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UW Jazz Festival

UW Jazz festival

UW Jazz Festival Guest Artists & Clinicians

Guest Artists

Alicia Olatuja, vocal jazz
The Bad Plus

The Bad Plus came together at the end of the 20th century and has avoided easy categorization ever since, winning critical hosannas and a legion of fans worldwide with their creativity, unique sound, and flair for live performance. Based in NYC, the intensely collaborative trio has constantly searched for rules to break and boundaries to cross, bridging genres and techniques. Except for its interpretation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, the band’s last four albums focused almost exclusively on original compositions. “It’s Hard” marks the band’s return to the aspect of its roots that first made it famous: the deconstruction of songs from the Pop/Rock and R&B worlds.

Adjudicator Bios

Kenyon Brenner
Kenyon Brenner

An active performer in Colorado, Kenyon can be heard on a large body of new recordings, including the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band I’s new Romeo and Juliet project and a new album with the legendary drummer, Louis Hayes. Kenyon has performed with many jazz artists such as: Benny Green, Jeff Coffin, Donny McCaslin, Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Jeff Hamilton, Christian McBride, Chris Potter, Alex Sipiagin, Ralph Lalama, Paul Romaine, Ken Walker, Eric Gunnison, Dana Landry, Erik Applegate, Steve Kovalcheck, Jim White, Deborah Brown, and the New York Voices. Kenyon has performed across the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean, and toured throughout 2012 with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Kenyon Brenner joined the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Studies faculty in the fall of 2015 as an Artist Faculty in Residence. In addition to teaching private jazz lessons at UNC, he also teaches courses focusing on jazz theory, jazz improvisation, the standard jazz repertoire, and jazz methods.

While a student, Kenyon Brenner was a member of UNC’s prestigious groups: Jazz Lab Band I, Vanguard Combo and Vocal Lab. All three ensembles won Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards for Best Graduate Large Ensemble, Best Graduate Small Ensemble, and Best Graduate Vocal Jazz Ensemble while he was a member. In addition to regular gigs as a freelance artist, Kenyon is a member of the Colorado Jazz Orchestra, the David Caffey Jazz Orchestra, Socrates Garcia Latin Jazz Orchestra, and often performs as a guest with the All Angles Orchestra.
Brad Dawson
Brad Dawson

Brad Dawson is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at Fort Hays State University where he teaches trumpet, jazz ensembles, jazz improvisation, jazz history. He is a graduate for Fort Hays State University and The University of North Texas where he studied with John J. Haynie. While at North Texas he was a Graduate Teaching Fellow in applied trumpet and played the jazz trumpet chair in the 2 O'clock Lab Band.

FHSU's Jazz Ensemble I has been selected to perform at the Kansas Music Educators Convention every eligible year since 1996. The group has also made numerous appearances at the Wichita Jazz Festival and University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival.

Brad has presented music technology papers at The University of Texas at San Antonio and The University of Colorado at Boulder.

Mr. Dawson is very active as a performer. In addition to playing principal trumpet with the Hays Symphony, he performs with several small jazz groups and big bands as well as being a guest soloist for various groups. He has also presented many solo recitals and currently performs for numerous events presented by the Department of Music including the Cathedral Concert, Faculty Showcase, and The High Plains Music Camp. He has performed with Frank Mantooth. Kevin Mahogany, John Fedchock, Allen Vizzutti, Wycliff Gordon, Ken Peplowski, and many others. He has also performed with the Kansas City Symphony and the New Mexico Symphony and has been a guest soloist and adjudicator for the Wichita Jazz Festival and Washburn University Jazz Festival.
Ryan Fourt
Ryan Fourt

Ryan’s career began at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he privately studied jazz guitar and upright bass with Professor James Greeson. He has also had the privilege of studying with local Colorado guitarist Dale Bruning (who taught Bill Frissell) as well as New York guitarist Mark Elf. After establishing himself in the music community Ryan began performing with some of the regions best players including his teacher Jim Greeson, saxophonist Keefe Jackson (Delmark records), as well as a very important musical partnership with his mentor, pianist Claudia Burson.

In 2004, Ryan moved to the fertile musical environment of Northern Colorado. Since then he has established himself as one of the top performers on that scene, sharing the stage with local and national talents such as Brad Goode, Peter Sommer, Dana Landry, Ken Walker, Dave Pope, Gareth Malone, Jeff Jenkins, Devin Hoff, Alvin Lucier, Ben Markley, and Paul McKee. Ryan’s most recent album, “Big Slick” was released on the Dazzle Recordings label in December of 2015 and received extensive international radio play upon its release. The album is a mix of originals and standards and features some fantastic Colorado players including Peter Sommer and Ed Breazeale.

Currently Ryan lives in Loveland Colorado and maintains a busy performance schedule with various jazz and pop groups along the front-range and mountain west regions – he can be heard most every weekend in Ft. Collins playing at all the local jazz spots, including Ace Gillett’s, Jay’s Bistro, and the Crown Pub. On top of performing Ryan is also an adjunct instructor of jazz guitar and lecturer at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
Dru Heller
Dru Heller

Originally from Spokane, Washington, Dru Heller holds a Master’s degree in Jazz Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Dru has played with such jazz greats as Brian Lynch, Dave Pietro, Rodney Jones, Peter Bernstein, and Conrad Herwig. Dru also maintains a busy schedule as a freelance musician in the Denver jazz scene, leading his own quintet as well as playing in bands led by Don Byron, Art Lande, Ron Miles and many others. Dru has been a guest artist and clinician at various jazz festivals including the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, the Spokane Falls Jazz Festival, and the Eastern Washington University Jazz Dialogues Festival.
Jenna McClean
Jenna McClean

Jenna is a jazz vocalist currently working toward her Doctor of Arts degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Colorado with Kerry Marsh and Julia Dollison, where she also completed a Master of Music Degree in Jazz Studies. After receiving her Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Vocal Performance from the University of Wyoming, Jenna moved to Fort Collins to begin pursuing jazz, receiving opportunities to perform alongside great Colorado musicians including Ben Markley, Gabriel Mervine, Steve Kovalcheck, Ryan Fourt, Peter Sommer, Tom Amend and many others. She has also recently had the pleasure of performing alongside the New York Voices, Aubrey Logan, and Jackie Ryan, and has frequently performed at renowned Colorado jazz venues including Ace Gillett's, Jays Bistro, and Nocturne Jazz and Supper Club.

Jenna is currently a teaching assistant at UNC where she has the pleasure of directing a vocal jazz ensemble and teaching private jazz voice lessons to several students. She has sung as the lead soprano and written arrangements for UNC’s Downbeat Award Winning Vocal Jazz Ensemble “Vocal Lab” for two years. She finds her artistic drive in building upon her past in musical theatre, bringing new twists to timeless standards of the Great American Songbook as well as newer pop, funk and soul tunes. With a love and devotion for jazz, opera, R&B, and folk music, she maintains the belief that all music is good music as long as it speaks to the soul and grooves.
Dr. Joshua R. Mietz
Dr. Joshua R. Mietz

Dr. Joshua R. Mietz is an Instructor at Casper College in Casper, Wyoming. He teaches Applied Clarinet and Saxophone, Jazz Ensemble I, Jazz Improvisation, Clarinet Choir, Saxophone Quartet, and the History of Blues, Jazz, and Rock. He also serves as the Executive Director of Casper College’s Annual Kinser Jazz Festival and a substitute clarinetist with the Wyoming Symphony. An avid arranger of music, his works vary from rock/pop covers, church hymns for weekly worship, re-orchestrations of large-scale works, and art song reimagined for performance by friends and colleagues. His fascination with arrangement comes from hearing old music through new voices; presenting to students works they may not otherwise study, and treating audiences to something simultaneously both new and familiar.

Prior to arriving at Casper College, Mietz served as an Adjunct Instructor at both Fort Lewis and San Juan Colleges, as well as the Director of Choirs at the First United Methodist Church in Durango, Colorado. He also directed a clarinet choir comprised of musicians from the Four Corners Region of the American Southwest and performed with the San Juan Symphony Orchestra.

While earning a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Mietz studied clarinet with Diane Barger and conducting with Carolyn Barber. His doctoral document examined David Maslanka’s Desert Roads from the perspective of a clarinetist and a conductor. It contains the transcription of an interview detailing Maslanka’s fascinating compositional technique.

While at the University of Montana-Missoula, Mietz served as the E-flat/bass clarinetist with the Missoula Symphony and studied Applied Clarinet with Maxine Ramey and conducting with Stephen Bolstad, Kevin Griggs, and Luis Milan.

Prior to his study at the University of Montana, Mietz taught junior high and high school band/orchestra in the public schools of Colorado as well as performed with the Denver Pops Orchestra. Mietz received a Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet performance from the University of Colorado-Boulder and studied clarinet with Daniel Silver, Bil Jackson, and Phillip Aaholm. He also studied conducting with Allan McMurray. Additionally, Mietz completed the requirements as a Certified Massage Therapist at the Denver School of Massage Therapy where he acquired positions both at local clinics and teaching cadaver-based Human Anatomy at the Laboratories of Anatomical Enlightenment.

In his spare time, Mietz enjoys ultra-marathon running, bread baking, and vegan cooking.
Peter Sommer
Peter Sommer

Since establishing himself among the Denver area’s elite jazz musicians, Peter Sommer has contributed his energetic tenor playing and creative spirit to a wide variety of musical projects ranging from mainstream bebop to avant garde and beyond at venues across the nation and around the world. Although rooted in the great jazz tradition of his heroes Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, he continues to search for the mystery in music making and takes great joy in sharing the present moment with the listener. Peter has released four albums as a leader – Sioux County (2006) on Tapestry Records, featuring his original compositions in duo with jazz piano legend Art Lande, Crossroads (2008) on Capri Records, featuring a two-tenor frontline with the great NYC saxophonist Rich Perry, and Tremolo Canteen (2010) and Narrando Historias (2015) on Dazzle Recordings.

From a May 2009 Saxophone Journal review of Crossroads, “(Sommer) is the possessor of a dark, gritty sound, clean, fast technique, melodic ideas and a true understanding of the postbebop style. In addition, he is fearless, thus the inclusion of one of the most original voices of the tenor saxophone in jazz as a guest artist, Rich Perry. . . . Together the two tenor players complement each other perfectly. . . . After hearing this CD, the name Peter Sommer will certainly jump out at you in a big way; this guy delivers.”

Peter is a regular member of the Ken Walker Sextet, Ninth and Lincoln (modern big band under the direction of Tyler Gilmore), the Wil Swindler Elevenet, the Fred Hess Big Band, the Colorado Jazz Orchestra, the New Third Stream Saxophone Quartet and is an honorary member of the Russian Dragon Band. He also performs often as a soloist, in duo with Art Lande, and as a leader of his own quartet.

Sommer is also active as a concert saxophonist, performing recitals of newly commissioned pieces and masterworks both regionally and abroad. Recent performances include John Mackey's Soprano Saxophone Concerto and David Biedenbender's “Dreams in Dusk” with the Colorado State University Symphonic Band. He is also a member of the consortium to commission a new soprano saxophone concerto from William Bolcom, which he will premiere in Fall 2016 with the CSU Wind Symphony.

Peter has performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, and has been a featured jazz soloist at North American Saxophone Alliance Regional and Biennial Conferences. He has also performed at IAJE International Conferences in Anaheim and Toronto, Canada, and has performed at World Saxophone Congresses in Valencia, Spain, Bangkok, Thailand, St. Andrews, Scotland and Strasbourg, France.

Peter Sommer is Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Saxophone at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. At CSU, Mr. Sommer directs Jazz Ensemble I and coordinates the Jazz Studies area.
Dr. Katrina Zook
Dr. Katrina Zook

Dr. Katrina Zook earned the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where she also received the Performer's Certificate in Voice. While in Rochester, she taught voice for Eastman's Community Education Division, and both voice and music history at Nazareth College. Dr. Zook holds the Bachelor's degree in Voice from the Oberlin College Conservatory in Ohio. She has served as Assistant Professor at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA, and as adjunct professor at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA where she also earned the Master of Arts in Voice from the University of California. Dr. Zook advanced to Ph.D. candidacy in historical musicology at UCSB where her specialty was 16th century Dutch hymnody.

Dr. Zook's performance credits include leading roles in Hansel and Gretel, Così fan Tutte, Carmen, Albert Herring, Falstaff, Le Nozze di Figaro, The Old Maid and the Thief, Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Amahl and the Night Visitors, as well as resident alto soloist for three seasons with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. She has been a featured soloist with the Singing Men of Ohio during tour appearances in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Dr. Zook has premiered several 20th-century vocal works for the Prisms New Music Ensemble, the Los Angeles Composer's Forum, and the International Computer Music Society. Recent guest appearances include a presentation at the annual conference of the Mennonite Society for Musical Heritage, a lecture on Women in American Popular Music and a vocal master class and art-song recital at North Dakota State University, alto soloist for J.S. Bach's St. John's Passion with the North Dakota State University Choirs, an All American Art Song recital tour with colleagues Dr. Larry Hensel and Dr. Theresa Bogard, and performances with the University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra, and the UW Collegiate Chorale, Additionally, Dr. Zook has given invited Guest Artist Recitals in Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, south- central Brazil, and The Netherlands. Along with Nicole Lamartine and Maureen Boddicker, she is a founding member of the Fresh Aire Trio, a UW faculty voice ensemble whose mission is to perform for and work with young choral singers in the state and region.

At UW, Dr. Zook teaches Studio Voice, Vocal Pedagogy, Freshman Voice Seminar, Introduction to Musical Life, Introduction to Music, and Music in the Classical Period. She is the faculty advisor for SNATS (Student Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing).

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