John Hebert

Dominic Gladstone

Andrew Rathbun is the professor of saxophone at Western Michigan University. He's also a composer and recording artist who's released "around" 15 albums, and a colleague of Jazz Currents host Keith Hall, who teaches jazz drumming at WMU. For the first time in the series, Rathbun persuades Hall to play with him and bassist John Hébert, who joined the WMU jazz faculty in 2019. 


matthewfries.com

Matthew Fries is looking forward to performing in the Wellspring Theatre at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, Jul 22, with his friends John Hébert on bass and Keith Hall on drums. It will be streamed online at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival website, as part of its Virtually Gilmore series. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Fries says he plans to play a number of his own compositions, some written years ago, some just weeks ago. 

Fries is the professor of jazz piano at Western Michigan University. In late March, he had to switch to online teaching when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the school to close its doors. Fries "had to re-think" how to teach, overcome technical issues, and provide assistance to students without access to pianos at home. When many of his students became active in the Black Lives Matter protests, they challenged the status quo to the faculty in new, and sometimes uncomfortable, conversations. Fries says that the WMU jazz department is "seven white guys in love with a music that is 100 percent the result of Black culture." He plans to be more vocal in support of his students' concerns. "There's hope in the energy behind this," Fries says.


Rufus Ferguson

Juneteenth is the June 19, 1865 date on which people in slavery in Texas were informed they had been granted freedom by the Emancipation Proclamation, two years after it was issued.  Jazz musician Rufus Ferguson, with saxophonist Seth Ebersole and bassist John Hébert, will present a Juneteenth concert at 6:30 pm on Friday, June 19, streaming live on The Gilmore Keyboard Festival's website, Youtube channel, and Facebook page, in partnership with Public Media Network.  The three will highlight the music of Black jazz musicians and composers.


Wikimedia Commons

Western Jazz Quartet saxophonist Andrew Rathbun and pianist Jeremy Siskind talk about the challenges and satisfaction of adding a new voice to the mix, with just one rehearsal to prepare. This is not uncommon in the jazz world, and according to Rathbun, John Hébert is one of the finest bassists working today.