September 14 & 15 – Festival Season Concert 1: Bill Cunliffe and the Michael Dease Big Band

Tuba Bach Week 1

Bill Cunliffe and the Michael Dease Big Band

Saturday, September 14, 2019 — 7 PM
Sunday, September 15, 2019 — 4 PM

Big Rapids High School Auditorium
21175 15 Mile Rd, Big Rapids

Saturday, September 14 – 12 PM Lunch Bachs Family Concert at Three Girls Bakery (106 N Michigan Ave, Big Rapids, MI 49307)

“Outside-of-the-box” big band arrangements of the music of Bach

and other composers, as well as original pieces, featuring

Grammy award winning musicians Bill Cunliffe, composer/

pianist, and trombonist Michael Dease, leading his all-star big band.

Jazz pianist, composer and Grammy Award-winning arranger Bill Cunliffe is known for his innovative and swinging recordings and compositions. Bill began his career as pianist and arranger with the Buddy Rich Big Band and worked with Frank Sinatra, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson and James Moody. He has since established himself as a solo artist and bandleader, with more than a dozen albums under his name.

Bill currently plays with his trio; his big band; his Latin band, Imaginación; and his classical-jazz ensemble, Trimotif. He performs in the U.S. and around the world as a leader and sideman as well as a soloist with symphony orchestras.

His latest recording is the Bill Cunliffe Trio album “River Edge, New Jersey,” with bassist Martin Wind and drummer Tim Horner, released in April by Azica Records.

Other recent releases include his Overture, Waltz and Rondo for jazz piano, trumpet and orchestra (BCM+D Records, 2012). Bill performed the work with trumpeter Terell Stafford and the Temple University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Luis Biava. The recording won Bill his fifth Grammy nomination, in the Best Instrumental Composition category.

Also released in 2012 was his Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra, with tubist Jim Self and the Hollywood Ensemble, with Bill conducting (Metre Records, 2012). Bill’s album of solo improvisations on Christmas carols, “That Time of Year” (Metre Records, 2011), was described as a “tour de force” in the Los Angeles Times.

Bill’s other recordings show his affinity for Latin rhythms (“Bill in Brazil,” Imaginación” and his Grammy-nominated trumpet concerto “fourth stream … La Banda”) and pay tribute to some of his musical heroes, including Bud Powell, Oliver Nelson and Paul Simon.

Bill wrote the score for the film “On the Shoulders of Giants,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s homage to the Harlem Rens basketball team of the 1920s and ’30s. The movie recently received an NAACP Image Award for Best Documentary. Bill’s soundtrack was nominated for Best Album.

He recently completed scoring a film noir by Singaporean director Ying J. Tan and is producing a jazz album for singer Freda Payne.

Bill’s books “Jazz Keyboard Toolbox” and “Jazz Inventions for Keyboard” (Alfred Music Publishing) have become standard reference works. His most recent publications are “Uniquely Christmas” (2012), a book of arrangements inspired by his CD “That Time of Year,” and “Uniquely Familiar: Standards for Advanced Solo Piano” (2010).

Bill was awarded a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for “West Side Story Medley,” on the album “Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson” (Resonance Records, 2009). In addition to receiving five Grammy nominations, he is a two-time Emmy nominee.

The Los Angeles Jazz Society honored Bill in 2010 with its Composer/Arranger Award. That year he was also named a Distinguished Faculty Member of the College of the Arts at Cal State Fullerton, where he is a jazz studies professor. He also teaches at the Skidmore Jazz Institute and the Vail Jazz Workshop.

Bill grew up in Andover, Mass. He studied jazz at Duke University with pianist Mary Lou Williams and received his master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music. He was the 1989 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition.

Michael Dease was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia – the ‘Deep South,’ and played the saxophone and trumpet before choosing the trombone at age 17.  In 2001, Dease moved to New York City to become part of the historic first class of jazz students at the Juilliard School, earning both bachelors and masters degrees, and quickly established a reputation as a brilliant soloist, collaborator, and bandleader.

Bonafide (Posi-Tone, 2018), Dease’s newest release, is a modern testament to the life-changers and truth-tellers in the jazz world, including artist-mentors Geri Allen, Marcus Belgrave, JJ Johnson and several others. The program is a journey of Dease’s musical stops in New York City, reflecting upon relationships built at places like Smoke Jazz Club, Skidmore Jazz Institute, Birdland, and the Village Vanguard. As a bandleader, this is Dease’s sixth album for Posh-Tone and twelfth of his career, and features veteran collaborators David Hazeltine, Todd Coolman, EJ Strickland, Conrad Herwig, Marshall Gilkes and newcomers Sam Dillon and Gina Benalcazar.

Dease recently won the 64th Annual Downbeat Magazine Critic’s Poll for Rising Star Jazz Trombonist, the 2017 Best Jazz Trombonist from NYC’s Hot House Magazine, and is a sought-after and three-time Grammy award winning lead, section and bass trombonist with today’s leading jazz orchestras. His experiences include bands led by Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Charles Tolliver, Rufus Reid, WDR Big Band, NDR Big Band, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. However, it is on the frontline of quintets and sextets led by master musicians like The Heath Brothers, Winard Harper, Renee Rosnes, Bill Charlap, Claudio Roditi, and Lewis Nash, where Dease has revitalized the trombone’s image. Not content to simply improvise, Dease arranges and composes for many different bands and constantly adjusts his tone and timbre to add just the right flavor to the music.

Dease’s unique blend of curiosity, hard work, and optimism, has helped him achieve worldwide recognition, including awards from ASCAP, The International Trombone Association, Yamaha, Eastern Trombone Workshop, New York Youth Symphony, among others. Dease was recently profiled in Cicily Janus’ book, The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today’s Living Legends (Random House). His experience in the studio led him to produce several recording sessions for emerging artists, often composing and writing liner notes for the releases.

A recipient of the prestigious MSU Teacher – Scholar award in 2018, Dease’s singular talent has made him an effective teacher, resulting in invitations, master classes and residencies at the University of North Texas, Temple University, New World School of the Arts, UNC Chapel Hill, and among many others. He currently teaches jazz trombone and improvisation at the Michigan State University College of Music, and has also served as faculty at Queens College – CUNY, The New School and Northeastern University. Consistently in-demand around the world as a summer workshop jazz educator, Michael Dease serves as Director of the Jazz Institute at Brevard, part of the storied Brevard Music Center in North Carolina. Many of Dease’s current and former students have earned international recognition, and are enjoying successful careers in New York City and around the world.

Considered an informed, but forward-thinking musician, Dease learned the craft from trombone legends Wycliffe Gordon, Joseph Alessi and master teacher Dr. John Drew. His associations have run the entire spectrum of musical experience: Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Jon Batiste, Aretha Franklin, Jon Mayer, The Temptations, Paul Schaffer and the CBS Orchestra, Elton John, Neal Diamond, Illinois Jacquet, Slide Hampton & The World Of Trombones, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, WDR Big Band, George Gruntz, Billy Harper, and numerous others.

Michael enjoys spending every possible minute with his extraordinary wife and Professor of Percussion at MSU Gwendolyn Dease and their daughter’s Brooklyn and Charly. He is also an aspiring painter, sports car enthusiast, amateur coffee snob, Star Wards scholar, 80’s horror movie aficionado and bassist. Michael Dease is a Yamaha Performing Artist proudly uses and endorses Yamaha Brass and Woodwinds, Vandoren Reeds and Mouthpieces, Best Brass Japan Mutes, Pickett Brass Mouthpieces and Ultrasone Headphones, Hercules Stands and AMT Microphones.