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Bethel campus will be a jazzy place in December

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – If you’re feeling a lack of jazz in your life, you may want to consider coming to Bethel’s campus this December.

Jazz drummer Peter Zimmer and jazz pianist Ben Markley get things started with a free clinic Tuesday, Dec. 1, from 4- 6 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium. Zimmer and Markley will discuss general jazz topics such as improvisation and ensemble performance. Material from Bethel’s Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Combo will supplement discussion.

The clinic is geared to all ability levels and is free and open to the public.

The day of jazz continues with an evening performance at 7:30 p.m., also in Krehbiel Auditorium. The concert features the Pete Zimmer Group with Zimmer on drums, Markley on piano, Ben Leifer on bass and Bethel Assistant Professor of Music James Pisano on saxophone.

Repertoire includes compositions from Zimmer’s 2008 album Chillin’ Live @ Jazz Factory and Markley’s 2009 album Second Introduction.

Featured original compositions include Zimmer’s “Time That Once Was,” “Road Taken,” “Search” and “Common Man” and Markley’s “The 9th One’s Free,” “As it Comes” and “One for Cedar.”

“These compositions encompass a wide range of styles,” said Pisano. He explained that those styles include the “fast blues with a contemporary twist” of “The 9th One’s Free” and “the Afro-Cuban feel” of “Search.”

In addition to original compositions, the quartet will play standards from the Great American Songbook. “There will be something for everybody,” Pisano said.

Additional December jazz events include the Bethel College Jazz Ensembles Christmas Gala Concert Friday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m., and the Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble and Bethel College Jazz Combo Monday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. All events are in Krehbiel Auditorium and are free and open to the public.

Peter Zimmer, drums, received his M.A. at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Zimmer is recognized for his “uncanny swing” and “high sense of musicality.” He has performed or recorded with artists George Garzone, Joel Frahm, Jeremy Pelt, Michael Rodriguez, David Wong, Dennis Irwin, Rick Germanson, Randy Napoleon, Michael Karn, Julius Tolentino, Gene Perla, Tom Kennedy, Wayne Escoffery, Jaleel Shaw and Dan Nimmer.

Zimmer launched Tippin’ Records in 2004 and released his first album, Common Man, that same year. Zimmer has since released three additional albums and continues to drum and compose, as well as educate and develop the talents of students across the Midwest.

Ben Markley, piano, graduated from Fort Hays State University and is pursuing an M.A. in jazz studies at New York University. Markley has performed with Brian Lynch, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Lenny Picket, Ron McClure and George Garzone. He won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award for original compositions for his debut album Spealio (2007) and his sophomore release, Second Introduction (2009). Jazz Improv NY magazine described Markley as a performer who “convincingly demonstrates his potential to impact the jazz scene in years to come.”

Ben Leifer is one of the busiest jazz bassists in Kansas City. Leifer has shared the stage with greats like Bobby Watson, Terrell Stafford, Nicholas Payton, Robin Eubanks, Tommy Crane, Mike Pinto, Randy Brecker, Mike Moreno, Logan Richardson and Howard Johnson. Leifer currently plays in several bands around the Kansas City area including the Swingin’ Kevin Cerovich Quartet, the John Brewer Trio, the Brandon Draper New Quintet and Diverse.

James Pisano directs jazz studies at Bethel College, where he is responsible for Bethel College jazz groups. In addition to an extensive jazz performing and teaching background, Pisano holds degrees in clarinet performance from the University of New Hampshire and the University of Miami, where he was a member of the award-winning Concert Jazz Band.

On jazz saxophone, Pisano has shared the stage as a soloist with Phil Woods, Frank Foster, Louie Bellson, Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Nancy Wilson, James Moody, Hank Jones, The Lionel Hampton Big Band, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, The Artie Shaw Band, The Cab Calloway Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band, among many others. Currently, Pisano maintains an active performance schedule – most notably as a member of the saxophone section of the Jazz Heritage Orchestra (Cleveland, Ohio) since 2001. In this capacity, he has served as lead alto and tenor saxophone soloist, most recently with Benny Golson as guest artist in November 2008. He has been a sideman on more than ten CDs and has had many of his own compositions and arrangements recorded. Pisano appears as a sideman on Markley’s Second Introduction.

Jazz Ensemble I personnel are: saxophones, Joel Boettger, freshman from Hesston, Evan Fast, senior from Newton, Jordan Ortman, freshman from Marion, S.D., Camden Pankratz, sophomore from North Newton, and Paul Voran, freshman from Newton; trombones, Eric Goering, sophomore from McPherson, Benjamin Harder, senior from Hesston, Christian Loganbill, senior from Wichita, and Rachel Trumble, Newton community member; trumpets, Alex Boldt, junior from Parlier, Calif., Kyle Doesken, sophomore from Derby, Austin McCabe-Juhnke, senior from North Newton, and Kyle Unruh, senior from Goessel; drums, Nathaniel Yoder, Kalona, Iowa; bass, Landon Bartel, freshman from Newton; guitar, Bradley McKellip, senior from Newton; and piano, Benjamin Stucky, junior from Moon Township, Pa.

Members of the Bethel College Jazz Combo are Landon Bartel, Joel Boettger, Benjamin Harder, Austin McCabe-Juhnke, Bradley McKellip, Benjamin Stucky, Paul Voran and Nathaniel Yoder.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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