Tag: Saxophone

Lawrence welcomes jazz legend Joe Lovano

Grammy Award-winning saxophonist/composer Joe Lovano showcases his conceptual and thematic ventures Friday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in a Lawrence University 2017-18 Jazz Series Concert. J

Joining Lovano on stage will be his Classic Quartet bandmates: Lawrence Fields, piano, Peter Slavov, bass and Lamy Istrefi, drums.

Saxophonist Joe LovanoTickets for the performance in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Lovano’s career has been defined by his creative efforts to find new modes of artistic expression and new ways to define the jazz idiom. With his bandmates, Lovano explores the rich history of mainstream jazz through swing and bebop, driving the edges while honoring the structures of straight-ahead jazz.

José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence and an accomplished saxophonist in his own right, calls Lovano “one of my favorites jazz artists of all time.”

“I love every single one of his recordings,” said Encarnacion, who had the pleasure of meeting Lovano in the 1990s while performing at a jazz festival in Puerto Rico with the Bob Mintzer Big Band. “Joe’s music is always fresh, rooted on the tradition but always moving forward with new sounds and adventurous musical stories.”

A 12-time Grammy Award nominee, Lovano won the trophy in 2000 in the best large jazz ensemble album category for his work on “52nd Street Themes.” That same year, he topped both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat magazine as tenor saxophonist of the year. DownBeat named Lovano its jazz artist of the year twice, including 2010 when he captured the magazine’s “triple crown”: tenor saxophonist, jazz artist and jazz group (Joe Lovano Us 5) of the year.

His discography includes 28 albums as leader and more than 50 others as either co-leader or sideman.

Lovano has taught as the Gary Burton Chair in Jazz Performance as an artist-in-residence at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

2017-18 Lawrence Performing Arts Series features renowned classical, jazz musicians

More than a dozen world-class artists will grace the stage of the Lawrence Memorial Chapel during Lawrence University’s 2017-18 Performing Arts Series.

Subscriptions for both the Artist and Jazz series are on sale now. Subscribers may choose from either series for a “Favorite 4” package, with discounts available to senior citizens and students. Single-concert tickets go on sale Sept. 18. For more information, contact the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749 or

The Artist Series     

• Jonathan Biss, piano, Friday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m.

A head shot of pianist Jonathan Biss
Pianist Jonathan Biss. Photo by Benjamin Ealovega.

Since making his New York City recital debut as a 20-year old in 2000, Biss has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and many other of the world’s leading orchestras.

He performs regularly as a guest soloist throughout Europe and in 2002 became first American to be named the BBC’s “New Generation Artist.”

Biss is currently in his second year of the “Beethoven/5” project, in which he will premiere five new piano concertos, each inspired by one of Beethoven’s. He opened the project in 2016 with “The Blind Banister” by Timo Andre, which was a finalist for Pulitzer Prize in Music. Later this year he will debut Sally Beamish’s concerto with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

• Sasha Cooke, mezzo soprano, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 8 p.m.

A head shot of singer Sasha Cooke
Mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke

A 2011 Grammy Award-winner for her electrifying performance as Kitty Oppenheimer in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of “Doctor Atomic,” Cooke has been racking up acclaim and honors since graduating from Rice University and the Juilliard School, where she made her professional debut.

Hailed by the New York Times as “a luminous standout,” Cooke specializes in contemporary opera and is renowned for her work with the music of Gustav Mahler, which she has performed to robust praise on four continents.

A much-in-demand singer, Cooke has performed with nearly 30 orchestras around the world from New York to New Zealand and from San Francisco to Shanghai.

She released her debut solo album “If you love for beauty” with the Colburn Orchestra in 2012, one of six albums in her discography. Her latest, “Liszt: The Complete Songs, Vol 4” was released in 20

• Colin Currie, percussion, Friday, March 30, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of percussionist Colin Currie.
Percussionist Colin Currie

A champion of new music at the highest level, Currie has been called “the world’s finest and most daring percussionist” by British magazine The Spectator. A graduate of England’s Royal Academy of Music, Currie performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.

Known as an adventurous soloist with an unmatched commitment to creating new music, Currie was recognized by the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2000 with its Young Artist Award and in 2015 with its prestigious Instrumentalist Award.

Professor of Music Dane Richeson, who teaches percussion in the Lawrence conservatory, said Currie “ranks right there with the top contemporary percussionists in the world.”

“Colin has inspired many new compositions that have led the way in breaking new ground for the percussive arts, bringing whole new audiences and appreciation to the art form,” said Richeson. “We’re all grateful for his musical mastery.”

Currie’s 13-album discography includes 2016’s “Dawn to Dust” with the Utah Symphony.

• Joshua Roman, cello, with JACK Quartet, Saturday, April 21, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of cellist Joshua Roman.
Cellist Joshua Roman

The 33-year old Roman has earned an international reputation for his wide-ranging repertoire, artistic leadership and versatility. Beyond being a celebrated performer, he is recognized as an accomplished composer and curator.

As artistic director of Seattle’s TownMusic, Roman has showcased his own eclectic musical influences and chamber music favorites while also promoting newly commissioned works. His cultural leadership utilizes digital platforms to harness new audiences, including YouTube for his “Everyday Bach” project, in which he performs Bach’s cello suites in gorgeous settings around the world.

A photo of the musical quartet JACK Quartet
JACK Quartet

He’ll be joined by the JACK Quartet — violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violinist John Pickford Richards and cellist Kevin McFarland. Founded in 2007 and based in New York City, the quartet was called “superheroes of the new music world” by the Boston Globe.

Their performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center were met with critical acclaim and their commitment to new music has earned them the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and New Music USA’s Trailblazer Award.

The Jazz Series

• Lizz Wright, vocalist, Friday, November 3, 7:30 p.m.

A headshot of singer Lizz Wright
Singer Lizz Wright. Photo by Jesse Kitt.

The charismatic, honey-voiced Wright opens Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend. A native of Georgia who makes her home now in North Carolina, Wright’s musical baptism began in church. Her early gospel roots have since been fused with jazz, blues, folk and R&B, earning comparisons to Norah Jones.

She has drawn critical raves since her debut album, “Salt,” zoomed to the top of the contemporary jazz charts in 2003.  Through her three following discs, Wright has demonstrated her innovative interpretation skills and established herself as popular song stylist.

• Storms/Nocturnes with the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, Saturday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.

A photo of the trio Storms/Nocturnes

Combine British saxophone legend Tim Garland, world-class vibraphone virtuoso Joe Locke and recent Grammy nominee pianist Geoffrey Keezer and you have a chamber jazz trio with few peers. The extraordinary combination serves as the bookend to Lizz Wright for Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend.

As Storms/Nocturnes, the three artists combine their distinctive talents and diverse backgrounds to create captivating music that can be spacious or immensely complex one moment and delicate the next. No less an authority than jazz legend Chick Corea has said “This trio truly sizzles with virtuosity and creativity.”

After collaborating on a pair of successful releases, “Storms/Nocturnes” in 2002 and “Rising Tide” in 2003, the trio members spent seven years working on individual projects and with other bands before reuniting in 2010 to release the 10-track disc “VIA” the following year. The reunion revived one of the most timeless intercontinental jazz collaborations in the world today.

• Joe Lovano Classic Quartet, Friday, February 2, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of saxophonist Joe Lovano
Saxophonist Joe Lavano

For more than 20 years, Lovano has enjoyed an international reputation as one of the world’s premiere tenor saxophonists. Allmusic critic Chris Kelsey has described him as “the tenor titan for our times.”

A 2000 Grammy Award winner, Lovano more recently was recognized by DownBeat magazine and the Jazz Journalists Association as 2014’s tenor saxophonist of the year.

José Encarnación, director of jazz studies at Lawrence who met Lovano at the Heineken Jazz Festival in the late 1990s, calls him “one of my favorite saxophone players ever.

“Joe’s unique voice on the saxophone, or any other instrument he plays, is so full of expression and freedom,” said Encarnación. “He possesses that innate ability in his playing to convey the sense of fresh spontaneity that has always characterized the music’s greatest improvisers.”

• Vijay Iyer Sextet, Friday, May 11, 2018, 8 p.m.

A photo of pianist Vijay Iyer
Pianist Vijay Iyer

A three-time recipient (2012, ’15, ’16) of DownBeat magazine’s “Artist of the Year” honor, Iyer unprecedentedly added Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year and Rising Star Composer honors in the 2012 Downbeat International Critics Poll.

It’s little wonder the The New York Times wrote “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.”

The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2013, Iyer has expanded his acclaimed piano trio to a sextet by adding renowned horn players Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman and Mark Shim.

In 2014, Iyer began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in Harvard University’s music department.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

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.

Saxophonist David Davis Wins Lakeshore Wind Ensemble Young Artist Competition

Lawrence University musician David Davis won the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble Young Artist Solo Scholarship Competition held Saturday, Nov. 8 in Manitowoc.David-Davis_web.jpg

A junior saxophone performance major from Sussex, Davis received a first-place prize of $1,500 and will be the featured soloist during the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble’s March 6, 2010 concert at the Manitowoc Capitol Civic Centre.

Davis performed Bading’s “Concerto for alto saxophone and wind ensemble” for the undergraduate competition, which is open to musicians up to the age of 25. Nearly 20 musicians covering woodwinds, brass, percussion and piano participated in the audition.

Davis is a student in the saxophone studio of Professor of Music Steven Jordheim.

Lawrence University Saxophone Studio Recital Features World Premiere of Alumnus Composition

The world premiere of “We Fall…We Rise,” a commissioned work by award-winning composer Javier Arau, ‘98, will be performed Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. in Harper Hall as part of the second annual Lawrence University saxophone studio and alumni recital.

Arau’s work as a performer, composer and arranger has been recognized four times by Down Beat magazine. He earned back-to-back “DBs” in 1996 and 1997 as a student at Lawrence for solo performance (tenor saxophone) and original composition, respectively, and earned two more Down Beat awards as a graduate student at the New England Conservatory, where he earned a master’s degree in composition after graduating from Lawrence.

“We Fall…We Rise” is the product of a commission specifically for this recital that Lawrence saxophone alumni offered Arau, who will make the trip from his current home in New York City to attend Saturday’s recital. The composition will be performed by an 15-member ensemble of alumni and current students.

Arau, who moved to New York exactly 10 days before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, says “We Fall…We Rise” is not a tribute to or partisan political statement about “9/11,” but more an expression of a common goal for an end to so much turmoil in the world. On a more personal level, it also represents his own struggle as a young musician trying to carve out his own niche in a city that is both exhilarating and rewarding as well as enormously challenging and unforgiving.

Since 2001, Arau has established himself as a sought-after composer, arranger, saxophonist and music teacher. He performs regularly with various bands at several of Manhattan’s top jazz clubs, his commissions have been performed around the world and his compositional output has expanded to include musical theater and feature films. In 2002, Arau was awarded ASCAP’s first annual Young Jazz Composer Award and two years later he was named a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop.

In addition to “We Fall…We Rise,” more than 30 alumni and current saxophonists will be joined by a three-member percussion ensemble and a pianist in a multi-media presentation of Louis Andriessen’s “Workers Union.” Alumni and current students also will also perform works by Philip Glass, Michael Torke, and current LU senior Jacob Teichroew.

In the Mood: LU Saxophonist Trades School for Real-Life Music Education

Lawrence University junior Ben Doherty will not be rejoining his classmates this fall when the 2005-06 academic year begins classes on Wednesday.

The saxophone performance major from Roswell, Ga., is hardly putting his music studies on hold, though. Thanks to an unexpected offer he couldn’t refuse, he’s instead trading practice and class room instruction for a dose of real-world education as a touring member of the world-renowned Glenn Miller Orchestra.

In late August, with the start of school less than a month off, Doherty received a serendipitous email late one night from his former high school jazz teacher, Craig Stevens, a one-time trumpet player with the GMO.  The band was in search of a tenor sax player and tapped Stevens for suggestions.  He remembered his former student and forwarded a note to Doherty. Four days later, after working things out with his summer job boss, receiving the blessing of his Lawrence advisor, Professor of Music Steven Jordheim and completing the necessary paperwork to take a leave of absence from school, Doherty signed on with the band.

In a baptism by fire, he made his GMO debut a scant six days later in a Labor Day weekend performance in Akron, Ohio, but not before learning his first lesson about life on the road.

“I got stuck in the individual search line going through security at the airport and the lady in front of me took forever,” Doherty recalled.  “By time I made it to the gate, I had missed my flight by no more than five minutes.  I wound up on the next flight and got into Akron at 12:30 p.m., which left plenty of time to get to the gig, but the whole time up until I got there I felt like I was going to be sick.

“I was nervous enough as it was, but to throw in a missed flight on top of everything was just horrible.  The concert went very well, though.  I thought I was going to be extremely nervous, but once I got on stage, everything was fine.  I even took a few solos.”

Originally founded by legendary trombonist Glenn Miller in the late 1930s, the orchestra established itself as one of the greatest bands of all time with its unique jazz sound.  From 1939 to 1942, the band, which became synonymous with the “swing era,” produced an astonishing 70 Top 10 records, including the timeless classics “In the Mood,” “Tuxedo Junction” and “Moonlight Serenade.”  The present Glenn Miller Orchestra was formed in 1956 and has toured regularly for the past 50 years, performing as many as 300 shows a year around the world.

Doherty plans to stay with the band through the middle of December before returning to Lawrence for Term II classes in January, a schedule that will see him play 72 concerts in 21 states, including a stop at the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh on Oct. 15.  Highlighting his time with the band will be a month-long visit to Japan in November and December, where 23 shows are scheduled throughout the country.

“This is such an incredible opportunity because it is a taste of what the life of a road musician is really like,” said Doherty, who admits he’s looking forward to celebrating his 21st birthday in Tokyo in early December.  “I’m playing with an incredible band and I get to spend a month in Japan!  There is no way I could have let this pass me by.”

The band plies the nation’s highways by bathroomless coach bus and plays venues ranging from school auditoriums to performing arts centers, outdoor amphitheatres and civic park tents.  Wherever the schedule takes them, though, Doherty says he has found a “very receptive and appreciative” audience.

“I’ve heard many audience members comment that they are surprised that all of us ‘youngins’ could play this music and hold true to the Glenn Miller tradition.”

That music tradition, along with the sheer frequency of performances, have provided the biggest adjustments for Doherty.

“At Lawrence, I played a wide variety of musical styles whereas the music I’m playing with the GMO is all in the 1930s and ’40’s big-band tradition.  We’re averaging around six to seven shows a week and I sight read about 75% of each show.  With the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, we would spend the better part of a term preparing for a show and then perform maybe two or three concerts.  Basically, in less than two weeks with the GMO, I’ve already played at least as many shows as I have my entire time at Lawrence, if not more.”

Helping ease Doherty’s transition from student member of LUJE to second chair in the tenor sax section of one of the world’s best-known bands have been two fellow Lawrentians — Allen Cordingley and Scott VanDomelen, 2002 and 1994 LU graduates, respectively.  Cordingley, who plays alto sax, joined the band nearly a year and a half ago, while VanDomelen, lead tenor sax in the band, has played with the GMO on and off since 1998.  Together, they account for three of the band’s five saxophonists.

“I actually first met Allen and Scott after they played a concert in Sheboygan that Mr. Jordheim and several members of the sax studio attended,” said Doherty.  “We all went to a McDonald’s after the show and hung out together.  I jokingly said, ‘If either of you guys ever want to take a break, I’ll sub for you.’  I wasn’t being serious at all because I never thought the opportunity would arise.  Although I didn’t really know them that well when I joined on, it made transitioning into the band a lot smoother, especially since I am pretty shy.”

When the offer of joining the GMO was first broached, Doherty’s initial reaction focused on how his decision might impact his Lawrence education and whether taking time off from college was really the right move. But those concerns were quickly assuaged in a conversation with an enthusiastic and encouraging Jordheim.

“I was genuinely excited for him and told him so,” said Jordheim. “This is such a great opportunity for Ben, to be able to play with fine professional musicians, travel extensively and experience the life of a touring musician.  Undergraduate students are rarely presented with such opportunities. Ben’s time with the Glenn Miller Orchestra will be of great benefit to him as he makes plans for his future study and career.

“And, of course,” he added, “to play in a section with two alumni of Lawrence’s saxophone studio means that he has two ‘big brothers’ to serve as his mentors.”

While Doherty continues to ponder his career ambitions, he realizes he’s been given a rare and timely chance to take a peek into the proverbial crystal ball for a glimpse of what life may have in store for him.

“I have been viewing this as an opportunity to really figure things out, with actual experience to base it on.  Last year I had a really hard time dealing with a serious case of burnout mixed with the standard ‘Is this what I really want to be doing?’ question that every college student deals with, so this really couldn’t have come at a better time.

“So far I’m having a really great time,” he added.  “All the guys in the band have been really cool and I’ve really connected with a few of them.  The overall experience has been extremely encouraging and reaffirming for me in pursuing a performance career.”