Subscribe to RSS

Saxophonist is latest jazz artist to visit, teach and play at Bethel

1200px 650px

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Since he began teaching at Bethel College five years ago, James Pisano, director of jazz studies, has worked hard to get internationally known jazz artists onto the campus.

The latest is Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist, composer and arranger Bob Mintzer, who will give a free clinic and concert at Bethel Friday, March 11.

Pisano has been financially aided in his efforts by the Greer Fine Arts Endowment at Bethel and, more recently, by Jerry and Leann Toews, Bethel alumni from Goessel. The Greer Endowment (established in 1979 by the late Dr. Robert C. Goering and Amparo Goering, Wichita, in honor of their friend Milford E. Greer) and the Toewses are both sponsors of Bob Mintzer’s Bethel appearance.

Mintzer will lead an open jazz clinic, along with the Bethel College Jazz Combo, in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center March 11 at 11 a.m. as part of Bethel’s regular convocation series. That evening, he will be a guest artist with Bethel Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Combo in a 7:30 p.m. concert, also in Krehbiel Auditorium.

Both events are free and open to the public. A freewill offering to support jazz studies at Bethel will be taken at the evening concert.

Mintzer is considered a household name in the jazz world, as a saxophonist and bass clarinetist, a composer and arranger, leader of the big band the Yellowjackets, and an educator.

In a career spanning more than three decades, Mintzer has written over 200 big-band arrangements, many of which have been performed all over the world by both student and professional bands. The Yellowjackets have been nominated for four Grammy® Awards, winning Best Large Jazz Ensemble Recording in 2001 with Homage to Count Basie on the DMP label.

Mintzer has made 26 solo recordings with both big bands and small ensembles. After nearly two decades with the Yellowjackets, he has made 12 albums with them and tours four months a year with the band.

Mintzer has published four jazz etude books, a solo transcription book, a saxophone method book and four saxophone quartets in addition to his big-band arrangements. He has also composed several pieces for orchestra. The American Saxophone Quartet and the National Symphony Orchestra premiered “Rhythm of the Americas,” Mintzer’s piece for sax quartet and orchestra or concert band, in 2001 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Mintzer has also had a diverse career as a freelance musician in New York City. He has recorded with artists such as Steve Winwood, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin and Queen; toured with Buddy Rich, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri; and worked with the New York Philharmonic and the American Ballet Theatre.

Mintzer has been on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and recently joined the faculty of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He leads about 20 workshops annually at colleges and universities all over the world.

Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I personnel are: alto saxophones, Daniel Barrera, Newton, and Paul Voran, Newton; tenor saxophones, Joel Boettger, Hesston, and Jordan Ortman, Marion, S.D.; baritone saxophone, Carl Lehmann, Marion, S.D.; trumpets, Kyle Doesken, Derby, Evan Koch, Colorado Springs, Colo., Austin McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton, Taylor Stucky, Moundridge, and Kyle Unruh, Goessel; trombones, Eric Goering, McPherson (bass), Benjamin Harder, Hesston, and Rebecca Trumble, Newton; drums, Nathaniel Yoder, Kalona, Iowa; bass, Landon Bartel, Newton; and piano, Ben Stucky, Moon Township, Pa.

Jazz Combo personnel are Austin McCabe-Juhnke, trumpet; Joel Boettger and Paul Voran, saxophones; Benjamin Harder, trombone; Bradley McKellip, Newton, guitar; Nathaniel Yoder, drums; Landon Bartel, bass; and Ben Stucky, piano.

James Pisano, associate professor of music at Bethel College, directs Jazz I and Jazz Combo, along with the Bethel College Jazz Ensemble II and the Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble, an auditioned high school honors group based at Bethel College. Pisano has degrees in clarinet performance from the University of New Hampshire and the University of Miami. He has performed and taught extensively in both the classical realm (clarinet) and jazz world (saxophone).

Bob Mintzer’s appearance at Bethel College follows that of guest jazz artists Allen Vizzutti (trumpet) and Bobby Watson (saxophone), in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

Back to News