Artists

CLASSICAL ARTISTS | JAZZ ARTISTS

Frederick Hemke | Eugene Rousseau | Clifford Leaman | Timothy Roberts | Debra Richtmeyer | J. Michael Holmes | Doug O’Conner | Eastman Saxophone Project | Capitol Quartet | Moanin’ FrogsJeff Coffin |Brad Leali | Chip McNeill | David Bixler

Classical

Frederick Hemke
Frederick L. Hemke
Frederick L. Hemke has appeared as a recitalist and soloist with symphony orchestras and wind ensembles in the United States and around the world. He has presented master classes and lectures throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, the Scandinavian countries, and the Far East. Hemke has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Conservatoire National de Musique, Paris; the Sweelinck Conservatory of Music, Amsterdam; and the Basel Conservatory of Music in Switzerland. He is a consultant to the La Voz Corporation, which manufactures his signature saxophone reed, and the Selmer Company of Elkhart, Indiana, and serves as an editor for the Southern Music Company. Hemke has released numerous solo albums and has appeared as a soloist on other recordings. He has also appeared as a saxophonist on six recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1956, he became the first American to receive the Premier Prix du Saxophone from the Conservatoire National de Musique, Paris. Hemke holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Wisconsin. He has been professor of saxophone at Northwestern University since 1963 and serves as Louis and Elsie Snydacker Eckstein Professor of Music and Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence in the School of Music. Click here for personal website.

Eugene Rousseau
Eugene Rousseau
Eugene Rousseau has performed across North America and on five continents since his Carnegie Hall debut. The legendary saxophonist Marcel Mule described Rousseau as “a brilliant saxophonist and distinguished artist,” and critics the world over have echoed Mule’s praise.

Rousseau’s artistry has inspired many “firsts.” He gave the first solo saxophone recitals in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, London and Amsterdam. He has given a yearly master course at the prestigious Mozarteum in Salzburg since 1991, the first year the saxophone was included, and has premiered numerous works written for him, including the Partita by Juan Orrego-Salas (with the Haydn Trio of Vienna), Jindrich Feld’s Sonata for alto saxophone and piano, and Concerto for saxophones and orchestra, Bernhard Heiden’s Fantasia Concertante for alto saxophone and winds, Hear Again in Memory, by Frederick Fox, and Don Freund’s Skyscrapings for alto saxophone and piano.

Rousseau has appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, the Pan-American Festival Orchestra under Lukas Foss, the Indianapolis Symphony under Raymond Leppard and Phillipe Entremont, the BBC Orchestra in London, the Janácek Philharmonic (Czech Republic), the Kansai Philharmonic (Osaka), the Santiago Philharmonic (Chile), the recitals and master classes throughout the world on a variety of topics related to his instrument. His solo performances include appearances with the U.S. Army Band at Kennedy Center, the Budapest Strings in Hungary, and the Tokyo Bach Band, as well as the Hamamatsu International Wind Instrument Festival in Japan.

The Chicago-born Rousseau’s service to the saxophone community is of long standing. Since 1972, he has been the Yamaha Corporation’s chief consultant for saxophone research, contributing to the development potenzmittel für männer of acoustic improvements in saxophones and mouthpieces. In 1985, he recorded a video program for Yamaha, Steps to Excellence. Rousseau co-founded the World Saxophone Congress in 1969 and has been President of both the North American Saxophone Alliance (1979-80) and the Comité International du Saxophone (1982-85). In May 1998, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Iowa, at which institution he earned the Ph.D. degree, his principal teacher being Himie Voxman. He holds the title of Distinguished Professor of Music at Indiana University, having served on the IU faculty from 1964 to 2000. Dr. Rousseau joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Music in fall 2000. In 1993, Eugene Rousseau was designated an honorary faculty member of the Prague Conservatory. In 2003, Rousseau and the University of Minnesota School of Music hosted the 13th World Saxophone Congress Convention. Click here for personal website.

Clifford Leaman
Clifford Leaman
Critics have hailed Clifford Leaman “an artist of the first order…intuitive, exciting, and enthralling.”  (Paul Wagner, The Saxophone Journal) Leaman reveals himself to be {an} artist of technical brilliance and emotional commitment.” “The range of colors is impressive…” (Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide)  Professor of saxophone at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Leaman received the Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Lebanon Valley College, and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in performance from the University of Michigan where he was a student of Donald Sinta. He served on the faculties of Furman University, Eastern Michigan University and The University of Michigan prior to his appointment at the University of South Carolina. He is currently president-elect of the North American Saxophone Alliance, and will serve on the Executive Committee of that organization through 2016.

Leaman is in great demand as a soloist and clinician and has performed and taught throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain, France, Slovenia, Sweden, Thailand and in China where he was a featured guest artist eight times since 2004. He has performed as a concerto soloist with the ShenZhen Symphony Orchestra, at the XII World Saxophone Congress in Montreal, Canada (2000), the North American Saxophone Alliance’s 2006 Biennial Conference in Iowa City, Iowa, the 2008 International Navy Band Symposium in Washington D.C., and the XV World Saxophone Congress in July, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. Additionally, Leaman has given master classes at major schools of music and conservatories world-wide, including Northwestern University, Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan, Duquesne University, Bowling Green State University, University of Georgia, University of North Texas, Penn State University, Conservatorio Superior de Música de Aragón, Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya, Conservatoire de Strasbourg, the Royal Academy of Music (Stockholm), Beijing Central Conservatory, Shanghai Conservatory and the Sichuan Conservatory.

Leaman, in collaboration with pianist Derek Parsons, formed the Ambassador Duo in 1990. The Ambassador Duo has performed concerts throughout the world and has released three critically acclaimed compact discs on the Equilibrium label titled “Brillance” (EQ-21), “Excursions” (EQ-55), and “Illuminations” (EQ-77). Leaman has also performed extensively with percussionist Scott Herring, giving concerts and master classes at many universities and conservatories since 2005 when they formed the RoseWindDuo. Their debut compact disc recording, “Release,” (EQ-92) was released in 2008 and features works for alto saxophone and marimba. Leaman is also featured on a variety of recordings of solo and chamber works for Redwood Records, CRS and the University of Arizona Recordings.

An avid supporter of contemporary music, Leaman has commissioned and given the world premiere performances of numerous works, including concertos by Pulitzer Prize-winning composers, Leslie Bassett and Michael Colgrass. His recording of the Bassett with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra is available through Equilibrium Records (EQ-63). Dr. Leaman is an artist-clinician for Rico Reeds, Inc. and the Conn-Selmer Company, Inc. and performs exclusively on Selmer saxophones and Rico reeds.

Timothy Roberts
Timothy Roberts
American Saxophonist Timothy Roberts, a native of Richardson, Texas, currently serves as Associate Professor of Saxophone at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA. He recently retired as Principal Saxophonist and National Tour Soloist with the United States Navy Band in Washington, DC, where he was also Coordinator of the Navy Bands International Saxophone Symposium. As one of the Navy Bands premier concert soloists, Roberts performed for five U.S. Presidents, many foreign dignitaries, and hundreds of thousands of people throughout all 48 states and around the world from 1987-2011. The Washington Post described his Kennedy Center performance of Jacque Ibert’s Concertino da Camera with the National Symphony Orchestra as “simply stunning.” A concerto performance with the Navy Band in Quebec City was reviewed by Le Soliel as “the audience enjoyed the fluid technique, lightness of tone, and impeccable playing of saxophonist Timothy Roberts.” In two separate solo appearances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Morning News noted, Tim Roberts poured forth the creamiest, most gorgeous sounds ever heard from a saxophone, and phrased eloquently besides”, and the especially deft, lovingly played saxophone lent his own magic. Roberts makes frequent appearances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performing in Dallas, on European festival tours, and on numerous recordings for the Dorian, Delos, and Hyperion compact disc labels. He was chosen as one of four international concerto soloists featured at the World Saxophone Congresses in St Andrews, Scotland (2012), Bangkok, Thailand (2009), and Montreal, Canada (2000), along with the North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences in Vancouver, British Columbia (2011), and Iowa City, Iowa (2006). He also performed at recent saxophone congresses in Ljubljana, Slovenia (2006), and Columbia, South Carolina (2008).

As a commercial artist, Roberts has performed with Ray Charles, Bernadette Peters, Gladys Knight, Richard Hayman, Eartha Kitt, Patti Lupone, Crystal Gayle, Olivia Newton-John, Martin Short, John Williams, Tommy Tune, and Marvin Hamlisch, among others. In the past year he has been invited to perform at the 2012 Clarisax Festival in Medellin, Colombia, the International Clarinet/ Saxophone Festival in Nanning, China and the Australian National Band Championship in Hobart, Tasmania, along with invitations to teach at the Paris National Conservatory, Arizona State University, the University of Florida, the University of South Carolina, and the Eastman School of Music, among others. Roberts completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the Catholic University of America in 2006, where he also served as Director of Instrumental Ensembles for three years. He has had numerous pieces composed especially for him, including John Heins’ Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, and Wilfred Holcombe’s Blues Concerto for Alto Saxophone. He was also an influential advisor to John Mackey in the development of his Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, one of the leading pieces for the instrument today. His military decorations include a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals, all given for his unique solo interpretations, his innovative work in the bands Tour Operations department, and his superb coordination of the Navy Bands International Saxophone Symposium. Under Roberts leadership, the International Saxophone Symposium is now the largest-attended saxophone event in the world today, featuring international artists including Branford Marsalis, Claude Delangle, Philippe Geiss, Fred Hemke, Masahiro Maeda, Barry Cockroft, and many others.

A strong proponent of music education, Roberts has published over thirty columns for Saxophone Journal. He has developed three popular master classes that have premiered on compact discs included in that magazine: one entitled “Developing a Disciplined Practice Routine”, a second that discusses the tenor saxophone music of composer Walter Hartley, and a third that teaches Dorothy Chang’s Two Preludes. A representative for Conn-Selmer, Selmer Paris, DAddario (Rico Reeds) and Lomax Classic mouthpieces, he has also served four years as Secretary of the North American Saxophone Alliance.An avid student of music and life, Roberts currently makes his home in Winchester, Virginia with his wife and two children. More information and examples of his unique performance style can be found at www.timothy-roberts.com.

Debra Richtmeyer
Debra Richtmeyer
Debra Richtmeyer, an internationally renowned saxophonist and pedagogue, has been Professor of Saxophone at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1991 and has performed as a soloist and clinician in North America, Europe, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Thailand and China. She has performed or recorded as a concerto soloist with numerous bands and orchestras, including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Slovak Radio Orchestra, The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Washington D.C. United States Navy Band. She was principal saxophonist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1981-1991 and with the St. Louis Symphony from 1992-2002. She is Past-President of the North American Saxophone Alliance and an Artist/Clinician for Conn-Selmer Incorporated.

Professor Richtmeyer has won numerous awards and prizes and has been an invited Juror for music competitions at all levels, including prestigious competitions such as the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in South Bend, Indiana in 2010 and the 3rd Jean-Marie Londeix International Saxophone Competition in Bangkok, Thailand in 2011.  She has premiered commissioned works at eight World Saxophone Congresses and four North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences. In 1997 in Valencia, Spain Richtmeyer became the first woman to be invited to perform a concerto with orchestra at a World Saxophone Congress. In 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand, she became the first woman to be invited to give a master class at a World Saxophone Congress.  In July 2012 she performed the Lee Actor Concerto with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for the Final Gala concert at the World Saxophone Congress held in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Her solo CD, Extravaganza for Saxophone and Orchestra, (Albany Records 2003) was reviewed by the American Record Guide as “…flawless…an extraordinary album…”  Her CD, World Without Words, Debra Richtmeyer and the 2008-2009 University of Illinois Saxophone Studio (Mark Records), was selected for the 2011 Grammy Entry List and was reviewed by internationally renowned French saxophonist, Jean-Marie Londeix as, “Remarkable…exemplary… Impeccable playing… It is proof one more time of her talents (including that of the conductor) and of the excellence of her teaching. Her university and students are very lucky to have her.” In 2010 Professor Richtmeyer recorded the Lee Actor Concerto for Saxophone for his “Concertos” CD (Navona 2011) reviewed by the American Record Guide as “…a terrific piece…Richtmeyer gives it a wonderful reading.  She has the requisite technical skills and a flair for the dramatic, and she expertly walks the classical saxophone’s timbre tightrope…”

Richtmeyer’s students and former students are leaders in the next generation of classical saxophonists and teachers. They have won numerous prizes and awards at the local, state, national and international levels, including two Winners, 3rd place and Semi-Finalist in 2011 and 2012 international music competitions. Many have gone on to become saxophone professors, band directors and members of elite U.S. military bands. Others are teaching and performing throughout the United States, and in Canada, Europe, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan. In 1997 Richtmeyer received the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts Award for Outstanding Faculty. In 2002 she was named a recipient of the University of Illinois Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching. She was the first of only two faculty members in the UIUC College of Fine and Applied Arts to have received this award.

Prior to her appointment at the University of Illinois Professor Richtmeyer was a saxophone professor at the University of North Texas and an instructor at Lawrence Conservatory. She received her degrees are from Northwestern University where she was aTeaching Assistant and student of Dr. Frederick L. Hemke.

J. Michael Holmes
Michael Holmes
Dr. J. Michael Holmes is a talented solo and chamber musician who “…is emerging as one of America’s stars in the world of the concert saxophone” (states saxophonist John Sampen). Professor Holmes’ active playing career has seen him performing at some of the most prestigious venues in the United States, Taiwan, and throughout Europe (including a 2012 European tour with the renown St. Louis Symphony Orchestra). Dr. Holmes has received national acclaim as an orchestral saxophonist, and has performed with numerous orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Sinfonia da Camera, the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony. Holmes has also shared the stage with artists such as Ben Folds, The Temptations, Manahattan Transfer, and Idina Menzel… just to name a few. As an active chamber musician, Holmes is the soprano saxophonist in the Obsidian Quartet, which is comprised of passionate performers, teachers and advocates for the arts.

Dr. Holmes is currently Clinical Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Illinois School of Music as well as the Enrollment Management Director for the School of Music. Prior to his appointment at the University of Illinois, Dr. Holmes held positions as the Director of Marketing for Reed Instruments at Conn-Selmer, Inc., Artistic Advisor and Product Specialist with the Vandoren Corporation, and Guest Instructor of Music at the University of Notre Dame. Professor Holmes’ diverse background as a performer, educator and former member of the music industry have provided him with unique insight in preparing the next generation of music students for successful careers in their chosen field. As such, he has been invited to present clinics, masterclasses, and performances at some of the most prestigious saxophone programs both nationally and internationally. Holmes is an active soloist of contemporary music and has commissioned and premiered numerous works for the saxophone. His performances have received great accolades and can be heard on the Mark, Aucourant, SEAMUS and Klavier Record labels; a forthcoming recording of Percy Grainger’s music for saxophone will be released later in 2013 on NAXOS records. Dr. Holmes was recently a featured artist in the “We Are Vandoren” international ad campaign, appeared on the cover of the Sept/Oct 2012 Saxophone Journal, and is a Selmer Artist/Clinician as well as Vandoren Performing Artist.

Holmes holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Saxophone Performance, a Bachelors degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University where he was a student of Distinguished Research/Artist Professor John Sampen, and a Masters degree in Saxophone Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois where he was the graduate saxophone teaching assistant for Professor Debra Richtmeyer. He has had additional studies with saxophonists Jean-Marie Londeix, Claude Delangle, Griffin Campbell, Daniel Kientzy, and Eugene Rousseau. Dr. Holmes is a member of the North American Saxophone Alliance and has performed in many of the national and regional conferences, as-well-as at the World Saxophone Congress. For more information, visit www.michaelholmesmusic.com

Doug O’Connor

Doug O’Connor holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Maryland in addition to Master and Doctor of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music. He recently served as Associate Lecturer of Saxophone at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire, and is currently employed with the United States Naval Academy Band.

Praised for his “seamless technique” and “sumptuous lyricism” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), saxophonist Doug O’Connor has performed across Asia, Europe, and the U.S., including appearances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Merkin Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. He has appeared at World Saxophone Congress XV in Bangkok, where he gave the world-première performance of Christian Lauba’s 15th etude, Worksong; in addition, he was recently featured with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra performing the world-première of Baljinder Sekhon’s saxophone concerto, The Offering. Also as a soloist, Mr. O’Connor has been featured with the National Symphony Orchestra, Symphony in C, Musica Nova, the Eastman and University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Jazz Ensembles, as well as various college percussion ensembles. Actively working with a variety of composers, he is a firm advocate of both new and traditional repertoire.

Dr. O’Connor was the Second Prize winner of the 2nd International Jean-Marie Londeix Saxophone Competition in Bangkok. He has won top prizes in many other solo competitions, including the NASA Classical Solo Competition, the MTNA Young Artist Woodwind Competition, the 2004 National Symphony Orchestra Young Soloists Competition, and the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s Mary Graham Lasley competition. Finally, he is a winner of Astral Artists’ 2003 National Auditions and was a finalist for the Concert Artists Guild competition in 2009.

With a passion for chamber music, Dr. O’Connor was a founding member of the Red Line Saxophone Quartet as well as the reed quintet REED5. While playing soprano saxophone in Red Line, the group won grand prizes at the Chesapeake, Coleman, NASA, and MTNA chamber music competitions, as well as gold medals at the Fischoff and Plowman chamber competitions. Red Line performed concerts by heart, premiered five new works for sax quartet and electronics in NYC, and released a CD on iTunes, “Back Burner.”

Eastman Saxophone Project

Created in 2010 as the country’s first “conductor-less” saxophone ensemble, the Eastman Saxophone Project (ESP) consists of students from the saxophone studio at the Eastman School of Music.  The ensemble also performs entire programs from memory, dramatically enhancing the level of interaction with its audiences. At the invitation of Selmer (Paris), ESP made its New York debut at Steinway Hall in 2011.  The ensemble has also performed at the West Point Military Academy as part of the North American Saxophone Alliance Regional Conference. ESP performs around ten concerts a year, including two full recitals per season in Rochester.

Capitol Quartet

The Capitol Quartet is widely considered among the most exciting chamber ensembles performing today. Comprised of saxophonists who are teaching faculty at outstanding music schools, the Capitol Quartet has captured the imagination of critics and audiences alike. Since its formation in 1991, the Capitol Quartet has performed regularly at major concert venues throughout the United States, earning wide acclaim for the ensemble’s musical versatility and innovative style. The Quartet’s February 2007 performance of the Philip Glass “Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra” with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was lauded in the Baltimore Sun for “..superb technical control, … seamless blend, and exceptional wealth of character in their phrasing”.

The Capitol Quartet has been featured with the Cincinnati Pops, Indianapolis Symphony, Guatemala National Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa, Canada), Windsor (Ontario) Symphony, the San Antonio Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Springfield (MO) Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Imperial Symphony (Fl), Bay-Atlantic Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band, the U.S. Continental Army Band, and many other symphonies across the country. They have been invited back for numerous appearances with the Baltimore, Bay-Atlantic and Indianapolis Symphonies.

Dedicated to advancing music education, the Capitol Quartet regularly performs and lectures at National and State Music Educators conferences. They have appeared at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Conference, Illinois Music Educators Conference, Connecticut Music Educators Conference, Virginia Music Educators Conference, MENC’s Eastern Division, American Band College, Bands of America’s Summer Symposium, and West Chester’s Marching Band Workshop. They have also performed master classes at many universities including Indiana University, Elon College, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University, the University of Maryland, Penn State University, the University of Indianapolis, and the Peabody Conservatory.

Famed American composer and entertainer Marvin Hamlisch says of the Capitol Quartet: “I have had the great pleasure of performing with the Capitol Quartet. Their fabulous sound, professionalism and innovative program all combine for a wonderfully entertaining musical experience.”

The Capitol Quartet proudly performs on YAMAHA Saxophones. Christopher Creviston – soprano saxophone; Joseph Lulloff – alto saxophone; David Stambler – tenor saxophone; and Andrew Dahlke – baritone saxophone

Moanin’ Frogs

The Moanin’ Frogs are a cutting edge saxophone sextet championing new works and illuminating great music in between. Passionate for the saxophone’s rich history, the frogs actively perform in many styles, ranging from jazz, classical, pop, and contemporary music. The Frogs use their composition, arranging, interpretation, and improvisational skills in their own arrangements. Compositions and arrangements for the Frogs range from Dvorak to bebop, Dixieland to Chick Corea, Irving Berlin to Bobby Timmons, Gershwin to William Bolcom, and many more.

Recent performance highlights include: performing at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, performing as a featured artist on the North American Saxophone Alliance Chamber Concert, a special feature on Detroit Public Television’s Detroit Performs Series broadcasted in Detroit, Miami, and LA, a lecture-recital at Oakland University, a private event in Beverly Hills, CA for University of Michigan donors, the University of Michigan’s Collage Concert at Hill Auditorium, and an appearance at “The Big House” football stadium for Commencement 2013. The Frogs also inaugurated a film series at The Michigan Theater, where they also were the opening act for the River Raisin Ragtime Revue with William Bolcom, Joan Morris, and Ian Whitcomb.

Jazz

Jeff Coffin
Jeff Coffin
Jeff Coffin is an internationally recognized saxophonist, bandleader, composer and educator and has been traveling the globe since the late 20th Century. He is a 3x Grammy Award winner from Bela Fleck & the Flecktones and played with them from 1997-2010. In July 2008, Jeff began touring with Dave Matthews Band, and officially joined the group in 2009 following the tragic passing of founding member LeRoi Moore. When not on the road with DMB, Coffin fronts his own group, Jeff Coffin & the Mu’tet.

Some of the artists Coffin has shared the stage and the recording studio include a “who’s who” of musicians such as Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Dave Matthews Band, Branford Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, DJ Logic, New Orleans Social Club, Maceo Parker, McCoy Tyner, Baaba Maal, Phish, Mike Clark’s Prescription Trio, Galactic, Kirk Whalum, My Morning Jacket, Widespread Panic, Chris Thile, Willie Nelson, Chester Thompson, Garth Brooks, Van Morrison, J.D. Souther, Vinnie Colaiuta, The Dixie Chicks, ‘Rakalam’ Bob Moses, Stanton Moore, Brooks and Dunn, Tuvan Throat Singers – the Alash Ensemble & Konger Ol Ondar, George Porter Jr., Umphrey’s McGee, Del McCoury, John Scofield, Yonder Mountain String Band, Marc Broussard, Martina McBride, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Wailers and many, many others.

Along the way, Coffin has absorbed an astounding range of influences. “Whether it be New Orleans Second Line, African, Indian Ragas, Brazilian, folk songs, Gypsy music, Alan Lomax field recordings, jazz, funk, etc…” he says, “the spirit and breath of the music is what I take away from the listening and playing. It’s what decides for me if I like it or not…I consider it ‘Spirit Music’.” Coffin is also known to play two saxes at a time, in a nod to the late great saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Jeff is a heavily in-demand clinician, a Yamaha Performing Artist and D’Addario Performing Artist and, since 2001, has presented more than 300 solo and Mu’tet music clinics from Farmington, Maine to Perth, Australia to students of all ages to raving reviews. Education continues to be an important part of what Jeff shares with others, and he is a tireless champion to players of all ages and levels to discover and cultivate their own musical voice.

Living in Nashville, TN since 1991, Coffin graduated with a music education degree from the prestigious University of North Texas in 1990 where he played in the acclaimed One O’Clock Lab Band. He also studied with sax great Joe Lovano on a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

At the 2000 Grammy Awards, in addition to Bela Fleck & the Flecktones winning a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Recording (Outbound), Coffin’s tune, Zona Mona (also from Outbound) was Grammy nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Composition.

Coffin is also an avid photographer and he sees photographic composition, musical composition and improvisation as going hand in hand.

Brad Leali
Brad Leali
Brad Leali, a native of Denver, Colorado, joined the University of North Texas faculty in August 2008 as Professor of Jazz Saxophone. In addition to studio teaching, he teaches jazz performance fundamentals and directs the Three O’Clock Lab Band. A native of Denver, Colorado, Leali received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from North Texas in 1989 where he played with the One O’Clock Lab Band. After earning his Master’s degree from Rutgers University in 2005, he was appointed head of the jazz program at Texas Tech University, where several scholarships have been established in his name, including the Brad Leali Endowed Jazz Scholarship.

From 1989-1994, Leali was lead alto saxophonist for the Harry Connick, Jr., Orchestra, serving as its musical director from 1990-1994. In 1995, he joined the Count Basie Orchestra under the leadership of Grover Mitchell. During his years as one of the top jazz musicians in New York City, Leali was a staple in legendary jazz venues like the Village Vanguard, Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Iridium, and Birdland. He has also performed in Lincoln Center in the orchestras of jazz legends Nancy Wilson and Benny Golson. Leali’s numerous television appearances include local news programs, the Today show (Peter Cincotti), Jay Leno, Arsenio Hall, BET, and the Harry Connick, Jr., Christmas Special. He performs yearly as part of the Kennedy Center Honors program. Most recently, Leali performed at President Obama’s inaugural celebration “We Are One,” backing up artists such as Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, and Herbie Hancock. Other artists with whom he has played include Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry, Joe Williams, Jimmy Cobb, Frank Foster, Jon Hendricks, Roy Hargrove, The Mingus Big Band, Jack McDuff, George Duke, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jimmy Smith, Robert Downey, Jr., Fantasia, Billy Joel, Kid Rock, Yolanda Adams, and Brian McKnight.

Leali’s first solo recording was Priority Soul! in 1998 on the New Jazz Renaisssance Recordings label. In 1999, the Count Basie Orchestra won a Grammy award for Count Plays Duke with Leali receiving his own nomination for his solo work on the classic Billy Strayhorn composition, “The Star-Crossed Lovers.” Leali departed from the Basie orchestra in 2000 to focus on his career as a soloist. His discography since then includes Live in Europe (Brad Leali Quartet, 2004); Brooklyn Soul Organization (also produced by Leali, 2004); the critically acclaimed Maria Juanez (2006), which features his own compositions and eighteen-piece jazz orchestra; and DA’s Time (Brad Leali-Claus Raible Quartet, 2008) on the TCB label.

“Saxophonist Brad Leali was among the most soulful and exciting I’ve heard recently.” – New York Times – “Alto saxophonist Brad Leali has a bright amiable way of playing!” – New York Times – “His solos are sparkling and Cannonball Adderley influenced.” – Evening Standard (London, England).

Chip McNeill
Chip McNeill
In addition to his position with the University of Illinois School of Music, Professor Chip McNeill is Musical Director and Jazz Tenor Saxophonist for Grammy award-winning recording artist, Arturo Sandoval. He has toured with and recorded the compact discs (CDs) Americana and Hot House with Arturo Sandoval. In 1998, Hot House won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz recording. To his credit, Professor McNeill won a Grammy for his performance on Hot House, and two of his charts were nominated for Grammys from the recording. Professor McNeill also has performed and toured with the legendary jazz trumpeter, Maynard Ferguson, with whom he has produced, written, and performed on several CDs, including Live in London, These Cats Can Swing, and Maynard Ferguson’s final CD, The One and Only. He has recorded performances with Nat Adderley, David Liebman, Duffy Jackson, Ira Sullivan, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Ted Shumate, and Larry Willis. Professor McNeill’s most recent CD is “The Whirl” on Armored Records.

He has performed with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, and Wynton Marsalis. Professor McNeill has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Monterey Jazz Festival in California, and Noto Jazz Festival in Japan. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall in Sydney, Australia, and the London Palladium. He also has performed for jazz radio and television productions in Europe, Japan, the United Kingdom, India, and Indonesia. Before joining the University of Illinois School of Music, he was Chair of Jazz Studies at Florida International University in Miami and Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg.

David Bixler
David Bixler
“David Bixler is an artist who manages to take much of the best of the jazz tradition and push it in new directions—push, but never shove. He is original, but his originality is not what I would call radical. He works within the tradition. He is not looking to destroy it. The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head is an album filled with inventive ideas and exciting artistry. Most importantly, it is filled with music you’ll want to hear and hear again.” Jack Goodstein

Saxophonist, composer, and educator David Bixler continues to establish himself as a multi-faceted artist.  David has performed and toured the world with the orchestras of Chico O’Farrill, Lionel Hampton, and Toshiko Akiyoshi, among others.  His collaboration with pianist Arturo O’Farrill has resulted in many performances and tours, in addition to several recordings, including the GRAMMY nominated 40 Acres and a Mule.

The Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head is Bixler’s fifth recording as a leader.  In reviewing the recording for All About Jazz, Dan Bilawasky writes,” Bixler has garnered plenty of attention for his contributions to O’Farrill’s music over the years, but this album makes it clear that it’s time to give him his due for his own winning work.”

Also active as a composer, David gave the premier of his Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Delta David Gier in March of 2010.  He has also received numerous commissions one of which, Heptagon for saxophone quartet, is included on a Naxos release of American composers by the Ancia Quartet.

David is the Director of Jazz Studies at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.  As both a Selmer and Vandoren Artist he is active as a clinician throughout the world.

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