Local Music

Hear interviews with guests on music programs produced here at WMUK, as well as program news.

jazzandcreative.com

Cara Lieurance checks in with Ashley Daneman and Benje Daneman, the owners of the Jazz & Creative Institute at 310 N. Rose Street in Kalamazoo. Two years ago, they saw a need in West Michigan to provide jazz opportunities for young people. They created the Kalamazoo Jazz Youth Orchestra, which soon morphed into multiple ensembles. This weekend, JCI is holding its first-ever auditions for a Vocal Jazz Ensemble and later this month, for a Kalamazoo Adult Jazz Band. Finally, they've continued to expand their roster of teachers who offer private lessons in jazz and improvisation.

Students of the Jazz and Creative Institute are participating in the Kalamazoo Symphony's Family Discovery concert on Oct 20, and will be featured in a free concert at The Union Cabaret & Grill from 7-10 pm on Thursday, Oct 24.


Austin Colbert

From Friday, Oct 18 through Sunday, Dec 1, the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music will present the 2019 Connecting Chords Music Festival, a series of 20 events that reveal traditions of faiths around the world. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, festival director Elizabeth Start and performer Carolyn Koebel talk about the master musicians who will be visiting the community to perform, and ways community members can become participants in activities like Taiko drumming, sacred singing, and African drumming and dance. 

Some of the prominent artists include multi-instrumentalist Samite of Uganda, early music group Schola Antiqua, oud master Rahim Alhaj, and Japanese-American Taiko drummer Ken Koshio

In particular, Start and Koebel detail the work of the Tibetan Buddhist Monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery.  From Nov 6 - Nov 10, the monks will create an intricate mandala, or sand-painting. The public can observe its creation from 9 am - 5 pm at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The monks will also offer a concert of song and dance featuring rare instruments and costumes, at 7:30 pm Friday, Nov 8 at Comstock Auditorium.


A tireless soloist and side man, Randy Johnston  has released 12 albums as a leader and has appeared on dozens of recordings with a wide variety of jazz recording artists. Keith Hall talks to the prolific guitarist in a live session in WMUK's Takeda Studio, where Johnston brings to life stories about his performing life with the likes of Lionel Hampton, Houston Person,  Etta Jones, Lonnie Smith, and Lou Donaldson.  

Randy Johnston and Keith Hall start their conversation by remembering Johnston's early days in Detroit, where he lived until he was 13. Music was everywhere, he says - he loved Motown artists and rock bands like MC5  and the Bob Seger System - but it was the Beatles phenomenon that made him want to play guitar. When his family returned to their southern roots in Richmond, VA, Johnston says he channeled some of the frustration at being a new student at a new school into hours of guitar practice. By his late teens, Johnston was playing in a popular band that advertised itself as suitable for "dances and pool parties." 

Johnston's path to becoming an indispensible guitarist in jazz organ groups was not direct, he tells Hall, but he learned a lot from the bandleaders who did hire him early on. Later, he played for 18 years with the Lou Donaldson Quartet. Johnston has devoted the last several years to producing solo albums. The latest is 2019's Cherry Juice.


Flick user Augie Ray. All creative commons license

Dr. Tom Evans, the director of the Kalamazoo Concert Band, will conduct a Halloween-themed concert in Chenery Auditorium on Saturday, Oct 26 at 7:30 pm. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Evans highlights a number of spooky selections, including Shadow Waltzes by Brian Balmages, J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Phantom of the Opera selections, and a dance of death by Gioacomo Puccini, La Tregenda.

Yianni Mathioudakis, Flickr user. All creative commons license.

Bruce Uchimura, professor of cello at Western Michigan University, Grace Field, a Suzuki cello instructor, and WMU junior Becca Spurbeck talk to Cara Lieurance to preview a day of workshops, masterclasses, music-making and concerts for cellists of all ages: the 2019 Michigan Cello Festival. It will be held Saturday, Nov 2 in the Dalton Center at WMU. A public concert will take place at 4 pm in the Dalton Center Recital Hall, and all masterclasses and workshops are free to attend.

Festival activities include master classes by Bruce Uchimura and Anthony Elliott, an orchestral excerpts class with Igor Cetkovic, and a performance by cellist/songwriter Jordan Hamilton.  


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