Category Archives: jazz

Toledo Symphony Orchestra featured in BGSU’s composer reading session

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BOWLING GREEN, OH— Orchestral compositions written by Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts students will be read, rehearsed and recorded by Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) musicians on Tuesday, Nov. 10, from 3:30-6 p.m. in BGSU’s Kobacker Hall. Michael Lewanski, a prominent figure on the international contemporary music scene, will lead the orchestra while acclaimed composer, conductor author and educator Samuel Adler will be present to observe the session and give comments in an evening masterclass.

After a review of the submitted scores, the following works were selected for the session:

– Richard Arndorfer       Aurora
– Andrew Binder           Endleofan
– Emily Custer               Seelenruhe
– Matthew Ramage        Mutability
– Jacob Sandridge           I-77

The TSO will be bringing its largest complement of players to BGSU, 72 musicians in all. “Few academic institutions can offer this kind of professional experience, making this a unique opportunity for BGSU students,” said Christopher Dietz, a faculty member in musicology, composition and theory and organizer of the session.

The event is open to students, faculty and staff of the BGSU College of Musical Arts and invited guests. Members of the public who would like to attend should email faculty liaison Christopher Dietz ( to be included on the guest list.

Jeff Halsey featured in the Detroit Jazz Festival

Jeff Halsey recently concluded a series of performances at the Detroit Jazz Festival over the Labor Day weekend. He performed as the bassist with the festival’s Artist in Recidence, Pat Metheny, and was a featured performer with the festival’s artistic director, Chris Collins in “Jazz from the Shamrock Shore.” Additionally, Halsey was featured in the festival’s final concert involving both big band and string orchestra. The Detroit Jazz Festival is the world’s largest jazz festival and is free to the public.

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David Bixler live with Grammy-Winner Arturo O’Farrill

Director of Jazz Studies and part of the ensemble to win at the 15th Latin Grammy Awards, David Bixler, alto saxophone, will perform this week with Arturo O’Farrill, piano; Heather Martin Bixler,  violin; Carlo De Rosa, bass; and Vince Cherico, drums and cymbals.

The performances will take place June 18th and 19th at The Falcon in Marlboro, NY and The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA.




Jazzman Jon Cowherd to display quality of Mercy Project in BG

Jon Cowherd: Mercy Project

The Sentinel Tribune writes,

“Not surprisingly, catching Jon Cowherd for an interview means catching him on the road.

On the day of this telephone chat he’s at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut waiting to go on stage with jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson.

A pianist, composer, arranger and producer, Cowherd has kept busy. He’s probably best known for his work with drummer Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band, which he helped found back in 1998. He’s also much in demand for a range of pop and jazz jobs, including in Roseanne Cash’s band. Just a peek at his schedule dating back to January, 2014 is exhausting – with gigs around the world, from Tokyo to Helinski and back to his home base in New York.

When Cowherd plays at Bowling Green State University April 11 for a Festival Series concert, he’ll have the chance to front his own band, The Mercy Project, a showcase for his own compositions. The group features Blade with guitarist Steve Cardenas and bassist Tony Scherr.  The concert starts at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Tickets are $20 from or the box office at 419-372-8171.

With Blade anchoring the rhythm section, the group is certainly an offshoot of The Fellowship Band, but one that lets the pianist’s own musical personality blossom.

His debut album, “Mercy,” released through the fan-funded service ArtistShare, features lyrical, impressionistic melodies over fluid rhythms.

The melodies spring from his improvising. He’ll record them with his iPhone and then work them over from there.

Though known as a jazz pianist, his early studies led him neither to the keyboard nor to jazz.

Both his parents were music teachers, his mother voice and his father a band leader who also composed. Even now, Cowherd said, when he’s writing he can sometimes hear bits of his father’s music.  He also learned much from their approach to music, an approach “that’s serious, that’s hard working.”

The Kentucky native took piano at 5, but later focused on French horn

Cowherd went to Loyola University in New Orleans as a classical French horn player. It was at Loyola that he met Blade, and where he discovered jazz.

“I was pulled into that direction,” he said. “It was the freedom I sensed in the musicians, the spontaneity. I loved the harmony and rhythm, and the grooves, especially the New Orleans grooves.”

He also shifted away from horn, and even took piano lessons from jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis.

Cowherd said he still draws on his orchestral experience when writing. And a producer on a Roseanne Cash session where he was contracted to play organ convinced him to get out his horn for a few tracks.

While at BGSU he’ll work with students and share with them some of what helped him develop.

While young musicians all strive to be original, they need the direction of those who came before. When an older musician would praise a colleague Cowherd had never heard of, he’d “immediately try to check it out and find out why they thought that musician was worth listening to.”


Scott Lavender to perform with Johnny Mathis and the LA Philharmonic


BGSU adjunct music professor Scott Lavender, will be performing with Johnny Mathis and the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall on April 4, 2015.  Lavender will be conducting the orchestra and playing piano.

As Music Director for Glenn Yarbrough, Toni Tennille, and, for the last twenty-four years, Johnny Mathis, Scott Lavender has performed with and conducted orchestras throughout the United States, Canada, and Great Britain including the National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Scott holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance degree from Bowling Green State University (Ohio), pursued graduate studies in jazz at North Texas State, and earned a Masters Degree in Instrumental Conducting from California State University, Northridge. A published composer of works for symphony and school orchestra as well as college jazz band, his big band CD, Prime Time, features many of LA’s most accomplished studio musicians. With New York City-based cellist Roger Shell, his most recent recording is the CD, ‘Round Midnight, featuring songs from jazz and the American songbook. Scott is in his third year as an adjunct asst. professor at BGSU and lives in Findlay.

For information on the event, visit