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Jazz Ensemble I to preview KMEA program on campus

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I will be playing for the annual Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) convention at the end of the month, but local fans can hear them at home first.

The group will preview their KMEA program Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center (note the change from an earlier date of Feb. 22).

The KMEA performance will be Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. in Wichita, Hyatt Ballrooms F-H.

Jazz Ensemble I is an auditioned ensemble that performs a wide range of professional-level big-band repertoire and gives students the chance to focus on jazz improvisation, style, sight-reading and section playing.

In addition to regular on-campus performances, Jazz Ensemble I often plays off-campus and has toured to Kansas City and Colorado in the recent past. This year’s invitation is the latest of several to perform at a KMEA convention.

Jazz I has earned superior ratings at the Wichita State, University of Northern Colorado and Kansas City Community College Jazz Festivals and has performed with significant guest artists such as Bob Mintzer, Bobby Watson and Allen Vizzutti.

Jazz Ensemble I personnel are: saxophones, Neil Smucker, North Newton, Ben Wiens, Goessel, Westen Gesell, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Chase Ebeling, Hutchinson, and Matt Lind, Harrisonburg, Virginia; trumpets, Braden Unruh, Goessel, Tim Regier, Newton, Grant Flaming, Goessel, and Isaac Dunn, Fresno, California; trombones, Issei Tsuji, Chiba, Japan, Andrew Thiesen, Newton, Billie Selichnow, Maize, and Josh Janzen, Aurora, Nebraska; drums, Adam Voth, Goddard; bass, Eli Brockway, McPherson; and piano, Matthew Graber, Freeman, South Dakota.

The group’s KMEA program is “Shiny Stockings” by Frank Foster; “Oclupaca” by Duke Ellington; “My Lament” by Maria Schneider; and “Eye of the Hurricane” by Herbie Hancock, arranged by Bob Mintzer.

The group will be joined by guest musician James Pisano on saxophone.

Joel Linscheid, director of jazz studies at Bethel, directs Jazz Ensemble I. He is a graduate of Bethel College and the University of Colorado-Boulder. He has worked as a freelance musician in Denver, Kansas City and Wichita, been employed as a musician for Holland America Cruise Lines, toured for a year with The Glenn Miller Orchestra and taught saxophone, clarinet and jazz improvisation to students of all ages and abilities, from middle school to collegiate level.

James Pisano is finishing two years of education leave from Bethel College to pursue doctoral studies in jazz at the University of Illinois. He also holds degrees from the University of New Hampshire and the University of Miami. He is accomplished on clarinet and saxophone, in both classical and jazz arenas, and has appeared as a sideman on more than 10 jazz recordings. He taught at the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton School of Music and East Tennessee State University before coming to Bethel in 2006.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.