011; and The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet closes the series Friday, April 16, 2011.

Luciana Souza

For the first time in its 30-year history, Jazz Celebration Weekend goes all Latin, with Brazil’s Grammy-winning jazz singer Louciana Souza and her quartet opening the weekend Nov. 5. Raised in a family of bossa nova innovators, Souza has emerged as one of jazz’s leading singers and interpreters, creating a body of work with sophisticated lineage in world music that transcends traditional boundaries.

Trombonist Conrad Herwig performs Nov. 6 on the second night of Jazz Celebration Weekend along with the Lawrence Jazz Trio and the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. With series of “Latin Side” CDs, including tributes to John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Herwig has created a highly identifiable niche in contemporary jazz.

The remaining Jazz Series includes Donny McCaslin, who brings his sonorous tenor sax to the Lawrence Chapel stage Feb. 25, where he’ll be joined by The Lawrence Brass. The two-time Grammy Award-winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra closes the series May 6.

Rhythm & Brass incorporates influences as divergent as Josquin Des Prez, Pink Floyd and Johann Sebastian Bach in creating musical presentations that cross time, geographic and cultural boundaries.

Canadian soprano Brueggergosman, one of today’s most vibrant performers, has earned international critical acclaim for her innate musicianship, voluptuous voice and supreme stage presence beyond her years.

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, a 2005 Grammy Award winner, brings a special energy to the concert stage with its eclectic programs and dynamic musical interplay. The quartet continues to break new ground with fresh interpretations of works from the contemporary and world-music realms.

McCaslin’s incisive twists and purposeful turns of his emotionally charged solos have wowed audiences and critics alike for the past decade. While he has recorded seven albums, his solo work with large ensembles has turned heads, resulting in a Best Jazz Instrumental Solo Grammy nomination in 2004.

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra features some of world’s finest musicians, most of whom lead their own bands when not performing with the orchestra. Co-founded by legendary trumpeter Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis, the ensemble still plays virtually every Monday night at the renowned jazz club Vanguard Village, New York City’s most famous basement, where it got its start in 1966.

Steve March Tormé, Wisconsin Homegrown Quintet Headline Lawrence University’s Annual Jazz Celebration Weekend

Steve March Tormé, son of legendary jazz singer Mel Tormé, and the Wisconsin Homegrown Jazz Quintet, five accomplished musicians all with state roots, headline the 29th edition of Lawrence University’s annual Jazz Celebration Weekend.

Steve-March-Torme_web-blog.jpgMarch Tormé opens the weekend Friday, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 510 E. College Ave., Appleton. The Wisconsin Homegrown Jazz Quintet closes the weekend Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for both concerts, ranging from $15 to $22 are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

“Wisconsin has produced a list of jazz luminaries, including such legends as bandleader Woody Herman of Milwaukee and renowned big band era trumpeter Bunny Berigan from Hilbert,” said Fred Sturm, director of jazz studies and improvisational music at Lawrence. “Some great musicians from Wisconsin are now major national and international jazz artists and our Jazz Weekend provides the perfect opportunity to bring a few of them back home.”

Backed by the 10-piece Lawrence Faculty Jazz Band, March Tormé’s opening concert, “Tormé Sings Tormé,” is a musical and visual tribute to his father as well as a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of his father’s 1999 death. The concert, which was part of a 32-city American tour in 2007, includes video footage and photos from March Tormé’s show business life.

Born in New York City, the son of the multi-talented Mel Tormé and the former model, Candy Tockstein, Steve’s parents’ divorced when he was young and his mother remarried the actor/comedian Hal March, who was the host of NBC-TV’s “The $64,000 Question.”

March Tormé spent nearly 30 years living in southern California, honing his craft as a performer, working as an actor and appearing on a number of variety television shows, including three years as the featured vocalist on ABC-TV’s “$100,000 Name That Tune.” His circle of friends included many other second-generation show biz kids, including Liza Minnelli, Dean Martin Jr. and Carrie Fisher.

With a singing career covering more than three decades, March Tormé’s repertoire spans the gamut from classic standards to his own original music that carries the influences of artists ranging from the Beatles and Todd Rundgren to Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan.

His first album, “Lucky,” released in the late 1970s, earned critical acclaim while is latest CD, “Inside/Out,” was released earlier this year. The disc features 12 of his own original works that showcase his talents as vocalist, keyboardist, guitarist and composer.

Lawrence’s superb vocal jazz group, the Hybrid Ensemble, will open the March Tormé concert and perform one of his original compositions with him. The concert also will include a performance of one of his father’s most famous compositions, “The Christmas Song,” with a new arrangement scored by Lawrence faculty member Lee Tomboulian.

“While the show is a tribute to Mel Tormé, Steve is not trying to copy his legendary father,” said Sturm. “Steve’s got a sound, style and approach that’s uniquely his. There are wonderful moments where you’ll hear his father’s influence, but Steve’s got a distinctive voice that’s all his.”

Four years ago, March Tormé moved from California to Wisconsin, where is wife is originally from, and now makes his home in Appleton.

His concert is presented in collaboration with the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and media partner 91.1 FM The Avenue.

Saturday’s concert features the ensemble debut of the Wisconsin Homegrown Jazz Quintet, featuring saxophonist Joel Frahm of Racine, drummer Zach Harmon of Winneconne, Eau Claire native Geoffrey Keezer on piano, trumpeter Brian Lynch, who grew up in Milwaukee and Appleton-born bassist Ike Sturm.

While they will be playing together for the first time as an ensemble, each member of the quintet has established himself individually, performing with many of the jazz world’s biggest stars. In addition to performing together, each quintet member also will be showcased as a solo artist with the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble.

Brian-Lynch_web-blog.jpgLynch, considered one of the premier jazz artists working today, has been a member of the Horace Silver Quintet, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Phil Woods Quintet and has enjoyed a 20-year association with Latin jazz star Eddie Palmieri.

Geoff-Keezer_web-blog.jpgKeezer, who began touring with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as an 18-year old, has been the featured pianist with Diana Krall, Joshua Redman, Chick Corea and Christian McBride, among others.

Joel-Frahm_web-blog.jpgFrahm, who recently was recognized in Downbeat magazine’s Critics Poll as a “Rising Star” in the tenor saxophone category, has appeared with Jane Monheit and Kurt Rosenwinkel and recorded the 2004 CD “Don’t Explain” with Brad Mehldau.

Zach-Harmon_web-blog.jpgHarmon and Sturm will be on familiar turf as both have strong Lawrence connections. Harmon, who grew up in Winneconne and now lives in Los Angeles, is the son of Wisconsin musical icon John Harmon, the first director of Lawrence’s jazz studies program. He has toured Vietnam and India with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and recorded with Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard.

Ike-Sturm_web-blog.jpgSturm, the Appleton-born son of current Lawrence jazz director Fred Sturm, is the jazz music director at St. Peter’s Church — the “Jazz Church” — in Manhattan and has collaborated with Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler. His new CD, “Jazz Mass,” is scheduled for release in mid-November.

“Though several members have crossed musical paths before this, the quintet will play together for the first time as a unit just 48 hours before their Saturday performance,” said Sturm. “Assembling this group was like picking my own Wisconsin all-star team. And having Ike and Zach on stage will complete beautiful circles for John Harmon and me.”

In addition the two evening concerts, more than 1,000 middle and high school and collegiate instrumental and vocal students representing 49 school ensembles will participate in a series of clinics on Saturday, Nov. 7 conducted by seven Wisconsin jazz educators. All of Saturday’s daytime events, including ensemble performances held throughout the Music-Drama Center, Shattuck Hall, and the Memorial Chapel, are free and open to the public.

A complete Jazz Celebration Weekend schedule of events can be found here.

Lawrence University Jazz Composer’s Work Featured in Scottish National Jazz Orchestra Tour

APPLETON, WIS. — One of the latest compositions of Lawrence University Professor Fred Sturm’s most recent jazz writing project will be featured in a week-long concert tour of Scotland by legendary vibraphonist Gary Burton beginning Sept. 10.


Sturm, director of jazz studies and improvisational music at Lawrence, was part of a team of internationally renowned jazz composers and arrangers, who worked on the music for the tour “The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra Presents the Music of Wayne Shorter featuring Gary Burton.” Through a commission by SNJO leader Tommy Smith, Sturm arranged the Shorter composition “Yes and No” for the concert program.

“Shorter is our greatest living jazz composer, and ‘Yes and No’ epitomizes his work from the 1960s,” said Sturm. “The SNJO granted me free rein to reconstitute the piece in my own voice.”

Burton, considered by many the world’s premier jazz vibraphonist, will perform arrangements of nine works by celebrated jazz composer/saxophonist Shorter during a five-city concert tour beginning in St. Andrews. Other performances are scheduled in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Gordonstoun.

This is Sturm’s third collaboration with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, which has previously performed the Sturm-arranged concert programs “Bodacious Cowboys: Three Decades of Steely Dan” in 2008 and “Tango Nuevo: The Music of Astor Piazzolla” this past May.

Lawrence University Announces 2009-10 Artist and Jazz Performing Arts Series

APPLETON, WIS. — An eclectic mix of renowned performers and rising stars, including the multi-talented Bobby McFerrin and pianist Simone Dinnerstein, bring their musical virtuosity to Appleton for the eight concert 2009-10 Lawrence University Artist and Jazz Series.

New York’s internationally acclaimed African-American quintet Imani Winds opens the Artist Series season Oct. 17. The Paris-based Ebène String Quartet, known for its careful attention to dynamic detail, comes to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Feb. 5. Acclaimed operatic tenor Anthony Dean Griffey performs with renowned pianist Warren Jones April 9. Dinnerstein, “a phenomenon in the world of classical music” according to the Washington Post, closes the series April 30.

Audience favorite Steve March Tormé opens the Jazz Series Nov. 6, kicking off Lawrence’s annual Jazz Celebration Weekend with the Lawrence Faculty Jazz. The Wisconsin Homegrown Jazz Quintet performs the second half of Jazz Celebration Weekend Nov. 7. McFerrin brings his inimitable style to the stage Feb. 19 in a performance with the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. Bassist extraordinaire Christian McBride and his band Inside Straight closes the Jazz Series May 14.

Season subscriptions to either the artist, jazz or a “favorite 4” series that allows subscribers to select any combination of four concerts from either series, are currently on sale, with discounts available to senior citizens and students. Single-concert tickets go on sale Sept. 16. Contact the Lawrence Box Office at 920-832-6749.

Since its 1997 founding, the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds has carved out a distinct presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, culturally poignant programming and genre-blurring collaborations. With two member composers and a deep commitment to commissioning new work, the group is enriching the traditional wind quintet repertoire while bridging American, African, European and Latin American traditions.

The Ebène String Quartet — four young musicians from France all still in their 20s — has quickly become one of Europe’s most talked-about ensembles. The group made its American debut earlier this year in an eight-city concert tour to rave reviews. The New Yorker called their playing “so secure, alive, rich-toned, and profoundly musical that age ceased to be an issue.” The quartet is distinguished by its versatility, displaying equal facility in the classical repertoire and contemporary music.

Griffey, named one of 12 “exceptional singers of distinction” by Musical America magazine in 2005, added a pair of 2009 Grammy Awards (Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album) in February to his impressive resume for his work on the Los Angeles Opera’s “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.” He has captured critical and popular acclaim on opera, concert, and recital stages worldwide and is perhaps best known for his portrayal of the title character in Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes,” which he has performed with New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the San Diego Opera. Long-time vocal coach Warren Jones, who will be Griffey’s accompanist, has been praised as “a singer’s greatest partner.”

Dinnerstein has gained international attention as a commanding and charismatic artist since making a triumphant New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 2005. She has performed around the world, including the Salle Cortot in Paris, the Copenhagen Music Festival and London’s Wigmore Hall. Her recording of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” was released in August 2007 and shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales. Piano Magazine hailed the disc as “precisely the kind of playing that the early 21st century most needs, infused as it is with a deep and pervasive sense of beauty and tenderness of heart.”

Tormé has spent the past three decades as a working musician since releasing his critically acclaimed debut record “Lucky” in the late 1970s. His concert repertoire spans the musical spectrum, from classic American standards to his own original music, which reflect the influences of the Beatles, Steely Dan and Todd Rundgren, among others. The New York Daily News has called Tormé “so personable, his voice so becoming and his performance so filled with élan, that he is always interesting.”

The Wisconsin Homegrown Jazz Quintet features five world-class instrumentalists all with state roots, including two with ties to Lawrence: bassist Ike Sturm, son of Lawrence’s director of jazz studies and improvisational music Fred Sturm, and drummer Zach Harmon, son of renowned composer John Harmon, the first director of Lawrence’s jazz studies program. The group’s members have worked with many jazz luminaries, among them Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Joshua Redman.

McFerrin, winner of 10 Grammy awards and creator of the iconic pop classic “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” makes his fourth appearance at Lawrence in a performance of “Migrations” with the LU Jazz Ensemble. The work, which McFerrin commissioned Fred Sturm to write, is a “musical plea for world unity” that showcases 23 indigenous songs from 21 countries. In the work, McFerrin improvises and interprets Sturm’s scores of an aboriginal chant from Australia, a Mbuti Pygmy tribal song of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and an Inuit chant from Greenland, among others.

Despite not yet turning 40 years of age, McBride has been among the most omnipresent figures in the jazz world for 20 years. Bassist, composer, arranger and educator, McBride’s career collaborations read like a Who’s Who of music’s most dynamic artists, including Sonny Rollins, James Brown, R&B superstars Isaac Hayes and Natalie Cole, pop icons Sting and Don Henley, hip-hop’s Queen Latifah, opera legend Kathleen Battle and bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer. The quintet “Christian McBride & Inside Straight” is scheduled to release its first CD, “Kind of Brown,” this June.