Jazz@First Series – The Music of Bill Evans, featuring Rick VanMatre
Sunday, October 16 @ 2pm | First Unitarian Church

Series Sponsor: Al Harris

One of the most influential modern jazz pianists, Bill Evans and his trio were revered the world over for his lyrical and harmonically lush pianism; he made the piano sing like no other. Evans mostly performed jazz standards, but his compositions were exquisite and have become classics in the jazz world. Saxophonist Rick VanMatre joins the Phil DeGreg Trio to interpret these musical gems.

Rick VanMatre is one of the most exploratory saxophonists and conductors in the world of jazz and progressive music, and has presented solo recitals and jazz club performances in the US, Europe, Israel, Brazil, China and Thailand. In addition to leading his own quintet with original compositions, he has been featured as a soloist with groups like Roland Vazquez’s Latin ensemble, the Duke Ellington Orchestra directed by Mercer Ellington, and the Woody Herman Orchestra directed by Frank Tiberi.

Some of his many recordings include the PsychoAcoustic Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra with Manhattan Transfer and John Pizzarelli, and the New Third Stream Quartet. He has commissioned unique crossover jazz concerti and performed them with orchestras including the New York Repertory Orchestra, Sichuan Symphony Orchestra (China) and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. As a conductor he has directed programs on American Jazz Radio Festival, NPR, and for artists like Kenny Garrett, Slide Hampton, Joe Henderson, Ahmad Jamal, and Joshua Redman. He retired from UC’s College-Conservatory of Music in 2010 but remains involved as an emeritus professor. As director of CCM’s Jazz Program and Concert Series, he conducted over 250 concerts, created the Master’s degree in Jazz Studies and the Doctorate in Saxophone, established the Jazz Recording Studio, and produced numerous CD recordings for Sea Breeze Records, one of which received a first round Grammy nomination and was described by Cadence magazine as a “necessary part of any big-band enthusiast’s library. He has been named a “reed titan” by Midwest Jazz magazine, and “technically superb and musically inventive” by the Cincinnati Enquirer. His newest CD Lines Above was recently released on Summit Records. He is an endorsing artist for Selmer Saxophones.

Phil DeGreg began playing the piano in his childhood and now performs as a jazz pianist internationally. His earliest jazz influences were Bud Powell and Bill Evans, but he is accomplished and comfortable in a wide range of jazz styles, ranging from mainstream to bebop to Brazilian jazz. A graduate of Yale and the University of North Texas, he toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra in the 1980’s, and has 10 CD’s to his credit as a leader. For 13 years he accompanied many national and international jazz artists in the house trio in Cincinnati’s famous Blue Wisp Jazz Club. He has been on staff with the renowned Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops since 1983, and has performed and taught in Europe and South America.

Phil DeGreg is the retired Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts study grants. In 2008 he was awarded a 4 month Fulbright Fellowship as a lecturer in Brazil.

His text “Jazz Keyboard Harmony” is a practical text for teaching jazz harmony for all musicians, and is used all over the world in universities and for private study.

Learn more about Phil DeGreg on his website http://phildegreg.com.

Bill Evans was born August 16, 1929, in Plainfield, New Jersey. Evans was first taught the piano by his mother, before moving to New York City to play. He moved quickly into the scene after returning from the Army, recording with Miles Davis on the 1958 album Kind of Blue. He continued influencing the jazz pianist scene into the 1970’s.

Bio from biography.com.