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SRU music department celebrates October as 'Jazz Month'

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's music department will celebrate October as "Jazz Month," including four concerts featuring guest jazz artists, faculty and the release of the SRU Jazz Ensemble's fifth CD.

All "Jazz at the Rock" concerts are at 7:30 p.m. in Swope Music Hall.

The month kicks off Oct 5 with the Nathan Douds Ensemble, a group that performs original compositions aimed at combining all divergent musical styles into a new genre-less sound. Those listening to the ensemble will easily hear several distinct musical influences, including contemporary and avant-garde jazz, contemporary classical and chamber music, rock/fusion, various world music and electro-acoustic music.

Nathan Douds, music instructor at SRU, leads the group as a percussionist/composer and is joined by SRU colleague Jason Kush, music instructor, on woodwinds. Other members of the group are Justin Endler on voice and saxophone from Pittsburgh, Kurt Kotheimer on bass from Akron, Ohio, Dan Bruce on guitar and Dan Murphy on piano, both from Chicago.

Members of the ensemble have had vastly diverse musical influences, educational backgrounds and career paths, all of which contribute to allowing the group to remain diverse and flexible.

By utilizing their diverse influences, the group is able to create a unique musical language that helps blur the lines of the various styles the group attempts to incorporate.

The SRU performance is part of a weeklong tour of universities and schools in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois at which the group will perform and offer masterclasses.

The SRU Jazz Ensemble CD Release Concert Oct. 14 will include selections from the group's latest CD "Marking Our Territory," which celebrates awards received at the Elmhurst Jazz Festival outside Chicago in 2009. Copies of the CD will be available for purchase.

Stephen Hawk, SRU professor of music, directs the group.

The latest album is the ensemble's fifth since 2000.

David Glover, associate professor of music and department chair, will perform a faculty recital of contemporary jazz Oct. 25 along with members of his former band Odd Man Out. Glover plays drums, along with jazz organist Steve Snyder of Moorehead, Ky., and saxophonist Mace Hibbard of Atlanta. The recital will feature original compositions by the band's members as well as works composed for the band's first CD.

Saxophonist Gary Keller, a professor of saxophone and jazz studies at the University of Miami, joins the SRU Jazz Faculty in concert Oct. 28 offering a series of compositions by Keller, Kush, Ron Miller and others.

Keller joined the Miami faculty in 1982. He maintains an active performance schedule and has toured/recorded/performed with a wide diversity of jazz artists and ensembles including Woody Herman, Frank Sinatra, Dave Liebman, Ira Sullivan, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jaco Pastorious, The Jaco Pastorious Big Band, John Pizarelli, Maria Schnieder, Jim McNeely, Manny Album, Billy Hart, Kenny Werner, Adam Nussbaum, Chico O'Farrill, Kenny Wheeler, Clare Fischer, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, Shelly Berg, the University of Miami Concert Jazz Band and the American Jazz Philharmonic.

He has performed at major jazz clubs and festivals throughout the world, including Blue Note Tokyo, North Sea Jazz Fest, Montreal Jazz Fest, Duc Du Lombards and the Bimhaus.

Keller's debut recording "Blues For an Old New Age" was awarded a near perfect score from Penguin Jazz, which called it "extremely well done" and "a thinker's delight."

He has also performed/recorded with the Florida Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Naples Symphony, St. Petersburg (Russia) Symphony and Chamber Music Palm Beach.

Tickets for each performance are $5 for the general public and $3 for SRU students.