Henry Johnson, (left) and Mike Kocour (right)

Henry Johnson (left) and Mike Kocour (right)


Wooster Jazz Ensemble to Present Free Outdoor Concert May 2

For more information, contact: Jeff Lindberg, 330-263-2047

28 April, 2014 by Jeff Lindberg

The College of Wooster's Jazz Ensemble and two jazz combos will perform Friday, May 2, 7:30 p.m. at a special, free outdoor concert on the back patio of Lowry Center, 1189 Beall Avenue. In case of inclimate weather, location will be Freelander Theatre, 329 E. University.

The evening is a tribute to two African American musicians—jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, who recorded and performed in the late 50s through the late 60s, and Jimmy Smith, known for his groundbreaking use of the Hammond B-3 electric organ to link sixties soul and jazz improvisation.

The Ensemble and two of the combos are under the direction of Jeffrey Lindberg, professor of music and director of the highly acclaimed Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Chicago's oldest professional jazz orchestra in continuous operation. Directing the third combo is Greg Slawson, jazz piano instructor at the College.

The groups will be joined by three soloists, including College of Wooster vocalist Thea Kwan '17, who will sing tunes by Dinah Washington, Marvin Fisher, and Duke Elllington and Billy Strayhorn.

Featured soloist is guitarist Henry Johnson, who was formally introduced to jazz in 1967 when he heard guitar legend Wes Montgomery perform. Decades later, Johnson continues to cite Montgomery as one of his strongest influences. Johnson, on the faculty of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, teaches jazz guitar studies and performs with the Organ Express, which he patterns after the hard swinging jazz groups of the 60s.

Also featured is jazz pianist Michael Kocour, associate professor and director of jazz studies at Arizona State University, who has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "one of the most sophisticated pianists in jazz."

On the program is music by Wes Montgomery and Oliver Nelson's arrangements of Jerome Kern favorites, including "Old Man River." Also featured are tunes by Oscar Peterson, Stevie Wonder, and Dizzy Gillespie.