CSU Jazz Ensembles swing with saxophonist Gary Smulyan

The Colorado State University Jazz Ensembles are joined by one of the greatest baritone saxophone musicians of our time, Gary Smulyan, for a night of bebop and swing on Wednesday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts, located at 1400 Remington St.

Directed by Peter Sommer and Wil Swindler, the CSU Jazz Ensembles I and II will perform with Smulyan to bring upbeat styles to the University Center for the Arts. Developed in the mid-1940s, bebop brought a fast tempo, improvisation, and instrumental virtuosity to the jazz scene. It is now considered synonymous with modern jazz and is widely popular.

Gary Smulyan

Gary Smulyan

Gary Smulyan began his career by learning the alto saxophone as a teenager, which then evolved into the mastery of the baritone saxophone. He is known best for his aggressive rhythmic sense, creative harmonic approach, and his incisive wit. After graduating high school, he joined Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd, a collection of young musicians who would soon be at the forefront of present-day jazz. The style he is most well-known for is bebop. Very few baritones have dared to master this tricky, chromatic music style.

Today he has topped the baritone saxophone category in the Downbeat Critics Poll, the Jazztimes Readers and Critics Polls, and was the winner of the 2009 and 2010 Jazz Journalist Award for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year. He has led many of his own exceptional jazz groups, alongside playing baritone saxophone for the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Dave Holland Big Band, and the Joe Lovano Nonet.

Wil Swindler

Composer and saxophonist Wil Swindler currently resides near Denver, where he leads Wil Swindler’s Elevenet, the modern bop quintet GoodRattle, and serves as musical director for vocalist Barron Steffen. He is a performer and contributing composer with Raincheck, the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra, the 9th+Lincoln Orchestra, the Colorado Jazz Orchestra, Manny Lopez’s Latin Jazz Project, and the Legacy Jazz Orchestra. He also performs with the Colorado Symphony, the Fort Collins Symphony, and the Boulder Philharmonic, as well as playing productions at both the Buell Theatre and the Arvada Center for the Arts. In addition to receiving IAJE’s Gil Evans Fellowship for 2008, Wil has completed numerous commissions from military bands, local orchestras, and big bands around the world.

 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 and John Coltrane, he continues to search for the mystery in music-making and takes great joy in sharing the present moment with the listener.

University Center for the Arts

Tickets are $7 for CSU students, $1 for youth (under 18), and $12 for the public. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) ticket office in the UCA lobby Monday through Friday, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. and 60 minutes prior to performances, by phone at 970-491-ARTS (2787), or online at www.CSUArtsTickets.com. Youth tickets must be purchased in person at the Ticket Office. All tickets are subject to a $1 ticket fee for both online and at-the-door purchases. Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended to avoid lines and further at-the-door fees.

The University Center for the Arts at Colorado State University provides an enriched venue in which the study and practice of Art, Dance, Music, and Theatre are nurtured and sustained by building the skills and knowledge needed by future generations of arts professionals to become contributors to the essential vitality of our culture and society.

For more information, visit UCA.Colostate.edu.

This story was written by Laura Scott