The 49th Annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

Featured Performers

Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

The 49th installment of the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival was one of our best yet! Click on the names below to read more about the world-class artists who performed at the Festival.

Michael Davis
Donny McCaslin
Bob Mintzer Big Band
Ryan Truesdell and the Gil Evans Project
Scott Wendholt

Michael Davis

Trombonist/composer Michael Davis has enjoyed a diverse and acclaimed career over the past three decades. Widely known as the trombonist for the Rolling Stones since 1994, he toured and recorded with Frank Sinatra from 1988 to 1994, released 9 solo CDs, composed over 150 works, authored 10 books and appeared on over 500 CDs and motion picture soundtracks. He is the founder, creator and president of Hip-Bone Music, Inc. 

In the field of music education, Davis has served as a clinician around the world, while also authoring a number of highly esteemed instructional books and arrangements for musicians of all ages and abilities. A multiple recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, he maintains his own jazz groups and projects through Hip-Bone Music. About him, Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts was moved to comment, “In this ‘bone dry era, it is essential to have Michael Davis around.”  We welcome Mr. Davis back for his third appearance as guest artist/adjudicator.

Bill Holman is a leading voice in modern big band composition & arranging.  He has contributed pieces to bands led by Louie Bellson, Count Basie, Terry Gibbs, Woody Herman, Bob Brookmeyer, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan, and Doc Severinsen, among others, and has also written for such singers as Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Carmen McRae, Mel Tormé, Woody Herman, Anita O'Day, Sarah Vaughan, and June Christy.  
Holman started the Bill Holman Band in 1975.  The band’s recordings include 1988's The Bill Holman Band, 1995's A View From The Side (for which Holman won a Best Instrumental Composition Grammy for the title track), 1997's Brilliant Corners: The Music of Thelonious Monk, 2005’s Live, and 2007’s Hommage.
The Bill Holman Band’s 2015 performance marks their fourth appearance at the Elmhurst College Jazz FestivalJimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant instrumentalist and a magnificent composer and arranger.  Jimmy is the middle brother of the legendary Heath Brothers (Percy Heath, bass, and Tootie Heath, drums), and is the father of Mtume.   He has performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the last 50 years, from Howard McGhee, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis to Wynton Marsalis. He has performed on more than 100 albums including seven with the Heath Brothers and twelve as a leader.

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Donny McCaslin

Donny McCaslin's latest album, Fast Future, reprises the stunning electro-acoustic quartet on his previous album, Casting for Gravity – an album that earned McCaslin a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Solo. His gargantuan tenor sound finds an ideal setting in the ferocious grooves and electronic textures of keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and drummer Mark Guiliana. Couching his trademark gift for brawny melodies in lurching dub rhythms, McCaslin has crafted a game-changer of an album, fusing a wealth of forward-looking influences into one wholly new modern jazz sound.

Originally from Santa Cruz, California, McCaslin attended the Berklee College of Music and shortly after joined both Gary Burton's quintet and Steps Ahead. He really began to turn heads with his solo work in larger ensembles – first Ken Schaphorst’s big band, and subsequently the acclaimed Maria Schneider Orchestra. 

Mr. McCaslin has performed at our Festival as part of the Maria Schneider Orchestra, but this year we welcome him for his first venture as guest artist/adjudicator.

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Bob Mintzer Big Band

Bob Mintzer is a triple threat musician. He is equally active in the areas of performance, composing/arranging, and music education. Whether he's touring with the Yellowjackets, his quartet, or his big band, Bob is always performing and writing music. The Bob Mintzer Big Band began in 1983, and while on DMP records, the group produced 13 albums with 3 Grammy nominations.  In 2005, Bob began a relationship with the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG Jazz) resulting in the recording of three additional big band albums. Bob's latest effort is a small band recording called Canyon Cove, a swingin' organ trio album with Larry Goldings and Peter Erskine.

The Festival is excited to present the Bob Mintzer Big Band for a third time.

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Ryan Truesdell and the Gil Evans Project

The Gil Evans Project was born out of composer/producer Ryan Truesdell’s desire to restore and perform Gil Evans’ music directly from Gil’s original manuscripts. The magic of Gil’s writing lies in the details, and without his original scores, it is nearly impossible to accurately perform his music as originally intended. After years of painstaking research, countless hours of preparation, and with full support from the Evans family, Ryan Truesdell and the Gil Evans Project have made it possible, for the first time, to perform Gil’s music in its purest form: directly from his manuscripts. In celebration of Gil’s 100th birthday on May 13, 2012, Truesdell recorded ten of these works which were released on the album Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans. 

A second album of Gil's music, Lines of Color, was released in 2014 and presents Ryan's band live at New York City's Jazz Standard.  It is this band and this new music that we present in concert at the Festival.  We are honored this year to welcome Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans project for a second Festival appearance. 

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Scott Wendholt

Scott Wendholt is an articulate, passionate, and lyrical trumpeter who approaches music with energy and spirit. He communicates to audiences with sincerity and ease. An in-demand artist, he has worked extensively with artists including Kenny Garrett, Cyrus Chestnut, Christian McBride, Don Braden, Bruce Barth, and Vincent Herring. Wendholt has performed with many of the best big bands in the world: the Carnegie Hall Big Band, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the Bob Mintzer Big Band, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.  He has been recorded on more than ninety albums, including many as a leader.  Check out his latest release Fresh Sound with a new quartet including Adam Kolker, Victor Lewis, and Ugonna Okegwo.

Mr. Wendholt is on the faculty at Manhattan School of Music and the Jamey Aebersold summer jazz camps. A past performer at our Festival with various big bands, this year marks his first appearance as guest artist/adjudicator.

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