Jazz Showcase: UMD Jazz Ensemble, Faculty Jazz Ensemble, UMD Jazz Lab Band and University Jazz Band

Jazz Showcase

UMD Jazz Ensemble, Faculty Jazz Ensemble, UMD Jazz Lab Band and University Jazz Band
Wednesday, May 4, 2022 . 5:30PM
Photo by David Andrews.
Principal People: 
Tim Powell and Bill Dunn, conductors
Johnathan Blake, guest artist
Special Announcement: 

The livestream for this event will only be available live. The stream will not be available to view after the showcase has ended.

Event Attributes

Presented By

Presented By: 

For more information regarding accessible accommodations, please click here.

Please note that this event has moved inside to the Dekelboum Concert Hall. Join us in person at The Clarice or watch the livestream from the comfort of your home!

Experience the soulful, syncopated sounds of jazz in this lively concert featuring UMD jazz ensembles, jazz faculty and guest artist Johnathan Blake. The program includes Herbie Hancock's Eye of the Hurricane, Bobby Watson's Lemoncello and Sonny Rollins' Doxy.

About UMD Jazz Ensembles:

The School of Music’s jazz ensembles are composed of more than 100 students. The UMD Jazz Ensemble frequently performs at many off-campus events including the Maryland Music Educators Association annual conference and various local jazz festivals. Each year, the UMD Jazz Ensemble is one of three elite bands that performs at the Calvin Jones Big Band Jazz Festival—one of the most anticipated events on Washington, D.C.’s jazz calendar and frequently broadcast on the BET Network. Combos and big bands also perform a variety of outreach concerts at venues including the National Archives, public libraries, the National Building Museum, area schools and at campus events such as Maryland Day, galas and commencement activities.

The Clarice lobby concession bar Encore will not be open for food and beverage sales for this performance.

Health + Safety

Patrons attending University of Maryland arts events are no longer required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. We continue to encourage audiences to wear a mask and stay current with vaccinations and boosters. Please see our Health & Safety information page for information about what to expect during your visit.

UMD Jazz Ensemble
My Shining Hour
Harold Arlen
arr. Mark Buselli
Hank Levy
Darryl Brenzel
“Morning Mood” from Peer Gynt Suite
Edvard Grieg
arr. Billy Strayhorn
Thad Jones
Eye of the Hurricane
Herbie Hancock
arr. Bob Mintzer
Faculty Jazz Ensemble
featuring Johnathan Blake, drums
The Faculty Jazz Ensemble musical selections will be announced from the stage.
UMD Jazz Lab Band
Bobby Watson
arr. Mike Kamuf
All Blues
Miles Davis
arr. Mike Tomaro
I’ll Take Less
John Scofield
arr. Mike Kamuf
Duke Ellington, Irving Mills and Juan Tizol
arr. Michael Philip Mossman
University Jazz Band
Sonny Rollins
arr. Leigh Pilzer
Peanut Vendor
Moises Simons
arr. Michael Sweeney
Morse Code Blues
Marcus Wyche
Happy Blues
Bill Potts


Johnathan Blake, one of the most accomplished drummers of his generation, has also proven himself a complete and endlessly versatile musician. Blake’s gift for composition and band leading reflects years of live and studio experience across the aesthetic spectrum. Heralded by NPR Music as “the ultimate modernist,” he has collaborated with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Tom Harrell, Hans Glawischnig, Avishai Cohen, Donny McCaslin, Linda May Han Oh, Jaleel Shaw, Chris Potter, Maria Schneider, Alex Sipiagin, Kris Davis and countless other distinctive voices. DownBeat once wrote, “It’s a testament to Blake’s abilities that he makes his presence felt in any context.” A frequent presence on Blue Note records over the past several years, Blake has contributed his strong, limber pulse and airy precision to multiple leader releases from Blue Note artists including Dr. Lonnie Smith’s “Breathe” (2021), “All in My Mind” (2018) and “Evolution” (2016) and Kenny Barron’s “Concentric Circles” (2018), the latter whose trio Blake has been a vital member of for nearly 15 years.
Born in Philadelphia in 1976, Blake is the son of renowned jazz violinist John Blake, Jr.—himself a stylistic chameleon and an important ongoing influence. After beginning on drums at age 10, Blake gained his first performing experience with the Lovett Hines Youth Ensemble, led by the renowned Philly jazz educator. It was during this period, at Hines’s urging, that Blake began to compose his own music. Later he worked with saxophonist Robert Landham in a youth jazz ensemble at Settlement Music School. Blake graduated from George Washington High School and went on to attend the highly respected jazz program at William Paterson University, where he studied with Rufus Reid, John Riley, Steve Wilson and Horace Arnold. At this time, Blake also began working professionally with the Oliver Lake Big Band, Roy Hargrove and David Sanchez. In 2006, he was recognized with an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award, and in 2007, he earned his masters degree from Rutgers University, focusing on composition. He studied with the likes of Ralph Bowen, Conrad Herwig and Stanley Cowell. Deeply aware of Philadelphia’s role as a historical nerve center of American music, Blake has immersed himself in the city’s storied legacy—not just jazz but also soul, R&B and hip-hop. In many ways, he’s an heir to Philadelphia drum masters such as Philly Joe Jones, Bobby Durham, Mickey Roker and Edgar Bateman, not to mention younger mentors including Byron Landham, Leon Jordan and Ralph Peterson, Jr.
Blake's debut release on Blue Note Records signals shifting tides for a career that’s yet to crest. The drummer, composer and progressive bandleader continually refines and renews an expression bonded to the lineage of Black music that fluoresces across “Homeward Bound.” Warmth of phrasing abounds as Blake layers a sound that’s at once relaxed and urgent. Alongside an innate ride cymbal, his melodic treatment of the drum kit reflects a generations-old understanding of the instrument and allows his compositions to engage the myriad artists who bring them life.
“Homeward Bound” features Blake’s band Pentad, a quintet of musicians whose expressions inhabit that mystery of time and space. Pentad’s core trio is comprised of longtime collaborator and friend Dezron Douglas, whose strong yet reflexive bass presence saturates each track, and acclaimed Cuban-born keyboardist David Virelles on piano, Rhodes and Minimoog. Blake’s Blue Note label mates Immanuel Wilkins and Joel Ross complete the multigenerational quintet on alto saxophone and vibraphone. Though distinct in their expressions, the rising star artists share a cooperative quality intrinsic to their improvising.
“The name represents us as five individuals coming together for a common cause: trying to make the most honest music as possible,” said Blake, who assembled the band with the intention of composing for a fuller, more explicit chordal sound than his past projects have featured. The result is a wildly intuitive, tight sound that embraces spontaneity and relies on trust.
“I think the sound also comes from years of Dezron and David and me playing together, and the whole history of Immanuel and me knowing each other from the Philly days, and then Immanuel’s hookup with Joel,” he said. Even Blake and Ross had their own hookup going before forming Pentad from a Jazz Gallery commission the leader received several years earlier. “There’s a bit of history with everybody in the group, so when we come to play together, it’s a unique band sound.”
Opening with a tender foundational gesture from Douglas, the album’s title track celebrates the short, effervescent life of Ana Grace Marquez-Greene. Daughter of saxophonist Jimmy Greene and flautist Nelba Marquez-Greene, Ana Grace perished in the Sandy Hook tragedy nearly a decade ago. For Blake, who recalls the moment of her birth, Ana Grace’s time on earth resonates. “When little Ana was born, I remember what a blessing she was,” said Blake, who was on the road with Greene at the time in Tom Harrell’s band. “She had such a lively presence. So when I heard she’d been taken away, it affected me and I started writing this tune.”
Reminiscent of a melody she might have hummed as she bounced into the room, “Homeward Bound (for Ana Grace)” prompts joyous and contemplative trades between Ross and Wilkins, a luminescent solo from Virelles and a feature from Blake just as effervescent as the spirit it honors. “She was always singing,” says Blake, “any room she went in, she would just sing.”
Another of the album’s buoyant melodies surfaces on “Rivers & Parks.” Featuring solo contributions from Ross, Wilkins, Virelles and Douglas, respectively, the composition honors works by Sam Rivers and Aaron Parks. At his home in New Jersey, Blake had been playing Rivers’ “Cyclic Episode” and Parks’ “Hard-Boiled Wonderland” on repeat when a melody of his own emerged. Later he realized all three tunes had in common their 16-bar form. “I didn’t even plan to write a tune like that,” he said. “I guess I was very inspired by listening to those two compositions.”
Throughout “Homeward Bound,” the artists tangle avenues along what’s grounded and what’s unbound. Wilkins and Blake spark an open dialogue at the start of Douglas original “Shakin’ the Biscuits,” playing off mood colors from Virelles. Laying down the ground rules at 45 seconds into the track, Douglas brings everyone into the groove. Virelles allows textural choices to influence where he takes the music, playing piano, Rhodes and Minimoog at different moments.
Soul-cleansing and meditative, “Abiyoyo” reflects Blake’s take on the traditional South African folktale. The chart had been written in 6/8 but, for the recording, the leader was hearing—and feeling—something different. “I wanted it to be something you could feel almost as a lullaby,” he said. “I was hearing this slow 3, and immediately the rest of the band caught the vibe. This wasn’t a piece we were gonna burn out on solos. It was a tone poem.” That burner would happen later on. Blake introduces “LLL” in a swinging gesture of grace and conviction. Limelighting highest level interactivity among band members and solos from Virelles and Ross, the tune is a channel for the vibraphonist’s signature arcs and turns and high-velocity lyricism.
Aligned with his artistry, Blake’s arrangement of Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” bonds an iconic vamp and enduring melody with the drummer’s intuitive feel and phrasing as well as his harmonic instincts. “It’s one of my favorite songs,” he said. “That melody just plays itself.” The band’s treatment of the 1982 hit reveals critical homework on the part of its younger members. “The only people who were aware of the tune were me and Dezron [laughs],” said Blake. “But they really got inside it. Immanuel played his butt off. He went to some different places.”
Above all else, “Homeward Bound” is a narrative celebration of life and legacy. “I wanted to create a record where people would get inside my head,” said Blake. “I want them to see the story I was trying to tell. That’s my hope.”
At home in both classical and jazz idioms, Powell is an active and established freelance musician in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C metropolitan areas. He has performed with the Baltimore, Alexandria and Altoona symphony orchestras as well as with Frank Sinatra, Jr., Gloria Gaynor, Ben Folds, The Four Freshman, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Frankie Avalon, Ben E. King, Mauro Marcondes, Origem, the Mike Kamuf Little Big Band, Steve Fidyk and Rick Hirsh.
Powell received his bachelor of science in music education from Penn State University, and he earned a master of music in jazz studies and a doctor of musical arts in saxophone performance from the University of Maryland, College Park. The focus of his doctoral studies included electro-acoustic music for saxophone and contemporary saxophone sonatas. He has commissioned, premiered and worked with several composers on their works for the saxophone.
Powell is currently interim director of jazz studies and senior lecturer of saxophone at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has also served on the faculties of Penn State University, Rowan University, Frostburg State University, Montgomery College and Anne Arundel Community College.
Corey Hewitt has been a full-time performer and educator of drum set and classical percussion in the DMV area for 15 years. During that time, he has had the opportunity to perform worldwide with world-class musicians, including performances with international recording artists Erasure, Bobby Arvon and The Original Temptations and supporting numerous finalists of The Voice competition in the Netherlands. He was employed as the drummer for various Holland America and Royal Caribbean cruise ships, where he performed for four years in the showband, lounge band and for guest entertainers. Locally, he has performed at The Kennedy Center, The Lincoln Memorial, 49 West, Rams Head Live and Olney Theatre, among others. He has taught percussion for the last 11 years at the renowned DC Youth Orchestra Program and drum set at various schools in the Baltimore area, including Lowell School in Silver Spring for the last three years. Currently, he is enrolled at University of Maryland, College Park where he is working on his master’s in jazz performance and is also a teaching assistant for the jazz department.
UMD Jazz Ensemble
Tim Powell
Willie Hadnot, split lead
Hansu Sung, split lead
Jacob Wright, tenor I
Erl Fantilaga, tenor II
Abby Jones, bari
Bill Dunn, lead trumpet
Hart Guojian Pettit, trumpet II
Vinesh Sridhar, trumpet III
Caleb Johnson, trumpet IV
Antonios Eleftheriou, trumpet V
Pedro Martinez, trombone I
Eusong Choe, trombone II
Leanne Hanson, trombone III
Austin Fairley, trombone IV
Rhythm Section
Simon Glueck, piano
Jan Knutsen, guitar
Daniel Barrios, bass
Corey Hewitt, drums
Gerson Lanza, special guest
UMD Jazz Lab Band
Tim Powell
Ben Bart, lead alto
Colson Jones, alto II
Lauratu Bah, tenor I
Michael Gardiner, tenor II
Aaron Hummel, bari
Hart Guojian Pettit, trumpet
Mathew Killian, trombone
Rhythm Section
Paul Metzger, piano
John Marcellino, guitar
Iris Yourick, bass
Devon Rafanelli, drums
Griffin Van Doren, drums
Kobie Andrews, pans
University Jazz Band
Tim Powell
Corey Hewitt
Composer in Residence
Marcus Wyche
Colin Eng, lead alto
Zach Jarhoura, alto II
Alivia Rogers, alto II
Brandon Greenberg, tenor I
Dominic Manzella, tenor II
Nishanth Ponnala, tenor II
Evan Roetering, bari
Jacob Weglarz
Tom Varano
Luke Guonjian Pettit
Max Howard
Tyler Brambora
Jonah Goldfarb
Tim Maher
Rhythm Section
Skye Garret, piano
Jeremiah Awoseye, piano
Henry Sheppard, guitar
Sergio Iriarte, guitar
Imran Musa, bass
Adam Berenzwieg, drums
Christopher Brooks, drums
Julia Hananel, vibes