Saxophonist Chris Farr graduated from University of the Arts in 1995 and since then has been a highly sought after performer and educator. Chris is currently the head of the saxophone department at the University of the Arts. Chris is also a clinician and endorser of Eastman saxophones. Over the past 15 years, he has performed, toured and recorded with the likes of Blood Sweat & Tears, Elvis Costello, Jill Scott, Sting, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, The Roots, Teddy Pendergrass, Grover Washington, Gerald Veasley & Maynard Ferguson. He has also performed in a classical setting with the Philadelphia Ballet Company and the Princeton Symphony.
Richard (Rick) Lawn recently retired as Dean of the College of Performing Arts at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Prior to moving to Philadelphia, he was the Founding Director of Jazz Studies, Chair of the Department of Music, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the Texas faculty, Rick was Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Rick holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Eastman School of Music where his principal teachers were Rayburn Wright, Bill Dobbins, Chuck Mangione and William Osseck. Grants from the National Endowment of the Arts have supported his work as a composer, and as a member of the Nova Saxophone Quartet he has recorded on the Musical Heritage Society, Crystal and Equilibrium labels. He has also served on the IAJE Board and contributed numerous articles to this organization’s journal as well as the MENC Journal and the Instrumentalist magazines. The Sea Breeze record label issued “Unknown Soldiers,” a CD recorded by the Third Coast Jazz Orchestra featuring his compositions and arrangements. Kendor, CL Barnhouse, Walrus, Concept Music, Alfred, Dorn and UNC Press music, among others, publish his compositions. Rick’s books entitled The Jazz Ensemble Directors Manual, Jazz Theory and Practice, and Experiencing Jazz (which includes interactive software) have become staples among jazz educators and students. he has performed with artists such as Lionel Hampton, Chuck Mangione, Rosemary Clooney, The Rochester Philharmonic and Austin Symphony among many others including numerous Broadway shows. Selmer has sponsored his clincs, performances and guest conducting appearances in 12 states.
One of the world’s finest jazz saxophone players, Larry McKenna has just released “Larry McKenna From All Sides,” a new CD of original instrumental and vocal compositions and several jazz standards, supported in part by a Subito Grant from the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Forum.
Larry’s national reputation as both a masterful jazz improviser in the be-bop and modern jazz styles of the 1950s and 1960s and an influential jazz educator is firmly established after five decades in his profession. His composing, songwriting and arranging skills will soon be more widely known with the release of his new CD. “Larry McKenna From All Sides” showcases eight original works arranged and performed by him with several other premier jazz artists, including four new songs with lyrics by Melissa Gilstrap, interpreted by the wonderful vocalist Joanna Pascale.
Larry McKenna is known for his gorgeous, velvety tenor saxophone sound, the unparalleled beauty of his balladry, and his fluid, bebop-inspired improvisations. For years, Larry’s status as a jazz great has been affirmed by his myriad fans and the jazz stars with whom he has played and recorded including Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Buddy DeFranco, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra.
Larry is also esteemed in the classical music world. In 2011 the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra showcased him as a soloist in three concerts, performing movements from an arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite.” Since 2002 he also has been a featured artist with PhilOrk Jazz, a group formed by members of The Philadelphia Orchestra which features guest artists chosen from the highest ranks of the Philadelphia jazz scene.
Larry is one of the most sought-out saxophone and jazz theory teachers in Philadelphia. He has taught countless students at University of the Arts, Temple University School of Music, West Chester University, Widener University, and Community College of Philadelphia. Many of his students have pursued successful careers in music. Larry’s influence, spanning decades, can be said to have established a Larry McKenna school of saxophone playing in the Philadelphia region.
In recognition of his extensive contributions to the jazz world, in 2012 Larry was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in jazz performance and education from the University of the Arts; the Jazz Master Award from the Media, Pennsylvania Business Authority; and the Making A Difference Award from The Jazz Bridge Project, a nonprofit organization serving Philadelphia-area jazz and blues musicians in crisis.
In addition to being a frequent guest on recordings by other top jazz players, Larry has released three other CDs under his own name to widespread critical acclaim. His last CD, “Profile” (Dreambox Media 2009), mixes jazz standards with Larry’s original compositions, including the lovely and poignant ballad “Perhaps This Wintertime” with lyrics by Melissa Gilstrap. Premiered on the CD by vocalist Nancy Reed, this ballad was critically praised as “destined to become a new standard” and subsequently performed and recorded by other internationally known vocalists. Larry’s earlier CDs, “It Might As Well Be Spring” (Dreambox Media 2001) and “My Shining Hour – Music of Harold Arlen” (EPE Records 1995), received praise from jazz critics across the United States and Canada and remain in demand.
Music arranged by Larry McKenna has been performed on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and in the Nicholas Cage movie “Birdy,” in which Larry played and appeared. He has published many jazz-oriented arrangements for school concert bands which can be purchased from Northeastern Music Publications.
Larry resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with three cats (the feline variety).
Vibraphonist Tony Miceli, whose playing has been compared with the legendary Milt Jackson and Gary Burton, grew up in New Jersey, currently resides in Philadelphia, and has been working steadily on the jazz scene since 1980. As a group leader, sideman, and recording artist, he has performed with numerous top musicians including David Liebman, Jimmy Bruno, Ken Peplowski, John Blake, Diane Monroe, John Swana, Joe Magnarelli, Steve Slagle, Larry McKenna, and many others. In addition to his work with the group Monkadelphia, which he co-founded in 1990, Miceli is a member of the PhilOrch Jazz Ensemble (a quartet featuring members of the Philadelphia Orchestra) and the Adam Unsworth Ensemble. His recordings include a compilation CD, Looking East with the Philly 5; On a Sweet Note, with Gerald Veasley and the Electric Mingus Project; Band Shapes with French pianist Olivier Hutman; Monkadelphia; Crepuscule (featuring Monkadelphia); Music From the Inside Out, a companion CD for a documentary showcasing the Philadelphia Orchestra, and ……
In addition to his busy schedule of club dates, concert performances, and recordings, Miceli is a sought after master teacher. In addition to workshops in Amsterdam and other major cities, when at home base in Philadelphia, he conducts master classes at the renowned Curtis Institute of Music and gives private instruction in his home studio. He is a member of the Jazz Faculty at the University of the Arts and Temple University, and serves as a consultant to various music and arts organizations. Of his playing and musicianship, reviewers have praise: “Miceli’s vibes playing is nothing short of phenomenal, as he moves effortlessly from fiery virtuoso runs to gentle, pianissimo, legato improvisations on the ballads.” “Micel’s playing had a transcendent glow. He was no longer playing notes, but rather developing ideas that seemed to come from a source beyond himself.” “His runs were so rapid and well executed that it was as if he had a couple of rogue virtual mallets helping him out.” “Miceli’s solos were done with agility and subtlety, stunning the audience with their virtuosity.”
Miceli is a consummate versatile musician who is involved in diverse musical currents and projects. His CD Hippie Jazz with vocalist Meg Clifton recapitulated the rock music of the 1960s-70s in a jazz format. In a concert called “Mozart Reloaded” at the Kimmel Center, he played vibe improvisations behind singer Joanna Pascal’s rendition of a Mozart opera aria. With crossover violinist, Diane Monroe, he is now working on a project using jazz, folk, and classical influences.
Internationally known on the web, Miceli provides online instruction, information, and video interactive classes. He is proprieter of Miceli Music, LLC., incorporating the website: www.studymusiconline.com, which currently offers 3 sections: www.vibesworkshop.com; www.trumpet.studymusiconline.com; and www.worlddrum.studymusiconline.com. These sites include online communities for professional players and students, with lessons, performances, and other features.