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 SRU Jazz Ensemble performs with Elling; packs for Chicago 




Feb.18, 2009

Contact: K.E. Schwab 




SRU Jazz Ensemble performs with Elling; packs for Chicago


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The Slippery Rock University Jazz Ensemble will perform in concert Thursday with Grammy-nominated jazz artist Kurt Elling, then pack their bags for a three-day trip to Chicago to perform at the prestigious Elmhurst Jazz Festival.

            The ensemble's appearance at the historic collegiate jazz festival is its first.

            "Two professional bands at the festival, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra out of New York City, and the Bill Holman Big Band from Los Angeles, are two of the premiere big bands in the world today made up of contemporary jazz artists. It will be a great opportunity for our students to both perform and hear from top jazz artists," said Stephen Hawk, professor of music and ensemble director.

            The Elling concert is at 7:30 p.m. concert in the University Union and is part of SRU's jazz concert series in conjunction with the Pittsburgh's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild. 

            Elling is described as "the preeminent young male jazz singer" of today. His first recording "Nightmoves," produced on the Concord/Universal label, is expected to further propel his career. 

            The album release follows a 10-year period in which Elling earned seven Grammy nominations for six Blue Note albums, six consecutive years at the top of the Down Beat Critics and Jazz Times Readers' polls, three Jazz Journalists' Association Awards for Best Male Vocalist and the Prix Billie Holiday award from the Academie du Jazz in Paris. His quartet has toured the world, performing in Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia and Australia, and at jazz festivals and concert halls across North America.

            In addition to working with his own quartet, Elling has recorded with an array of artists, including Terrence Blanchard, Dave Brubeck, the Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra, Benny Golson, Jon Hendricks, Fred Hersch, Charlie Hunter, Al Jarreau, David Liebman, Joe Lovano, Christian

            McBride, Marian McPartland, the Bob Mintzer Big Band, Mark Murphy, John Pizzarelli, Kurt Rosenwinkel and The Yellowjackets. 

            He has written multidisciplinary works of art for The Steppenwolf Theater and for the city of Chicago. He is also well known for his philosophy and poetry. 

            Elling is a former national trustee and national vice chair of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The Grammys) and was artist-in-residence for the Monterey Jazz Festival's 2006 season.

            His rich baritone voice spans four octaves and displays both technical and emotional depth. His repertoire ranges from his own compositions to modern interpretations of standards.

            As composer and lyricist, he has written scores of his own compositions and set lyrics to the songs and improvised solos of many jazz masters. In addition to the compositional work done with collaborator-in-chief Laurence Hobgood, Elling has collaborated in the creation of new pieces with Jon Clayton, Fred Hersch, Bob Mintzer, Charlie Hunter and Orbert Davis, among others.

            One of Elling's major contributions is as a writer and performer of vocalese, the art of putting words to improvised solos of jazz artists. The natural heir to jazz pioneers Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure and Jon Hendricks, Elling is the contemporary voice in vocalese, setting the solos of Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Dexter Gordon, Pat Metheny and others to his own deeply spiritual and compelling lyrics.

            He infuses his lyrics with passion, humor and an intellectual depth, often incorporating images and references from writers such as Rilke, Proust, Kerouac, Rumi, Neruda and Kenneth Rexroth into his work.

            He has been featured in profiles for "CBS Sunday Morning," CNN, and in hundreds of newspaper and magazine reviews and articles. The New York Times called his shows at Birdland "good, battering entertainment." The Chicago Tribune reported "Kurt Elling is going to change many listeners' minds on the meaning and purpose of jazz singing." 

            Tickets to the SRU concert are $3 for the general public; free for SRU students.


In addition to Hawk, the ensemble includes:

Saxophones                      Jake McKinney                      Mars               

                                       Amanda Fratangeli                 Aliquippa          

                                       Brady Amerson                      Butler               

                                       Aaron Gratzmiller                   Pittsburgh                     

                                       Matt Swallow                         Cranberry                     

Trumpets                         Dave Wingenbach                  Fairview

                                       Aaron Sattely                         Pittsburgh

                                       Samantha Rappolt                  Lockport, N.Y.

                                       Will Weltman                         New Castle

                                       Jason Zeh                              Enon Valley

Trombones                       Mark Dressler                        Erie                  

                                       Ethan Wills                            Allison Park                  

                                       Scott Boyer                            Pittsburgh                     

                                       Josh Betz                               Pittsburgh                     

Piano                               Doug Finley                           Allison Park

Bass                                Jon Pincek                             Butler

                                       Phil Raffle                             Cranberry Township

Guitar                              John Anthony                         New Castle

Drums                             Evan Brown                           Valencia

Percussion                       Derek Stoltenberg                  Harmony


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.



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